(Edhela, Ashley, Jacob, Mady, Cassidy, Antoinette)

Living During The Great Depression

The Dust Bowl



Ashley O.

Hoovervilles were the name used for cheap towns that were built with whatever material was available, mostly plywood and sheets of plastic, during the Great Depression. Hoovervilles were named after President Hoover, although not out of respect for him. The Americans who lived in them named Hoovervilles as so because they blamed President Hoover for the economic downfall and absence of government help. The largest of the Hoovervilles were in the center of Central Park in New York City.

Many homeless people who lived in Central Park’s Hoovervilles were arrested. One man by the man of Patrick McDermott was given six months in jail because he was singing and dancing on the roof of his small brick house/shack and wearing “less clothing than deemed proper.” McDermott said before he was arrested that he collected $47 from 3,000 people who had came to see the Hoovervilles.

Out of the thousands of Hoovervilles across America, Central Park’s is the most well known. However, it vanished before April 1933 because the work on the reservoir landfill continued.

Hoovervilles appeared in America when the stock values dropped in 1929 and they disappeared at the end of the Great Depression when World War Two began and more jobs were available.

Central Park's Hooverville

Hooverville Shack
Work Cited:
Online Highways LLC. "Hoovervilles." Travel and History. Web. 20 Apr. 2010. <http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1642.html>.
Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes: Central Park's 'Hooverville'; Life Along 'Depression Street'" New York Times. 29 Aug. 1993. Web. 20 Apr. 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/29/realestate/streetscapes-central-park-s-hooverville-life-along-depression-street.html?scp=10&sq=Hoovervills&st=cse>.

Edhela E.

Imogene's granddad heard that people were giving land away in the Panhandle of Oklahoma. He originaly came from Alabama, but he took his family in a covered wagon up the trail from Texas across the river. They had to avoid quicksand and haul water just to get to Texas County, Oklahoma. Her uncle and her dad, who was just 2 years old at that time, homesteaded just a bit north of Texoma. If people came to homestead, they had to file a claim, live on it, and build a house if they wanted to keep it for free. All of Imogene's neighbors had settled there that time. She was just a small girl, and she felt like her family were the original people out there. When her father was two, he lived out there just as she did. All his life he farmed at the same land and raised cattle. Imogene was born at the center of the Panhandle, the Dust Bowl. When farmers came to the Panhandle, they put up barbed wire fences around each quarter of land. Most farmers only got a quarter of land. After all the farmers decided that they couldn't all raise cattles, they started to plow the land. One of Imogene's uncles, her daddy's uncles, planted an entire quarter nearly of cantaloupes. He made great cantaloupe crops, but he didn't have any market for them. So he had to stop making cantaloupes. Gradually, they began to grow wheat.

In 1933, Imogene's mother was expecting her sister. Her mother said, 'We've got to get to town and stay in town, because a dust storm might come.' Since her mother wanted to be somewhere where there were people, they moved to Texoma for one month in July of 1933. They had low dust storms that time, and the only thing you could see were the tops of the telephone poles. One of Imogene's teachers that was a lady from Gyman who had just started teaching, taught at Bethel School. She said that a dust storm was blowing before she could get to town. She drove by the telephone poles, and right before she got into Gyman, the road turned but the telephone poles didn't. She just followed the telephone poles into town because she knew that they led to a building in town. After following the telephone poles, she was led all the way to Texoma. One time when Imogene was at school, they had an old building that was two-stories high. She said, '... teachers would tell us when these dust storms were rolling in it to go to the hall and get under the stairs so that if the building blew away or blew down, we would be protected by the stairway.' That was how they went to school. They slept pretty well at night, but once in awhile, dust storms would go all day and night and maybe for a week before there really was no dust storm. According to Imogene, her parents had to turn plates upside down on the table and cover them with a sheet so it wouldn't be covered with dust. She said, '... We slept with the — the babies, especially, they slept with wet sheets over their cribs so that they wouldn't breathe all that dirt.'

One night while Imogene was sleeping in the small room and her mother, father, and baby sister was sleeping in the big room, the ceiling began to fall in. The dust was so heavy on the roof that it literally covered up the bed. Her father was able to hear the roof beginning to come down, and he came in just in time to yell for her mother to grab the little baby. They all got outside as soon as they knew the roof was going to fall in as a result of the dust sifting in. 'It wasn't like sand,' said Imogene, 'it was just real heavy, like face powder. Only it was real dark, almost black.'

