) ( ( ) Good Morning Family! ( \ .-.,--^--. ( Come on in. . . \* ) \\|`----'| - The coffee pot's on. . . .=|=. \| |// ...and we even have decaf, |~'~| | |/ tea, and hot chocolate! | | \ / _|___|_ ------ (_______) Today's topics include: 1. Welcome to new cousins 2. Recovery: The Dirty Thirties, Part III 3. Memories from the Dust Bowl TO OUR NEWEST COUSINS ~~ On behalf of the entire family, I'd like to extend a most hearty welcome to those cousins who came into the family fold this past week. We are very glad to have you with us and hope you'll stay and remain a part of our online family. As soon as you're comfortable with us and the list, please send in your list-surname lines so we can all see how we're related to you. We do not have a fancy format for sending in records or queries to the list. Post as many as you wish! If the data has anything to do with our list-surname ancestors that might help someone, please feel free to post it. Every scrap of information is appreciated. You're welcome to share this Coffee with your genealogy friends and relatives. If they are not members of our online family and would like to begin receiving the Coffee, they are now able to. Simply have them send a blank email to <[email protected]>. RECOVERY "And the dispossessed were drawn west - from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas, families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out. Car-loads, caravans, homeless and hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand and a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand. They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless - restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do - to lift, to push, to pull, to pick, to cut - anything, any burden to bear, for food. The kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all for land." -- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 The Dirty Thirties, Part III The First World War severely disrupted agriculture in Europe. This worked to the advantage of farmers in America who were able to use new machines such as the combine harvester to dramatically increase production. During the war American farmers were able to export the food that was surplus to requirements of the home market and received high prices for it. By the 1920s, European agriculture had recovered and American farmers found it more difficult to find export markets for their goods. Farmers continued to produce more food than could be consumed and consequently prices began to fall. The decline in agricultural profits meant that many farmers had difficulty paying the heavy mortgages on their farms. By the 1930s many American farmers were in serious financial trouble. In 1932, grain was being burned; it was cheaper than coal. In South Dakota, the county elevator listed corn as minus three cents a bushel. If a farmer wanted to sell them a bushel of corn, he had to bring in three cents. Farmers were determined to withhold all produce from the market - livestock, cream, butter, eggs, etc. Their theory was, if they dumped the produce, the market would be forced to a higher level. Cream cans were emptied in ditches and eggs dumped out. A bridge was burned so the trains couldn't haul grain. "New Republic" magazine had reported "Beginning in the Carolinas and extending clear into New Mexico are fields of unpicked cotton that tell a mute story of more cotton than could be sold for enough, even to pay the cost of picking. Vineyards with grapes still unpicked, orchards of olive trees hanging full of rotting fruits and oranges being sold at less than the cost of production." Farmers in the midwest faced another serious problem. During the First World War, farmers grew wheat on land normally used for grazing animals. This intensive farming destroyed the protective cover of vegetation and the hot dry summers began to turn the soil into dust. High winds in 1934 turned an area of some 50 million acres into a giant dust bowl. For eight years dust blew on the southern plains. It came in a yellowish-brown haze from the South and in rolling walls of black from the North. The simplest acts of life - breathing, eating a meal, taking a walk - were no longer simple. Children wore dust masks to and from school, women hung wet sheets over windows in a futile attempt to stop the dirt, farmers watched helplessly as their crops blew away. By May, 1934 the drought covered more than 75% of the country and severely affected 27 states. In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then Governor of New York, accepted the Democratic presidential nomination and told the cheering delegates, "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people." He won the Presidency. In March, 1933, when Roosevelt was sworn into office, the nation faced an economic crisis. Most of the country's banks, weakened by withdrawals of funds by frightened depositors, had closed their doors. Between 13 and 15 million people were unemployed. Roosevelt took quick action. To attack this crisis, he shut down all banks, declaring a four-day bank holiday, during which Congress passed the Emergency Banking Relief Act, stabilized the banking system and restored the public's faith in the banking industry by putting the federal government behind it. Three months later he signed the Glass-Steagall Act which created the FDIC, federally insuring deposits. The Roosevelt administration also took the nation off the gold standard in 1933 and resorted to mildly inflationary monetary policies in 1933 and 1934. These efforts gave some relief to debtors. During the first 100 