Originally Posted by Stu
I thought Merle was on California via San Quentin. Was he not originally an Okie, or do I just think that because of the song Okie from Muskogee?
"Okie" is a slur used by California natives to denigrate Dustbowl migrants who came to California in the 30s from Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle and elsewhere. The Joads, essentially, though apparently Steinbeck vastly overplayed the extent of the crisis and the size of the migration. Nonetheless, a lot of them did come, and they settled primarily in the southern and eastern parts of the Central Valley, in the High Desert, and in the Inland Empire.
Bakersfield is a lot like Texas and Oklahoma. It's hot. It's dry. The main industries are (or were) oil, cattle and farming. Everyone with a little cash drives a huge, top of the line Ford or Chevy truck. Country music is very popular. It's hard to say whether the Okies settled there because it felt like home or if, by settling there, they made it like home.