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Faces of the Great Depression
Transcript of Faces of the Great Depression
design by Dóri Sirály for Prezi
Born in 1900 a 32 year old Charles Windsor is on the streets of New York City selling apples to make money after being fired from his factory job at the start of the depression. This is a problem that has sprung up in major cities all across the nation; men have resorted to selling boxes of apples to make a little bit of money to support their families. Windsor told me he and his buddy would start selling on the streets early in the morning and would sell all day long hoping they would sell the entire box. They could earn as much as $1.70 but they would need to sell every apple in their box; if they did not, their pay would be decided by how much they sold. Windsor expressed his gratitude towards the city for allowing him to collect some pay so he is able to keep food on the table for his young children and wife and keep a roof over their family's heads. Selling apples has helped many families keep their homes and has allowed them to eat, so whatever your plans are to help people in the cities I encourage you to find other ways for men and women to make some money in order for everyone to have some sort of income which will help the economy.
Galas For Everyone
Russel Coley started his adventures of riding the rails when he was only 14 years of age. His mother had died of pneumonia because their family couldn't pay for the medical expenses of the treatment. His father later was in a terrible accident while going into town to try and find a new job; he ended up dieing two day later. This means Russel was left an orphan to fend for himself and try to make his own living. He started his journey from Maine to California in the summer of 1931 to find the joys of the mystical "Candy Mountain." Russel told me about how he would stop for a few weeks and get a job to make a few bucks for food and then keep going on his journey. You would be surprised by how many boys under his age that are orphans or ran away from home that are riding the rails by themselves hoping to find a new start. Many of the men he encountered were African Americans trying to escape the racism of the south that is going on and that is not allowing them to get good jobs to make money for their families. About a quarter of the way through his journey he met another boy named Leroy hickock who was heading to California as well. They instantly started talking about what their dream lives were going to be like and soon became best friends and were determined to make the journey their together. As most of the men the two boys heard about what California had to offer and how it would allow them to start a new life with a better future. California is know for lush and green mountain of plentiful farmland, the many opportunities you had to get work, and also just the pure joy that came when living there. Russel told me about how many times he would have to hide in the train cars when the train stopped because police would come looking for men who were riding the rails and would arrest them although they were just trying to find a job. These boys that were riding the rails would also try and find places where they could work for a few hours or days just so they can have a little food for free instead of earning money. President Roosevelt just imagine going by you self on such a big journey with little or nothing with you to help you survive. This is a daily problem for many men looking to find a job or just a new start and it is time for us to take action and fix this problem. I believe we should make places closer to home that are focused on getting these men jobs so they can make money to survive. We should also make places that the boys can stay and as well as the men with their families for free and get a meal at twice a day. This way we don't have all the workers migrating to California and then having none left here to build up these businesses.
The Traveling Life of 16 year Russel Coley
Constance Green, mother of William Green, has a lot on her mind. Being a black woman in this troubling time period, no one can blame her for having so many thoughts. Her thoughts are dark and brooding, and they never seem to leave her troubled mind. Her son, who was just around the age of twenty, was lynched just two days prior to me making her acquaintance. She had trouble speaking to me and it was to understand her quiet murmur of a voice as the tears silently rolled down her face and rolled off of her cheeks onto her lap. She had told me, in that hushed voice, that William simply wanted work. All he had wanted his entire life was to have a steady job and support his family, even if it only consisted of his mother and no one else. Constance had told me his father was dead and had been dead ever since William came into this world. He was lynched as well, lynched for the same reason as his own son. They had not been granted their work, the work they truly deserved more than have the white people that got it instead, and a scuffle had started. The police wanted William out of the area for good. They told him to go find work somewhere else, somewhere where he could be wanted and accepted. William knew this place didn't exist. Being black means that he would be the first to be fired and the last to be hired. He and his mother had already tried migrating to a Northern city to find work there but poverty had greeted them with cold and unfriendly hands. No one wanted his help. They were thrown off of their old land and were forced to travel endlessly in search for a steady job and, most importantly, a steady life. When the policeman had ordered the death of this young black man who refused to move off the land after he was fired, he was arrested and lynched the next day. Constance is alone with no one else in the world. She alone is not able to get a job herself and has no one to support her, no one to offer a hand. This is where you come in, President Roosevelt. You must help these poor black people. They are struggling just as much as any white individual in our country. Just because their skin is a different color than ours does not mean they should be granted any less work than us. In a way, they might need it even more. More jobs should be given to suffering people like this. If these people are willing to work just as hard as us, why not give it to them? Perhaps if these people get the work they deserve, these unfair and horrible lynches and related deaths will no longer occur.
