I was sitting in an 8th grade gifted class yesterday observing students as they “interviewed” each other to try and discover the “mystery history person” they were impersonating.
As the kids were talking, laughing, and learning, I looked at the board and this photograph struck me as so powerfully.
I walked up to the board to read the description below the photo and felt as if for some reason higher than mine, I was suppose to photograph this photograph. It just spoke to me.
This morning I did a little “google search” of the photographer’s and read the most amazing story of how Dorothea Lange had been on a month-long assignment for the Farm Security Administration when she was traveling back home and happened upon a tiny, fabric tarp propped on sticks in the middle of a field with this mother and her seven children (there is a baby in her arms) huddled inside.
They were living off of frozen vegetables on the land and birds that her children could kill. They were pea pickers and all of the peas had frozen, so they were jobless.
The precious lady pictured above with some of her children was only 32 at the time this photograph was taken.
The photographer wrote about her decision to go back and photograph the family after driving by at full speed. She shared the thoughts that were going through her mind:
“Dorothea, how about that camp back there? What is the situation back there?
Are you going back?
Nobody could ask this of you, now could they?
To turn back certainly is not necessary. Haven’t you plenty of negatives already on this subject? Isn’t this just one more if the same? Besides, if you take a camera out in this rain, you’re just asking for trouble. Now be reasonable, etc. etc., etc.
Having well convinced myself for 20 miles that I could continue on, I did the opposite. Almost without realizing what I was doing I made a U-turn on the empty highway. I went back those 20 miles and turned off the highway at that sign, PEA-PICKERS CAMP.
|“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.”
I was following instinct, not reason; I drove into that wet and soggy camp and parked my car like a homing pigeon”
She went on to share that the woman allowed her to take pictures of their situation as if she knew that these pictures may in some way help her family.
I hope they did.
I wonder what happened to this lady after the picture day in 1936. I am struck at the thought that yesterday was Olivia’s picture day at school and I was able to help her curl her hair so that she felt “pretty” and excited about being photographed.
Then I look at this photo and think, “Am I thankful enough? Do I really thank God enough?” “Are my kids thankful enough?”
And I also think, “Do I ever have the right to be negative or complain?” No wonder God does not like grumbling or complaining….He sees the sufferings of all. He knows how blessed we are even when EVERYTHING around us may seem dreadful at times….He knows how much more dreadful it could become.
Oh, thank you for this middle school teacher who is sharing the hardships of the past. I hope the students are as moved by this picture as I was.
Thank you for this woman who years ago allowed herself to be humble enough to be photographed at her lowest point in order to help her family.
I have a feeling that she has helped more than just her family in the past 70+ years since that photo was taken.
I know that yesterday she helped me.
Thank you, migrant mother.
Forgive me, Father, when I complain. Keep this photo forever in my heart.