Sunday, September 6, 2015

Migrant Workers

After the financial collapse of 1929, very soon every one in America was affected . . . even those with no investments in the stock market. The financial collapse led to bank failures and failures of large and small businesses. This, combined with a horrific drought caused business and commerce in the company to lock up. The end result was massive unemployment, and broke migrants traveling across the country looking for work. The picture above is a family wiped out in Oklahoma, now driving to California in the hopes of finding work.


  1. Absolute unemployment - people with no jobs at all - stood at 25%, but many, many others were working part time. My German grandfather got laid off from B&O, but managed to find a job working every other week as a night watchman for a brewery. He brought home $17, and my grandmother took in boarders.

  2. I agree. My Norwegian grandfather, with 5 kids at home from teens to early 20s, didn't get laid off because his boss decided to pay every employee, including himself, exactly the same amount. He figured that way he could afford to keep everyone, and not have to lay anybody off. All my aunts and uncles lived at home, and managed to work their way through college, though in some cases it took many years and a timely bequest from their grandfather, who died in 1935. My grandfather couldn't afford to buy the house he'd lived in since1933 until WW started and out of town family came to work in the defense industry, and paid him room and board.

    According to my mother, whose parents homesteaded in SD in 1907, some of the "blame" for the Dust Bowl, the drought referred to here, which contributed to the depression, was homesteading on the prairies. I've read this, as well. The natural prairie grasses of the Midwest had very deep roots, which could withstand several years of drought. Once exposed, as they were for farming, that soil turned to dust. The winds came out of the North, and blew the soil everywhere, and there was nothing to hold the soil down. It became dust.

  3. One of my sons-in-law owns a factory, and during the Reagan Recession he offered his employees the option of working, and getting paid for, four days a week, or laying off a fifth of them. Wasn't hard for the men to make a choice!

  4. The picture above conjurs up the images left in my mind after reading 'The Grapes of Wrath' by John Steinback. I was in high school in the '70's when I read it. I will never forget it.


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