Linda (Cunningham) Monroe wrote the following about arriving at their new home in Argus about 1945:
I remember when we arrived at that ‘”little house” – my Mom cried. I was four. It was the first time I had seen my mother cry. Now I understand why. It was a shack. Literally! I’ve a picture of the my sisters and I standing in front of the shack with the outhouse in the background.
The inside of the house was covered with cardboard and the roof was a tin roof. My Dad eventually bought the property – with 3 houses (?) on the lot for $500. I have that deed somewhere. He took down two of the houses, expanded our home, adding a bathroom (yea!), kitchen and living room. It was probably very hard on my Mom. But they provided a good home for us.
I’m quite sure that Linda’s mother wasn’t the first or the last woman to cry on their first day in Trona. My guess is that more than half of them did. Here is a quote from a book called The Seven States of California: A Natural and Human History:
The 250-square-mile valley took getting used to. In 1946 an English war bride traveled to Los Angeles, where her husband met her and drove her home to Trona. She wrote:
“California was sunny and green, and beautiful along the coast. After two days spent in sight-seeing, we set out across the desert for Trona. The scenery became gradually bleaker until finally we reached Poison Canyon and the view of Searles Lake. My husband then asked me if I had ever seen anything like this before, and I answered, “only in pictures of the moon”
I know there were many time my mother felt homesick for her red dirt farm in Habersham County Georgia.
When I was stationed at Amarillo AFB in Amarillo Texas in 1962 the boys from the East Coast could do nothing but complain about how harsh Amarillo was. I had to tell them that compared to where I was born and raised the Texas panhandle town of Amarillo was a Garden of Eden.
The description of Linda’s house reminds me of houses I visited on the Seneca Indian reservation in upstate New York in 1963. There we natural gas wells on the reservation but the royalties were not distributed equally among the tribe.
To learn more about Trona women crying visit : To Trona, California residents, that awful smell spells $$$