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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Transportation in America before 1876 Community Dreams: Santa Cruz, California, 1876 Delivering the Goods: Watsonville, California, 1895 A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 People on the Move The Connected City: New York, New York, 1920s Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 Americans Adopt the Auto Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s On the Interstate: I-10, 1956-1990 Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction The People's Highway Cyrus Avery: 'The most direct road to the Pacific coast' Lucille Hamons: 'I was alone here to run this place.' The Haggard family: 'Headed west toward California' Caroline Millbank, Janet McDonnel, Ethel May Krockenberger, and Mary Jane Pecora: 'Our rest stops were lots of fun' Bobby and Cynthia Troup: 'Get your kicks on Route 66' The Delgadillo family: 'Playing with bands up and down Route 66' Pete Koltnow: 'Bumpy seats and the open road' Indian Trading Posts
10: The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s–1940s

The Haggard family: “Headed west toward California”

In the 1930s, drought and falling crop prices drove thousands of rural midwestern families to leave their farms and follow Route 66 to California to find work. James F. and Flossie Haggard left Oklahoma in 1935 after a fire destroyed their barn and its contents. The Haggards and their children, Lillian and James Lowell, made their home near Bakersfield, and James found work with the Santa Fe Railway. Another son, Merle, was born in Bakersfield and began his singing career there. By the 1960s Merle Haggard was a country
music legend.

Haggard car with trailer
Haggard car with trailer
The Haggards moved from Oklahoma to California with a 1926 Chevrolet sedan and a cargo trailer.
James and Flossie Haggard, 1937
James and Flossie Haggard, 1937

“Mama and Daddy were making it on a 40-acre farm they had leased.... [After the fire] it was all gone. The barn, the wagon, the plows, the cows, the horses, and Daddy’s prized Model A Ford. He set out to town on foot to get himself another car.... He came back home with a ’26 Chevy and a little homemade trailer bumping along behind. They gave up the lease on the 40 acres, loaded what belongings they had in the trailer, and headed west toward California.”

—Merle Haggard, Sing Me Back Home: My Story (1981)

“We got to Bakersfield the following Friday. We found a lot with a Santa Fe refrigerator car on it. The owner gave us nine months free rent if we would cut windows and doors in it, and do the plumbing to make a livable place of it. We took advantage of the offer and . added little improvements until it was a cozy little home.”

—Flossie Haggard
Lillian Haggard in Arizona, 1935
Lillian Haggard in Arizona, 1935
Haggard family objects
Haggard family objects

The lamp lit the Haggards’ living room and dining room in Oklahoma. They carried it to their new home in California.

The Haggard family used this bowl in Oklahoma and California.

Flossie Haggard, an amateur photographer, used this camera to take pictures of the family during their trip to California on Route 66.

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