days of his administration, Roosevelt laid the groundwork for his New Deal ~ remedies meant to rescue the country from the depths of despair. He sent numerous bills to Congress as part of his New Deal in order to fight the Great Depression. These bills had three major goals known as the "Three Rs," Relief, Recovery and Reform. The first goal was relief for the unemployed. Those who were jobless, hungry, or perhaps in danger of losing their homes, were helped by New Deal programs. The Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) was one of the New Deal's most successful programs. It addressed the pressing problem of unemployment by sending 3 million single men from age 17 to 23 to the nations' forests to work. Living in camps in the forests, the men dug ditches, built reservoirs and planted trees. The men, all volunteers, were paid $30 a month, with two thirds being sent home. The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and the National Recovery Administration (NRA) were designed to address unemployment by regulating the number of hours worked per week and banning child labor. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), created in 1933, gave $3 billion to states for work relief programs. The Agricultural Adjustment Act subsidized farmers for reducing crops and provided loans for farmers facing bankruptcy. The Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) helped people save their homes from foreclosure. Recovery, the second goal, was initiated in 1933 when President Roosevelt asked Congress to pass the Agricultural Adjustment Act to help farmers by boosting depressed crop prices. The AAA paid farmers not to grow crops and not to produce dairy produce such as milk and butter. It also paid them not to raise pigs and lambs. The money to pay the farmers for cutting back production of about 30% was raised by a tax on companies that bought the farm products and processed them into food and clothing. The third goal was reform of the economy to prevent another depression from occurring. Programs such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) were established to prevent conditions that caused the Great Depression. Later, after the Hundred Days, other programs such as Social Security and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were established to help prevent another depression. Although the legislation of the Hundred Days did not end the Great Depression, it did alleviate the plight of millions of Americans who were desperate for work. It also provided hope for all Americans who were beginning to lose faith in the American economic system. The most important relief agency of the New Deal was the Works Progress Administration (WPA), created in 1935. This agency employed more than 8.5 million people to build bridges, roads, public buildings, parks and airports. During the next eight years it built or improved more than 2,500 hospitals, 5,900 school buildings, and nearly 13,000 playgrounds. It provided funds for federal theater, arts, and writers projects that enriched the nation's cultural life. The WPA's National Youth Administration gave financial aid to more than 2 million high school and college students and to 2.6 million young people who were not in school. Most of the WPA's money, some $11 billion in all by 1943, went for short-term, make-work projects to assist the unemployed. Government programs, part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, began in 1935 in an attempt to provide relief initially aimed at alleviating effects of the Great Depression. Fortunately, some of those in the Dust Bowl and its refugees were also benefiting. On April 27, 1935, following the destructive Black Blizzard that blew into Washington D.C., showing the Government just how desperate life was for the Dust Bowl residents, Congress declared soil erosion "a national menace" in an act establishing the Soil Conservation Service under the Department of Agriculture (formerly the Soil Erosion Service in the U.S. Department of Interior). The SCS developed extensive conservation programs that retained topsoil and prevented irreparable damage to the land. Farming techniques such as strip cropping, terracing, crop rotation, contour plowing, and cover crops were advocated. Farmers were paid to practice soil-conserving farming techniques. In December, 1935, during a meeting in Pueblo, Colorado, experts estimated that 850,000,000 tons of topsoil had blown off the Southern Plains during the course of the year, and that if the drought continued, the total area affected would increase from 4,350,000 acres to 5,350,000 acres in the spring of 1936. The Resettlement Administration proposed buying up 2,250,000 acres and retiring it from cultivation. In March, 1937, Roosevelt addressed the nation in his second inaugural address, stating, "I see one-third of the nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.... the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." FDR's Shelterbelt Project began. The project called for large-scale planting of trees across the Great Plains, stretching in a 100-mile wide zone from Canada to northern Texas, to protect the land from erosion. Native trees, such as red cedar and green ash, were planted along fence rows separating properties, and farmers were paid to plant and cultivate them. The project was estimated to cost 75 million dollars over a period of 12 years. In 1938, extensive work re-plowing the land into furrows, planting trees in shelterbelts, and other conservation methods resulted in a 65% reduction in the amount of blowing soil. However, the