Anne’s story 1922-1931: Little Orphan Annie in Steinbeck’s California

Anne on the dahlia farm

As I left off in the last post, toddler Anne was living with a foster family while her mother was in a mental hospital in British Columbia and her father was finding his way in California. (Society didn’t have the same expectations of fathers in those days.)

Anne soon went to live with her mother’s older sister Vera on a dahlia farm in California owned by a distant relative. Anne had several cousins to play with, eating fresh green figs from a giant fig tree, tending pet guinea pigs, and swimming in the farm’s irrigation pond. She also remembers treating cut dahlia tubers with yellow sulphur and marking them with purple indelible pencil, to identify them before storage.

When Anne was 6, the woman across the road offered to become her guardian. The woman, Claire, was a childless recently-widowed school librarian who had room in her heart and home.

It seems like a somewhat cavalier arrangement but it was a happy one. Anne has idyllic memories of that period living with Claire on a truck farm in California in the early 1930s.

This was classic John Steinbeck country with the community of ethnic farm workers – Japanese, Mexican and others.

Little Orphan Annie

Image via Wikipedia

During the 1930s, many people followed the comic strip adventures of Little Orphan Annieas a distraction from the hard times. Although she wasn’t exactly an orphan, Anne took great interest in Little Orphan Annie’s adventurres. And I think she envied Annie’s dramatic curly hair.

One thought on “Anne’s story 1922-1931: Little Orphan Annie in Steinbeck’s California

  1. I think Aunt Claire gradually took over when Aunt Vera was pregnant with Becky. Almost all of Anne’s classmates in California were Japanese —- I remember people wondering what happened to them all during the war when we would look at the school photos. Wasn’t the idyllic dahlia farm in Compton? I remember that Aunt Vera lived on her own there well into her nineties — during the turbulent sixties.

Comments are closed.