The Great Battle of Sitting and Spitting: Whitney, Texas, 1949

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"Why, they must spit two or three gallons a day!  They ain't died fast enough, these old men!"--Mrs. T.E. Bagley, Whitney, Texas, 1949

John Ptak comments on a story from a 1949 issue of LIFE. The photos are fantastic.

It isn't, I guess, so much a story about their sitting as it is a story about their not sitting, about how it came to be that their lumber was removed and the men forced to find another place to take in the sights and construct their great edifices of commentary and asides.

The story appears in LIFE Magazine of 15 August 1949, and lays the whole drama out in two splash pages, with bare editorializing and some great photos.

The story goes like this: "In 1922 D. (Doctor Dee) Scarborough, the druggist in Whitney, Texas, put up a bench outside his store, and immediately it became a loafing headquarters for the gaffers of the Brazos River Valley. 'Year after year they sat there looking like a jury of irritable terrapins, whittling, spitting and passing judgment on everything that passed. But finally reform caught up with them." It caught up to them, even if everyone was wearing a collared shirt.

The Great Battle of Sitting and Spitting: Whitney, Texas, 1949