1948 – The Plane Crash of Forgotten Names


high in the Diablo mountains on a January day that brought black misery and death

DC aircraft sailed into eternity with 32 souls on the sad journey back to Mexican poverty

“Deportees” sand Woody Guthrie in a lament that told their story to comfortable land owners

some were legal whose time cards had expired while others came with out papers earning them the name “illegals”

all picked fruit and bent their backs in the burning California sun, sweating to earn the nickels and dimes

just so the nice grocery stores could have fresh lettuce and firm tomatoes for the mothers pushing the shiny metal carts

“Round ’em up!” came the cry as the Feds ┬árented a Burbank airplane and that is what they did

“Send ’em back!” nodded the white men in white shirts as they reasoned with their logical white brains

on a Naval ship a young Caesar Chavez received the fire he needed inside his bones the cry out

“They should be treated as human beings, not just agricultural implements!”

Over due for a safety inspection just northwest of Coalinga the road workers looked up in the sky

white smoke gushed from the big falling bird and exploded against the rocks

they died- all of them


the four white people had names

good names

the others were not so lucky

their mass graves still say


that’s all




A few years ago I wrote a series of poems around the theme of events that occurred in the year 1948. I have never shared them until now.

You may be through with the past, but the past may not be through with you.” – Magnolia

Dust bowl drought victims (migratory far

When The Clouds Wouldn’t Cry

Back in ’48 the war was long over but the rain stayed away

Okies still migrated the endless 66 to pick fruit and pray

troubles were a plenty and the wilted crops dry

fierce winds blew the Santa Anas but the clouds wouldn’t cry

up in Merced County the thirsty cattle and sheep moaned for rain

wishing the dark clouds and wet showers would soon come again

hollow canyons burned freely and threatened the cities and the towns

farmers drank in bars and there the troubles they did drown

fruit growers were urged to “thin down the crop”

truckers on the highway dodged the cracks in the black top

wells were mighty low and the rates kept on higher

gardeners in Beverly Hills sprayed hoses as the lawns just got dryer

“you don’t miss the water ‘all the well goes dry”

said the wise old dairymen as their wives began to cry

conserve! conserve! conserve! the many headlines screamed

one day the water will flow freely, every Californian dreamed

but for now and for a spell this truth did self apply

“48 was a time when the damn clouds wouldn’t cry