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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

No Money, Ten Children: 1937

No Money, Ten Children: 1937

March 1937. Stalled in the Southern California desert. "No money, ten children. From Chickasaw, Oklahoma." View full size. Medium-format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration.

 

Giving

You know, in those days it wasn't easy to give money to a man like that. Most people wouldn't accept charity. It was considered an admission of failure, defeat. He might have accepted a loan. If he did, I'm willing to bet he paid it off with the first money he came by after feeding his kids.

Compassionate, not "Immune"

Ms. Lange stopped beside a car full of children that had stalled in a waterless desert. Anybody who stops for a stalled car is stopping to help in some way. At the very least she would carry the news to the next town that there were ten children and their parents stuck in the desert. It's easy to imagine that if she had any money at all to spare, she gave some to this family. (Wouldn't you?) These people were not in the safety of a migrant labor camp. They were stuck in the middle of nowhere.

It is obvious from Ms. Lange's photographs that she was not "immune to poverty." She chose to document the suffering and the humanity of people in poverty. She must have had a good rapport with her subjects, or else their faces would not be so expressive. See myhero.com (http://www.myhero.com/myhero/hero.asp?hero=d_lange ) for a short biographical essay that stresses her sensitivity and compassion. See also the Wikipedia article about her (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothea_Lange). "Immune to poverty" is exactly what she was not.

Stranded Okie

The composition here is epic. I feel like there's an entire novel conveyed in this one image.

Dorothea

Lange was contracted to this work from 1935. I suppose she was quite immune to poverty by that time.

Stranded Family

I would give anything to know what became of them.

No Money, 10 Kids

You'd think maybe the guy with the camera could help him out.

[That would be the gal with the camera. I've wondered about that too. - Dave]

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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