With so many men overseas during WWII, women filled the vacancies in a number of jobs, including painting power poles for Florida Power and Light. In Reminisce: Pictures from the Past, the husband of Virginia Kompe (right) explains how Virginia and her sister, Shirley, spent the winter of late ’44 into early ’45 “raising ladders and hoisting the housings for the bases of the poles. They also served as grunts for the linemen.”
Nope, this isn’t slavery. It’s 1910, nearly half a century after the end of the Civil War, smack dab in the middle of the Jim Crow era (laws enforcing racial segregation in the South between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s). Though they aren’t physically segregated in this shot (one farmhand even holds the baby), the economic, educational, and emotional implications are there.
This portrait shows a Florida tobacco farmer with his farmhands. I’m not sure as to why most of the farmhands have their hands over their hearts, pledging allegiance style, but you can see that the whole family is included, from the son to the baby to the dog.
As you can see, tobacco farming doesn’t look too fun.
These children are topping (removing the budding part of the tobacco plant which will, if not removed, flower and produce seeds) and suckering (controlling sucker growth by removing the budding part of the tobacco plant which would otherwise flower and produce seeds) tobacco plants much further north in Buckland, Connecticut, about the same time as the earlier image was taken. Grueling indeed.
Have a hankering to visit the Sunshine State? No, not the Australian state of Queensland!
But before you start packing, please review the following:
Where does one get a license to skateboard? The same place you procure a license to ill?
Never more than an hour from the ocean? Fresh seafood, here I come!