California Odyssey: Interviews

Oral History Interviews

Included in this collection of oral history interviews is a Guide and Index to the interviews as well as selected photographs submitted by the interviewees.

The bound print copies of the interviews are available in the Historical Research Center’s Rare Book Room. For access contact the archivist at archives@csub.edu.

The oral history interviews, along with selected photographs, the Guide and Index, audio and video materials from the Oral History Program are copyrighted by the California State University, Bakersfield Library.

Name Abstract
Date Interviewed
Interviewed by:
Barnes, Lois Smith (143) Born in Washita County, Oklahoma in 1922, Barnes later made two trips to California: Armona in 1926 and King City in 1935. She shares her experiences living in a tent and a small house, her difficulty in school because she moved so often, why The Grapes of Wrath was offensive, why it was important not to show that you were poor, describes what happened at the inspection station on California’s border, and her experiences with domestic work and her employers.
15, 18 June 1982
Michael Neely
Belezzuoli, Ethel Oleta Wever (124) Belezzuoli was born in Marlow, Stephens Co., Oklahoma in 1919. She and her family came to Porterville, California in the late 1930s after time spent in the Imperial Valley. Her interview provides descriptions of dust storms, her and other migrants reactions to discrimination they received, her family’s housing in California in the 1930s, that migrants were ashamed to utilize the WPA or other forms of welfare, experiences regarding employee/employer relations, what she heard about strikes and organizing, how The Grapes of Wrath effected the “Okie” stereotype, and what it meant to be called an “Okie.”
18 March 1981
10 April 1981
Stacey Jagels
Butler, Earl (108) Born in Missouri in 1929, Butler came with his family to Lindsay, California in October of 1937. He considers his and other migrants’ experiences like facing discrimination for being a migrant at work and in school, organizing in late 1930s and early 1940s, growers cheating migrants out of pay, The Grapes of Wrath depicting aspects of the Dust Bowl migrants’ plight, relief received, and differences between “Okies” and Californians.
3 February 1981
7 March 1981
Judith Gannon
Clipper, Terry Bennett (139) Clipper was born in Dustin, Hughes County, Oklahoma in 1917. He came to Los Angeles, California in 1938 working on orange groves, and moved to Bakersfield on June 9, 1948 working on cotton and grape crops. His interview includes describing what the WPA and CCC did for people during the Great Depression, people’s rejection to relief, issues of race relations between farmworkers and growers, successful strikes and labor organization, description of ditch camps, why “Okie” was a derogatory term, that The Grapes of Wrath did a good job portraying the migrants, and bootleggers.
8, 9 May 1981
Judith Gannon
Collins, Talmage Lee (103) Collins was born in 1910 in Jasper, Newton County, Arkansas. He and his family settled in McFarland-Delano, California in 1935. Collins recollects the prevalence of company labor camps and what they were like, jackrabbit drives, that The Grapes of Wrath exaggerated migrants’ issues, violence and the Ku Klux Klan, the effects of the National Recovery Act and other New Deal programs, making moonshine as a way to make money, the evolution of farm mechanization, that the Dust Bowl was man-made, and rags to riches stories of prominent members of Kern County.
21, 28 January 1981
Michael Neely
Combs, Edgar (206) Born in Virginia in 1894, Combs would come to Bakersfield, California on March 30, 1917 and settle in Arvin. Combs’s perspective as a grower provides an interesting look at the migrants and issues farmers faced. This interview depicts tent and ditch camps, the kinds of housing he provided for his workers, why he avoided employing government camp inhabitants, how Californians viewed the border patrols, cotton strikes in 1933 and 1938, claims the origins of the term “Okie” and “Arkie” were from the migrants themselves, and that small farmers not much better off than migrants.
