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Wilma McDaniel, chronicled lives of Dust Bowl migrants

TULARE, Calif. — Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, who chronicled the lives of her fellow Dust Bowl migrants working in Central California, died April 13. She was 88.

Ms. McDaniel died at a Tulare rest home, Tulare County spokesman Eric Coyne said Friday. She was the county’s poet laureate.

Ms. McDaniel lived most of her life in the San Joaquin Valley, where she spun poems about gravy, grape-picking and the Great Depression.

Born in 1918 in Stroud, Okla., Ms. McDaniel chronicled the experiences and feelings of the uprooted people who joined immigrants in California’s fields during the 1930s. She began scribbling poems on grocery bags, junk mail and envelopes when her family moved from Oklahoma to California in the mid-1930s when she was a teen. McDaniel and her family picked crops and worked in fruit packing houses.

She eventually produced more than 25 books of poetry and was published in other collections and magazines.