CALIFORNIA IN THE 30’S -A Personal Story

As many prophets, prognosticators, and predictors of the future have warned us for decades, California is finally going to slide into the wide, blue Pacific. It won’t be an earthquake that drowns us. It’s going to be the great migration of everyone east of the Rockies deciding they’d rather spend their winters without water or open space than lift another shovelful of snow. And who could blame them? We in the west have been basking in sunshine and unseasonably warm weather while citizens in the east…well, you know.

I’m old enough to remember the previous influx of thousands into Southern California during the Dust Bowl and Depression of the 30’s. My family was living in Corona, a small (Pop. 8.000) citrus growing town in Riverside County. Dozens of families from Oklahoma and other affected states, settled in a little community near-by that was in Corona’s school district.

I was too young to understand or know about the furor that must have ensued when the “Okies” came to town. I do remember, however, my mother’s reaction to their admittance to Lincoln Grammar School where my younger sister and I began our educational careers: We were not to make friends with any of the new-comers. “You’d start talking like they do.”

Corona, like many agricultural communities in California at the time, was a segregated town. Everyone on one side of 6th Street went to Lincoln or Jefferson Grammar Schools– all-white institutions. Mexicans, Italians and anyone else with too much color to their skin, had their own elementary school.  “Ne’er the twain shall meet,” until we entered junior high.

How many whites in the community, in addition to my parents, reacted with shock and disapproval at the treatment of Blacks in the South, while supporting discrimination at home? That seems so ignorant to us now, but where are my blind spots and yours? We’ve surely got them!

So…all you who have slipped, slid and shoveled your way through the winter of 2015, load up the car and head west, as long as you can swim and your kids speak “the king’s English.”