Friday, February 27, 2009

Sharecropper's Daughter

This picture was taken in 1939, and shows the Daughter of a Sharecropper. The family had been sharecropping in Oklahoma, but could not make it work. They then went to Hollister, California and picked peas. The pea crop was lost to an early freeze, leaving them without work. The girl said, "Back in Oklahoma, we are sinking. You work your head off for a crop and then see it burn up. You live in debts that you can never get out of. This isn't a good life, but I say that it's a better life than it was."


  1. Just goes to show you, how different that generation was.

    They took what life handed them and coped with it, plus they were grateful for what the DID have.

    Despite the hard life, she appeared to be an attractive and well-groomed girl.

    I admire my father's generation. They had something that we lack.

  2. Does she look like she is in the early stages of a pregnancy? That would intensify the the danger of their situation even more with no money to pay for the delivery, not to mention another little mouth to feed.

    Really makes me appreciate my luck at not being born in the depression.

  3. Yes, I think she does look like she might be pregnant. I wonder how old she was and if she was married.

    Nonetheless, she doesn't look bad for someone who had such a hard life.

    Of course, who knows what she looked like later life. That stuff takes a toll on you.

  4. We have become a more self serving "Me" based society. If anything good can come out of the current crisis, perhaps it is that we can learn again to live within our means and be more compassionate towards others. I have great faith in America and I am certain that we are up to any task put before us. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. God Bless All in Bloggerville.

  5. Before The Great Depression, 99% of the population in the USA lived hand to mouth, at the mercy of Mother Nature or the Robber Barons. Expectations were realistic and their hopes/dreams were of good health, secure shelter and a full belly.

    The New Deal, labor unions, and the GI Bill, produced a new way of life between rich and poor, a secure, comfortable, middle class, for a huge part of the population. Each successive generation tried to give their kids more/bigger/better, which is commendable, but produced an attitude that security and comfort are a given... they are not.

  6. YOU GUYS ARE RIGHT, and that's what sets the "Greatest Generation" apart from the rest of us.

  7. Isn't it funny how during these times, "Life" magazine became the most popular magazine; then it was "People", then "Self"..... I think that is symbolic of our focus as a society right from caring about those around us to being very self focused.

  8. This blog is awesome! I had no idea what Sharecropping was until today.

    I think you guys are generalizing today's youth, or Generation Y. Lots of them do have an unhealthy sense of entitlement, but there are tons of youths out there who grew up in poverty or border-lined it. If anything is to blame I'd say it's the migration of population into cities and the mechanization of the agriculture industry. One thing I've noticed having grown up on a farm is that lots of children have absolutely no appreciation for where their food comes from. I honestly think a single summer of back-breaking farm labour, labour that some people do every day of the year, would do benefit today's youth immeasurably.

  9. The funny thing is this is how most of the developing world lives today. It will be interesting to see how those billions with their work ethic combine with the generations of today in developed countries. It might be a cycle that repeats up and down.

  10. Those two people in the photo may still be alive today. It would be so interesting to chat with them about their childhood and later-life experiences.

    I agree that today's youth have had no concept about hard times. The present economy might give them a taste of a prohibitive existense.

  11. Jake is absolutely right. I spent three summers on my uncle's ranch in Sierra Blanca, Texas in the 50s and first found out that a real day's work ment 5 AM - 6 PM except for Sunday. I also found out where cotton, wool, leather and beef come from and what it took to produce those products

    More importantly, I found out that a man lives or dies by his word. I saw sales of hundreds of cattle sealed with just a handshake which was in many ways more binding than a contract because no lawyers were involved. It is not that way today because there are relatively few men or women who can be trusted in the old tradition.

    Heather is also correct about our society being self absorbed. I think that our solders serving are going to be better citizens after thrie experiences over seas because they have had to learn to work as a team and watch out for one another.

  12. In the last Great Depression people primarily moved from rural areas to the city, looking for work. This time, it will be the other way around.

  13. Farmlife - often romanticized - is a hard life, whether it is today with all of the (really expensive) mechanization that replaces the workers, or back "in the day". I, too, was able to spend summers on a farm in Iowa - where I learned about lifting bales of hay, getting up before sunrise to start the water pump to fill the tanks that we hauled out to the livestock, and how to drive a stick shift Harvest International pick-up at 12, tractors at 8, and thresher at 13.

    I also learned about helping hands, when families would help their neighbors get the harvest in, pooling manpower and equipment, and asking for nothing.

    I also learned that the really 'smart' (in a business sense) farmers - the ones who study, understand, and anticipate the market - are few and far between. Many left the farm because they could not make a living.

    But, the farm life taught the work ethic, moral standards, and patience.

    But of all of those who worked the land, the sharecroppers had it the worse.

    Ah.. enough rambling.

  14. @ Mike B.
    You're right on the money but I'd add one more lesson to your list.
    On the farm you learn to work with or around but never against, the weather/mother nature.
    If you get a little cocky the weather/mother nature can humble you real quick. ;o)

  15. Jake:

    You talk about "generalizing" today's youth, but your photo on the blog shows you with a beer in your hand.

    You're probably really nice, smart, guy; but that photo doesn't make me want to take you too seriously, sorry.

    And . . I grew up during the height of the '60s, during the "peace, love, and dope" era, and I managed to make it through without EVER smoking a joint or getting drunk or in trouble.

    It all has to do with self-respect and not being a follower.

    Nonetheless, I agree with the rest of your comments about hard work.

  16. While I appreciate the nostalgia of "the old days" and in knowing that my dad spent his summers on the farm, I also am able to appreciate hard work, work ethic, and tenacity, even though I grew up in the suburbs. While we generalize about the current generation not being able to appreciate hard work, let's not over glorify the previous generations, and ignore the lessons taught from one to the other.