2 April 1981
Judith Gannon
Crane, Edgar Romine (129) Crane was born in Haskell, Haskell County, Texas in 1910. His interview includes his arrival in Shafter, California on December 24, 1930, comments regarding labor and government camps, the Cherokee Strip housing development, transient and established workers’ living conditions, benefits of WPA and CCC, his rejection to unions and strikes, Californians discouraging influx of migrants, how The Grapes of Wrath is based on true facts, big farms taking advantage of workforce, farmworker race relations, the lack of hostility towards migrants, why he finds “Okie” unintentionally demeaning, and thoughts on government loans from SRA relief.
7 April 1981
Judith Gannon
Criswell, Vera Ruth Woodall (114) Born in Seymour, Baylor County, Texas on July 23, 1909, Criswell moved between Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California through the 1920s and 1930s. Her fascinating interview compares many aspects regarding Southern California, California’s Central Valley, and Arizona. Though she arrived in Visalia in 1937, her many experiences before and after include employer relations with migrants, racial minority relations, discrimination at school, farm mechanization, New Deal policies, dust storms, labor and government camps, problems for women in camps, California border checks, women and children working in fields, health and nutrition, why organizing strikes failed, welfare abusers, what the term “Okie” meant, and the many errors in The Grapes of Wrath.
24, 26 February 1981
Stacey Jagels
Davis, Clara Beddo (106) Born in Pauls Valley, Garvin County, Oklahoma on May 13, 1918, Davis and her family would later land in the Arvin Labor Camp in California on August 21, 1937. Her experiences include perspectives on tent and cabin housing, her family’s resistance to unionizing, strikes in the area, why the Sunset Labor Camp was a good place for people to live, what she learned about ditch/tent cities, labor abuses towards farmworkers, what welfare did for people, her definition of “Okie” as degrading because of the negative stereotype, and why The Grapes of Wrath is exaggerated.
29 January 1981
12 February 1981
Stacey Jagels
Davis, Velma May Cooper (140) Davis was born in Silverton, Briscoe County, Texas in 1901. She came to Delano, California in August of 1925. Her story is interesting as the perspective of the employer employing farmworkers. Her interview includes seeing people organize farmworkers in McFarland, how the strike caused her family hardship, her family providing tent houses for workers, and why the WPA was a good form of relief.
25 May 1981
Judith Gannon
Day, Elizabeth May Garber (132) Day was born in Lone Star, Douglas County, Kansas in 1921, but moved to Franklin, Nebraska the next year. She and her family moved to Bakersfield, California in 1932. She informs about her Father worked in WPA, New Deal policies and their effects on farmers, accepting relief as devastating to her family, that the banks would not loan money to “Okies,” the slum-like camps, why people thought “Okies” were different and stereotyped, and claims that The Grapes of Wrath was very accurate.
2 May 1981
Stacey Jagels
Dinwiddie, Robert (111) Dinwiddie was born in Wylie, Collin County, Texas on February 7, 1896. He and his family would make the trip to Tulare, California where he was involved with constructing the Linnell Camp among others. His interview includes information regarding strikes and their violence, labor abuses, the WPA and different forms of welfare, hostilities toward “Okies,” and that The Grapes of Wrath was very accurate.
18, 20 February 1981
Stacey Jagels
Dunn, Lillie Ruth Ann Counts (112) Dunn, born on February 14, 1908, left Porum, Muskogee County, Oklahoma and came to Tulare, California in January 1931. Her story is very different because she was labeled a communist for her stubborn independence. Her interview describes the way “communist” was used back then, how her children were discriminated because of a communist label, what the CCC and WPA did for people, and problems organizing cotton workers.
14, 16 February 1981
Judith Gannon
Egbert, Jewell Martin [begins on pp 15] (127b) Lula Martin was born in Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, Oklahoma in 1893. She and her family came to Farmersville, California in 1936. Jewell Martin was born in Meeker, Lincoln County, Oklahoma in 1924. The two women described what “Okie” meant to them, how their family considered involvement in strikes, and why The Grapes of Wrath is inaccurate regarding the migrants’ morality. Jewell Martin aslo describes both Linnell government camp and Evans private camp.
