My family had purchased two copies of paintings by Margaret Keane known for her “Keane Eyes” a/k/a “Big Eyed Waifs”. As a youngster I remembered the haunting eyes of these children in Keane’s paintings. They were very popular at the time. So it is that the lead photograph, “Tuco, Texas (1930)” brought back those memories to me of long ago. We cannot see the eyes of these two young girls. Strong sunlight made them squint, and what we have are their eyes represented by large dark circles because they are in shadows. I see the same sadness in the closed eyes of these two girls growing up in the Dust Bowl as those represented in Keane’s paintings. Perhaps it is also the dust forcing them to keep their eyes closed.
“The Water Wagon” on a Kansas farm (1936). An iconic image from the Great Depression. The right subject taken at the precise moment in history with the photographer’s keen eye, a good camera and excellent lighting. Proof that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to produce excellent photos.
Oklahomans or Okies? I use the term Okie in this essay without any pejorative meaning whatsoever. It is used by me to honor the people of Oklahoma who have suffered so much yet retain a strong commitment to religion, political conservatism and moral values.
It could have been a scene taken from John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, but for these folks and many more like them the experience was all too real. Migrants, headed for