Category Archives: Luddite photo

Iconic Farm Family Lunch 1941

Don’t you agree that this is such a great photo? Look at the pigtails! Everyone has their glass of milk, and the age span of the five children is not great. Think of the work of getting that meal on the table everyday for lunch. Their space is cramped, a mixer sits in the background, and the plastic tablecloth is covered with a fabric one. I like the stack of Wonder bread in the foreground.

Boyer Edwin Fry and his family eat lunch in the kitchen of the family farm in Laytonsville, Maryland in July 1941. Photo courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

Clockwise, starting from the left they are: Margery Ogle Fry Grace, Amy Elizabeth Fry Leber, Frederick Alfred Fry, Edwin Dewey Fry, Edwin Clarkson Fry, George C. Fry, and Susan Clarkson Ransome Fry. The farm was on Sundown Road, Laytonsville, Maryland. The photographer was Dave Boyer, from Salt Lake City. He served as a photographer for the US Navy during WWII, and later gained fame as a career photographer for National Geographic. The Fry family, who were neighbors of Harold Ickes, ran a dairy farm that served as Dave Boyer’s home away from home.

In Honor of Luddite Day: How Overfishing Got its Start

Original Caption: “Save the products of the land. Eat more fish – they feed themselves.”, ca. 1917 – ca. 1919. Created By: U.S. Food Administration. Educational Division. Advertising Section. From: World War I Posters. The U.S. National Archives.

How would you change the wording on this poster today? Eat more fish – until they’re gone? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Just a note to my Luddite Day photo-fans. I know I haven’t done a “Thursday is Luddite day here…” for quite a while. For those who don’t know, I did a Luddite photo day every Thursday for several years up until a few months ago.

As this site shifts its focus and as the internet takes and expands, I’ve decided to pass the old farm photo torch to Modern Farmer. Not long after they launched, I got a note from their online editor saying how much he loved Big Picture Agriculture, and, then I noticed they were posting old farm photos in large batches once a week. (Not sure why “Modern Farmer” would like old photos but that’s not my decision.) So, I will still do an old photo from time to time, because I still love them, too, but for now, I’ll focus more on written posts. Thought Luddite photo fans here deserved an explanation, however.

Back in Time: Rural Electrification

The theme of this month’s Luddite feature is rural electrification.

The Rural Electrification Administration was established to bring electricity to isolated rural areas not serviced by private utilities. Political officials realized the injustices that people of rural areas experienced by being deprived of a higher quality of life with electricity, not unlike today’s funding through the USDA to bring the internet to the rural communities.

In the above photo, taken on May 11, 1935, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt (center) signs the Rural Electrification Act with Representative John E. Rankin (left) and Senator George W. Norris (right).

George Norris was from McCook, Nebraska, and he also sponsored the Tennessee Valley Authority Act of 1933. Norris’s role in rural electrification was influential in the state of Nebraska because the state has never had any privately owned electrical utilities – only public power.

The REA administered the loans for purposes of electrification and providing telephone services to rural areas. A few years following its creation, the program was reorganized as a division of the USDA.

In this photo, we see the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) erecting telephone lines in a rural area. (Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.)

The above photo is from the FDR Library photo collection, and shows a lineman working on a pole as a farmer watches. (Truck says: Arcadia, Wisconsin)

This July 1942 photo (above) shows a Rural Electrification Administration cooperative lineman at work in Hayti.

The above is a photograph of a young girl listening to the radio during the Great Depression. (Photo date: between 1938 and 1945)

What kind of similar programs could be in the cards for the future?

Besides the ongoing upgrades to rural internet availability, I’d suspect that at some point, farms – especially in the more sparsely populated regions – will go off the grid. Programs which offer solar and wind generators (admittedly these already exist to some degree) with fuel cell or battery storage that is either local or local-regional just might be the best subsidized farm program priorities of the future.

It is also worth noting that it is the farmers of this nation who are renting their land to host the big wind generator “farms” and cell phone towers, as well as the new power lines required by these large “wind farms” – often to the detriment of their former farming operations.

Steam Tractor Videos to Kick off this Website’s New Design

It’s been awhile since I’ve featured steam tractors on this site, and I thought it might be a good way to introduce everyone to the new website design. Whaddya think?

The video, above, was taken in 2009 at my own Boulder County’s antique farm show. The 1907 steam engine has 22 horsepower and it performed threshing and plowing back in its heyday. It also ran a sawmill, pulled a scarifier for state road work, and provided steam for a chemical company near Valmont Butte. It was last used to thresh wheat in 1976. The video, above, shows this steam traction engine running a threshing separator.


This above video from 2009 shows a steam engine tractor pull.