Say their names: honoring the “deportees” Highway 99

photo by Lindajoy Fenley
The grave marker now has the names of all who perished in the crash.

by Lindajoy Fenley
posted May 31

In folk music circles, most people know Woody Guthrie’s song “Plane Crash at Los Gatos.”

But few ever visit Fresno’s Holy Cross Cemetery where a mass grave holds the remains of 28 farmworkers who died in the fiery 1948 plane crash that the song is about.

The song bemoans the fact that the farmworkers who were being deported to Mexico had no names in either news reports at the time of the crash or on a diminutive stone that marked their common grave at the edge of the little graveyard. The media reported only the names of the plane’s crew and the immigration officer who died in the crash with them. In protest, Guthrie made up generic names for the migrants and his 1948 words were put to music 10 years later by Martin Hoffman. read more

A detour to the Cesar Chavez monument At the southern tip of Highway 99

Editor’s note: ChicoSol is reviving its Highway 99 series that was popular some 10 years ago to mark this year’s Cesar Chavez Day. State Route 99 cuts through California’s Central Valley, where union organizing had a tremendous impact.

by Lindajoy Fenley
posted March 27

The final resting place of Cesar Chavez, who led strikes to improve the lot of underpaid and disrespected farmworkers nationwide more than 50 years ago, has the peaceful moniker Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz. read more