27 March 1981
Judith Gannon
Farris, Goldie Mae Jarrell (121) Born in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas about 1928, Farris later traveled to Tulare, California in 1939 with her family. She recounts the border searches; discrimination religiously, as a migrant, and educationally; the appalling lack of medical care in ditch camps; her life in a government camp; how “Okie” was worse than Texan; the essential nature of food stamps for survival; and The Grapes of Wrath as very accurate.
10 March 1981
Stacey Jagels
Frane, Myron C. (205) Frane was born in Tingley, Iowa in 1912. He and his family established themselves as fruit farmers in Reedley, California in late 1917. Frane would become an employee of the Farm Security Administration providing loans to poor farmers. His interview provides information on Asian farmworkers and the Japanese internment, labor camp conditions, the exaggerated claims in The Grapes of Wrath, and what constituted as an “Okie.”
25 March 1981
Michael Neely
Garretson, Elbert Ray (142) Born in Chattanooga, Chomanche County, Oklahoma, on November 15, 1915, Garretson brought his family to Kern County, California in 1936. Garretson comments on the New Deal policies, home remedies used, his life as a minister, the lives of people in the migrant camps, and why the term “Okie” never really bothered him.
25, 26 June 1981
Michael Neely
Graham, Clarence William (122) Born in McClain County, Indian Territory, Oklahoma in 1900, Graham came to California in 1924. He came with his family to California in 1924. This interview describes making moonshine, how The Grapes of Wrath was impressionable on locals as the truth about the camps, unsanitary ditch and government camps, fruit tramps, grower camps having nicer housing, and the Japanese as growers and how they were interned.
18, 23 March 1981
Michael Neely
Holliday, Viola Elizabeth Shackelford (115) Grover was born in Board Camp, Polk County, Arkansas in 1912 and Viola was born in Mt. Ida, Montgomery County, Arkansas in 1916. They came to Bakersfield, California on July 30, 1937. The interview consists of experiences with the WPA, living in apartments in Sunset Camp, ditch camps, the importance of church, home remedies, mechanization in the fields, racial minority relations, the 1939 cotton strike, and issues with growers and organizers.
2, 9, 14 April 1981
Michael Neely
Holliday, Grover Cleveland (115) Grover was born in Board Camp, Polk County, Arkansas in 1912 and Viola was born in Mt. Ida, Montgomery County, Arkansas in 1916. They came to Bakersfield, California on July 30, 1937. The interview consists of experiences with the WPA, living in apartments in Sunset Camp, ditch camps, the importance of church, home remedies, mechanization in the fields, racial minority relations, the 1939 cotton strike, and issues with growers and organizers.
2, 9, 14 April 1981
Michael Neely
Holmes, Loye Lucille Martin (113) Holmes was born in Wayside, Oklahoma in 1917. After sterilizing any items containing cotton, she and her family passed the border check-points without harassment and settled in Arvin, California in 1936. Her interview includes descriptions of grass housing, ditch camps, and government camps; her thoughts on welfare during the Great Depression; how the WPA helped her family; home remedies; a woman’s perspective in an abusive relationship; organizing and striking in the fields; discrimination as an “Okie;” and what made The Grapes of Wrath mostly true.
23, 24 February 1981
Judith Gannon
Jackson, Martha Lee Martin (118) Jackson was born in Lenna, Oklahoma on July 13, 1922. She and her family came to Bakersfield, California in October of 1937 and continued to Fresno. This interview includes subjects regarding rejudice towards “Okies” at schools and in general, New Deal relief policies, how people responded to the Dust Storms, her reasons for ditch camps, women working in fields and canneries, prejudice towards racial minorities, and how The Grapes of Wrath is an embarrassing and untrue characterization of “Okies.”
10 March 1981
Stacey Jagels
Kessler Jr., Robert Lewis (138) Kessler was born in Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma in 1921. He came out to Bakersfield, California in 1934 with his family. In this interview, Kessler describes experiencing other races of people other than white, moving to different locations in California, how kids bullied Kessler for being poor and having an accent, the effects of the WPA program, and the border inspection.
