(Image credit: Dorothea Lange via Shorpy)

Posted by Ellen

Pausing for her picture in 1939, on her way back to the house from the pepper patch. The pincurls in her hair suggest that she's got post-pepper-picking plans for the evening.

She was one of eight children in the Schrock family in the Yakima Valley of Washington state, where they were clients of a Farm Security Administration tenant-purchase program, a New Deal effort to help migrant farm families obtain homes and farmland of their own. The program worked best, it turned out, for families that broke the rules and generated some cash income by finding work off the farm.

Johnny Cash grew up in a similar FSA project in Dyess, Arkansas.

Posted by Ellen

"Boys from Dead Ox Flat waiting for the school bus in the morning. Malheur County, Oregon."

Dorothea Lange took this picture in October 1939 for the Resettlement Administration. During the mid-1930s, the desert country of eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho attracted thousands of Dust Bowl refugees seeking construction work on the Owhyee dam and irrigation project; as the project came on line between 1935 and 1939, thousands more refugees sought agricultural work on the newly irrigated cropland.

The name on the mailbox behind the boys is revealed in another of Lange's photos of the same scene: H.E. Hudgins. According to the 1940 census, Herbert and Jessie Hudgins lived thereabouts--but with only two children, an eleven-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy. Herbert Hudgins worked as a ditch rider, assigned to travel the length of the new canals and laterals, cleaning out debris and opening and closing the check boards that control the flow of water to different growers' acreage.

The boys look to be wearing new clothes and fresh haircuts, perhaps because the photo was taken on the first day of a new school year. The picture is dated from the month of October, but this was a time and place where school would not begin until after the year's harvest was in.