Hanging about the wagon are three men who appear to have come in to town from the farm. Two mustachioed men perhaps father and son sit on the wagon. One is dressed in work clothes while the other smokes a cheroot and has put on a tie. His jacket looks torn, perhaps snagged on a barbed wire fence. Everyone wears hats but the boy at the left is dressed in city garb, tie and bowler hat. Perhaps he works at the store. In the foreground is a young man in work clothes who looks to be of a more Hispanic or Native American background than the others.
The town has a fire hydrant, perhaps this is Arroyo Grande.
In the background a soap ad is in the prime viewing space atop a wall that Tom Sawyer needs to put another coat of white wash on.
According to Snopes.com Procter & Gamble began to market Ivory soap with the slogan “It floats” in 1891. The product was easy to find when dropped in a wash tub giving the product an advantage in the market.
Roads in the region could be rough in the early days.
When surveyor William Brewer came to Arroyo Grande from Nipomo in 1861 the road was so steep he had to chain the back wheels of his wagon. A third of the way downhill the wagon tipped over and his companions had to jump to avoid injury.
“I had the curiosity to go back to the hill the next day, when we packed down on our backs a part of the baggage, the wagon top, etc., and measured the angle. In one place for some distance the road descended at an angle of twenty-nine degrees! Yet this is the better road to San Luis Obispo.”
— Up and Down California, by William Brewer
The image comes from a collection of large format negatives in the Tribune library. They were enclosed in a 1950s era Telegram-Tribune window envelope, labeled “Mrs. Leonard.” The images however are decades older.
One image is from 1908 and others are from 1914-15. Most are from the South County.
Arroyo Grande celebrates their 75th Harvest Festival this weekend.