The joke about California is that there are only two seasons, fire and mudslide.
The season totals in mid-March 1958 were about two inches under our annual average of 24.36 inches for San Luis Obispo. At least two storms that year produced newsworthy flooding. The storm shown there hit Nipomo hard.
Before tract homes and top tier golf courses were built there the Nipomo region was a rural farm community and home to many migrant workers.
The iconic Great Depression photo that came to be known as “Migrant Mother” was made on the Nipomo Mesa by photographer Dorthea Lange. The photographer’s name is now on an area elementary school. Twenty years after the depression there were places that had not changed much.
Here is the unbylined story from March 15, 1958:
RED CROSS ASKS AID FOR MIGRATORY WORKERS
Food Rushed To Families Near Nipomo
Emergency food and clothing is being rushed to relieve the worsening plight of migratory peapicker families in the Nipomo area.
Red Cross director Harry Fryer Sr., has issued a general appeal for food supplies and clothing for distribution in the area. Fire departments throughout the county are serving as collection points for food and cash donations are being received at the Red Cross headquarters, 1008 Morro street in San Luis Obispo.
The Red Cross authorities are reportedly seeking permission to use Camp San Luis Obispo barracks space as emergency housing for destitute families of Nipomo Migratory workers.
Continuing heavy rains have reduced camp areas to sodden prairies of mud where several hundred men, women and children wait idle in tents, trailers and parked cars.
While there is no accurate count of the number of people involved, Red Cross estimates place the number at well over 200 persons. A teacher at the migratory workers’ school said 47 children are enrolled from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Another observer estimated that at least 85 or 100 children are living in the camp and the surrounding area.
Rains Hamper Harvest
The unseasonably late rains have thrown harvest workers out of work throughout the state. Peapickers are dependent upon good weather to work the harvest, and most of the families in the area are stranded and without gas to move elsewhere.
Farm owner Danny Sheehy said yesterday that farmers have contributed vegetable food supplies. There is no other place for the workers to go Sheehy said, due to the heavy rains throughout the state.
Red Cross director Fryer said this morning that the initial response to the food appeal has been gratifying. A truckload of goods was to be delivered sometime today to carry the workers past the weekend. A further assessment of the need will be made Monday.
One San Luis Obispo bakery put in extra hours turning out bread for the relief deliveries. Women from the Methodist church in San Luis Obispo distributed clothing to the children yesterday morning and are planning further distributions next week.
A serious health problem could develop with continuing soggy weather, Fryer said. People are sleeping in ground level tents and parked cars under cramped conditions that would lead to the rapid spread of any epidemic, he warned. No communicable illness has appeared to date, although one worker was reportedly treated for a mild heart seizure.
Fryer has asked that the community continue to assist in the emergency. Official receipts are being issued for all donations, he said, to indicate how they are used.
The photo is courtesy of the History Center of San Luis Obispo County who saved many of the prints when a Tribune employee tossed them out.
I thought I had published this page and image earlier but could not find it in the index. Apologies if I seem to be repeating myself.
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