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Across the Fruited Plain   By: (1891-1980)

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First Page:

E text prepared by Meredith Minter Dixon




With Illustrations by Janet Smalley

[Cover Illustration: Cars] [Cover Illustration: Hoeing] [Cover Illustration: Picking] [Cover Illustration: Weeding]

New York : Friendship Press, c1940

Plans and procedures for using Across The Fruited Plain will be found in "A Junior Teacher's Guide on the Migrants," by E. Mae Young. Photographs of migrant homes and migrant Centers will be found in the picture story book Jack Of The Bean Fields , by Nina Millen.

This book is dedicated to a whole troop of children "across the fruited plain": Tomoko, Willie May, Fei Kin, Nawamana, Candelaria and Isabell, and to the newest child of all our little Mary Margaret.

[Illustration: Cissy and Tommy at the Center]


Foreword 1: The House Of Beecham 2: The Cranberry Bog 3: Shucking Oysters 4: Peekaneeka? 5: Cissy From The Onion Marshes 6: At The Edge Of A Mexican Village 7: The Boy Who Didn't Know God 8: The Hopyards 9: Seth Thomas Strikes Twelve


Dear Mary and Bonnie and Jack and the rest of my readers:

Maybe you've heard about the migrants lately, or have seen pictures of them in the magazines. But have you thought that many of them are families much like yours and mine, traveling uncomfortably in rattly old jalopies while they go from one crop to another, and living crowded in rickety shacks when they stop for work?

There have always been wandering farm laborers because so many crops need but a few workers part of the year and a great many at harvest. A two thousand acre peach orchard needs only thirty workers most of the year, and one thousand seven hundred at picking time. Lately, though, there have been more migrants than ever. One reason is that while in the past we used to eat fresh peas, beans, strawberries, and the like only in summer, now we want fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. To supply our wants, great quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables must be raised in the warm climates where they will grow.

Another reason is that more farm machinery is used now, and one tractor will do as much work as several families of farm laborers. So the extra families have taken to migrating or wandering about the country wherever they hope to find work.

A further cause of the wandering is the long drought which turned part of our Southwestern country where there had been good farming into a dry desert that wouldn't grow crops any more. The people from the Dust Bowl, as the district is called, had to migrate, or starve. A great many of them went to the near by state Of California, which grows much fruit and vegetables. There are perhaps two hundred thousand people migrating to California alone each year.

Of course there isn't nearly enough work for them all, and there aren't good living places for those who have work. That means that the children like you don't have the rights of young American citizens like you. A great many of them can't go to school, and are growing up ignorant; and they don't have church, with all it means to us. They don't have proper homes or food, so they haven't good health; and because they are not in their home state or county, they cannot get medical and hospital care.

You may think we have nothing to do with them when you sometimes pass a jalopy packed inside with a whole family, from grandma to baby, and outside with bedding and what not.

But we have something to do with them many times a day. Every time we sit down at our table we have something to do with them. Our sugar may come from these children's work; our oranges, too, and our peas, lettuce, melons, berries, cranberries, walnuts . . . ! Every time we put on a cotton dress, we accept something from them.

For years no one thought much of trying to help these wanderers... Continue reading book >>

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