What I am asking about happened long ago, when I attended Phoenix High School back in the World War II war years. The government brought in Mexican nationals to help in the fall fruit harvest. The workers had an encampment on the southeast flanks of Roxy Ann Peak. I remember one year the workers had some sort of evening celebration with light food and entertainment. The community was invited, and I was one of many who attended. My question is, did this encampment exist or am I delusional? Hoping you wonderful people can dig up something.
— J.D., Medford
We can't tell whether you're delusional, J.D., but you're not wrong about those workers.
During WWII, young men were leaving towns and cities by the thousands.
"Thousands on the West Coast in particular were faced with a labor shortage," said Alec Lamoreaux, operations manager for Northwest Seasonal Workers.
During that time, the Bracero Program came about. Under the program, workers from Mexico came to work in area orchards during the harvest.
Lamoreaux said there were 350 to 400 pear orchards in Medford, including several near the base of Roxy Ann.
The end of the harvest culminated with a celebration — something you know about firsthand, J.D. — and the community would be invited.
Public Law 78, which said these workers could continue to be hired, was signed in 1951. The program eventually ended because of strikes over wages and working conditions, Lamoreaux added.
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