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52 Weeks Of Personal Genealogy & History – Week #10: Disasters

“Week 10: Disasters. Did you experience any natural disasters in your lifetime? Tell us about them. If not, then discuss these events that happened to parents, grandparents or others in your family.

This challenge runs from Saturday, March 5, 2011 through Friday, March 11, 2011.”

Geez… I can’t say that I have… well unless you count tornadoes, but they are so common place in OK, AR & MO that really… do those count?

As for family, no one had reported much either; no newspaper clippings, or photos. I think we have luckily escaped most disasters, outside of a few Thornton’s in the south during the drought of the 1930’s followed by the The Great Dust Bowl. I haven’t gotten to this topic in my research,…

However, on the other end of this story, as the Great Dust Bowl cleared its way through parts of Arkansas & most of Oklahoma, the terms “Okies” & “Arkies” emerged into common vocabulary across the  United States.

My Grands was born in 1935 in Los Angeles, CA, and as a child she surely adopted the negative attitudes that came with the “Okies & Arkies” as many migrated into  California looking for a better tomorrow.

Though history quickly states that the Dust Bowl only lasted from 1930-1935 (1940’s in some histories), it didn’t end there with the effects it had on the people or the United States. Even the Great Depression was happening simultaneously! Can you imagine living without the ability to grow, wash, water & without food crops or livestock, and no income?! That had to be the lowest place you could get in one’s life, I would imagine.

As another great migration pattern began, my Great Great Grandmother, Rosa Mason, was the house-mother at the Sunshine Mission for Destitute Women & Girls down on today’s “Skid Row” in Los Angeles. My Grands helped out at times at the mission… and this is where it began…

Here my ancestors witnessed a flux in the destitute populations as they emigrated to California. Many women & children that ended up in the Sunshine Mission were from families trying to find a better life out west. My Grands saw first hand the filth, desperation, & hardships that came with these extremely poor families.

Rosa, as reported by many & in clippings, was the most tender-hearted individual you can find. She never hesitated to accept a stranger into the mission, beat up “roughies” to protect another woman in need even in her 50’s & 60’s, and she would even wash your feet if you needed it! She was truly a gift from above.

My Grands on the other hand, grew up in a rather poor situation herself, so her heartstrings didn’t reach out as much. She took on the same attitude as many other native Californians who were also in great need as they watched the Okies & Arkies come in to get handouts where they could not. Though much later in life she developed a much softer place for “Okies & Arkies” as she married a man from Arkansas & later moved there, she never quite gave up that distrust of anyone from these regions.

A natural disaster affects more than just the eminent location or persons involved. It changes the face of time, places, & the people around the event! It also exceeds it’s time in history books as it passes down from generation to generation.

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