Historic Hood River
“Helping Save a Crop”
Pansy Dewitt identifies these folks as “Bert Reed, Harry, George Slocum and Calvin Skinner helping save a crop.” At a later date she added “Clarence Gilbert,” presumably a correction, and explained the comment “helping save a crop” with the additional note “World War One.” Presumably these men were too old to serve in the military so they were helping bring in the harvest, though it looks like they are doing more eating than picking at the moment.
I know WWII had a farm deferment for young farmers to stay home, work the farm and provide food. I wondered if WW1 had the same. I found this article……
Did the HR fruit farmer see a decline in the demand for their fruit during the 1920's?
“…American agriculture boomed in World War I when the United States in essence fed the Allied nations as well as its own wartime armed forces. In 1914â€“18, American wheat production rose to an average of about 870 million bushels and cotton exports also increased, although corn production remained relatively stable. Farmers and much farm labor received draft deferments; encouraged by soaring commodity prices, they increased their production through purchase of gasolineâ€powered machinery and the cultivation of additional land. In 1918, grain production reached into the most arid section of the Great Plains. The wholesale price index of farm products more than doubled, from 100 to 208 between 1914 and 1918. When the wartime foreign and military demands declined after the war, export markets collapsed, and American agriculture, already heavily in debt from the wartime expansion, plunged into a severe economic depression in 1921, which lasted for more than a decade…..”
I agree that these men were probably exempt from the military in a time of war. I do know that during WWII X amount of men, older men were left on the farms as production of fruit had to go on for both the general population of the U. S. and to keep food flowing to our troops both in the European theater and the Pacific area. My Dad was one that was left on the farm during WWII as he was older at the time of the outbreak, plus married and had one child, me. His brother two years younger was single and knew that he would be drafted so went down and enlisted.
These men here was all in some way related to the Hood River fruit industry. George Slocum worked in the A.G.A. office, while Clarence Gilbert sold farm implements in town. George Skinner himself was a farmer.
In time of great need for people to harvest, and this was not only in the apple and pear industry but other things such as oranges, grain harvest, truck farms, just to name a few older school boys did not go to school until the harvest was in.
Was this the time they let high school students out to pick fruit, or that was simply when there was an extra large harvest?
As reported in the HR Glacier, there was a large bumper crop in the 1916 harvest season, where students were let out of school and downtown businesses closed so they could all help pick. See comments on image 2472.
My father, C.M. sheppard, was working for the Baker-Langton Orchard Co. in Walla Walla,Washington when WW I started. He volunteered and was almost in the Army for five days. When the interview revealed that he was the orchard manager, they told him to ” go back and get to work.” Farming was considered “Strategic Production.” He harvested a few crops with crews mostly made up of women and American Indians until the war ended, whereupon he went to Hood River and joined Granddad and my uncle in the orchard business.
Yes, they did have agricultural exemption in WW I.