Friday, April 1, 2016

Fighting "Okies"

When the Okies came to California, they had it tough.  There is no doubt about it.  I'm not sure when signs like this first appeared.  I am sure it was probably after California residents were witness to an influx of migrant farm workers from Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, etc.  The term "Okie" was coined to describe the new residents.

According to the definition of Okie is...

a term used to refer to a migrant farm worker from Oklahoma or nearby states, especially one who moved westward during the Great Depression.
Usage  In historical contexts, Okie is usually used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting, implying that the migrant worker is homeless, poor, ignorant, and uneducated.

I found this letter to the editor written in 1944.
The Fresno Bee The Republican (Fresno, California) Thu, Mar 23, 1944 Page 24

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

The Okies were tough people.  They had to scramble to find work and crude shelter in an unwelcoming environment.  Did they survive?  Hell yeah!  They were Okies....Fighting Okies.  They did better than survive, they hung in there and began to thrive.

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