Saturday, November 07, 2009


Across the road and down the way from the farm sharecropped by the Whitfields and pretty close to Wheeley's Church, lay Tucks Service Station. Country stores like Tucks were weekend gathering spots for local residents. In July 1939, while she was photographing in the area, Dorothea Lange took her camera there and got these images.

They come from the Farm Services Administration collection in the Prints and Photos Division of the Library of Congress. Captions and field notes were prepared by Lange and the two research assistants who accompanied her.

The first image was taken from the yard of the house across the street.* The second shows the Whitfield's nine year old daughter, Dorothy Lee, along with two unidentified women. I suspect it was taken the same morning Lange photographed the Whitfields at home. Unfortunately, these two are low-resolution scans from Lange's negatives.

{LC caption: Country store on dirt road, Sunday afternoon. Note kerosene pump on right and gasoline pump on the left. The brother of the owner of the store stands in the doorway. Near Gordenton, North Carolina}

{LC caption: Daughter of white tobacco sharecropper at country store. Person County, North Carolina}

This image, taken the following Sunday, is a high-resolution scan.

{LC caption: Country store on dirt road. Sunday afternoon. Note the kerosene pump on the right and the gasoline pump on the left. Rough, unfinished timber posts have been used as supports for porch roof. Negro men are sitting on the porch. Brother of store owner stands in doorway. Gordonton, North Carolina
Field notes: This is Tucks Service Station}

This image digitized from a print of the same photo:

These details come from the first image, above:

In preparing her book, Daring to look: Dorothea Lange's photographs and reports from the field, Anne Whiston Spirn went back to the site and, on July 2, 2006, took this photo:


About it, she writes: 'The country store is much smaller than I had imagined, its porch more shallow. An electric meter is mounted next to a boarded-up window, but it isn’t running. “My great uncle owned that store,” Bess Whitt, born a Hester, told me.'

Here's a panoramic image giving Lange's and Spirn's photos of Tucks.


Main source:

Daring to look: Dorothea Lange's photographs and reports from the field, by Anne Whiston Spirn, (University of Chicago Press, 2008)



*When Anne Whiston Spirn went back to the site on July 2, 2006, she noted that this house "across the road from the Gordonton country store belonged to the store’s owner in 1939. When Lange took the photograph of the men sitting on the store's porch, her back was to the house. She did not photograph the house, which Margaret Jarman Hagood (a researcher who accompanied Lange) called 'the old Bain Home Place.'" Up until the early 1930s the Bains had owned a large plantation in Person County by Gordonton. Field notes from Lange's photo shoot in the area say: "Old man Bain (the landowner) had about 1,200 acres and when he died 6 years ago this was divided among 11 children. Each one got about enough for himself and one tenant. Mr. Whitfield's landlord owns about 100 acres and Whitfield is the only tenant."

This is a photo that Sprin took of the Bain house:


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the Baynes Store at Gordonton NC. It has never been Tucks. Please research further!