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Migrants in the Hamilton Area – Rosalind Smith, June 1956 – read by Marisa Modugno

Migrants in the Hamilton Area

Marisa Modugno 0:00
Migrants in the Hamilton area from the Colgate University Special Collections and university archives, published June 1956, written by Rosalind Smith, read by Marisa Modugno.

Marisa Modugno 0:15
Mr. James beaverson, principle of the Earlville Central School says that between 40 and 60 migrant children attend school in Earlville Each fall, and that a few have attended at Poolville in June. He reports that they wear clean clothes and are unusually well behaved, and that they are readily accepted by most of their schoolmates, especially if they are remembered from previous years.

Marisa Modugno 0:39
Many who are deeply concerned about the welfare of the migrants who feel that in the long run the most effective way to approach the problem is by seeing to it that their children get as much education as they can take. There is no telling how many of the migrant children have special talents which will never be discovered, because they will never be given any opportunity to exercise them. One exception was a boy named Obadiah Williamson, whose story was told by Walter Carroll in the Syracuse Post Standard September 24 1954.

Marisa Modugno 1:13
Six years ago, this Negro migrant made the rough ride on a stake truck from Florida to New York State. He was 13 years old. The youth worked in the muck lands of Wayne County and lived in a migrant camp near Wolcott.

Marisa Modugno 1:27
Mrs. Harold E nicely, wife of the late Reverend Harold E nicely, of Rochester took the boy to live in their home with their own three children.

Marisa Modugno 1:37
When OB came to us, Mrs. Nicely said we were unable to secure any schoolwork records of his previous education in Florida. He had lived in a mental vacuum, with only a smattering of reading, writing and arithmetic. The youngster had never heard of the Civil War nor of Hitler. The migrant laborer lived with the nicely family for five years, and was graduated from Monroe High School with the highest honors Obadiah, one of the 10 contestants won the $5,200 Baker scholarship to Oberlin College. It was the largest scholarship ever presented to a Monroe High School student.

Marisa Modugno 2:16
The youth now a sophomore at Oberlin, was a member of the National Honor Society, French Honor Society, the Discussion Club, and was president of the Monroe High School Council in his student year, in his senior year, ob was a reporter for his school’s newspaper won a variety of one a varsity letter in track and was elected Hi, why delegate to the United Nations. The boy eventually became a counselor at the Rochester YMCA camp on Cayuga Lake.

Marisa Modugno 2:46
Speaking of education, Hamilton residents should know that state funds are available to pay those who teach classes of two more or more adult migrants reading, writing or arithmetic. Adult education instructors are usually paid 250 an hour. Mr. Rodney Pierce is director of the adult education program in Hamilton. Of course, a major reason why so few of the local migrants have ever voted in any election is that so many of them are illiterate.

Marisa Modugno 3:17
Although a new law now permits migrants to drive in this state from June one through November 30. Without a New York State license, provided they have a license from some other state and can pass a road test which involves no written questions. It is obvious that illiterate drivers will can constitute some thing of a menace. State authorities suggest that the driver’s manual published by the motor vehicle bureau could profitably be used as a textbook for teaching migrants to read.

Marisa Modugno 3:47
Other groups have fewer than 10 migrants each live in an abandoned farmhouse. Beginning this year. Any place inhabited by at least five migrants, including two workers will be treated by state authorities as a farm labor camp. There are several local farmers who grow beans but do not operate camps. And the growers who do operate camps are willing to loan their crews to these other farmers when they do not need them themselves. Crews housed in the Hamilton area may also work as far away as Cortland. On the other hand, when local growers are short of how they might hire crews from as far as way as Richfield springs. In some camps, there are a number of family groups, whereas there are other camps inhabited mainly by young unmarried man, men. The migrants live in these camps at the owners expense.


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