Who is the Woman in the Great Depression Photo?

If you do an internet search for “The Great Depression”, you’ll notice a repeat of the same photograph of an unkempt, forlorn woman with two children in tattered clothes by her side and a filthy infant in her arms.

This iconic image is the perfect representation of how life was for many lower class Americans in the 1930s, and the seemingly anonymous woman who became face the Depression Era was Florence Owens Thompson.

Florence Owens Thompson was born Florence Leona Christie in 1903, in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). At 17 years old, Florence married 23 year old Cleo Owens in Missouri on February 14, 1921. The couple had 3 children together and traveled with relatives to Oroville, California where they earned their wages by working in saw mills and on farms.

In 1931, while Florence was pregnant with her sixth child, her husband Cleo died of

woman-63191_1920

“Migrant Mother”, 1936 by Dorothea Lange

tuberculosis. In 1933 Florence had another child (not sure who’s the father here), returned to Oklahoma and traveled back to California with her parents.

In California,  Florence met Jim Hill, and together they had 3 more children.  During the 1930s the family worked as migrant farm workers in California and sometimes Arizona.

In March 1936, Florence and her family were traveling on U.S. Highway 101 towards Watsonville, CA. While driving, the car’s timing chain snapped and they stopped at a large pea-pickers’ camp on Nipomo Mesa. While her husband and two of Florence’s sons went into town to seek car repair, Florence set up a temporary camp. As Florence waited for her husband and sons to return, photographer Dorothea Lange, working for the Resettlement Administration, drove up and started taking photos of Florence and her family.

This particular photograph is actually one out of six of the photos the photographer took. According to Thompson, Lange promised the photos would never be published, but Lange sent them to the San Francisco News as well as to the Resettlement Administration in Washington, D.C. The News ran the photos almost and reported that 2,500 to 3,500 migrant workers were starving in Nipomo, CA. Soon, the pea-picker camp received 20,000 pounds of food from the federal government but Thompson and her family had already moved on.

Thompson’s identity was discovered in 1978 by Modesto Bee reporter Emmett Corrigan. A letter Thompson wrote was published and titled “Woman Fighting Mad Over Famous Depression Photo.” Florence was quoted as saying:

“I wish she [Lange] hadn’t taken my picture. I can’t get a penny out of it. She didn’t ask my name. She said she wouldn’t sell the pictures. She said she’d send me a copy. She never did.”

Thompson died of “cancer and heart problems” in  California, on September 16, 1983. Her gravestone reads: “FLORENCE LEONA THOMPSON Migrant Mother – A Legend of the Strength of American Motherhood.”

BONUS FACTS: Although Florence appears to be perhaps in her early 50s, she is only 32 years old in this iconic photo.


SOURCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Owens_Thompson

SolSource - The Ultimate Solar Cooker

Advertisements

Did Churchill Have A Prescription for Booze?

I’ve read many times before that Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill received a prescription for booze so he could skirt around America’s prohibition laws in the 1930s. As clever as that all may sound, no one is entirely sure that this is true.

While on a lecture tour, in New York, 1931, Churchill was struck by a car going about 35 miles per hour as he hurriedly tried to cross the street to meet someone for dinner. He suffered a broken nose, a gash on his head, and a few broken ribs.

Even after being hit by a car, Churchill decided to continue his tour so his doctor in New York prescribed him a minimum of five shots of alcohol to possibly help him with relaxation and pain management.

The actual prescription seen below reads:

This is to certify that the post-accident convalescence of the Hon. Winston S. Churchill necessitates the use of alcoholic spirits especially at meal times. The quantity is naturally indefinite but the minimum requirements would be 250 cubic centimeters.

780w

Image from Churchill Archives Center, Churchill College

Churchill’s case is not unique as many doctors used to prescribe alcohol for all kinds of ailments. But, during the ban of alcohol in America in the 1920s and 30s, people took advantage of this and doctors did as well. Some doctors and pharmacists saw the prohibition as an opportunity to make a few extra bucks by performing “check ups” on patients and charging out the wazoo for their “medicine”.

Was this the case for Churchill?

So today’s question is: Do you think Churchill’s prescription was legit, or just a way to get trashed during the prohibition? Tell me what you think in a comment below!

Alcohol Prescription

Alcohol Prescription Flask, Amazon

BONUS FACT: Winston Churchill’s mother invented the Manhattan cocktail in the early 1870s.


SOURCES:

http://www.ripleys.com/weird-news/winston-churchill/

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/during-prohibition-your-doctor-could-write-you-prescription-booze-180947940/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_(cocktail)

6 Quick Facts About April Fools Day

So what’s the history of April Fool’s Day? Well, no one is 100% sure but some experts believe it came from a calendar change in 16th century France in which New Year’s Day was moved from April 1st to January 1st. Folks not aware of the change were referred to as “April Fools” and mocked.

Alright, so now that you know that let’s get on with the fun stuff!

1. On April Fools Day in 1996, Taco Bell Corp. ran a full-page ad in several major newspapers claiming they purchased the Liberty Bell and will be renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell.”

2. On April Fools Day in 2008, the BBC ran a video clip of flying penguins as part of a story for its series “Miracles of Evolution”.

3. The French call April 1st “Poisson d’Avril,” or “April Fish.” French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates and wait for it to be discovered.

4. In the 1960s there was only one TV channel in Sweden, which broadcast in black and white. As an April Fools’ joke, it was announced that viewers could convert their sets to display color by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen.

5. April Fools’ may also be tied to the ancient Roman Festival of Hilaria – also know as Roman Laughing Day – when citizens would celebrate the vernal equinox and honor the Anatolian Earth Goddess with a day of jokes.

6. In Scotland, an April fool is called an April “gowk”.

Fun times!

April Fool's Day Pranks


SOURCES:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/16/world/april-fools-day-fast-facts/

http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/5-fun-facts-about-april-fools-day/