Selma, CA. (The red dot on the map)
1929. The Great Depression.
This is my grandmother.
This song always reminds me of her. The Tennesse Waltz, by Patti Page.
(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)
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!!!