Woody wrote those words 65 years ago; his response to a tragic plane crash in Los Gatos Canyon near Fresno, California, which took the lives of everyone on board the flight, including 28 farmworkers who were returning home to Mexico.
Newspaper accounts of the tragedy identified the U.S. flight crew and immigration officers on board, however the farmworkers were simply listed as Mexican “Deportees,” and never identified by name.
Woody sympathized with migrant farmworkers, having visited their camps in California and saw first-hand how they lived, and he felt it was important to identify those who perished and assigned them symbolic names in his poem, “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee).”
Unfortunately, the farmworkers’ names were lost to history and they remained anonymous, until this year—thanks to the hard work of author Tim Z. Hernandez, who spent over a year researching records, finally uncovering all of the passengers’ names.
A new exhibit has been installed in the Woody Today case, honoring all those who lost their lives on January 28, 1948.
Finally, Woody’s question has been answered. We invite you to come and learn more about this amazing memorial and tribute.
To see the lyrics Woody wrote, please visit Woody Guthrie Publications Inc. : http://woodyguthrie.org/Lyrics/Plane_Wreck_At_Los_Gatos.htm
-Ruby Loftin, WGC Archives Intern