TO GO TO SCHOOL
summer school for about 43 children of "Shantytown,"
residence of a group of unemployed near the Young street postoffice,
will [be] started Monday by a young woman teacher from the Dallas
schools, who has decided to give her vacation period to this
work. About 30 of the children were not in school last winter.
3, 1932, Dallas Daily Times Herald, Sec. II, p. 8, col. 1.
No shelter, as yet, has been obtained
for the "schoolhouse," but, the hope was expressed
that somebody would come forward and donate use of a large tent
for the purpose.
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to operate the "Shacktown school" in the community
of unemployed, has been offered [by Mi]ss Una Kilpatrick, John
Henry Brown school teacher, who had expressed a desire to open
a free school for the more than forty children in the "village"
near the [fo]ot of Young street.
4, 1932, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 7, col. 1.
Tents will be given by T. R. __nes
of the Oklahoma Contracting corporation, and the pupils will
build their own benches out of old lumber donated. Blackboards
and [oth]er schoolroom equipment have been offered by kindly
disposed individuals and firms.
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FINAL ORDERS FOR
MOVING DAY POSTED
of the remaining West Dallas camp ground squatters were in mourning
Saturday and called it their "hard luck day."
10, 1938, Dallas Daily Times Herald,
First, they were issued final court
orders, filed by Walter Graner, owner of the property, to get
off of the land. Sheriff Smoot Schmid said the "nesters"
have ten days in which to move.
Second, Dr. Horace E. Duncan, county
health officer, closed the camp ground's tonsorial palace, known
as Red's Barber Shoppe, because of alleged insanitary conditions.
Red, the owner, was also down in
the dumps. Last week, he hocked his car for $16 to purchase
a hunting hound from a kennel in Kentucky. He was going to move
with the car. The dog arrived this week, and to his dismay,
Red found out the hound wouldn't hunt. Now, he hasn't the car,
hunting hound or the $16.
The camp ground's "hard luck
day" did not bother the children of the squatters -- they
just went right on about their business shooting craps in the
middle of the grounds' main street.
The squatters under Dallas' five
viaducts are also having their troubles. Sheriff Schmid said
Saturday that many of the families had already moved, but several
groups could not move until they received their relief checks
from the federal government.
Sec. II, p. 1, col. 6-7; continued on p. 3, col. 2.
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SHANTYTOWN--A DALLAS HOOVERVILLE
ALICE TUCKER BLAYLOCK
alias Hoover Heights, alias "The Camp," came into existence
in November, 1931, when a number of families, living in the neighboring
bottoms of the Trinity River, were forced to move out because
of fall rains and high waters. Located at the periphery of the
central business district of Dallas, Texas, on a five-acre tract
donated by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, the community
was set off by a busy street, a car line, a railroad and a viaduct.
in Sociology, Volume IV, Winter 1939 - Summer, 1940,
Word soon spread that the ground,
previously occupied by two lone pioneer shanties--one, some three
years old-- could be used free of charge, if permits were obtained
from the city of Dallas.
By May, 1932, Shantytown boasted
a population of 59 families, totaling 199 persons. The average
family included 3.3 individuals. Although this figure is small,
single families with seven, nine, and eleven children, respectively,
were noted. With three exceptions, all of the Shantytownites
were natives of [the] United States. Of 68 residents of the community
answering questions, 44 claimed a prior existence in Texas--30
of these having migrated directly into Shantytown from addresses
and streets elsewhere in Dallas. The remaining 24 settlers came
from 13 widely scattered states.
Although ages ranged upward to
60, the typical adult Shantytownite was relatively young, males
averaging 45.5 years, and females, 30.8. Educational qualifications
were low -- 9.1 years of formal schooling for the men and 5.4
years for the women. In the entire group, there were only one
university, and two high school graduates. Children in school
were retarded about one year, average ages for this group being
9.1 and 8 years, respectively, while average grades were only
2.1 and 1.2.
Shantytown men were virtually unemployed
-- at least, they were unemployed, if the average weekly earning
of $3.35 per male adult is taken as a criterion of economic condition.
Only eight of the 42 men, however, were willing to admit that
they had not been engaged in any type of remunerative effort
at all during residence in Shantytown. On the other hand, 12
men, who had previously been identified with definite trades,
had been unable to find employment in their own occupations.
