This piece is based on another Farm Security Administration photo by John Vachon. It shows four Southland paper mill workers and their car share vehicle. I like that it also shows their work gear and lunch boxes. Reminds me of how my dad used to dress for work and the lunch box he carried for so many years. My mom always packed my dad’s lunch (or dinner, if he was on an evening or overnight shift) and used to put Mrs. Baird’s fruit pies in there for dessert. So, when I see these types of lunch boxes, I think of fried pies and those big metal clasps snapping shut.
The paper mill has been a theme in my work before and probably will be again. As I’ve mentioned, it had a huge effect for Lufkin and surrounding areas, too. It was one of the largest employers for generations, and when it shut down, it didn’t necessarily tank the economy because I feel at that time the town’s economic drivers were changing anyway. But it definitely caused a shift and left a lot of people displaced, professionally. It is integral to the larger East Texas story.