A startling juxtaposition of migrant workers and a billboard advertising the American Dream which had gone so wrong for so many. As the men trudge towards San Francisco, carrying possibly everything they own, the poster exhorts them that next time they should really consider taking the train. A photograph taken ten minutes later would have, one hopes, have shown the billboard in flames. It is this sort of imagery though, that married with the written works of Steinbeck, Evans and Agee created the image of the USA during the Depression that we still associate with it today.
The Depression affected the very young as well as the old. This perfectly framed Taken in Maricopa County, Arizona; this shows a migrant cotton picker and her child. This image is particularly affecting as it shows that hope – like new life – springs eternal. The household is at the very best rudimentary but this woman has managed, despite everything, to keep herself and her baby clean and healthy. The smile directed at the child rather than the camera shows the sublime and enigmatic happiness of a mother facing hardships many of can only imagine.
All pictures courtesy of Wikimedia.