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This California town inspired ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ Now, the state’s Okie past is fading

This California town inspired ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ Now, the state’s Okie past is fading

Pat Rush, 84, with the help of her daughter Angie Trigueiro, exits a structure at Weedpatch Camp like the one she and her family lived in after migrating from Oklahoma to Bakersfield in 1945. Rush was revisiting the camp, which housed migrant workers during the Dust Bowl, during October’s Dust Bowl Days festival. After three decades, the festival is ending because its organizers have grown too old, too tired. “I think it’s kind of sad, that [the history] will slowly but surely be forgotten,” Rush said.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Bakersfield country music star Jimmy Phillips, 77, is all smiles at the Dust Bowl Days Festival, where he performed with an all-star band. Phillips, whose family migrated from Oklahoma in the 1940s, was raised in Bakersfield at the Weedpatch labor camp. Phillips helped create the Bakersfield Sound that Buck Owens and Merle Haggard contributed to.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
A photo from the 1940s shows W.C. Stamp as a boy standing in front of an automobile at Weedpatch Camp in Bakersfield. Stamp and his family migrated from Oklahoma to Bakersfield in 1944 and lived at the camp. During the Dust Bowl Days Festival, Stamp, now 80, sat near a display of historic photographs that depicted migrants and life at the camp.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
A photo from the 1940s shows W.C. Stamp as a boy, second from right, standing with his family in front of their residence at Weedpatch Camp in Bakersfield.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Luis Aaron, 53, from Bakersfield, stands near a row of vintage cars during the Dust Bowl Days festival at Weedpatch Camp in Bakersfield in mid-October.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Vintage photos show some of the people who migrated to the Weedpatch Camp in Bakersfield. The images were part of a display for Dust Bowl Days festival provided by W.C. Stamp, 80, who lived at the camp with his family. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
A banner featuring the classic image “Migrant Mother” by photographer Dorthea Lange greets visitors to the Dust Bowl Days festival at Weedpatch Camp.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Kevin Kukel, 64, visiting from San Francisco, looks at a display inside a historic recreational building at Weedpatch Camp.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Pat Rush, 84, reflects on the days when she and her family lived in one of these structures in the Weedpatch Camp after migrating from Oklahoma to Bakersfield in 1945.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The iconic image titled “Migrant Mother” by photographer Dorthea Lange stands near memorabilia and other historic items shown during the Dust Bowl Days festival.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
People visit a building that housed the library at Weedpatch Camp in Bakersfield.  (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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