Friday, May 3, 2013

Okie....and Prune Picker

In the Earlimart-Delano area during the 1950's there were still many Okies residing in the area that had arrived in the 1930's and 1940's. They brought with them their children, plus they had progeny (offspring) after their arrival.

I was born a "Prune Picker" in California as the offspring of Missouri parents in 1942...Because of the chaotic havoc I wrought in the Delivery Room when I chased a ...perky nurse, the Hospital paid my terrified parents to take me home immediately. Not to worry, everything turned out OK in my life after I served time in the Reformatory for taking some of my kindergarten classmates for a "joy ride" in a "borrowed" post-World War II Army Jeep.

Being a full-blooded Earlimartian and a "Generic Okie," let me elucidate what the "Okie Culture" was like during the 1940's and 1950's in the Earlimart-Delano Area...THERE EXISTED AN OKIE SOCIETAL-ECONOMIC SCALE --- THERE WERE 3 CLASSES OF OKIES:
SWAMP OKIES: Lowest of the Okies on the "societal-economic scale"...Shabby housing...No indoor plumbing...Sparse meals...Few clothes...Girls generally had one dress and no shoes...Boys usually had one shirt, no shoes, and one pair of pants...Pant leg bottoms were generally several inches too short because the child had outgrown their pants, hence because they wore "high water pants" they were called "Swamp Okies."...I remember a "Swamp Okie" type-girl from Delano • telling me several years after she gradated from Delano High School that one of her years in high school she wore the same dress to school everyday because that was all she had...She became very successful in life...Kudos to her!!!
• REGULAR OKIES: Modest housing... Usually ate two or three meals a day...Had newer and a more clothes than the "Swamp Okies" and had at least one pair of shoes...Owned a car while some of the "Swamp Okies" didn't...Could afford to go the Joy Theater a few times a month.
1. • SUPER OKIES: Some owned small farms, stores or business's that provided services or they worked as hired help in the stores or business's...They generally
2. did not work in the fields as hired help...Some had "county or state government jobs." Generally ate "three square meals" a day...Had several changes of clothes and had more than one pair of shoes...Usually had a car less than 5 years or 6 years old...Most "Super Okies" were "down to earth" people, but a few of the "Super Okies" were perceived as "snooty" by some "Swamp Okies" and "Regular Okies."
There was a perception by many of the "Earlimart Okies" (not all) that some "Delano Okies" (not all) did not look favorably toward "Earlimart Okies" because they were stereotyped as "rough and tumble people" and in a few instances referred to as "criminal-types."
I can remember several of my Earlimart friends wanting to date Delano girls, but the girl's parents wouldn't allow it because the "date asker" was from Earlimart...This happened to me three times in high school...In my case, the Delano parents probably made a wise decision (They had heard about my "joy ride" escapade when I was a "wild and crazy" Kindergartner. Let this be a lesson to you, bad publicity will follow you around for a lifetime. Darn, those Delano girls were cute too!!!

Max Souder, Earlimart Historian, Full-blooded Earlimartian, Generic Okie, and DJHS Class of 1960
This one picture of a family of swamp Okies was the only one found. All the regular Okies moved to the Midwest, the Super Okies both moved to Las Vegas.
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