Thursday, November 26, 2015

Proud To Be An Okie

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post, that both of my parents migrated from Oklahoma in about 1941 when they were about six years old.  

They were both the youngest out of their families with their oldest sibling being about ten years older than them.  My Father had three brothers and one sister.  My Mother had two sisters and three brothers.  Both of my parents were working in the fields at the age of six.

The photo below is of my Father at the age of three, and his sister at the age of five.  They were still living in Anadarko, Caddo County, Oklahoma on their Grandfather, Virgil Johnson's farm.
Lawrence Gerald Johnson, aka Johnny and Ellen Jane Johnson

The photo below is of my Aunt Thelma, my Mother Rosie, and her other sister, Bernice.  My Mom looks like she was about five in this photo so the family may have still been in Oklahoma.

Thelma Irene, Rosie Mae, and Helen Bernice
Neither one of my parents had an easy life.  I remember hearing stories about how their parents loaded up the car with mattresses, pots and pans, all the kids, and would sleep on the side of the road on their way to California.  Oftentimes, there wouldn't be enough food to eat.  My Mom told me that her family lived in a chicken coop for a while.

They were not treated well by many people in California and were oftentimes discriminated against because they were Arkies and Okies.  They were considered to be dirty, dumb, ignorant, and mean.  Well, some of them might have been, but the majority were not.

I am what is now called a 2nd generation Okie.  I was born in Camp Chaffee, Arkansas because my Father was in the army.  I was brought to California when I was a few week old.  I was raised around Okies that had emmigrated from Oklahoma, etc., and their children.  I grew up in an environment that was economically just a step above what my parents grew up in.

We Okie's have much to be proud of.  I will be posting articles from newspapers that people wrote and letters that people sent into the newspapers regarding the Okies.  Please see the first one below.

This is a letter published in:

The Fresno Bee The Republican (Fresno, California) Thu, Mar 23, 1944

Fighting "Okies"
     Editor of The Bee--Sir:  I read in the want ad section that Emory L Cauble had a six room home to rent, but specified he did not want to rent to "Okies."
     Well, I do not get what he means by that.  Does he think he is better than an "Okie"?  After all, the boys they call "Okies" are fighting right next to the boys from California and doing a hell of a good job.        A SOLDIER.
     Fresno Air Base.

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