Win a copy of Permaculture Design Companion this week in the Permaculture Design forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

a minor historical farming-related mystery!

 
pollinator
Posts: 308
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
64
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello everyone,

Today I am here wearing my research-for-writing hat!

Amongst my many creative writing projects, I have a start on a creative non-fiction children's book - based on somewhat sketchy information I've been able to find about a real life celebrity's childhood. (Don't worry, they died over fifty years ago, so no matter what mess I make of it, if I ever get it done,  I can't be sued for personal libel! Yay!)

I have a dating problem I figure permie types can help with.

It is reported that this child traveled from Oklahoma to California, over four months, in a slow and unreliable car, and that they earned their first wages at the age of eight pulling potatoes not far from Flagstaff, AZ. Because their eighth birthday I think would have been in the first week of September 1921, (although I am having serious problems figuring out math right now and for some reason have them down as arriving in California in 1920, which would mean the kid was seven, not eight, but I think I may have just...got that wrong.whatever.) and because where I live potatoes are generally harvested in the fall, I have assumed that the kid (and parents) was traveling over the late summer, perhaps leaving Oklahoma in late July or August and getting to Arizona in early September, shortly after the birthday. They apparently arrived in California within the year, (now I don't know if it was 1920 or 21, my information source is unclear) so even if they stayed at the potato farm for a while, I've been imagining them arriving in California by late fall/early winter.

However, on reflection, August sounds like a terrible time to be travelling through the southwestern states in an old car which obviously would not have air conditioning, and perhaps in Arizona potatoes are grown/harvested earlier or later?

I guess what I'm asking is - what time of year would a large potato farm close to Flagstaff probably have been hiring migrant harvesters in 1920 or 21?

 
gardener
Posts: 1330
Location: mountains of Tennessee
403
cattle chicken bee homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

August sounds like a terrible time to be travelling through the southwestern states in an old car which obviously would not have air conditioning



Air conditioning was a fairly new invention then & not on many cars yet. Very few people were accustomed to air conditioning. Relatively few had cars. Seems to me that being in a moving car would be one of the coolest places to be.

This date calculator might be useful.

 
master steward
Posts: 10049
Location: Pacific Northwest
3934
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Back in the 20s, there probably wasn't much/any traffic. It's a PAIN being stuck in a car without air conditioning if one is in traffic. If there is no traffic, however, driving would be cooler than most anything else, even going just 20 or 30 miles an hour. Think how much cooler it is riding down a hill on a bicycle in summer than it is to walk.

I went to look up info on growing potatoes in Arizona and found this "You will need to plant them early as possible to obtain the most crop possible before summer heat kicks in, or the winter cold takes the plant." (http://apnursery.com/blog/how-to-grow-potatoes-in-arizona/) So, it looks like they get harvested in late spring/early summer?
 
gardener & bricolagier
Posts: 2983
Location: SW Missouri
943
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

August sounds like a terrible time to be travelling through the southwestern states in an old car which obviously would not have air conditioning,  

My dad told a story of being about that age in Texas during the dust bowl, and one summer they had to go 100 miles with too many people in the car, so four of the kids (him and his twin included) were put in the trunk. It was left open a bit for air, which just added dirt coming in the back to the heat in it. He said it was the most miserable trip he was ever on.

I lived in southern NM 90% of my life, and never had an A/C in a car. And have also had unreliable cars that I can see taking 4 months to get places... Took me 4 days to do a 200 mile run one time, just lots of chaos along the way.

Wish I knew  more about potatoes near Flagstaff. but I don't... Early season would be my guess, they freeze out unpredictably.
 
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Missouri Ozarks
19
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Flagstaff Arizona is at 7000 feet in elevation. It's quite a different climate from the hot deserts of Arizona. According to Wikipedia, average summer high temperatures there are around 80 degrees, with an average nighttime low of around 50. Low humidity, sounds like a very nice place to be in the summer. I can't say exactly when potatoes would be harvested there, it would depend on the variety too, but I'd imagine in the fall, maybe late summer, because there's a short season up that high and I don't think they'd be mature before then.
 
Posts: 307
Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Weather varies somewhat year to year. Call the Flagstaff Historical Society and see if they have any records.

The first factory installed air conditioning was in a 1940 Packard. As far as it being hot in the 20's, it's all relative. Depends on what you are used to. If air conditioning does not exist, then you expect to get hot, and you simply deal with it.

The internet is rather incredible. Everything is there.