26, 28 May 1981
Michael Neely
Kirschenmann, Vivian Leah Barnes (135) Kirschenmann was born in Boynton, Muskogee County, Oklahoma on March 1, 1920. She and her family came to Shafter, California in 1929. Kirschenmann’s account on discrimination towards “Okies” and African Americans, race relations, the Ku Klux Klan and Sundown Towns, dugout and “state” homes, rabbit drives, and the types of food cooked is a fascinating woman’s perspective of life prior to and during the Dust Bowl.
22 April 1981
5 May 1981
Michael Neely
Kludt, Oscar Ervin (Irving) (134) Born in 1923 in Alpena, Jerauld County, South Dakota, Kludt provides a non-“Okie,” migrant perspective. He came to Lodi, California in March of 1935. In this interview, Kludt’s gives his thoughts on the similarities between The Grapes of Wrath and Brentwood labor camps, the definition of “Okies” in comparison to South Dakotan migrants’ treatment, existing economic prejudices, life as a fruit tramp, the WPA and crop/stock destruction, private and government camps, and organizing and strikes in the fields.
1 May 1981
Michael Neely
Lackey, James Harvey (125) Lackey, born in Hartshorne, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma on January 30, 1914, came to Bakersfield, California in 1936 after working for the CCC. In the late 1930s, he worked for the DiGiorgio company where he experienced no abuse towards “Okies,” no strikes, the segregated camps and working positions, and different structures in which farmworkers lived. Lackey also describes the border inspection, government camps, working for the WPA, The Grapes of Wrath as exaggerated but true, and what “Okie” means.
31 March 1981
2 April 1981
Stacey Jagels
Laird, Alvin Bryan (104) Alvin Laird (born in Frederick, Oklahoma in 1908) and Rosie Laird (born in Cloud Chief, Oklahoma in 1912) stopped in Earlimart, California in 1935 before moving on to the Imperial Valley. The Lairds’ interview sheds light on how minorities and migrants were taken advantage of at work, life in ditch, government, apartment, and private camps, the effects of New Deal policies, the parallels between The Grapes of Wrath and real “Okies,” the California border patrols, prejudices towards “Okies” and African Americans, organizing and strikes in the fields, life in the CCC, perceptions towards welfare use, what “Okie” means, and a woman’s perspective.
19, 24 January 1981
Judith Gannon
Lambert Jr., James E. (109) Lambert was born in Pleasant Valley, Garvin County, Oklahoma in 1924. He and his family came to Pumpkin Center, California on September 11, 1928. Lambert recalls the meaning of “Okie,” how Californians mistreated migrants, the grassroots organizing for strikes against growers, how child work-permits affected anyone under fourteen finding work, examples of home remedies, the transition form animal powered to machine powered farm equipment, what it was like living in a county camp, and a significant woman doctor in Wasco.
10, 17 February 1981
Michael Neely
Manies, Frank Andy (110)
Born in Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma in 1915, Manies would later join the CCC and use the program to help make his way to Tulare, California around 1934. His interview provides great detail on life in the CCC, discrimination towards “Okies” at work and in town, government and ditch camp life, prejudice against “Okies” and Mexicans, camp stores and “artificial money,” perceptions of government aid users, The Grapes of Wrath supporting a negative “Okie” stigma, and organizing and strikes in the fields.
18, 20 February 1981
Stacey Jagels
Martin, Lula May Quinn (127a) Lula Martin was born in Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, Oklahoma in 1893. She and her family came to Farmersville, California in 1936. Jewell Martin was born in Meeker, Lincoln County, Oklahoma in 1924. The two women described what “Okie” meant to them, how their family considered involvement in strikes, and why The Grapes of Wrath is inaccurate regarding the migrants’ morality. Jewell Martin aslo describes both Linnell government camp and Evans private camp.
