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Posts Tagged ‘The Grapes of Wrath’

If you want a sense of perspective on today’s tough economic times, watch “The Grapes of Wrath.”  I just watched it over the weekend (for the first time unbelievably enough…it was a revisit for my husband). I don’t know whether they watch this in history or literature classes in public schools, but they should. As a lifetime New Englander unfamiliar with issues related to the mid-west, I admit to being pretty ignorant about the phenomenon of the Dust Bowl, its role in the Great Depression, what caused it, and its long-term effects.

The movie (nominated for Best Picture) came out in 1940 and was based on John Steinbeck’s book with the same name. Midwest sharecroppers, kicked off their land due to new farming methods and extreme weather conditions caused by the old farming methods, “loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly” (couldn’t resist the Beverly Hillbillys reference because that’s what their truck reminded me of…but this is very serious). They find the advertised jobs in California did not exist or were not a living wage. They lived in camps with terrible conditions and in some cases broke picket lines to make pennies for food. They lost their homes and way of life forever; just as some people working in manufacturing have in the present time. But today we have safety nets that those people did not have: food stamps, unemployment wages, and other social programs.

If those Americans stuck together and lived through it, we can. There’s nothing like a little perspective to make you grateful for what you have.

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