Everybody else in Imogene's neighborhood was on the same boat. When dust storms blew, it would just coat the inside of your nose. Sometimes your mouth would even get all cottony and dry. Sometimes you would spit out dirt. It looked just like tobacco juice to Imogene, only it was dirt that people would spit. It was so awful, but Imogene thought it was just another part of living. Even if life those days were so hard, she thought she was one of the lucky people at that time. She didn't have to experience a lot of unfortunate things that happened to other kids. She felt that her father took better care for her than anybody else. Her family had meager food at that time. They literally lived on cornbread and beans for their main meal, just as everybody else had during those times. Her mother just thought about many ways to try to keep the dust out of the house. The first thing they'd do in the morning was sweep the kitchen and have a meal. Then would they only continue to clean the rest of the house. They would always hang the quilts and blankets on a line to get the dirt out, just so they could be able to go to sleep in a clean bed. Imogene even remembers wearing patches on some of her clothes and saying something bad about it. Her mother would tell her, 'Patches aren't a disgrace. All you need to worry about's being clean.'

Imogene's family hated to see anyone in their neighborhood leave. There were very few close neighbors or close friends that they knew. Even if they hated for them to leave, they told them to be sure to write to them from California. They just wanted to know if it was great out there as they thought it would be. Almost everyone that was close to them besidse her father and one of his brothers left. They stayed through all the Dirty Thirties and everything. Imogene thought of her dad as an optimist. She thought that her father just kept thinking, 'Next year will be better and we'll have a good crop and we'll raise some more cattle and we'll get rich.' As the years went by, they never did become rich, but she knew her father thought they would. 'He was a good farmer and he was a good cattleman,' said Imogene. '... He really believed that everything would work out for the best, that we'd have a good crop and — everything would be better.'

Antoinette H. The early 1900's American Lifestyles were very boring and tedious. Most people experienced a similar lifestyle to the past generations. The great depression seemed to break the American lifestyle out of its rut. The 1920's saw new discoveries and trends peeking around every corner. "The Roaring Twenties", they called it, was a time when great change took place. The media greatly affected the youth living in the 1920's. Movies, radio shows and advertising intised the children to believe that they were different from the past generation.

Youth strived to be like the movie stars, the life of fame and glamor was appealing to them. They modeled their lives after the movie stars. Changing their hair, smoking, and foul language make a "Flapper". The "Flapper" was a stereotype for girls wearing knee-length dresses, tons of makeup and long beaded necklaces. "Flappers" were looked down on. They were described to steal their brother's cigarettes, swear like a sailor and have the makeup as crude as a clown. The attitude of "Flappers" was to do what they wanted, when they wanted. They inclined themselves to half truths, fast living and sexual behavior.
The previous generation would not date. Young, respectable woman would wait until they were asked for their hand in marriage. After the first war, "Flappers" didn't have the patience to wait until a man took interest in them, she would take interest in him first. Parent's were appalled at their children's skimpy attire and disgraceful behavior. It was a change from the modest, respectful woman they grew up to. At the beginning of the great depression, recklessness came crashing down, while many of the "Flappers" changes still stood in place. Girls broke away from the ideal image of womanhood. They cut their hair, drank and voted, creating the "modern" woman.

Phyllis Bryant was born in 1923 and lived most of her childhood in the outskirts of Imlay City, MI. She claims what stuck most in her head the most was losing her money in the bank in 1929. Granted, she was only 6 years old, but she still had her own bank account. She only had a few dollars in the bank, but was still rather confused and upset that the bank had to close and take her money. A few years later, when the banks started giving out checks, she was back up to 52 cents.

Her father was a farmer and carpenter. He probably did the most to keep the Bryant family going. Since the Bryants lived near a family that owned a cow, her father went over their house and milked their cow twice a day. He also fed the cow and cleaned her stall for her, to do his fair share. In return, the family that owned the cow let them have two quarts of milk every day. Her mother also spent a great deal of time in the garden, so they were able to save money by buying nothing but the bare necessities.

The Bryant family mostly ate beans for their meals. They were given to them by another farmer friend. In return, the Bryant family made them homemade bread, along with homemade cookies and cakes. She found it humorous that at family reunions, they would bring their "store bought" cookies and bread.