26 March 1981
Judith Gannon
May, Lillie Eva Grose (136) Born in Wright City, McCurtain County, Oklahoma in 1918, May and her family would later land in Shafter, California on December 11, 1931. The interview includes her family’s perspectives on welfare, her thoughts on The Grapes of Wrath’s characterization of destitute migrants, the de facto segregation placing demographic groups into “colonies,” how “Okie” is a derogatory term pertaining to a people with nothing, prejudice in the classroom, and the living situation in the Hoover camp on Jewett street near Chester Ave.
2, 16 June 1981
Michael Neely
McClanahan, Christina Veola Williams (133) McClanahan was born in Boley, Okfuskee County, Oklahoma in 1929. This interview provides an African American perspective to the Dust Bowl. She and her family came to Rosedale, California in 1936. McClanahan considers discrimination toward African Americans, the home remedies her family used for illness, her father’s involvement in WPA and SRA, discrepancies with a social worker and obtaining welfare, how labor contractors cheated anyone they could, and why African Americans saw Roosevelt as a great president.
20 June 1981
Judith Gannon
McClintock, J.R. (119) McClintock was born in 1915 in Winnett, Petroleum County, Montana. He came to Hanford, California in October 1934. His interview includes his family’s surviving the collapse of the markets for livestock and produce, why churches were important, his claim that unions did not organize where he worked, his unawareness that people lived like those characterized in The Grapes of Wrath, how the WPA complicated getting work, and how the CCC was a great program.
4, 5 March 1981
Judith Gannon
Mendenhall, Elbert (130) Mendenhall was born on March 10, 1902 in Ponca, Dixon County, Nebraska. He and his family came out to Los Angeles in November of 1936. Mendenhall’s interview presents a perspective of a Nebraskan migrant; in particular, the effects of President Roosevelt’s program that destroyed livestock and crops, how unions made it difficult to find work, and strikes’ disruptive nature for families trying to earn wages. He also includes his wife’s problems with employers replacing her with male employees.
17, 24 April 1981
Michael Neely
Mitchell, Viola Lillian Maxwell (102) Mitchell was born in Spiro, Oklahoma in 1912. She and her husband came to Bakersfield, California on April 16, 1935. This interview contains descriptions of dust storms, Mitchell’s charitable nature towards other migrants in need, the forms of recreational activities women participated in, what motherhood was like for female migrants, negative perceptions of taking charity and welfare users, examples of discrimination aimed at “Okies,” and the dire straits of ditch camp life.
12, 15 January 1981
Stacey Jagels
Mitchell, Hazel Fay (137) Born in Mountain Home, Baxter County, Arkansas, in 1918, Mitchell came to Arvin, California in 1928. Her interview includes describing people from a government camp, how abusing welfare has not changed since the program’s inception, why The Grapes of Wrath is inaccurate, what “Okie” meant to the migrants, the importance of church, when the effects of the Great Depression occur, getting a sack of cotton confiscated at the California border, schoolyard problems with non-migrant children, and some home remedies for injuries and sickness.
29 May 1981
Michael Neely
Morgan, Byrd Monford (131) Council Hill, Muskogee County, Oklahoma
2 May 1981
Stacey Jagels
Newsome, Charles M. (123) Newsome’s interview includes perspectives on racial issues, prejudice toward “Okies,” family life on the farm before and after settling in California, and cotton camp life for themselves and, later, their own workers. Born on December 24, 1926 outside Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, Newsome and his family traveled to Woodville, California in October of 1935. His racial perspectives provide insight on the societal views towards African Americans and Mexicans. He clearly describes the complex nature of the term “Okie” as derogatory, not in a racial or ethnic way, but as an economic class.
23 March 1981
12 May 1981
Michael Neely
Pate, Reverend Billie H. (117) Pate, born in Kemp, Kaufman County, Texas in 1926, describes his trip to California, camp life, discrimination from teachers, racial perspectives, aspects of field work in the late 1930s, and World War II military experiences. In September of 1935, his family settled in Firebaugh in a cotton camp. Uncomfortable around migrant peoples (white and Mexican), the Pates moved to live in a camp of people like themselves. He portrays the prejudices of one teacher towards migrants, but also his own family’s towards Mexicans. Pate provides examples of work, life, and medical remedies accustomed to migrants.
