Sunday, January 29, 2012

Those Depression Years part 2

The Ranks of the unemployed grew rapidly as the depression intensified.Soon government projects were underway. For the young boy graduate, there was the civilian conservation corps (ccc) a conservation project. the pay was $30.00 per month, $15.00 of which went home to his parents.For women,there was the Sewing Room.This was located in the block east of the Bank in an upstairs room. Several women worked here making dress, shirts, children s clothing and bed clothes.These were given to these who needed them. Another project with which I am not familiar was binding library books for schools. I think this was done by young people at the court house.  Roads were surfaced with shale from the old mines. This, was a red substance that packed down hard and made an all weather road. It was especially used on the mail routes. People who lived along these roads were asked to donate money and the rest  was furnished by the government. Creek gravel was used in areas where it was available. The first of these gravel roads was built east of town with gravel from the Philbrick Hills. It took quite a long time to surface these roads because there were no large earth moving machines used. This was one way to WPA and PWA projects were started. They built gymnasiums, athletic fields and band stands. The Rich Hill City Band Stand, the Rich Hill High School Gymnasium and Athletic Field were built by thesprojects. Most of this work was well done and still stands in good condition today still there were many unemployed who formed long lines at City Hall on Commodity Day. They were given government surplus products. I recall seeing people carrying large sacks of grapefruit,onions and cabbage. They also received prunes, raisins,rice, flour and powdered milk.At certain times turkeys and hams were also given. There was another group of unemployed who were traveling from town to town. Since these people had  no money they rode under the train cars or in empty boxcars. When the train stopped they got off and spent the night in town. Harve Campbell was our city marshall. He was a large  man with an equally large heart. During cold weather he would unlock the jail and let the travelers sleep in there out of the cold.
  "Bud" J. D., Anderson had a grocery store on North Sixth Street. He would open up early each morning so working men could buy something for their lunch buckets. At this same time the men at the jail were awakening and getting ready to hop another freight train for another day's journey. Before leaving town they would go to the store and ask for bread, coffee and tobacco. Bud would never turn them down on the bread and coffee, but he refused  tobacco. I am sure other merchants had the same experiences.
  On one very cold night, the travelers at the jail had gathered enough food to make a stew. Mr.Peter-man, a butcher had given them a nice piece of meat and vegetables came from the merchants. They  had no stove on which to cook. The marshall's wife  had just purchased a kerosene stove from Sears. Feeling for these men, he sent them to his daughter's home to get the stove. The daughter not  knowing what to do stood in amazement. When they  knowing what to do stood in amazement. When they  knowing what to do stood in amazement. When they told her that her father had sent them for the stove  she gave it to them. They took the stove to the jail, cooked the stew and the next morning cleaned the stove and returned it before leaving to catch a train for another town.
 Almost daily some of these traveling unemployed would go into the residential area and ask the housewives for a sandwich and coffee. Sometimes they  would offer to do some work for the handout. When  given the handout, they would often sit on the porch,under a tree, or on a well rock and eat it: Sometimes they put it in their pocket and saved it for another meal. They never left scraps of paper or litter.
People who had jobs were not always secure because someone would underbid for their job. 
There was hot much market for farm produce, so sometimes the farmer went from house to house selling roasting ears, potatoes, apples, watermelons,and even fish. Some farmers borrowed money to buy land when the price of grain was good. when the prices fell,they were unable to make payments and lost their land. there were suicides caused by debts people were unable to pay.


No comments: