Pie Town, New Mexico, was immortalized in 1940 in the
photographs of Russell Lee, who documented life in the high,
dry farming community as part of the Farm Security
Administration?s New Deal survey of American life. This book
tells the story of one of the women photographed by Lee.
Doris Caudill lived on a homestead with her husband and
daughter, who was six years old when Lee made his famous
photographs, many of which show Doris planting her garden,
canning vegetables, and milking cows. Now, more than sixty
years later, Joan Myers, herself a distinguished
photographer, introduces us to the woman behind the pictures.
Raised in West Texas, Doris first came to Pie Town on summer
trips as a teenager. Faro Caudill courted her in Pie Town
and brought her as a young bride to live in a dugout on a
homestead in nearby Divide. Money was as scarce as water in
this desert community, and a trip to Albuquerque, 180 miles
away, was unimaginable. The Caudills went there only once
while they lived in Pie Town, to buy a radio at Montgomery
Ward. The nearest doctor was 60 miles from Pie Town, so
babies were born at home and mothers had to be vigilant
against accidents and snakebites. Although the Caudills and
their neighbors lived in poverty that is hard for
twenty-first-century Americans to imagine, Doris?s memories
of those Great Depression days are the happiest of her life.
She was a lively young woman in the 1930s, and her sense of
fun and the pleasure that the people in the tiny community
took in each other?s company more than made up for the
hardships they endured.
Joan Myers tells Doris?s story and recounts the experiences
of Russell and Jean Lee during their stay in Pie Town. Woven
through Myers?s narrative are her musings on the
relationships among memory, photographs, and actual events.
Included are a selection of Lee?s iconic photographs,
Doris?s family snapshots, and photographs taken by Myers
herself showing the visual residue of those bygone years.