5, 12 March 1981
Michael Neely
Price, Juanita Everly (105) Price was born in Payne County, Oklahoma in 1916. Her depiction of the dust storms and destruction of crops is informative. Coming to Bakersfield, California in 1936, she witnessed border guards stopping migrants. Her interpretation of race relations is fascinating, claiming “Okies” had it worse than African-Americans. She includes the kinds of foods her family ate, her short time on welfare, and what the living conditions were like in “ditch” camps. Price also disagrees with Steinbeck’s characterization of “Okies” in the Grapes of Wrath. She did not witness any strikes in the 1930s or 1940s.
26, 29 January 1981
Stacey Jagels
Rintoul, William (208) Born in Taft, California in 1922, Rintoul witnessed the 1930s as a teenager. Though he has a fascination with the oil industry, his native perspective provides an alternative to the Dust Bowler account. Rintoul did see the government camps and comments on the plight of the migrants and unemployed locals in Hoover Cities. This interview presents an interesting description of the Grapes of Wrath banning. He includes commentary on the shame people felt working for the WPA and CCC government programs. The term “Okie” can be either a description of origin or derisive to migrants.
8 June 1981
Stacey Jagels
Rose, Dorothy Louise Price (128) Rose’s poems about her Dust Bowl experience add an interesting perspective to the Odyssey Project. Born in 1921 in Lamar, Arkansas, she recounts her childhood on the farm and at Church events. Her family moved to California in 1936 and eventually to the valley during World War II. Her family begrudgingly accepted relief through the WPA and food stamps. Her father was part of a union and paid dues. “Okie” was a derogatory word but is currently based on discrimination. The Grapes of Wrath captured the migrants’ plight, yet it made the people look very poorly.
7 April 1981
Stacey Jagels
Russell, Bobby Glen (107) Born in 1929, in Arkansas, Russell came to California in 1937, stopping in Arvin. His family stayed in Sunset labor camp where he learned the camps existed to control migrants. Russell describes union activities in the fields, especially the Cotton strike where many were arrested. He portrays different types of “tramps” who followed certain crops. Government programs like the AAA destroyed food that could feed starving people, and the Welfare office arbitrarily helped the migrants. Russell claims the Grapes of Wrath did not portray the horrific extremes people lived through and that “Okie” is a derogatory word.
3, 10 February 1981
Judith Gannon
Rymal, Esta Mae Lewis (201) Rymal was born in Cushing, Oklahoma in 1923. She and her family came out to Fresno and then Hanford, California in 1937 for a short time, moving to and from Oklahoma over the course of the next few years. She describes how the Corcoran cotton camp had similarities to The Grapes of Wrath, but her family did not live in the same manner. Rymal does not recall any discrimination, but her son finds the term “Okie” demeaning. She includes information on Oklahoma foods and farming.
14 January 1981
Judith Gannon
Seabolt, Joyce Vernon (126) Seabolt, born in 1928 in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, describes his Cherokee and Oklahoma roots. He comments farm life regarding religion, men’s and women’s work, and how the Dust Bowl victimized farmers both environmentally and economically. His account of the trip to California in 1937 includes being stopped by border guards, but his life is centered in the Imperial Valley. Seabolt discusses the meaning of the term “Okie” then and now. He describes de facto segregation in the fields and neighborhoods between whites, blacks, and Mexican-Americans. People were stigmatized for living in government camps and being on welfare.
12, 22 March 1981
Stacey Jagels
Shields, Hattye (209) Born in 1926, between Checotah and Henryetta, Oklahoma, Shields grew up on farms. She gives a very detailed account of the trip to California, including dust storms and events along the way. She describes how her parents’ felt demeaned when searched at the California border. Her family moved constantly between Oklahoma and California, stopping in Arvin and Wasco to work. She also remembers moving to follow the harvest seasons. This interview contains little on unions in the San Joaquin Valley, but Shields remembers her father working on a WPA project. She felt little prejudice as an “Okie.”
