I have only one personal Thanksgiving tradition. I reserve one uninterrupted hour to watch the CBS/Edward R. Murrow documentary “Harvest Of Shame.” It is considered by many to be the high water mark of television documentaries. Murrow cashiered his entire news career to make it and see it broadcast. It is an unflinching look at destitute and impoverished workers providing food for our nation of plenty.  It originally aired the day after Thanksgiving, 1960.


Like The Grapes of Wrath 21 years earlier, Harvest of Shame was attacked as socialist propaganda. In the 54 years since it has been broadcast, the documentary has been called many things, with the notable exception of being called untrue.


If you have never seen it, it can be found at this You Tube link:



Murrow delivers a harsh message; They selected a deeply moving American composition to accompany the title: Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”. There is a 3:14 excerpt from it at this link, The segment from the documentary is at 2:20 :


Poverty does not have a color or a language in Harvest of shame. It defied stereotypes and generalizations.



“This scene is not taking place in the Congo. It has nothing to do with Johannesburg or Cape Town. It is not Nyasaland or Nigeria. This is Florida. These are citizens of the United States, 1960. This is a shape-up for migrant workers. The hawkers are chanting the going piece rate at the various fields. This is the way the humans who harvest the food for the best-fed people in the world get hired. One farmer looked at this and said, “We used to own our slaves; now we just rent them.” – E.R. Murrow, opening statement to Harvest of Shame.




Several months ago I spoke with two little boys, seven or eight years old, outside a local convenience store. They were putting a chain back on a rusty bicycle. It was 8 am on a Sunday. Neither one had eaten anything since the day before. I went inside and got each of us an apple and a banana. They ate theirs right away.


A man standing in line, dressed well enough that he was probably on his way to church, made a point of telling me in front of a half-dozen people that “you can’t help those people they choose to live that way.”


I stood a foot away from him and looked him in the face and asked him to explain to everyone how a seven year old boy is to be held accountable for the poverty he lives in. He wisely chose to leave without offering any further social wisdom.






About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 30 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at and in more than 50 magazine articles.

4 Responses to Thanksgiving

  1. dan-o says:

    William, we have so much here that we seem to forget that 90 percent of the worlds population do not have a roof over their head or food to eat. Vikki and I have supported 2 children in Africa for over 20 years now, when they reach adult age we pick 2 different children, for 30.00 each per month they receive 2 meals a day, clothes and education. it pays for all school supply’s. every couple years we send extra and it buys a goat which provides milk for the whole family. you wouldn’t believe the letters we get from them about how that little money makes their lives better. its very neat to watch how their English and writing improves as they progress over the years. we may never know the outcome of helping these kids, but I’m pretty sure the outcome if we don’t help. as we all sit down to a hot meal today lets remember those that wont have one. I’m thankful for my health, family and all the wonderful friends that I have. You and Grace have a wonderful Holiday. Dan-o

  2. Bruce Culver says:

    The famous parable in Matthew 25 says it all: “inasmuch as you have done this to one of the least of these my brothers, you have also done it to me.”

  3. jaksno says:

    I imagine the Jesus I read about would have done and said something quite similar. People do choose identities well below the truth – our job is to fan the flames of the higher identity that is available to everyone…something like your mission to maintain the still available opportunity to learn, build, fly. Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. David Winrod says:

    Thank you for that story.
    My old friend died a few weeks ago here in SE Alaska. For fifteen of his later years he wintered in Mazatlan. There were some Canadians and Americans at his favorite street cafe one morning when a dozen hungry children showed up. The turistas began swearing at them and shooing them away. When my friend uttered some choice words similar to yours, they whined,”Well you can’t feed them all!” Whereupon he filled all the chairs in the place with little ones and did just that – whatever they wanted.
    His formal education was nil, but he was an impeccable educator.

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