A pickle low party in Pittsboro

Photo by Dorothea Lange. "Sign tacked to pole near the post office. Main street, Pittsboro, North Carolina," Dorothea Lange, 1939
“Sign tacked to pole near the post office. Main street, Pittsboro, North Carolina,” Dorothea Lange, 1939

Here’s something for you to contemplate over the weekend.

In her trek through North Carolina in 1939, famed documentary photographer Dorothea Lange captured the photo above in Pittsboro. Lange offered no details other than those that appear in the above caption. So it’s hard to know why she decided to turn her camera toward the sign. But I’d hazard a guess that it’s the term pickle low party. Is pickle low merely a misspelling of piccolo? Or does pickle low have something to do with pickles? We’re vexed. And in a quick search around the web, it seems that others who’ve seen this photo are also confused by the term. Can anybody offer some clarification?

3 thoughts on “A pickle low party in Pittsboro”

  1. If it IS a misspelling of piccolo, then what? Does it mean “little party,” as in “Piccolo Spoleto”? …. If so, is the misspelling intentional, like “boiled p-nuts”? ….And what kind of house party charges 10 cents per single man and 15 cents per couple?

  2. Almost certainly what, in that particular day in time, was called a “rent party” or “fish fry” in urban parlance. No job, tight times… when all else fails throw a party where neighbors come to hang, dance, have a great time while helping out the host who charges admission while providing a good time and perhaps even some good food- for sale… e.g. a fried fish sandwich. If lucky, the host raises enough money for the months rent, or for a tank of heating oil, or whatever the crisis de jour….

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