The Migrant Worker.....
This large picture was up in our house all week, but it wasn't until after the picture study that I even noticed the small baby in her arms.
Dorothea Lange's account:
"I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it." (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).The caption on Shorpy reads
"Destitute pea pickers living in tent in migrant camp. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two." Nipomo, California. February 1936. Photograph by Dorothea Lange.
"The anonymous subject of this famous Depression-era portrait known as "Migrant Mother" came forward in the late 1970s and was revealed to be Florence Owens Thompson (click for interview). She died in 1983."
We are learning about this time of The Depression, the dust bowl, unemployment, and real, authentic poverty. Ms Lange helped shock America into seeing the horrors of it; people couldn't believe that this was really happening in the prosperous U.S.
I keep looking into her eyes, her anxious hand up at her mouth, and wonder what she was thinking.
I am grateful I don't have to think those thoughts.