The best Christmas she remembers was the year she got a doll along with a doll bed and aluminum dishes. Christmas was an exciting time for her, even though there were never too many gifts. She remembers making homemade popcorn balls and candy. For her family, decorating the tree was very difficult; if one bulb burned out, the whole string went out. When this happened, they would have to break the dead bulb, twist the wires, and put the bulb back in its socket.

Cassidy C.

As the Great Depression affected more and more people, everyday life became more of a struggle. One of their many struggles was Christmas. Christmas is usually the time for opening gifts under a Christmas tree, and eating a large, home-cooked meal with your family and friends. However, poverty during the Great Depression changed a lot of this. Even getting an orange, or a Christmas tree would a normal Christmas for someone in the 30's.

Decorating for Christmas was very different from how it's done today. Mostly everyone with a low amount of money waited until Christmas Eve to get a tree and decorate their house. Since money was scarce in the 1930's, Christmas trees were sold very cheap and sometimes free on Christmas Eve. Decortaing was also done on the same day. However, Nobody really used ornaments, garland, or lights. The only things used would be popcorn tied on strings, different colored rope, and paper chains.

On Christmas Day, excitement didn't fill many houses. Kids waking up their parents, waiting to open presents was very rare. Someone would consider themselves lucky if they got and orange for Christmas. Children might also of gotten homemade gifts, like knitted scarves, hats, and mittens. For some families that weren't completely poor, children would get quarters in their stockings, or a new pair of shoes. For the youngest children in the family, they might of gotten a special treat or toys.

As for today, Christmases are spent very differently. People set up for Christmas, a month earlier, eat a nice meal with their family, and open many gifts. However, during the Great Depression, people with no money were just thankful if they had something to eat and a place to sleep.
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The First Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree - 1931 =]
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A Family Dinner on Christmas

Work Cited.

Teenage Hobos

Madelyn G.

Many people enjoyed the prosperity and peace that occurred at the end of World War 1. Likewise, many people were mis-lead in believing that it would last forever. Even before the depression many people like farmers were already suffering. Based off of this, the depression came as a surprise to almost everyone. Like a set of dominoes a chain of events unfolded and the result was catastrophic. Many families were drowned in poverty, businesses were closing, schools were forced to close, and banks went bankrupt! The railroad was one of the lucky things that (with the help of funds) was kept running. The passage’s purpose below is to help you understand what adolescences (our age, even) had to go through during those hard times.

After many events unfolded, including the Stock Market Crash of 1929 the Great Depression took its toll. Almost everyone was affected and as a result many employers had to lay-off. Jobs were so desperate that some women who were lucky not to be laid-off had to quit their jobs to make room for unemployed men. This meant that children had to grow up fast. Boys needed to work to help their families out and girls had to do the same or take care of younger children at home.

We often refer to hobos as a funny noun but in actuality, it refers to the group of young men (with the occasional girl) that hitched on the railways to find jobs elsewhere to support families, to escape burdening their families or simply for adventure. Like I said before, the railways were funded by the government with nearly, $3 million dollars, so, it was easy for the railroads to keep running. As an effect, the trains seemed like a great source of transportation.

However, getting on the train was a “whole ‘nother ball game.” Experienced boys would have to help new ones get on the train to make sure they didn’t get pulled under the cars! If boxcars weren’t empty they’d have to ride on top of the train! When boys did reach their destination they’d have to find housing, work, food and clothes! Some boys had no money at all and if they were lucky to find a job on the farm they weren’t respected and worked for low pay.

That is why the “CCC” or Civilian Conservation Corp. was a blessing. There were hundreds in every state. They together employed over 500,000 men in which helped stimulate the economy. Each month they were paid $30. $25 was for them to keep and the other $5 was for them to keep. In addition, they were given a place to stay, food and clothes. The “CCC” helped many get by, throughout the Great Depression.

Life was extremely hard and somehow with the help of the government, missions, charities, New Deals and the “CCC” we made it through it all. However, it is important to remember and learn about that time in history. Doing this, will help us respect it and prevent it from happening in the future. Thanks to pictures taken by photographers like, Dorothea Lange and stories told by websites, elders and book we can do that…

Heritage Museum. "Teenage Hobos in the Great Depression." National Heritage Museum. Michael Uys and Family, 2000. Web. 16 Apr. 2010. <http://www.nationalheritagemuseum.org/Default.aspx?tabid=405>.

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Observe how many on one train alone were unemployed!
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Not all were adolescent boys!