A Good Life Thrown Away
Where's The Soup
An Angry Marcher
The Hartley Family & Their Radio
35 cents to
The Hartley Family
I first met the Hartley family in their scarcely furnished rancher on the outskirts of the New York suburbs. They explained to me that while many of their goods, bought on installment, have been taken from them as they failed to pay back debts, they refuse to give up their radio. To them it's not just a radio. A radio is an escape from the drudgery of the 30's. A radio tells a story where good triumphs over evil. A radio divulges tales of action, adventure, love, and drama. The family loves swing, and little Mary Hartley admits that she is hooked on syfy radio play, War of the Worlds. While they greatly reap the benefits of radio, the Hartley's are concerned about their cousins in Nebraska. Their cousins farm and do not have any electricity; This leaves them out of the loop and feeling disconnected. I suggest that you pass some sort of bill to bring electricity to the rural farmers. Whatever you do, make sure that people's radios are not taken away from them. Radios are a great asset to this nation and might be the only thing keeping people's spirits up during these hard times.
"They've never met...
...but they are all one family."- CBS
Little Mary's favorite program, War of the Worlds, a radio program about the invasion of Martians on Earth,created quite the uproar when Americans believed that they were actually under alien attack. This radio "war" was short lived but caused nationwide hysteria.
Theresa Cummings, Sarah Johnson, Isabella Sickafus, Danielle Oberholtzer, Emily Groff
This was probably the fullest train Russel had ever hitched a ride on. This was of the last stretch before Russelhad made it to California. Most of the men on the train had left their families behind in hope of finding new jobs and then to bring their families out with them again.
Dorothy Jones- standing off to the side of a movie line
Becker, Pauler. "Dance Marathons of the 1920s and 1930s." HistoryLink.org. N.p.,
25 Aug. 1923. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.historylink.org/
Hollywood in the Depression. 15 Dec. 2000. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://xroads.virginia.edu/
Lapsanksy-Werner. United States History. Student ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009. Print.
"Riding the Rails." Wessles Living History Farming York, Nebraska. N.p., n.d.
Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/
The Great Depression. Dir. Mario M. Cuomo. A & E Home Video, 2009. Film.
Dance the Blues Away
I met Dorothy Jones while waiting in line to see the brand new picture starring Shirley Temple. She was standing off to the side of the line looking woefully into the theater. She informed me that her father had lost all of their money on the market and like many others, their family was facing hard times. Dorothy explained to me that, for just a few cents, she could escape her destitute life for 2 whole hours. Movies make her feel happy and hopeful about the future- a feeling that is hard to find these days. That day, she had trouble scraping together the money to see the picture, and was standing at the entrance hoping for some charity. She understands that it seems a little silly to spend what little money she has on a movie, but the psychological escape is worth it. Many stars, including Shirley Temple, have become models of courage, resilience, and triumph. People need heroes now more than ever. Plus, movies bring her close to strangers from all walks of life. A movie is a social event that everyone can afford, an escape, and entertainment- all in one! Dorothy said that she fully supports the Motion Picture Production Code; she would like to personally thank you, Mr. President, and Will H. Hayes, creator of this code, for keeping this pass time wholesome and pure. I suggest you keep funding theaters and movie houses. Despite the dissent that is faced by big movie companies, I recommend you keep supporting and enforcing the Motion Picture Production Code. Movies are creating great revenue as well as keeping the people of our country sane.