P.S. Anybody can be sued for anything. It may not be justified. It may not be reasonable. But you can still be sued, and even if it goes absolutely nowhere it can still cost you monies to defend.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 3974
912
transportation cat duck trees rabbit books chicken woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The supreme court has ruled that dead people cannot be offended...
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 308
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
64
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have experience with cars without air conditioning too, but I am in Canada, and I've only rarely experienced temperatures over 100F, which is what I was imagining for summer in Arizona, but now I am reminded that Flagstaff is high up and at least part of the trip would be at elevation! Of course, there is also the challenge in terms of routing the fact that the interstate system wouldn't exist for another thirty years.
Also thank you for reminding me that a moving vehicle creates its own 'air conditioning' with wind.
I'm expecting to handwave some details, but I am still hoping to make an educated guess at time of year...
maybe my guess of summer/early fall isn't bad after all!

I will see about contacting Flagstaff historian types directly...




P.S. ...well, I'm not intending to offend anyone living or dead on purpose anyway...
 
Pearl Sutton
gardener & bricolagier
Posts: 2983
Location: SW Missouri
943
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oklahoma through Flagstaff is mostly HOT in the summer. Oklahoma to the Texas border is humid and hot, Texas border through Albuquerque (actually Gallup) is desolate, hot (don't forget about reflected heat off the ground, it's the opposite of wind chill, makes it feel worse,) dry, no place to stop for help with car trouble etc. West of Albuquerque to less than 40 miles out of Flagstaff is these nasty deep ravines, long downhills, longer uphills, hot, dry, unless they are flooding, which is worse. The last 40 miles or so up to Flagstaff is uphill, zigzagging up the ravines, not an easy run before the highway. Not easy now, overheated cars are a common sight. The trees start eventually, but it takes quite a while to get that elevation. That whole run is hard even in modern cars in summer, on the interstate. At that time, with low money, if they had a moody car etc, it sucked BAD. If they did it in summer, they were NOT happy about any of it. Anyone with sense runs it at night, even now, when it's cool, which has it's own problems, but at least isn't quite so scorching. The hot season in the desert starts about April, and runs through October, by which time it's snowing up in the higher elevations.

Odds are high they would have been on old route 66, which has mostly been taken over by the interstate, but was narrow and in bad repair then. Washouts were common, and towns few and far between. The locals at that time weren't sick of the migrants cutting through, like they were within 10 years, but there probably wasn't enough to be able to pay help, even if they were willing to work, you could probably get food, but not cash, so gas and repair money would be a problem.



And Albuquerque was an exotic place, a city that looks alien out in the desert, would have been very non-familiar building types to them, and unfamiliar people, food that you have never seen. And Gallup was even worse, that was Indian territory, and they are NOT people that look or act like Oklahomans...  And all across the desert you have snakes, lizards, bugs with too many feet, giant spiders, and buzzards in the cacti. It's alien territory, silent, and shocking the first time.

Just some local flavor to add to your writing :)
 
master steward
Posts: 2687
Location: USDA Zone 8a
704
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Folks that never had air conditioning survived a lot better than folks now days.

Children seemed to handle heat better than adults.

One summer, I keep my bedroom door closed the whole summer and complained that air conditioning was too cold.
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 308
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
64
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Miller wrote:

One summer, I keep my bedroom door closed the whole summer and complained that air conditioning was too cold.



I used to do that too as a kid, but again, I figured that was in part because it wasn't really really hot anyway!
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 308
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
64
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Pearl Sutton wrote:

Just some local flavor to add to your writing :)



I will definitely refer to your notes here! In fact I'm going to copy-paste them into my story note file right now. Thank-you.
 
gardener
Posts: 6256
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1016
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
in 1920-21 there was no paved road to flagstaff AZ.
The mother road was started but it was in Illinois that the paving began.
In 1926, some 400 miles of Route 66 passed through Arizona, but very little of it was paved.
That changed in 1933, and it was finally completed in 1938.
Rt. 66 was decommissioned in 1986 (officially, it had been mostly out of use for over 10 years at that time)

The rollercoaster is one of the most fun parts of Rt. 66, you can see the lights of flagstaff 300 miles away on Rt. 66, many cars ran out of gas because the drivers thought they would be there soon and so passed the last chance gas pump in New Mexico.


Just some tidbits from my youth riding back and forth from CA to AR on Rt.66 from 1956 through 1969
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 308
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
64
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yesterday I discovered an amazing thing - the Official Automobile Blue Book series of road guides, published between 1901 and 1929. The 1920 volumes Sold for $3 each. (would be roughly $37 today.) These guides were released in several volumes a year, each volume being specific to a region of the USA (and some of Canada.) And fortunately for my current purposes, the internet archive has a digital scan of 1920's Volume 7 - "Showing main highways in ... Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona..." (plus a bunch of other states but not Nevada or California)(Unfortunately although I see an advertisement for a cross-country tour guide volume, which my people may also have used, I don't see any scanned in copies available. That's okay. What I've got now is amazing enough!)
These books must have been heavy, volume 7 is over 800 pages long!

