Selma, CA.  (The red dot on the map)

1929.  The Great Depression.

granny.jpgThis is my grandmother.

This song always reminds me of her.  The Tennesse Waltz, by Patti Page.

  01-tennessee-waltz.m4a

(Note:  The exact dates may not be correct, and I might have missed some important information, but this is the way I heard the story.)

My great grandmother lived in a house in Selma across from an elementary school.  There are two palm trees in front of the house.  My grandmother, Grace Jensen, was born there in 1904 I think.  When my grandmother was growing up, my great-grandmother used to feed the hobos who were coming through Selma on the trains.  These were people that lived in the times of the Great Depression. (Read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression) Hobos in Chicago, 1929

The hobos were men who would stack wood for a meal, or fix your fence, or whatever.  They wanted to work…there was just no work.  My father and I were talking about it this weekend.  The homeless people weren’t like today’s homeless.  These men would go from town to town looking for work.  My grandfather did that.  Riding the rails, hopping in empty box cars.  I remember when we would drive to Fresno from LA, my Dad would always say, “Look in the box car, and see if you see anybody.”  

So, they would knock on my grandmother’s door, and they would ask for a meal.  The way I heard it, my great grandmother would put a meal out on the back steps, and they would eat it outside.  Before they would leave, however, they would put a notch on the palm trees that are in front of the house.   This would tell the next guys that this house was a good house…that you could get food here.

A nice story.  My grandmother was born in the house, and my mother lived there as a young girl.  The palm trees are there still.  If you are driving south on Highway 99, look to the left (north) side of the freeway.  If there are two palm trees across from a school, you’ll be at this place in history.

PS-I just emailed my Mom to see if I got the story correct.  Here is her reply:

YOUR STORY IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE , EVERY LINE. Granny would be so happy you told this as she loved telling how her mother was so kind and giving to the hobos, and her Mother always said so often,”those hobos have a Mother somewhere”. Love, Mom

I still think the brick story is the best family story ever!!!

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53 thoughts on “my great grandmother…

  1. I THINk THAT Is SO INTEReSTINg…THAt THESe PEOPLe ACTUALLy TRIeD TO WORK BUT COULDnT BECAUSE RIGHt NOw IN FRIScO THErE JUSt BEGGINg

  2. wow.
    she sounds like a really nice person.
    i remember we learned about this last year.
    you know the great depression and how people used to ask for food. i think mrs.ryan mentioned something about your great grandmother.
    :]

  3. wow, if the Great Depression was in California than it must’ve been everywhere else.

  4. awwww….she sounds like a really nice person..I think that was really nice how she feed the hobos who didnt have anything…Thats really thoughtfull….:)….. The men sounded like they were really nice people to and they would do whatever to get what they wanted….Good Job.lol…:)..oWwW and the Great Depression was really interesting…

  5. Wow… That is really nice. Not many people would feed hobos like that… She sounds like a really nice person. I can’t believe that the palm trees are still there. it’s been like 93 years.

  6. it sounds like your grandmother was a really great person, and that was really nice of her to do that.i know that some people that got help from her probably told told their families about her and kept on telling the story,she might be remebered by many people in a very good way.

  7. I don’t think I could survive during the depression. Your great grandmother sounds like a real nice person.

  8. wow….your grandmother was such a nice person to do that for people…if i were a guy who went to her house i would nver forget her.

  9. Your Grandma must be a REALLY NICE PERSON!She gave out meals to the hobos when the times were harsh for most of them.

  10. i tHiNK tHAt y0uR GRANDM0tHER WAS A GREAt W0MEN iT S0uNDS LiKE SHE WAS VERy NiCE t0 SUCH A tHiNG AS GiVE F00D LiKE tHAt i tHiNK tHAt SHE iS VERy NiCE AND tHAt PE0PLE WH0 WERE HuNGRy WiLL NEVER F0RGEt HER AND HER VERy KiND WAyS!!!

  11. thats an amazing story about your grandma she must have really been a nice, kind and helping person she helped others in need that is a really good quality to find in a person

  12. Your grandmother seemed like a really wounderful person!!she seemed like the type who couldn`t pass up a poor person without giving them something!!I bet she was great!!

    -Sincerly,
    Bobbi!

