Past and present in a New Mexico town famous for its pies

A review of "Pie Town Revisited" by Arthur Drooker.

  • A Depression Era family eats dinner in their dugout house.

    Russell Lee/FSA
  • Kathy Knapp, owner of Pie-O-Neer Cafe, displays a pie.

    Arthur Drooker
  • Rex Collins Norris Jr. holds a Russell Lee photo of his grandfather, Sam Norris.

    Arthur Drooker
  • Depression-Era main street in Pie Town, New Mexico.

    Russell Lee/FSA
 

During the Great Depression, Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee detoured off a desolate stretch of U.S. 60 in New Mexico to visit a place called Pie Town — so named for its famous baked goods. In striking Kodachrome color, he documented the lives of the 200 or so homesteaders who had fled the Great Plains Dust Bowl to resettle in this high-desert community. Inspired by Lee, photographer Arthur Drooker made his own pilgrimage there 70 years later. In Pie Town Revisited, Drooker writes, “Lee had said that he was ‘taking pictures of the history of tomorrow.’ In following his footsteps, I endeavored to do the same thing.” With photos of abandoned ranches and homesteads, women and men holding Lee’s portraits of their parents, and of course, trays of colorful pies, Drooker juxtaposes the past and present of this humble place and the people who chose to make it their home.

Pie Town Revisited
By Arthur Drooker
160 pages, softcover, $34.95
University of New Mexico Press, 2015