Monday, 19 September 2011

A Migrant Mother

I love this photo of "Florence Owens Thompson", a 32 year old mother of seven children.This picture was taken in march 1936 in California. The photographer who has taken the photo claims she came across the migrant mother with her family on the side of the road in a pea picking farm, Dorothea Langes (the photographer) says the family had sold the tyres of their motorcar to buy food for the children.
This claim is denied by Florences son, Florence says she agreed to the photo on the condition that it must not be published and that she would recieve a copy, (Which she never did) her identitiy was not identified until 40 years after this photo was taken. Florence explains she never wanted the photo published as she was ashamed of her poverty.
When i look at this photo it saddens me that Florence felt shamed, i look at her and even though i can see the toil of her hard life etched on her face, i think she is absolutely beautiful.
Florence is obviously a very loving and proud mother, the children do not look under nourished albeit the clothes well worn, she is proud enough to give them homemade haircuts, well children in my childhood were having homemade haircuts and the Amish still do.
Florence holds her chubby baby close to her heart and the child is so content to lay in the warmth of her fold, her two other children stay close to mama.
How hard is it to be a mother? my daughter zoe says " all you have to do is feed them and love them"
How hard can this be? I do not mean to minimise how tiring motherhood can be, but when you peel the layers back and get to the core of surviving its about feeding and loving them. This picture shows great love from mother to children and children to their ma.
I see no shame on Florence owens Thompson surviving the depression in the 1930s and a canvas to call home. The child that Florence is holding in her arms never got to know her father as cleo passed away with fever when Florence had five children, expecting her sixth!
Florence lived until she was 80 years old, passed away in 1983. She died a Heroine. x

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