The year was 1942 and America was in the midst of World War II. As millions of (mostly) men went off to fight, the women and families left behind did their part for the war effort by planting “victory gardens” and holding scrap metal drives. It was during this tumultuous time that Russell Werner Lee came to Turlock to take photos of housewives and other members of the community for the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information.
The Turlock photos were part of a collection that formed an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944.
Journal multimedia manager Frankie Tovar recently came across these photos in the Library of Congress Archives and thought it would be interesting to recreate the snapshots of everyday life in Turlock today.
The photos the Journal chose to recreate were titled “Turlock housewife” and then the activity seen. After a little research, the Journal believes the woman shown shopping for groceries was Mrs. Hefley and the woman shown sending her son off to school, arranging flowers, gardening and having a backyard barbecue were Mrs. Juanita Youngquist.
We found five different Turlock “housewives” to recreate the scenes. While daily life is definitely different today — most women don’t wear dresses to work in the garden or go grocery shopping — we found that Turlock moms still find time to send their children off to school with a smile and encouraging word, mealtimes are considered sacred family time in many homes and finding a good price on fresh produce continues to be important for household budgets.
Thank you to all the housewives who allowed us access to your daily lives!