Of those who were employed, 11 were engaged in city-made work,
constructing sewers one day each week for a grocery equivalent
of $2.40. Other occupations, followed during the period of residence
in Shantytown, were brick-laying, carpentering, cooking, engineering,
harness-making, painting, paper-hauling, peddling, sign-painting
and truck-driving. One man was hired by the city of Dallas to
act as overseer of the "campground" (Shantytown's name
for itself) and to maintain order in the community. He received
the same pay as other city-employed Shantytownites and had the
privilege of wearing a badge and carrying a "billy."
Housing, in general, was of the
worst sort -- tents, rusty tin, discarded boxes, cardboard --
and in some instances, trucks and old-model touring cars -- constituted
the basic building material. One householder prided himself on
the possession of a garage. The typical Shantytown dwelling contained
one room, in which the entire family, irrespective of size, slept,
ate, bathed and lived. Few houses exhibited any kind of interior
decoration. Several women, however, embellished their homes with
self-made paper flowers; others hung colored calendars and cheap
pictures on their walls. Only one musical instrument--a portable
victrola--was found. With few exceptions, the houses were filthy.
There were dirty clothes, dirty dishes and ever-present trash.
Aside from family and church, Shantytown
had no institutions of its own. There were no organized schools,
no commercial establishments, and no formal recreational facilities.
The one church on the ground was
founded and directed by a wandering "Pentecost" preacher,
who came from Oklahoma for this specific purpose and succeeded
in attracting about 25 regular attendants. Although three of
these churchgoers were members of the Pentecostal denomination,
most of the remaining ones confessed that they went to the "meetings"
because of "lack of much else to do." Of Shantytown's
199 residents, only 34 (17 percent), mostly women, professed
membership in any church -- 22 Baptists, four Methodists, two
Presbyterians, one Catholic, one United Brethren, one Seventh
Day Adventist, and the three Pentecostal members already mentioned.
Of these 34 members, 26 actually participated, at least to some
extent, in their respective services, though distance, lack of
clothes, and child care, hampered regular attendance.
Like the churches, the schools
played a comparatively small part in the lives of the Shantytownites.
Children attended irregularly, and remained at home on the slightest
Social activities of the Shantytownites
were limited to visiting with friends who chanced to be living
on the campground, and to the free picture shows in a nearby
play park. A few of the younger women and girls said they liked
parties, but did not go to any. On movie evenings, a group of
about 25 went to the pictures together. A few parents attended
because children needed chaperonage, but on the whole, residents
spent their time visiting in the community. Small children cavorted
at home, amusing themselves with broken toys, old bicycle parts
and "mud-pies." Older boys played "cowboy and
Indian" and "robber and police." The children,
especially the younger ones, did not mingle much with those of
families not related to their own, but confined their play to
brothers and sisters on their own premises.
One of Shantytown's outstanding
characteristics was the prevalent of kinship; in many cases individuals
moved in and later sent for other members of their respective
families. Thus, the settlement became the home of several groups
Many of the camp's residents stated
that they knew all of their fellow campers casually, and "quite
a few," intimately. Since a majority of the inhabitants
obtained their locations at the time of the initial invasion,
such acquaintanceship is, perhaps, to have been expected. It
is important to note, however, that the most intimate friends
of the Shantytownites tended to live in other parts of Dallas.
Many of the residents objected to living in the camp shacks and
to rubbing elbows with other campers, but explained that they
were forced to do so because they could not afford to pay rent
elsewhere. Others enjoyed being close to their families and friends.
Most of the campers were hospitable and willing to help the interviewers.
None of the families had plans for the future, and all expected
to remain in Shantytown indefinitely. All realized that the length
of residence depended on the railroad company's need for the
In spite of common social and economic
background, persistent concern of each family -- and often, each
individual -- for its own welfare, prevented Shantytown from
being a community in any thorough-going sense. Consensus, when
operative, was reached through discussion of private opinions.
No individual possessed a special status in the group. To its
inhabitants, Shantytown was viewed as merely another shift in
residence and another place to stop. "These people,"
wrote one of the study committee, who early visited the grounds,
"will continue to live the Shantytown way, largely ignorant
of the world outside their makeshift dwellings. Most of them
have always lived on this same plane, and they do not care to
change. They will remain an indifferent group as long as Shantytown
Numbers 1-2, published by the Department of Sociology, Southern
Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
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