Browse Exhibits (14 total)

Toilets and Other Infernal Contraptions

In Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath, the emergence of indoor plumbing is a curious mention in the novel. Steinbeck brought it in chapter twenty-two of his novel and focused a bit on the new invention as the Joad family explored the washroom at the weedpatch camp. This emergence of technology brought the hope and progression within the novel. The fact that the family found this nice camp and the camp had these new changes also gave the twenty-first century reader a good insight to the changes that made history and when the modern era began.

Steinbeck also showed the darker side of technology throughout the novel such as his mention with the tractors and their destruction. He didn't hesitate to show what problems the new inventions brought. Land is an important aspect of the novel and some of the technology created distance from the land and put people out of their comfort and familiarity.

Some things were more crucial and easy to adjust to while other inventions were harmful and actually put people out of jobs. Some of the inventions were cold, mechanical, and distant. Other inventions were bright, progressive, and convenient for a novel full of many inconveniences.

My purpose in creating this exhibit on toilets and other infernal contraptions, is to educate by the means of history. The images and their related history will bring to light the imagery that Steinbeck used within his novel. They will help illustrate points and bring the significance forth to the readers.

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Hitchhiking as a Means of Transportation


Relocation and starting over is one of the big themes in Grapes of Wrath. The Dust Bowl, among other things, negatively impacted the land, and furthermore, the people inhabiting it. It was a new era, one people had to adapt to. This meant that a lot of families had to leave in order to survive. Unfortunately, not everyone could afford cars or wagons, so some had to resort to hitchhiking. Hitchhiking is the practice of finding ways to use transportation, such as cars or trucks. Often families would have to walk a long way on the road before a car would come along and stop for them. Much like Tom Joad did in the beginning of the novel after he got out of jail.

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Communism and its Influence on the Workers of the Great Depression



When looking at The Grapes of Wrath, there were many different factors that led not only the Joads down this path, but many others as well.  Although the role of the Communist deosn't necessarily play a factor until the very end of the novel, it is the Joad's struggle that shows the reader why one, or more specifically Tom Joad and Casy the preacher went down this path. As the Joads and the other Okies try every option to make it in California, they never truly get the chance and are left disappointed.  This is the case for not only the migrant workers of California, but for many other hard-working families during the Great Depression across America.  Of course hard times lead to rash decisions, and for some, the influence of the Communist Party didn't seem like the worst route to go for some of the workers. 

As Casy decides that he is on a "life-quest," and that he no longer wants to be a preacher, he, along with the Joads, find no resolution in traveling to California.  After a trip to jail, Casy falls in with the Red Party in hopes that he will, in this attempt, be able to help people in this way.  It is inevitable that Tom too will become a member of this movement.  He unintentionally becomes involved when striking a police officer in defence of himself and his friend Casy. 

In the 1930's, many desperate people turned to members of the Red Party in order to push strikes forward.  The Communists were the ones to raise the strikes to dangerous situatuions at times, however they were able to get the demands of the workers met.  The American media tried to hinder strikers by making them all look like dangerous members of the Communist Party.  This wasn't necessarily true for the majority of the strikers, being as they were simply hard-working men wanting to provide for their families.

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New Deal Propaganda Posters


Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal was recovery act in response to the Great Depression and like politics of today it had to be "sold" to the people. Posters were commonly used to generate support for many of the New Deal programs and agencies. Posters were also used to communicate the programs created for the people by the new agencies. Before the age of the internet and cell phones, posters were a common way to get a message out to the masses and if people didn't utilize the new programs created to stimulate the economy then nothing would change.

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To Forget About Life For A While


     In the song "Rainbow Connection," it mentions that "Rainbows are visions, but only illusion."  And then in the song "True Colors," the lyrics says "True colors are beautiful, like a rainbow."  Of course, the most famous one, "Somewhere over the Rainbow" it states that "Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream."  So why Rainbow? 

     Rainbow appears briefly only after it rains.  A rainbow's colors are bright and cheerful which bring comforting feelings.  When a song is affiliated with rainbow, the effects are usually positive--even though the real meaning of the song is glooming.  That is the power of melody.  A good song will soothe one's mind and ease the burdens, especially in a calamitous situation.  So essentially, a song will provide temporary relief which will let a person to forget about life for a while.  In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck mentions song, music, and dance periodically.  Those activities not only help Joads to pass difficult times, but also for everyone during the 1930s.  These popular activities work almost like a medicine because it can put away the pain.  The goal of this exhibit is to survey what kind of activity that people would engage in the most, during the 1930s, in order to hide away from the realtity.  Most importantly, will any of those entertainments ease The Joads' pains, at all?


