America's Great Depression 1930's
The stock market crash of 1929 destroyed the future for many, and left little hope for the rest. The generation growing up during this time banded together to climb out of the “Great Depression.” During America's Great Depression of the 1930's the American dream became a nightmare. Approximately 30 percent of Americans were unemployed, and thousands of people lost their jobs each day. People in rural areas moved to the cities in search of jobs, which led to unemployment rates of 50 percent in some cities. In the Mid and Western part of the country, there was a lack of rain for several years. Due to this drought, the land dried up, which made it impossible for farmers to harvest, eat, or sell crops. Throughout the country, without a source of income, thousands of families were forced to leave their homes and live without adequate shelter, food or clothing. These inadequate living conditions led to thousands of malnourished, diseased children and adults across the nation. Unemployment was near 30% and more than 50% in some cities. Times were hard, hunger and poverty became a way of life for much of the nation. Having no money limited people's choices in what they could buy. America, once the land of hope and optimism became the land of despair. The land of opportunity became the land of desperation. Many families lost their homes because they could not pay their mortgages. Survival became a way of life. Inspiration from the song “Amazing Grace” gave them hope. Hope for the future kept their spirit alive.
All across America many people had to seek alternative forms of shelter, some found refuge in shanty towns similar to Circleville, Ohio; a Hooverville homeless camp shown above. West Virginia had several Hoovervilles, poor farms and homes for the homeless. No records were found for Fayette County during this period. An account of a home for the homeless at Institute, Kanawha County was found. Institute is 45 miles from Elkridge and is representative of the poor living conditions in the region.
Home for homeless, Institute WV Charleston Newspapers files
Nearly 100 children were removed from the Kanawha County poor farm in the summer of 1934 after the Charleston Gazette found that children were kept in the same unsanitary quarters as 200 adults. "Bed bugs and other vermin crawl out of the crumbling old walls ... to torment them at night. Sick old men, nauseatingly inflicted with loathsome diseases, come in personal contact with them by day. The danger of horrible death by fire ... eternally hangs over them," the Gazette reported. The article got results. Within two weeks, children from the poor farm were taken to Putnam County to spend the summer at the Salvation Army Camp Kump. Articles said the children were trained in behavior, health and character building for placement in private homes. Built in 1895 to hold 75, the poor farm was on a 120-acre site along the Kanawha River and W.Va. route 25, just west of Dunbar. William (Billy) Knight Roberts II relates the following. "In the early 1930s as a boy growing up in Dunbar, WV, I remember a large brick building in the center of large farm at Institute west of Dunbar in KANAWHA County. To the local people this place was known as the "POOR FARM". Institute was the site of a college for black students, and the poor farm was located between the College and the Kanawha River, as I recall."
Life was hard and finding work was almost impossible. Most were proud even though they did not have a pot to pee in. New families finding work at the mines in Elkridge sometimes were forced to live in the shelter of a rock cliff until a house became available. They lived an austere life for many months and became stronger by enduring their hardship with dignity.
Hobos have been around since the Civil War. Back then, they were called Hoe boys - men who carried a hoe or a shovel around from town to town in search of farm work. During the Depression, many Americans headed westward if they had a car and a few dollars in their pockets. However, those who had nothing had only one choice - a free but illegal way to travel - freight hopping. They were sometimes called "gentlemen of the road." Many hobos showed signs of having once been white-collar workers. They wore jackets, vests and Florsheim shoes. . During the Depression, it is believed that as many as one and a half million hobos were riding the rails, two hundred and fifty thousand teenage hoboes, boys and girls, were roaming America. Some left home because they felt they were a burden to their families; some fled homes shattered by the shame of unemployment and poverty. Some left because it seemed a great adventure. With the blessing of parents or as runaways, they hit the road and went in search of a better life.
