Poverty and child labor builds character!
Indeed they do! Which is why GOD created poverty and child labor in the first place - they exist to give sinners and degenerates a way to better themselves!
Aww man - nothing to see here but some Grapes of Wrath? I was hoping for bananas with tiny feet.
A lot of America's fruit is still picked by migrant laborers, though these days they're more likely to be Mexican than Anglos or African-Americans. (And this has been leading to serious problems in some Southeastern states which have been harassing undocumented immigrants, leaving farmers without enough workers to pick their crops.) Living conditions in migrant worker camps were one thing the civil rights movement was involved with, and of course the United Farmworkers' Union has been heavily involved since its founding.
Fruit picking was one traditional hobo job - most hoboes were migrant workers, rather than just bums, and riding the rails was how you got to different areas that needed seasonal labor.
I was hoping for Carmen Miranda photos...
And, amazingly, about a quarter of the crops harvested in the US are still being picked by children (mostly citizens), albeit slightly older ones since the age limits they finally put in place in the 1970s. Now you have to be at least 12 to work in agriculture. Or 16 for the most dangerous work with heavy machines (but it's ok, because only 500 kids die each year doing agricultural labor). It's still just as much fun as it was then, though! (By which I mean, not at all...)
While probably somewhat exploitive, I remember being a kid in Oregon in the 80s and a bike ride out to day labor berry picking paid by the pound being about the only sure way for a kid to get spending money within 24 hours as I didn't get an allowance.
I find it interesting that many of these pictures are of nuclear families, I suspect that most American men and women would not be considered suitable life partner material any more if they were on such a low social rung. I suspect this has more to do with how the entire society, including the lower class, despises the poor than the terrible social inequity which was also common during the era of WASP fruit tramps.
One of my brother's college roommate's father bought a vineyard for him and his brother when they were young, around the ages of 12 and 14. The father ran the company and set it all up, but the idea was for it to pass to the children as their own business when they were done with their education. Anyway, the roommate was very involved in running the operation even as a teen, and I remember him talking about how difficult it was for him and his brother to get used, at the age of 15, 16, having to oversee the migrant workers who would pick the grapes. It was an unfortunately necessary part of running the operation.
These days most of the farm work is being done by immigrant laborers (and their US-born children), most of whom are undocumented despite reforms allowing immigrant labor to be hired at below minimum wages. The children are involved because workers are being paid sub-poverty wages (and that's even when wage-theft isn't an issue, which often happens). They need the whole family involved just to get up to poverty wages. In earlier times there was a whole different set of exploitable populations within the US that were also being used.
It's too easy to pass all of them off as being in a permanent state of misery, but a lot of these photographs documented only that, and anything in black and white always takes on more sombre tones than usual.
I'm not saying they didn't have it tough, but being human, they had laughter too, more so the children I suspect.
There's some knee-slapping fun-time in some of these old audio recordings (Voices From the Dust Bowl) from the American Library of Congress. Some pretty sad ones too.
As shown in government pictures of Fruit Tramp kids, their parents didn't have money to purchase bathing suits. So the Christian book appears to suggest that these people had more than a "modest" income which would pay for all these extras.
Country folks generally didn't wear bathing suits, so they're also adjusting their pictures a bit to reflect that But it looked to me like the kids were swimming in their regular clothes instead of bathing suits.
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