Etsil - Black Okies

I will be focusing on minority Okies, particularly Black American Okies and their struggle to move from states like Oklahoma, to states like California. Their struggle is not only one of a poor economic class, but also of a racial disparity. 


Cracker Jack


The All-American snack, Cracker Jack, proved to be a treat for adults and children alike with its irresistible sweetness and prize hidden inside. After erupting onto the scene in the States in the late 1800s, Rueckheim proved to be a story of an immigrant seeing through the possibility of living out the American Dream through hard work and sacrifice. In connection to The Grapes of Wrath, the trope of the hardworking migrant who is rewarded with sanctuary and financial security seems to fall flat as they bounce from camp to camp with no hope of refuge.

For the Joad children, who continue to traverse their chilldhood imagination despite an impoverished lifestyle, food outside the norm of mush and bacon grease was a rarity. Hard work and contributions were an expectation out in the fields, no matter how young, and Pa Joad's allowance of one box of Cracker Jack for Ruthie and Winfield proves to be enough for the children as far as wages and happiness go. Ruthie's attack by another girl and her fight to hold onto her treat gives insight into the ways in which she longs to hold onto her childhood, as well as the benefits of her own hard work at such a young age. 

This exhibit will aim to explore the beginnings of Cracker Jack and the connection it bears to the novel, and in particular the scenes involving Ruthie and Winfield. It will also speak to the economic undertones that the snack, and those who consume it, speaks out about. 

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What the Okies' Ate in the 1930's


Food for the Okies was a resource that was hard to come by. Especially with the Dust Bowl and the force of migration, people did not have much and had to stretch whatever they had. Money was tight and as Okies made their trekk on Route 66 heading West to California, they did not have the luxury to spend money on food while making pit stops. Diners were filled with delicious foods yet their sacrfice for the greater good was more important. They would rather have saved for gas and car parts, in case their jalopy broke down. 

In John Steinbeck's, The Grapes of Wrath, the Joads family represented what it was like to eat like an Okie. This first hand representation gave us much insight on their diet and what they ate in order to survive and make it on the road. From side meat to pork chops and mush to pone, these food items were popular amongst the Okies. These dishes are Southern inspired with a Mid-West twist particularly Oklahoma influenced. 

The following pages include foods and descriptions consumed by the Joad's family. Feel free to try out these recipes yourself to get a 'TASTE' of what it was like.



the Legacy of "Pretty Boy" Floyd


An investigation into the influence of the infamous Okie outlaw Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd. 

 "Her face looked for the answer that is always concealed in language. She said in confusion, "I knowed Purty Boy Floyd. I knowed his ma. They was good folks. He was all full a hell, sure like a good boy outghta be." She paused and then her words poured out. "I don't know all like this-but I know it. He done a little bad thing an' they hurt 'im, caught 'im and hurt him so he was mad, an' the next bad thing he done was mad, an' they hurt 'im again. An' purty soon he was mean-mad. They shot him like a varmint, an' he shot back, an' then they run him like a coyote, an' him a-snapin' an a-snarlin, mean as a lobo. An' he was mad. He wasn't no boy or no man no more, he was jus' a walkin' chunk a mean-mad".(76) 

 Born in 1904, Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd was from the Cookson Hills of Oklahoma, which inspired his other nickname,  'Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills'. He began his life of crime at a young age, and was imprisoned at 21 for payroll robbery. His forte was robbing small country banks, where he was known to destroy the mortgages to local farms. Without a banknote it was impossible for the banks to possess the land. He would also allegedly use his ill gotten gains to provide food and Christmas gifts to impoverished families. He was infamous for using a machine gun and managed to get out of so many robberies unscathed with the help of a bullet proof vest. His most infamous crime was the Kansas City Massacre, a shootout at a train station that left four police officers dead. After the massacre J. Edgar was hot on his trail. He managed to allude authorites for a few months before being named 'Public Enemy Number 1' following Dilliger's death. Shortly after he was killed in a shootout with police on a small farm in Ohio, he was thirty years old. 




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