Author’s Note: Please leave a comment as to what brought you to this post. Thanks.
A photo has touched me over the years. Perhaps you have seen it too. The photo shows a woman, apparently dealing with a lot of issues, hand-to-chin, and two girls on either side of her, nestling into the background as if to hide from the camera. A baby is lying across her lap. The photo is truly iconic and was taken in 1936 by photographer Dorothea Lange. Many have said that it epitomizes the struggles that defined the Great Depression. If you have ever been moved by this photo, I think you’d have to agree on its icon status.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this photo and wondered to myself who this is, what the back-story is, and where they are today. Did this woman overcome the challenges of the day? Who are the children? Are they still alive? Have they been able to succeed in life and are they happy?
I got some of those answers today, thanks to CNN reporters Thelma Gutierrez and Wayne Drash, Modesto Bee reporter Tim Moran, and a Modesto Red Cross worker. The lady in the photo is Florence Thompson, who passed away in 1983 at age 80.
The girl on her left shoulder, Katherine, is alive today and at age 76, is living in Modesto. Sadly, her home was destroyed in a fire in October 2007 and she was, for a while, homeless and had lost all she had. With $4.00 in the bank, she was once again on hard times. The Red Cross was able to help her with temporary lodging and clothing. And since that time, Katherine McIntosh has subsisted on her Social Security and occasional work as a housekeeper.
Do you have a “Katherine” in your community? There are several shelters and homes with people who may not be as iconic, but who are just as much in need of help. After all, the spirit of giving and helping is just as iconic in America as the photo of young Katherine, her sister, and their mother.
For the record, Katherine has asked for nothing. She likely doesn’t have a computer and may never read this. And she doesn’t know who I am. I am just a blogger who has been touched by the story.
UPDATE: Anyone who wishes to help out Katherine can do so through a “Special Relief Fund Savings Account” at:
Special Relief Fund / Savings Account
901 N. Carpenter Road
Modesto, CA 95351
The bank/online contact is Therese Lazar, tlazar@FMBOnline.com
Thanks to Rebecca Ciszek of the Stanislaus County Chapter of the American Red Cross, located in Modesto, California, for helping out with this case.
I have found a local “Katherine” hiding in plain sight very close to home and have reached out to help her and her children. There are so many needs around us everyday and many of us have the means to help, even if it’s just a dollar or two—or canned goods—or a wrapped present for a child whose parent(s) is/are struggling this year.
Find a way to make a difference!
High-Res Photo: http://fr.wikivisual.com/images/7/77/Lange-MigrantMother02.jpeg
Local Article: http://www.modbee.com/local/v-print/story/432516.html
Local Article: http://www.modbee.com/local/story/104433.html
American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/
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NOTE: Thanks to http://www.condron.us/ for generating the extra site traffic for me!