24 May 1981
Judith Gannon
Smalling, Hazel Oleta Thompson (120)
Smalling was born in Tuttle, Grady County, Oklahoma in 1918. She came to Pixley, California on March 26, 1937. Her account of life during the Great Depression includes employee/employer relations, California’s border inspection, what it was like to camp in the open, life as a fruit tramp, a description of government camps, New Deal programs like the WPA, reasons why “Okie” was a good or bad term depending on users’ intentions, and her thoughts on The Grapes of Wrath.
23, 26 March 1981
Judith Gannon
Smith, Earl F.(207) Born in Dubuque, Iowa in 1901, Smith came out to California in 1954. As a salesman, he traveled through states affected by the Dust Bowl and saw the “tin can tourists” moving west. Smith describes the conditions just before the Dust Bowl in Kansas and the mechanization of farm work. He claims the Great Depression did not occur overnight, but progressed westward with small farmers losing their land until the economy stabilized around in 1935. Smith portrays how the New Deal programs provided work. He provides a vivid description of the dust storms.
16 April 1981
Michael Neely
Smith, Thomas J. (116) Smith was born in 1903, in Oaklodge, Oklahoma. He describes what a “circuit riding doctor” was and fascinating events before moving to California, like his trip to the circus and time working on railroad crews. Traveling to California in 1936, Smith and his family finally settled in Delano. He worked hard, constantly finding jobs to stay off welfare. At one time he was even laid off for working too well! Smith’s account includes the amounts of wages for certain jobs and details how jobs were done. He has little to say about unions or prejudice towards “Okies.”
4, 16 March 1981
Michael Neely
Sullivan, Catherine (204) Born in Los Angeles, Sullivan came to Bakersfield in 1939 as a social worker for the State Relief Administration. She provides personal anecdotes of people she tried to help. Sullivan also describes the forms of relief provided under New Deal programs like the WPA. After 1941 she worked in the Kern County Welfare Department to help families with dependent children. Her account includes examples of prejudicial actions against Okies and Arkies and how migrants survived their hardships. She also comments on the differences between the government camps and the grower supplied camps.
27 February 1981
Judith Gannon
Thorner M.D., Juliet (202) Born Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1910, Thorner later became a pediatric doctor. Her perspective is very interesting since she had personal contact with many poor migrant families and their children. She came out to Kern General hospital in 1937 and ran the pediatric ward. Her account of the tragic state of affairs at the hospital includes understaffing and the migrants’ lack of health education. Her graphic accounts of the health crisis that existed in the camps are shocking. She also describes some home remedies used by some of the migrants and a local perspective of the “Okies.”
18 February 1981
Michael Neely
Ward, James Harrison (101) Mildred, a teacher, and James, a wage worker, both grew up in Oklahoma and felt the contradictory policies of the Agricultural Adjustment Act during the Great Depression. Mildred thinks the Grapes of Wrath was fairly accurate, with a few “exaggerations.” They came to Dinuba, California in 1938. Mildred supported the family as a teacher while James looked for work. James saw unions as disruptive to wage earning. They describe World War II as a major turning point economically. Mildred comments on the prejudice she and her family encountered as Okies.
19, 24 January 1981
Judith Gannon
Ward, Mildred Lenora Morris (101) Mildred, a teacher, and James, a wage worker, both grew up in Oklahoma and felt the contradictory policies of the Agricultural Adjustment Act during the Great Depression. Mildred thinks the Grapes of Wrath was fairly accurate, with a few “exaggerations.” They came to Dinuba, California in 1938. Mildred supported the family as a teacher while James looked for work. James saw unions as disruptive to wage earning. They describe World War II as a major turning point economically. Mildred comments on the prejudice she and her family encountered as Okies.
19, 24 January 1981
Judith Gannon
Yocum, Hadley Leon (141) Branch, Franklin County, Arkansas
2 June 1981
Stacey Jagels
Zaragoza, Joe (203) Bakersfield, Kern County, California
5 February 1981
Stacey Jagels