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circa 1931:

The preacher nodded his head slowly. “Every kid got a turtle some time or other. Nobody can’t keep a turtle though. They work at it and work at it, and at last one day they get out and away they go—off somewhere. It’s like me. I wouldn’ take the good ol’ gospel that was just layin’ there to my hand. I got to be pickin’ at it an’ workin’ at it until I got it all tore down. Here I got the sperit sometimes an’ nothin’ to preach about. I got the call to lead the people, an’ no place to lead...

fast forward 80 years

Brett Porter, who farms 3,000 hectares, unrolls the last of his hay in front of a thirsty line of prime Angus cattle. With just 18 bales left, and at $200 (£123) a bale on the open market, when he runs out he will have to sell the cows.

"I already sold half my mamma cows and I sent my calves to market early," he says.

He has been working on the herd's DNA for 12 years. If no rain comes, he will sell the rest for hamburger meat before high summer.

circa 1932

The weeds sprang up in front of the doorstep, where they had not been allowed, and grass grew up through the porch boards. The houses were vacant, and a vacant house falls quickly apart. Splits started up the sheathing from the rusted nails. A dust settled on the floors, and only mouse and weasel and cat tracks disturbed it.

circa 2011

I meet some of them on the floor of an old gym, strewn with about 80 mattresses.

Sonya and Tim - he was a manager at McDonald's but the branch closed and she worked at Subway but they cut her shifts - lost their home and moved into a small apartment, but when the unemployment money ended they lost that too.

"We slept in our car, it was scary," says Sonya. "Then we came here."

Life in 1933

They were hungry and they were fierce. And they had hoped to find a home, and they only found hatred. Okies- the owners hated them because they were soft and the Okies strong, that they were fed and the Okies hungry; and perhaps the owners had heard from their grandfathers how easy it is to steal land from a soft man if you are fierce and hungry and armed."

Today's reality for many of our families

Larry Antista and his 14-year-old daughter Michelle are bedding down alongside 80 people they do not know. Does her school know she is homeless? "I didn't tell them," Michelle says. "I stay there until six o'clock to do my homework." They lost their apartment when the family split up.

Maurice Henderson and RoseAnna Ortice are across the parquet floor with their three kids. Maurice used to manage a car dealership. They lived in a motel. The day his unemployment cheque did not arrive was the day he had to leave the otel and come here. They have been on the mattresses for two weeks.

Read more here

then pick up a copy of the Grapes of Wrath and read it again.  Then send the book to your Congressman.  

We are doomed to repeat history, because our government, Boehner, Reid, Obama, et al. aren't getting it folks.  It is up to us to negotiate these waters now.

Who will be our Tom Joad?

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