There are some over-view maps and state by state maps, maps for big enough cities, "points of interest" blurbs, advertisements for tools, garages and hotels (Hotel McCabe, in North Platte, Nebraska is "Absolutely Fireproof" and has hot and cold running water in all rooms, prices $1 and up.) which is all pretty familiar, format-wise to a road-tripping gal who grew up before GPS and smartphones throttled the AAA tourbook, but also,
It's quite amazing - the guides give very detailed turn by turn directions... (like you would get from your GPS, if you had GPS, only less insistent and creepy!) I am finding this actually quite fascinating... the routes are from city (or town) to the next city or town...and the guides give different route numbers and reverse directions depending on which way you're travelling...

For example

https://archive.org/details/case_gv1024_a92_1920_v_7/page/n491

(This route appears to be the only route in the guide into Flagstaff from the east.)

(The guides use a lot of mileage markers, despite the fact that odometers were not yet standard to most cars, but odometers could apparently be added after market. )

"Route 540, from Winslow to Flagstaff-64.8 miles
Gravelly dirt and dirt roads, with about 10 miles of rocky surface. The route traverses an uninteresting prairie country and a timbered area east of Flagstaff. Note (a) furnishes an option from mileage 48.8 to Flagstaff via the Cliff Dwellings, with about equal road conditions.


Winslow, 2nd street and Kinsley Ave, bank on left. Go west on 2nd street. Cross RR 0.3

0.9 End of road, turn right along high board fence.

1.2 End of road, turn left along fence. Avoid left hand road 1.9 (Left at 1.9 leads to Sunset Pass)

6.9 Left-hand road ; turn left along RR. Thru cattle guards 9.6 19.4 Avoid left hand diagonal road 19.6

20.8 End of road, turn right, thru cattle guard 22.4

24.4 Fork; bear right

25.5 Fork; bear left Cross concrete bridge over Canyon Diable 27.3 Enter timber 38.8 Cross concrete bridge over Canyon Padre 39.7

48.8 Fork; just beyond RR pass, bear left (left-hand road just before RR underpass is note a to prehistoric cliff dwellings in walnut canyon, rejoining this route at mile at mileage 61.3)

49.2 End of road; turn left

54.8 Fork at fence corner; bear left Cross RR 59.7- 64.6 (sharp right at 58.1 is route 541 to Grand Canyon

64.8 FLAGSTAFF, sta. on left. (Garages - Babbitt's Garage, San Francisco St, diagonally opp. C.H.)"  ( I don't know what a C.H. is right now, but there's probably an explanation somewhere.)

Notations for route a to cliff dwellings include "dirt road - cross logging RR - the tourist must leave his car at the station (what station? a ranger station?) and proceed on foot to reach the dwellings"...)


Now one of the things that I have to contemplate in regards to my book, is that a more direct line from OKC to LA (the family ended their journey in Pasadena) via Pheonix (going through Pheonix seems to have been the only option at the time, I don't see anything resembling a proto- I-40 route) seems to have existed, that did not pass within 100 miles of Flagstaff, so why the diversion to Flagstaff? The parents must have heard there was work up there!  


The internet archive doesn't have every year and every region of this guide series but I'm writing this note in case anyone else is ever looking for historical directions, it might be possible to find information on the internet archive by searching for this series of books! Or you might be able to....actually buy one of these books! (I'm contemplating a purchase from AbeBooks because physical copies are so much more tactile and creatively inspiring then digital. I'll be able to know for sure how heavy the guide was, how easy it was to work with on the go...(the transcontintal guide is availible for sale through Abebooks but it's over 100$, no thanks! Volume 7 i might be able to get for $40. I could do that. I just find it amazing that this guide series is out there, and wanted to share!


P.S. another thing I've learned - The Michelin Man has been around for a long time!
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 308
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
64
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ah, a Volume 8 I've just found (including California) indicates there was a proto i-40, so diverting to Flagstaff no longer seems as much of a diversion. Minor minor mystery solved!
 
Pearl Sutton
gardener & bricolagier
Posts: 2983
Location: SW Missouri
943
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I read mom some of the directions from that book, and she said it sounded like what you would tell someone who you were giving directions to, and pointed out that  if you had never seen a map, and there were no real maps of these areas, you would want someone to tell you how to get there. She envisions the passenger reading it to the driver.