  13. Your grandmother sounds like she was a very nice person.Your grandmother must have been a very generus person.

  14. i wonder how it would fell living back then, your grandma is one of a lot of people who would do that.they were nice people

  15. wow ur great grandmother must have been really nice to give a those people food and a job

  16. thatz really cool!!!mrs. vermeulen!!!ur great grandma soundz really nice!!itz cool that she would give mealz 2 people she didn’t even know!!
    $kaley$

  17. [[WoW]], tHaT WaS ReaaLY NicE of YouR GReAt GraNdMa ToO FeEd The HObOs ThAt PassSEd By. THat ReaLlY SOuNdS lIke THe BOYS THaaT We ArE ReAdIng AbOuT.ii tHinK HomeLess PeoPlE SHouLd ReaD ThiS, SO they’Ll No HoW GOOd ThEY HAVE It FOr THe GOVERnMEnt TO Be GivIng Them SOo Much

  18. i would want to help hobos like your grandma did!! She’s seems really nice cuz she would help out homless ppl and give thme a decent meal!!

  19. hey mz v my gand ma and grand pa met because of the great deppresion my grandpa was ridin the rails nd he stopped in fresno and went to my grndmas house nd found her they were both were children then but they fell in love my grndpa got a job and they moved to stockton and i never seen or heard of my great grandpa or grnadma on my grndpa side o ur great grndama must have been kind to strangers and people to

  20. That was very nice of your grandma & grandpa to give food to the poor that went through the great depression.

  21. your great grandmother must have been a very kind person for giving poor people food when they needed it most

  22. My dad grew up in Selma and we go there alot so i’ll see the palm trees soon ^^ but i was wondering what do you mean by notches on the trees?

  23. Wow…i feel bad for the hobos cuz they didn’t have a place to go…but your family was so generous enough to give them food for work…not very much people do thet these days

  24. I REALL LIKED THE GRANDMOTHER STORY…IT WAS SO INTERESTING….MY MOM AND MY STEP DAD SAY TO ME, THAT I HAVE TO EARN THINGS…”SO I DO”…HAHAH…PEOPLE THINK THAT STUFF IS JUST GONNA COME TO THEM, BUT ITS NOT, THEY NEED TO REALIZE THAT THEY HAVE TO EARN IT TO GET IT.

  25. thats kind of cool how they would put something on the trees to show that the house give food.

  26. thats so sweet
    it was a very hard time in that period and there wasnt enough money for food but ur grandmother still fed the hobo. by that it tells me that she was very kind person.

  27. if Selma is on the way to L.A. then i might be able to see it because in 2 weeks my family and i are goin to L.A. to see some family members. so if we’re passing through Selma… i’ll tell my daddy to wake me up =]

  28. You were talking about hobos had pride, i think that was true, today, hobos just stand around like lazy hobos they are and ask for food, the least the could do is be helpful

  29. this reminds me of the book we are reading in mrs.ryans class its based on the great depression and talks about 2 runaways who have to knock on peoples doors to get food

  30. Wow, your great granmother must’ve been really kind, enough to feed those homeless people. Glad there was someone to take care of them. Most people would just ignore them :[

  31. I think your great grandmohter was a very generous,an kind person.an those hobos that
    came by there were probably greatfull for the
    food they ate while they were there.

  32. That was such a good story….
    I didnt know that any of your family was in the great depression….
    But anyways i really did enjoy that story…that was interesting ….
    ♥shiance♥
    And your grandmother must be a really sweet person…
    ♥shaince♥

  33. That is really sweet of what your great grandmother did because I think they relaly needed the food.=)

  34. !!wow!! you have a caring great grandmother ms. vermeulan…….just by hearing how the days back then were so horrible makes some people actually think and know how greatful we are for having the things we have know…..♥

  35. i think that is a great thing that your grandmother has done. I probaly saved some men from dieung of starvation. even though they were going to die in the future she was kind enough to let homeless men come to her home and give them a meal that is so awesome what she has done . if i dint know better i would think of your grandmother as a heart warming ,caring and sympathetic person. whom was anall around good person

  36. That is a wonderful story and that is so kind of your great grandmother to tell us that 🙂 😀

    BUT I THINK IT WILL BE BETTER FOR YOU TO COME TO OUR SCHOOL AND TELL US THAT TO US (7TH & 8TH GRADERS)IN PERSON!!!!

    LOVE,BRENDA ROMERO
    😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

  37. I’m a 2, Granny was a 2, Great Granny was a 2. No 3s for miles. My Dad’s a 1, sister a 2, sister a 7.

    Family gatherings are a hoot. My 7 sister is married to a 1 man. Fun on vacation, but…

  38. Mrs.vermeulen!! ur’ granny iz so cute!! she kind of reminded me of my great,great Grandma Dolly. she looks so nice and happy:)
    ~holli
    {a.k.a} $kaley$

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