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Arkansas Travelers: 1938

Arkansas Travelers: 1938

June 1938. "On highway No. 1 of the 'OK' state near Webbers Falls, Muskogee County, Oklahoma. Seven children and eldest son's family. Father was a blacksmith in Paris, Arkansas. Son was a tenant farmer. 'We're bound for Kingfisher (Oklahoma wheat) and Lubbock (Texas cotton). We're not trying to but we'll be in California yet. We're not going back to Arkansas; believe I can better myself'." Photo by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Admin. View full size.


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Tire rims.

Those old 3 piece rims were killers.

"Everyone git in the truck"

"We're movin' on'." Just imagine June in Oklahoma, 1938, most likely hovering around 100 degrees, constant dirt blowing in the dry wind, loading up the back with all your worldly possessions, mattresses, quilts and family, what looks like about 3 adults and 5 or 6 kids, and Grandpa with Pa and the oldest son sitting in the front seat. Imagine there is no a/c, no amusements, safety belts, car seats, toys, entertainment, snacks, drinks or bathroom facilities, and with no idea what awaits you or how long your vehicle would last as you go down the road looking for a new life. These brave people had incredible fortitude, courage and optimism, not to mention an iron will for tolerating certain, long-term discomfort, all in the hopes that there would be better days ahead. Think of any half dozen kids or adults you may currently know who would or could handle a week-long (or longer) journey like this with a broken down truck, no money and no comprehension of what or why this was happening. I can't help but wonder if people today could deal with such uncertainty and no plans for what happens next. I'm thinking we are all a bunch of spoiled whiners (including me) and maybe we should be ashamed of ourselves for lacking the ability to do what needs to be done to improve our situation, whatever that may be.


Yeah, I know that this is way before OSHA, etc., and at a time when safety details were low on the list of these people's concerns, but it is just a complete abandonment of common sense to leave all those people in the back of this homemade wagon supported by a flimsy-looking, listing jack anchored on an uneven gravel surface! Yikes.

That last utterance

was briefly considered for the Official Arkansas State Motto.

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