Working Class White Trash

White women reduced to working for themselves to make ends meet were dubbed undesirable in the image of the ideal American family. The ideal wife is the obedient home maker and the ideal husband is a working man that brings home the bacon so to speak. The ideal American dream for a young woman was to be desirable enough to find a husband that would support her. For the unfortunate poor white woman with few options available, they had to work to support themselves. This was the Great Depression era and many of these lower class working white women may have migrated from Oklahoma and neighboring states to escape the famine of the Dust Bowl.

These were not happy times for many people. Working as a dancer in a taxi dance hall was ideal for these poor and beautiful women to escape the real world and fantasize of a more elegant life as portrayed in the movies of the 1930s. An opportunity for them to meet men that could take them away from the reality of the economic depression and dream of a world of elegance and happiness even for just one dance.

Young Filipino Manongs


White women were like the ultimate prize for a young manong. Put your shoes in the footsteps of a young Filipino man coming to America dreaming about living the life just like in the movies and dancing with beautiful white women trying to sweep them off their feet with their latest dance steps.

Filipinos love to sing, dance, and have a good time. These were not your average hick town good old country boys, they were well dressed, well mannered, and ready to do their best to dazzle the ladies with their charm. The dress code for the manongs back in the day was the Mcintosh suit. These guys had class and they knew how to treat the ladies. They worked hard during the week and played hard to have fun on the weekends.

Filipinos were despised by white men who blamed the Filipinos for lowering wages in the counties they lived in. Even though Filipinos took the jobs many whites didn't want to work they used the Filipinos as scapegoats to take out their frustrations on the economic hardships they were facing.
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Watsonville Riots

They tried to portray Filipinos as primitive just barely out of the jungle life and at the same time complained about how they spend their money on nice suits and buying cars with the intent to impress the ladies no doubt. Their mockery was an insecure attempt at victimizing Filipinos and gain support for other whites to join them. Many white men and youths formed mobs to bully the Filipinos into leaving their town. Signs were put up to keep Filipinos out and threats to get rid of them or face repercussions.

To add fire to the already raging flames of hatred, with the opening of a taxi-dance hall owned by a Filipino, where young Filipino men could pay to dance with white women, there was a mob of about 300 white men who tried to enter the dance hall with intent to drag the women out and burn it down. Luckily, they were repelled by two brothers William and Edward Locke-Paddon with salt pellet loaded shotguns. Not all white men hated the Filipinos and after that incident these brothers were blackballed by the white community. After that night Filipinos gathered meet the whites and settle the score. There were five days of rioting. Stories of fights breaking out all over California were reported.

There was an incident were a mob of white youths drove by places where Filipinos were living and shot their guns into the houses while they were sleeping. At sound of first shot many young Filipinos fell to the ground to hide in cover of the bullets. A 22-year-old Filipino by the name of Fermin Tobera was not so fortunate and died from a bullet through his heart.

With Tobera's death and the outrage in the Philippines when his body was returned, this incident could have been a factor in expediting the Tydings-McDuffie Act. For Filipinos in America experiencing the hate there must have been some apprehension about the status of their citizenship and what the future of being in America was in store for them. I'm sure the dilemma of whether to go back to the Philippines or to stay in America weighed heavily on the thoughts of many Filipino manongs. Especially for my dad who decided to stay and make America his new home.