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Elm Grove: 1936

Elm Grove: 1936

August 1936. "People living in miserable poverty. Elm Grove, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma." A good (or bad) example of the Depression-era shantytowns known as Hoovervilles. Medium-format negative by Dorothea Lange. View full size.


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My dad

lived in a shanty like this, the youngest of eighteen kids (same mom!). It goes without saying that they had very little. People had very, very little during these times. My dad is STILL a tough old bird!


Since there is laundry hanging out to dry, and since these people are at least alive, they had some water source. Maybe that house in the distance had a well for livestock which they were allowed to use, or let them haul water from the house's own well.

Not near Grand Lake, but

It is just over a mile away from downtown Oklahoma City, where you could now see in the background a skyscraper which is just under 800 feet tall, plus a number of other skyscrapers.

Family history

Assuming that there are descendents of these families, what did they tell their children, grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren about this period of time in their family's life? Do the great-grandchildren of former Hooverville inhabitants even know about their former residences? Some families would probably never talk about "the bad old days," and their own grandchildren wouldn't even know why their great-grandparents are buried in Oklahoma, while they live in California.

Photo flipped?

Unless Nehi is spelled IHEN.

[The photo isn't backwards; the sign is upside-down. - tterrace]

Doh! I see that now, I also see the other writing is correct.

Elm Grove WI

My hometown is a bit more prosperous.

Chez Nehi

That Nehi soda sign on the side of the building in today's collector's market would be worth $400 or more. If they only knew.

Temperature 115 degrees

This past summer was the hottest in Oklahoma's recorded history which made the news because it even exceeded the heat of that summer of 1936. Also this year, as then, it was a summer of severe drought. These people, unlike today, had no a/c, no fans, no showers, no electricity, no bottled water and not a lake in sight. It is a miracle that people could have lived through these conditions, especially combined with the grinding poverty of the dust bowl and I cannot help but marvel at their endurance and perseverance under such a hostile climate.

Oklahoma Has Nothing On Us

Our Depression story consists of this Hooverville photo, on the Great Lawn in Central Park, during the winter of 1932, with the Skyline of luxurious Central Park West in the background.

This land is your land

But this land is now likely under the Grand Lake o' the Cherokees.

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