Horse-drawn bakery wagon, Ohio, 1913

What it is:

Unused real photo post card measuring 5.5 x 3.5 inches.

What I know about it:

The wagon reads Hoover’s Bakery.  Written on the back in pencil is Taken 1913 Alliance Ohio.  The post card paper manufacturer’s logo (CYKO) dates it to 1906-1915.  (I probably didn’t need to look up the logo’s date range, but it’s always nice to be able to validate the handwritten notes to the extent possible.)

Comments:

In terms of the clarity of the image and the condition of the post card, this is obviously not the most museum-quality photo I own.  But to me the content represents a fascinating look back at a way of life that is quite unlike what I know.  I went to college in northeastern Ohio about 75 years after this photo was taken, and the scene shown here seems virtually foreign to me.  Yet the more I look at it, the more I have to ask why it feels that way.  Similar architecture could be found in houses in the area.  People involved in food preparation still wore hats and aprons.  I even saw a horse-drawn buggy or two because Amish lived in the area.  But somehow the fact that it’s a bakery wagon, which is something you just don’t see today, colors my impression of the entire photo, and that single element makes the entire thing seem like a different world.

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8 comments on “Horse-drawn bakery wagon, Ohio, 1913”

  1. Interesting poses, too. Semi-casual: the camera is not longer completely strange to them, but they’re still not used to having pictures taken every day. The child on the wagon touching the baker in the center is another nice note.

    • I see what you mean, a sort of self-conscious forced casualness. One thing that struck me about the child is its presence there at all. That is essentially a work environment, and unless an effort was being made to advertise the bakery as a family operation, the child would probably not be clambering around there today. I’ll be generous and assume the child wasn’t actually an employee! Also, is it me, or does the guy on the right have enormous shoes?

      • I can’t see the shoes clearly, but they do look big. I’d imagine (which is all I can do) that the child might have ridden along on deliveries. This was pre-day care after all. The work and home realms were separated only in the Industrial Revolution, and in some places (my house, for instance), the division never really took hold. Gilles Marini (Sex and the City, Brothers and Sisters) worked in his father’s bakery as a child in France from a very young age. It’s possible that this is a boy whose apprenticeship is beginning. Or maybe the bakery was in back of the house, so the kid was used to playing on the wagon.

      • Yes, exactly, any of a number of child labor or food safety laws would keep that child out of the workplace today. I like your idea that this photo was taken behind the child’s house, where the child is used to clambering around in the off hours. I suppose it’s just my modern sensibilities that make me want me to believe the child isn’t actually an employee. But then again, I remember being that age and occasionally thinking that heading out into the workforce would be appealing. (Ah, youth, eh?) By the way, I can’t see the guy’s shoes clearly either, just that they look enormous.

  2. I just love the stories that are in the comments about the child and creating a life for these people. 🙂

  3. It looks to me like this kid is a family member, but it also reminds me of Margaret O’Brien riding around on the delivery wagon in “Meet Me in St. Louis”!

    • Yes, I was assuming the kid was either a family member, or a precocious neighborhood child, but who knows. I even go back and forth on whether it’s a boy or a girl!


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