Transcript/Biography

Up
Down

"I left Oklahoma in 1925 and went to Oroville [California]. That's where them three girls' dad [Cleo] died, in Oroville, 1931. And I was 28 years old [in 1931], and I had five kids and that one [the baby in this photo, Norma] was on the road. She never even saw her daddy. She was born after he died. It was very hard. And cheap. I picked cotton in Firebaugh, when that girl there was about two years old, I picked cotton in Firebaugh for 50-cents a hundred."
     Question: "A 'hundred' [meaning] weight?"
     "A hundred pounds."
     Question: "How much could you pick in a day, then?"
     "I generally picked around 450, 500. I didn't even weigh a hundred pounds. I lived down there in Shafter, and I'd leave home before daylight and come in after dark. We just existed! Anyway, we lived. We survived, let's put it that way. I walked from what they called a Hoover camp ground right there at the bridge [in Bakersfield], I walked from there to way down on First Street, and worked at a penny a dish down there for 50-cents a day and the leftovers. Yeah, they give me what was leftover to take home with me. Sometimes, I'd carry home two water buckets full.
     "Well, [in 1936] we started from L.A. to Watsonville. And the timing chain broke on my car. And I had a guy to pull into this pea camp in Nipomo. I started to cook dinner for my kids, and all the little kids around the camp came in. 'Can I have a bite? Can I have a bite?' And they was hungry, them people was. And I got my car fixed, and I was just getting ready to pull out when she [Dorothea Lange] come back and snapped my picture.
     "I come to this town [Modesto] in 1945. I transferred from Whittier State to Modesto. And when this hospital opened up out here, I went to work there. And the first eight years I lived in this town, I worked 16 hours out of 24. Eight-and-a-half years, seven days a week."
     Question: "Are you comfortable now?"
     "Yeah."

Migrant Mother – Florence Thompson

Close Window
   

Other Excerpts from Dust Bowl Descent Interviews:

Darrel Coble & Lois Houle
Nettie Featherston, "If You Die…"
Lois Houle on "Relief"
William Huravitch & Chewing Tobacco
Vern Evans, Oregon or Bust
Walter Ballard, Riding the Rails
Walter Ballard, Tractored Out
Fritz Fredrick Growing Wheat
Madge May on the FSA
Harvey Taft, FSA Farmsteads
May Ross Lincoln, School Programs
Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land"