I love this story, because I, too, have looked at the pretty nature images that come as computer wallpaper and wondered where they were taken, and I've also idly wondered about this specific yellow-leaf-draped road. I always assumed it was in Vermont, since it screams of Robert Frost, and "two roads diverged in a yellow wood."
A writer for Vanity Fair took on the nigh-impossible task of tracking the exact spot down, and thanks to hard work and, believe it or not, an e-mail from Bill Gates (well, from Bill's people), he figured out it is in Ontario. The article also presents a photo of the same scene in winter. Awesome detective work, and a great little article.
Apparently the mom in question, Florence Owens Thompson, wasn't too thrilled about being the subject of the picture, a picture that would eventually influence Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath." She was just in her 30s when that iconic image was snapped, and she lived till 1983.
It's hard to look at her 1936 face and envision her still with us in the 1980s -- she seems such a part of that moment and only that moment, but she did live a long time. Her gravestone reads "Migrant Mother--A Legend of the Strength of American Motherhood." So perhaps she found peace with the photo, at long last.
I'm an entertainment editor at MSNBC.com, and have maintained Pop Culture Junk Mail since August, 1999. The New York Times called the site "one of the best places to explore pop culture online," and Entertainment Weekly included it on their Top 100 Web Sites list. If you like weird food, strange products, and 1970s and 1980s nostalgia, PCJM is your home away from home.