The lure of the “West” and California (“The Golden State”), enticed Wilma McDaniel’s and Rose Maddox’s families from Oklahoma and Alabama, respectively, to the Central Valley. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, California represented the possibility of not only jobs, but also glamour. Wilma’s poignant poetry and creative accouterments reveal how she dreamed of Hollywood while picking peaches and grapes near Merced. Living in the Modesto area, Rose and her brothers became integral to the “Hollywood Hillbilly” music scene, augmenting their fruit picking with guitar and bass picking, fiddling, and singing – with Rose at the lead. Much of the “Hollywood” element in their performance came from their custom-tailored clothing, influenced – like Wilma’s poetry – by the “silver screen.” -Jan Goggans
Special thanks to Jan Goggans, Associate Professor Literatures and Cultures, UC Merced, and Susan Kaiser, Director of Women and Gender Studies, and Professor in Textiles and Clothing at UC Davis, for providing the materials for this exhibit.
Writings, photographs, and personal items are from the Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel Collection, UCM Library Special Collections.