On the Dirty Plate Trail: Remembering the Dust Bowl Refugee Camps

On the Dirty Plate Trail: Remembering the Dust Bowl Refugee Camps

Sanora Babb

Language: English

Pages: 239

ISBN: 0292714459

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A vivid, firsthand account of the migrations, immigrant camps, and labor organizing of displaced Midwestern farmers during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, illustrated with striking photographs.

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compactly in the pocket-sized IWW songbook, whose preamble begins succinctly, “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” FSA camp, mother and child When Jacob Riis took his camera into New York City tenement slums his purpose was to catalyze action for reform. The short-lived Photo League established a center for documentary photography based on the supposition that photography could affect social change.42 According to Carol Shloss, Ansel Adams and other photographers

cherished “culture and refinement” into any one of these classes; almost the only difference is the slight and often false and unenlightened veneer acquired at the state universities. The only persons I know who have pulled themselves out of the backwardness of the place to any fuller development of their capacities and point of view are from the snubbed lower class. The town and the county fall in line for the meat and potatoes of relief—the unity of despair they now feel is only a short step

rolls emerge from these whole, battered stoves like a homely defiance of the tragic circumstance. It is only natural that under such conditions of living, illness is prevalent. The surprising thing is that it is not more so. Even though many of them are now apparently in good health, the future is quite sure to bring out the results of undernourishment and neglect. A terrifying lot of children have pinched old faces and thin curving chests. Few of the tents now have dry floors; the rainy season

a bedstead. There is a continual epidemic of measles, mumps, whooping cough, scarlet fever, pneumonia and a few cases of small pox among the children. One little boy had infantile paralysis, another diphtheria. They had been admitted to the hospital but were sent home long before they were able to continue life in a leaky tent. If one child in a family gets a contagious disease, because of the impossibility of isolation, all of them are usually in bed at one time. In one trailer, I found a

movement, 56, 61–62, 84, 85–86, 101 Sports, 22, 26, 78, 154 Squatter camps, 66, 74, 80, 83, 93. See also Migrant labor camps SRA. See California State Emergency Relief Administration (SRA) Stalin, Joseph, 91 Standard Oil, 119, 120 Starvation. See Hunger Stebel, Sidney, 155 Steffens, Lincoln, 17, 34 Stein, Walter J., xvi, 80 Steinbeck, John: and Collins, 34–35, 116, 130; and photographer Bristol, 123, 164n.34; and visits to FSA camps, 35, 123, 130 —works: The Grapes of Wrath, xvi, 5–6,

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