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Madonna of the Hops: 1939

Madonna of the Hops: 1939

August 1939. Yakima Valley, Washington. "Champion hop picker in squatter camp before the season opens. Earned five dollars a day in the 1938 season. Age 23, been on the road seven years. Married. 'I think I did pretty well, only have one baby. Want to get out of this living like a dog'." Medium format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Accelerated aging

Viewing these heartbreaking photos of hard times makes me aware of how rapidly people age when times are particularly tough. To compare this poor girl to the "luckier" ones, it is difficult to believe she is only 23, equivalent perhaps to a "just one year out of college" bright-eyed, co-ed we may know, and yet the enthusiasm and optimism she may have once felt as a teen looking forward to being a grown-up is beaten down, nearly gone, like the sleeve torn off her dress, almost to the point of sheer desperation and hopelessness. One wonders how she even managed a smile or could have envisioned a better future. As for the sad-eyed baby, his face looks even older than hers. Nobody wants to think about how hard many of our ancestors worked and toiled, even went without life's necessities, just to persevere and make things better for us, but I guarantee you they did. Think about it sometime.

I hope you did, Mama

A photo to make us ponder our good luck on Mother's Day.

I hope she made it

Having heard stories of the depression from my mother, and seeing this picture of this hard working mother I hope she found her way into a good life with her family. I hope too, that her husband was able to survive the great war they were soon to be thrust into. It would be wonderful to hear from relatives of the people in these posts to tell us the rest of the story. Happy Mothers Day.

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