Archive for the ‘Great Depression’ Tag

Portraits: Migrant Mother, 1936   1 comment


Nipomo, Calif. Mar. 1936. Migrant agricultural worker’s family. Seven hungry children. Mother aged 32, the father is a native Californian. Destitute in a pea pickers camp, because of the failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tent in order to buy food. Most of the 2,500 people in this camp were destitute. Library of Congress.

From the Library of Congress:

The photograph that has become known as “Migrant Mother” is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California. Lange was concluding a month’s trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state for what was then the Resettlement Administration. In 1960, Lange gave this account of the experience:

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).

Posted December 19, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Portraits: Herbert Hoover   4 comments

Herbert C. Hoover (1874 – 1964)

The 31st President of the United States, 1929 – 1933

AKA: The Great Engineer, The Great Humanitarian, The Chief

From: Iowa, Oregon

College: Stanford University

Married to: Lou Henry Hoover

Children: Herbert, Jr., Allan

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: Secretary of Commerce

In His Words: “You convey too great a compliment when you say that I have earned the right to the presidential nomination. No man can establish such an obligation upon any part of the American people. My country owes me no debt. It gave me, as it gives every boy and girl, a chance. It gave me schooling, independence of action, opportunity for service and honor. In no other land could a boy from a country village, without inheritance or influential friends, look forward with unbounded hope. My whole life has taught me what America means. I am indebted to my country beyond any human power to repay.”

“Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die.”

“Let me remind you that credit is the lifeblood of business, the lifeblood of prices and jobs.”

“A good many things go around in the dark besides Santa Claus.”

“Being a politician is a poor profession. Being a public servant is a noble one.”

“Honor is not the exclusive property of any political party.”

“About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends.”

“I’m the only person of distinction who’s ever had a depression named for him.”

“More than ten million women march to work every morning side by side with the men. Steadily the importance of women is gaining not only in the routine tasks of industry but in executive responsibility. I include also the woman who stays at home as the guardian of the welfare of the family. She is a partner in the job and wages. Women constitute a part of our industrial achievement.”

Not true: Hoover did not cause the Great Depression. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, for sure.  Some would say that he did more to end the Depression than his successors … some would say that it was only the economic expansion of WWII that ended the Depression.  Hoover’s policies didn’t cause it, though, he was just caught in a bad economy.

True: Herbert Hoover was orphaned at the age of nine.

Hoover entered Stanford in 1891, in its inaugural year, after failing the entrance exams.

Hoover’s 1928 election slogan was “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”

When the Great Depression hit, many of the homeless lived in towns of shacks called “Hoovervilles.”

Hoover was the first millionaire President.

Hoover and Taft are the only two Presidents without electoral experience or military service.

He approved the “Star-Spangled Banner” as our national anthem. It became the national anthem in 1931.

Hoover was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution; he was descended from Jacobus Wynne.

Hoover is the only President not to appear on the cover of Time during his Presidency.

Hoover was one of four Presidents to live to be 90.

The Official Portrait:  Elmer W. Greene painted the official White Hosue portrait of Hoover in 1956.

Herbert Hoover, Official White House Portrait

Herbert Hoover Signature

The Migration of Harry B Hepler   1 comment

Marguerite Clark Hepler

Harry Baptiste Hepler, AKA Shorty. 1978.

This is the story of my wife’s maternal Grandfather.  The picture of him, left, was taken at our wedding.

Harry Baptiste Hepler, AKA Shorty, had a tough life.  He buried two wives.  He had to split his family during the Great Depression, go to a new state to find work, and then finally reunited his family years later.

Harry was born in 1901, the youngest child of Abraham and Harriet “Hattie” Hepler. He married Marguerite Clark on March 4, 1920:  he was 18, and she was 22.  Their eldest child, Frances Elaine, was born on July 22, 1921.  More children followed:  Robert Carlyle in 1923, Harry Paul in 1924, Lyle De Forest in 1926, and then the twins, Anna Marie and Mary Marguerite followed on March 4, 1930.

Tragedy struck.  Marguerite did not recover from the rigors of childbirth, and died one week later, on March 11, 1930.

Harry had worked as a mine foreman in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, which has many bituminous coal mines spread throughout the county.  With the Depression taking hold across the country, however, he found himself 28 years old, widowed, with 6 kids under the age of 10 and needing to find work.

The 1930 US Census was taken on April 1, 1930, and found Harry and his 6 kids living with his mother, Harriet “Hattie” Girard Hepler Johnson and her new husband, Swedish immigrant Augustaurus “Gus” Johnson.  Harry made the difficult decision to relocate his family to St Louis, MO – but Grandmother Hepler insisted that he leave the babies with her.

Mary and Anna Hepler lived with their Grandmother until they were 12, and then moved to St Louis to live with their father, step-mother, and 3 older brothers that they had only met once, 6 years earlier.

Harry gathered up his 4 oldest children, ages 4 – 9, and took the train to St Louis.  He did find construction work, and he found his second wife, Ruby Uncapher.  Tragedy struck again, however, and Ruby died in 1934 of cervical cancer.

In 1936, Grandmother Hattie gathered the twins and traveled to St Louis to introduce them for the first time to their father.  Mary remembers the train ride, and remembers meeting her father, oldest sister and 3 brothers, who were all living with Harry’s future third wife, Lucille O’Day and her daughter, Carmen Werre.  Anna, Mary and Harriet returned to Pennsylvania.  (Side note:  in their elementary school classroom in Corry, PA, Anna and Mary were 1 of  3 sets of twins!)

Harry Paul, Lyle DeForest and Robert Carlyle Hepler.

The 1940 US Census has Lucille and Carmen living in St Louis, with Harry listed as their boarder.  Frances Elaine Hepler had married Henry Eller, Jr in 1939, and they were living with their firstborn Donald Gene at the time of the 1940 census.

Interestingly, Harry’s 3 sons, ages 13-17 at the time of the census, are not shown as living with a family member.  Harry Paul’s descendants heard legends that their father lived in an orphanage for a time.  I found a 13-year old Lyle “Heppler” living as a lodger in St Louis with Christian and Agatha Goechri.  This Lyle was born in Pennsylvania, so he might be our Lyle DeForest Hepler.  I have not yet found Robert Carlyle in the 1940 census.

Grandmother Hattie fell ill in 1942, so she sent the 12-year-old twins west to live with the family that they had only met once 6 years earlier.

With his family reunited, Harry finally found a good job with the St Louis Water Department in 1943.  He continued to work there 22 years, until his retirement.

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