Civilian Conservation Corps “Roosevelt’s Tree Army”
In the late 1920 and early 1930s, the United States experienced the Great Depression. In the economic down swing, some people were out of work for years at a time. Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in March, 1933, on 21 March 1933 he sent a message to Congress urging creation of the Works Projects Administration (WPA). The bill became a law ten days later. The purpose of the WPA was to give wages to people currently unemployed. By 1936 over 3.5 million people were employed on various WPA programs. The WPA included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the National Youth Administration (NYA) and the Public Works Administration (PWA). Congress gave the PWA $3.3 billion to spend for various public works projects. This included the construction of schools, hospitals, post offices, roads and dams. The National Youth Administration (NYA) program helped those between the ages of 16-25 who wanted to continue with their education was given part-time jobs. More than 700,000 students enrolled in this program.
"I propose to create a Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in simple work… more important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
The purpose of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was to put people to work safeguarding the environment. President Roosevelt said if we manage our hardship wisely and courageously and treat the task as we would threat the emergency of war-we can through employing the needy accomplish greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our national resources. The men would plant trees, build public parks, drain swamps to fight malaria, restock the rivers with fish, work on flood control projects and a range of other work that would help conserve the environment. The CCC was based on the chain of command structure used by our armed forces with officers in charge of the men. The CCC workers received free meals and barracks-style accommodations, and were paid $30 a month - under orders to send $25 of that sum home to help with their families' welfare. CCC camps were set up all over the United States. Nationally, between 1933 and 1941, the CCC had over 4,000 camps and over 3 million men. Life in a C.C.C. camp resembled the regimented life on a military base of the time. The physical camp was also laid out in military fashion and consisted of four 50 man barracks, a kitchen, mess hall, recreation hall, army reserve officers and statesmen quarters, as well as supply buildings, garages and storage areas. The buildings were of pine lumber covered with tar paper and wood strips. The buildings were constructed in four foot sections for easy relocation when the camp moved. In addition to their work duties, the men also received training for their social development and education. Five objectives were set for the men: elimination of illiteracy, development of a respect for and a responsibility to superiors, development of social relationship skills, development of good behavior, and learning the methods of securing a job. Basic reading, writing and math skills were taught along with specialized trades in areas such as forestry, bookkeeping, mechanical drafting, The CCC combined employment, and public service. It put young men to work, rather than on welfare. It left a legacy of national service that not only contributed to the public good, but also helped individuals rebuild lives shattered by the Great Depression. During the nine years of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
miles of telephone line was installed
* 126,000 miles of roads and trails were constructed
* 6,459,000 man-days were expended fighting fires
* 6,660,000 erosion control check dams were built
* 2,356,000,000 trees were planted
There were 3
Company 532, SP-3
Below are pictures of
The 1936 Thanksgiving Day menu for
Reveille at , the camp leader blew a whistle as he strolled through each of the four (4) barracks to awaken the men. At , we were out doors, and stood at attention in front of the flag pole for roll call and the daily ritual of raising the American flag.
We returned to the barracks to make-up our bunk-beds, also "wash-up". Monday to Friday was the work week - we dressed in our work clothes of denim. At we marched to the mess hall for our morning breakfast - at a daily inspection of the barracks by a camp officer - we had to have our bunks, foot lockers and clothing gear in a military precision form. At a whistle gave notice to report to our work assignment.
When we left for our job site, we were given brown paper lunch bags - the lunch never varied, we were given one baloney sandwich, one peanut-butter and jam sandwich, with a piece of fruit.
We had a one hour lunch break. We completed our days work at . When we got back to camp, we showered and changed our clothing to ODs.
At we "lined-up" outside the barracks, facing the flag pole for RETREAT. With the lowering of the American flag, we then marched to the mess hall for dinner. Each man ate at his assigned table. K P duties were rotated from members of the camp; waiters on K P duty served the food to the tables.
The Post Exchange was opened from -9:00PM. Available was soda, candy, etc. We were permitted to buy a $2.00 book of tickets stubs on credit. It was later deducted from our pay on payday which came at the end of the month. Our salary was $30.00 a month, $5.00 in cash to each member and the remaining $25.00 was sent home by the government.
It wasn't such a bad deal to receive clothing, bed and board and health welfare in the difficult depression years of our time. I lived and enjoyed everyday of my life in the C.C.C. Camp.
Completed Babcock and Hawk’s Nest State Park
The people of Elkridge and