The CH in the directions was the Court House.  


 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 308
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
64
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Pearl Sutton wrote:I read mom some of the directions from that book, and she said it sounded like what you would tell someone who you were giving directions to, and pointed out that  if you had never seen a map, and there were no real maps of these areas, you would want someone to tell you how to get there. She envisions the passenger reading it to the driver.

The CH in the directions was the Court House.  




Did you just...know that the court house is there, or did you find an explanation of abbreviations? (I can not find one. I sorta expected one at the front of the book, but...maybe I'm staring right at it?)

Yes, it is a lot like someone telling you their down-home directions! ("When you see the big tree...the big one. It's...big. Turn in there." <----- actual directions I've received for getting to a house. Weirdly enough I got lost.)


Apparently part of the problem this guide was addressing was that there weren't too many signs, because most people knew where everything was in their neck of the woods, and not very many strangers were traveling through, so what would you need street/directional signs for? I've never thought about life without street/highway signs in the 20th century before.


I also envision the passenger reading the directions, but also the typical arguments from the driver about if they're reading it right, plus I envision the kid reading the book and getting maybe a little bratty about all the interesting sounding things they're missing - I wanna go see the cliff dwellings! No, we're not going to go down some side road, we might break down on the way...and for what, some holes in a rock? But you promised we would see neat things! Sit down and be quiet... (plus maybe it's night-time, because I like the idea of approaching Flagstaff at night time...)
 
Pearl Sutton
gardener & bricolagier
Posts: 2983
Location: SW Missouri
943
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Vera Stewart wrote:

Pearl Sutton wrote:I read mom some of the directions from that book, and she said it sounded like what you would tell someone who you were giving directions to, and pointed out that  if you had never seen a map, and there were no real maps of these areas, you would want someone to tell you how to get there. She envisions the passenger reading it to the driver.

The CH in the directions was the Court House.  


Did you just...know that the court house is there, or did you find an explanation of abbreviations? (I can not find one. I sorta expected one at the front of the book, but...maybe I'm staring right at it?)


I'm magic! :) No, I just know that in small towns in the past the court house WAS the important center of a town, and often the only way you knew you were definitely in a town, and was THE major landmark in an area. It's like RR being the railroad, it's so obvious to the people who are there it wouldn't occur to them that at some point the court house would not be the defining feature of a town, wouldn't occur to them to explain it, just as it wouldn't occur to them that the train would not always be a defining feature of the landscape.


Apparently part of the problem this guide was addressing was that there weren't too many signs, because most people knew where everything was in their neck of the woods, and not very many strangers were traveling through, so what would you need street/directional signs for? I've never thought about life without street/highway signs in the 20th century before.

And it's not like they'd do a lot of good anyway. Knowing this is highway MM doesn't tell you squat about where you will end up if you go down it, and there weren't maps for things. Try going across Texas sometime with no map and stay on the 2 lane roads. It's a VERY different experience than blowing through on the interstate. And when a road is flooded... well, crap. NOW where do you go? Try looking at a good map of Texas and choose a route, now mentally flood out the road on your route. Now what? How far do you have to backtrack to get to a different route? For weird reasons we did that a few years ago, did Joplin MO to Las Cruces NM all on the back roads. That was interesting and VERY educational. And we DID get flooded out, I think we backtracked 30 miles or so, and we HAD a good map, and signs and a good car, and money for gas...

I also envision the passenger reading the directions, but also the typical arguments from the driver about if they're reading it right, plus I envision the kid reading the book and getting maybe a little bratty about all the interesting sounding things they're missing - I wanna go see the cliff dwellings! No, we're not going to go down some side road, we might break down on the way...and for what, some holes in a rock? But you promised we would see neat things! Sit down and be quiet... (plus maybe it's night-time, because I like the idea of approaching Flagstaff at night time...)

 Heh, one threat of "shut up or we'll leave you out here" would quell that FAST! :D It's desolate.

Mom pointed out also that the .4 of a mile, even if you have no odometer, gives you at least a ballpark for when to look for your landmark. Go until you see the fence, well, go .25 miles or go 6 miles? How far will that fence be, give or take?
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 308
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
64
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Pearl Sutton wrote:
I'm magic! :)



Sounds reasonable to me :)

I will remember you when I next come across an abbreviation I don't understand!

But unfortunately, I have some other writing I have to do before I can continue on this adventure traversing time and space...
 
The human mind is a dangerous plaything. This tiny ad is pretty safe:
A rocket mass heater is the most sustainable way to heat a conventional home
http://woodheat.net
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!