Friday, June 24, 2005

Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange

Florence (Owens) Thompson

Roger Sprague, grandson of the subject of this photo, identifies her on his web site.

Her name was Florence, she was just 32 years old and had come from Oklahoma to California some dozen years before, to a land of promise -- a promise which, for her, had not been kept.

Her first house was in Shafter, California. Though it was small and poor, it was as much as she had in Oklahoma. But this place and these times held a promise of something more for her and her family. To own her own home, to raise her kids and give them more than she had had, to live the American dream.

There was work in the mills and factories of California for Cleo. He was a frail man and light of build. A near death fight with pneumonia, at age twenty-one, had left his lungs weak, making them a target for any germ that happened along. His only excesses were a tendency to overwork himself to provide for his family, and his deep, and intense love for Florence.

Cleo had married Florence over the objections of his own family, who all felt that Florence was too headstrong. They all predicted that the marriage would fail, a bad sin in 1920. A wife was there to raise the kids and do as she was told by her husband. Florence, in contrast, was only 17 when she informed Cleo's family that they would never rule her or her kids. She loved Cleo, but she was who she was and that was that! (Cleo's people knew that Florence was at least half Cherokee, but they did not know that she was Full blood Cherokee.)

More here...