On the way from Carmel to Sonoma County, I stop in Salinas to see the lettuce fields (Salinas: "The Salad Bowl of the World!") , and to visit the National Steinbeck Center. The work of Dorothea Lange is very much on my mind. In 1935, Lange documented Filipino workers cutting lettuce in the area, and migrant workers in search of a living. My first community work was as a translator/nurse aide for a migrant education program in Michigan. The experience politicized me & eventually I became a United Farmworkers Union campus organizer. What follows? When you love photography and you are growing a social conscience, you will encounter the work of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and the work of the FSA.
In 1960, Steinbeck drove across country with his dog and wrote "Travels with Charley." He observed that "no one was for anything and nearly everyone was against many things." Oh, people sure haven't changed much. On display behind acrylic walls is his camper, Rocinante, named after Don Quixote's horse. From the open back door we can see the manual typewriter and a bottle of Courvoisier on the small dinette table.
A biography of Lange has been ordered via the library but I want to know her story completely NOW, so I read a 1964 oral history (completed the year before she died) in the Archives of American Art online. Lange was born in 1895, just three years before you Rose. Like you, she wanted us to see injustice and to change things for the better, and that could only happen if we "dare look at ourselves." Further poking around leads me to the documentary, Grab a Hunk of Lightning, that is in production. It is being made in part by her granddaughter, who has access to archival footage and journals. They are still raising funds (check out: www.katahdin.org and give if you can). Look at this clip. She talks so softly: