|Farmers outside closed bank in Frederick, Oklahoma 1933. WPA photo by Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress.
LeRoy Baker is an upholsterer by trade. He grew up during the Depression on the Great Plains, in Frederick, Oklahoma,
where the dust blew and the crops withered. Through the WPA and CCC, his father found work in South Texas and then in
Paris, Texas, but he still remembers Frederick as home.
Oral history taken November, 2004
Frederick, Oklahoma is my hometown. My daddy was an agricultural worker there during the 1930s, before we moved to South Texas for
the WPA. We lived in a migrant shack close to the fields, and I remember the weather the most - the floods when the rains came, and the
constant threat of tornadoes. Daddy took the wheels off an old car, put trace chains around the body, then piled earth on top of the
northwest side - that became our storm cellar. He was afraid of tornadoes because as a six year old boy, he'd been carried away by a
twister for a few miles.
Another memory is when all us kids played revival, which was the main form of entertainment for the grown-ups then. We pretended the
running boards around the cars were pews, and my friend Billy would yell "Hominy, hominy, hominy" while the rest of us began to speak in
tongues. We got whipped for that, because our parents thought that was sacrilegious!
I also remember the concrete road between Frederick and Lawton, which we called the "rocking chair highway" because the joists were
so close together, making all of us sway back and forth in the car. I wonder if the road is still like that?
Read about LeRoy's memories of Paris, TX here!
|LeRoy died March, 2012. I feel priviliged to have known and loved him. Rest in peace.