drought continued. After its initial popularity, the New Deal met increasing opposition in Congress and the Supreme Court. Critics of the New Deal were correct in observing that the relief measures did not go far enough. Even at its peak the WPA failed to reach 7 million unemployed and their families, and it paid extremely low wages. Unemployables--the sick, the crippled, the aged, dependent children--were left heavily dependent upon the states, which were often unable or unwilling to help. The New Deal relief policy was judged a partial success, at best. However, most Dust Bowl farmers were immensely appreciative of Roosevelt and his New Deal programs. For many, only infusions of federal aid made it possible for them to wait out the blistering years of drought and dust. The rains finally returned in the fall of 1939 ~ finally bringing an end to the drought. The Southern Plains once again yielded a bountiful harvest and the relationship between the farmer and the federal government remained entwined. The New Deal ended in 1939 when the state of the economy across the nation, improved dramatically as the defense industry geared up to meet the needs of the war effort. Many of the migrants went off to fight in the war. Those who were left behind took advantage of the job opportunities that had become available in West Coast shipyards and defense plants. As a result of this more stable lifestyle, numerous Dust Bowl refugees put down new roots in California soil, where their descendants reside to this day. MEMORIES FROM THE DUST BOWL There are times when someone crosses my inbox with a message so touching that I feel compelled to share it with you. Following the second part of this series, Lavonne Emler <[email protected]> e-mailed me with her Grandmother's accounts of the Dust Bowl days. She has kindly given me permission to reprint her message: "Thank you for the story on the "Dirty Thirties." I am very interested in this period of time, being touched by this situation for my Grandmother was born in Coody's Bluff, OK in 1921. There are so many stories concerning this time period. For my family, not living on a farm, there were not many alternatives to keep the family going. These stories need to be passed on, to ensure the generation of the future the knowedge about their heritage. To know of their "Forefathers" not from just the founding of this great country, but throughout time. "I am priviledged to hear the stories from my Grandmother. The traumatic experience from the view of a child's eye, suffering from hunger and being so cold. Hearing the adults in their life speak with fear concerning the outcome of the family. Watching all that was known disappearing from view, with the sand and wind leaving only skeletons of their existence, while their physical bodies were experiencing the same type of hardship. Hunger and thirst for any nourishment the earth would provide. Walking along the railroad looking for the little pieces of coal to gather in order to keep the fire going at home. Finding the frozen vegtables in the garden, which were overlooked at an earlier time. Finally, piece by piece, breaking down the furniture to provide heat in order to keep from freezing, while the hunger pangs only remind you of what is missing from life at this time. "During the rough times, many children were taken from homes like these. Within the State of Oklahoma there were many who would go from town to town and find these families which were experiencing such hardships. My grandmother and her 3 siblings were put in Orphanages, with the stipulation that they were never to be adopted. Though it sounds cruel to take the family and separate its members, it probably did so much more for them in a positive way. All the children were clothed, fed and educated, with the security of survival. Like the "Okie schools" in California, the children learned many trades in order to become self sufficent. "To this day, the children of the "Whitaker State Children's Home" in Pryor, Oklahoma have a reunion every year. I was lucky enough to meet the people, hear the stories and actually go to the Orphanage which is now a building used to house the Oklahoma National Guard. Every year the reunion becomes smaller. The stories will never die as long as we tell them. To reinsure their hardship will not have been in vain. "Thank you again, I enjoyed reading your articles." Lavonne Emler Pleasant Hill, CA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Stories such as the above are ones that I cannot pass along because fortunately, nobody in my family had to deal with the devastating hardships of the Dust Bowl. However, millions of people *were* affected and their stories should be told. I thank you Lavonne, for sharing your Grandmother's with us. You have provided all of us with a heartrending insight that many of us can "feel" because of what you've written. One final note to everyone ~ If you, your parents or grandparents were Dust Bowl refugees, I commend you. You or your family's lot was one of such dreadful extremes that most of us can't begin to understand what your family went through. That you or yours survived those years is tantamount to the spirit of those pioneers who founded this country. Your story should never be forgotten. Dust Bowl refugees or not, they're family... and that's what we're all about. I so enjoyed spending this time with you today. Thank you for sharing it with me. I wish each of you a week filled with health, productivity, fun, and above all, filled with love and inner peace. ) ( ) _.-~~-. (@\'--'/. Colleen ('``.__.'`) `..____.'