Cucumbers. Acres of cucumbers in the rich turd brown fields of Washington County, Oregon picked by migrant farm laborers. Chicanos mostly, who were recruited from Texas to live in smallish plywood shacks built by such landowners as Ron Tankersley, who owned some of the most notorious camps with the worst conditions. It was on his land that many of my photos were taken showing the actual conditions the workers and family members lived in. He would recruit them with false advertising showing them photos of pretty "modern-style houses"-- and when they'd arrive in Oregon they found plywood shacks-- a typical bait and switch tactic. In an interview and portrait session, Ron Tankersley, told me, the pickers love to "camp" here, it's like a "vacation" for them. In reality, families, sometimes over a dozen children, all lived together in square, a 20x20 foot one room plywood shacks with inadequate water, heat, and "moldy" damaged mattresses. Later, Ron served jail time, according to an article published on May 6, 1989 in the Eugene Register Guard for using illegal contractors.
I was there to take pictures of them-- and here in the Land of Opportunity they were all seemingly proud. But these scenes resembled another America to me, going back in time to the 1930s or before. Bathrooms, water and cooking facilities were outside the campground shacks.-- These photos may be be viewed at my website.