I have been dancing with the O'Connelle dancers for 32 hours. Many are here for the money, many are here for the entertainment, many are here for the free food, and many are here because they have nothing better to do. The race is on! These sorts of dances have lasted anywhere from a few hours to even a few months. There are shows from the dancers all the time, and it thoroughly entertains the audience. Some are staged and some are real. Many people have gotten married or proposed to on the dance floor, but this doesn't mean that all of them were in love. For the cost of a quarter, anyone can come and watch the marathon for as long as they please. These dances have been everywhere from Spokane, Seattle, Yakima, Wenatchee, Bellingham. If it's a city, there's a huge chance of a dance marathon going on somewhere. These marathons have been called anything from "bunion derbies," to "corn and callus carnivals." Promoters even call them "walkathons." According to Carol Martin, "that nearly every American city of 50,000 people or more hosted at least one endurance dance marathon" (Becker). The O'Connelles have been dancing in these marathons since 1922. Shirley has been the star of many staged shows while dancing. She has been married to her husband 5 times since their dancing career has started. She has been hit hard in the city of Seattle by the Great Depression. Dancing gives both Shirley and her husband, Tom, food, a place to sleep, and the chance of winning some money. I can honestly tell you Roosevelt that there are a lot of young souls out here trying to make it big or at least make it long enough to get some decent meals. I suggest either sponsoring some of these dances or figure out another way to bring people out in this similar way. This has been a great way for people to escape the Great Depression. Being in this marathon has made me almost forget what's going on in the country around me, and I did get fed several times a day and get to sleep for 15 minutes every three hours. It was trying on the knees, but it was a great thing. I met this wonderful couple just trying to get by and make some money from tips and such as well as see quite a bit from this area of the country. People are struggling, sir, and things like these dance marathons are proving to be a major success. I think it would be very beneficial to the citizens around me as well as myself. I do encourage you to somehow experience this for yourself from the audience. It is truly astounding to see all of these people coming out to watch people dance for hours on end. Unfortunately, laws are being placed prohibiting dance marathons, including Seattle, the home of the O'Connelles. "Seattle passed an ordinance prohibiting dance marathons within city limits on September 5, 1928. This ordinance was prompted by the attempted suicide of a Seattle woman who had competed in a 19-day marathon held in the Seattle Armory, and placed only fifth" (Becker). Sir, this is horrible! Many other cities have passed similar laws like in Bellingham, Tacoma, and even the entire state of Washington. Sir, this dance that was held in Portland (outside of Seattle city limits) was an amazing experience to have and should not be forbidden by the government at whatever cost. If safety is an issue then we can place release forms before someone competes. This is too good of an opportunity to let go of.
This Russel Coley and his friend Leroy Hickock trying to
jump onto the train before it picked up speed and
left them behind. This was the struggle you had to
face when you are a Boy riding the rails.
Pay for an Apple Seller
This is 16 year old,
Will Work For Food
Seal of approval that appeared at the beginning of every picture
The Motion Picture Production Code sets moral guidelines for pictures released in the US. Some guidelines include: no profanity, no suggestive nudity, no sexual interracial relationships, and no excessive kissing.
"During the Depression, when the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles."
-President Franklin Roosevelt
All his belongings
I had the pleasure to meet former corporal James Charleston in a town close by the Anacostia Flats "Hooverville" shortly after it was burned down by General MacArthur and his troops. When I asked him what his reactions were regarding General Douglas MacArthur's decision by opening fire on unarmed former military men and their families as well as burning down the "Hooverville" at Anacostia Flats, he began to get very emotional and became teary eyed. Charleston told me it was a very unmilitaristic thing to do especially when he was never given the order to do so from President Hoover and because he did it towards fellow military men even though some of us are retired from the military. He assured me all of this never had to happen because they were only meeting in Washington DC to ask for the pay they were promised for fighting in World War I. I was told by other bonus army veterans that the house granted the bonus but the senate denied it. This caused many men to become angry so they congregated at the White House to demand their bonus; Hoover sent General MacArthur to control the marchers and get them to leave but instead he ordered his men to open fire on those there. This action resulted in many deaths including the death of an 11 week old baby. After that, (as I have said before) MacArthur marched his men to the "Hooverville" in Anacostia Flats and proceeded to set fire to shanties and burn the "Hooverville" to the ground. Angry Bonus Army Veterans said General MacArthur was not punished by President Hoover as he should have been. I recommend sir that you find some way to punish General MacArthur but not discharge him because I have heard he is a good officer; maybe you should suspend him for a long time from his army duties to make him think about the decisions he made.
This is Miles Smith and he is a regular at the upper Manhattan soup kitchen. He has been coming here for almost every day for two years now. This is almost always the only meal that he has unless he can scrounge up some extra change but that is rare. The people at these soup kitchen are people who can't get a job because of an injury or some other reason, lost all their money in the stock market crash, and have lost everything. People come in by the thousands so the meals are served in very small portion. Miles says he normally gets only enough of soup to cover the bottom of the small bowl that they get and a half piece of soggy bread to go with it. He says he has seen many families with young children come through those doors and it breaks his heart. Many people come in you are able see every feature of their bones, and some eat so fast they get sick because this is the first actual food they have eaten in months. The thing he hates the most is when they have to turn people away because the don't have anymore food left to give out; so instead of letting them walk away hungry he gives them his food because he says that they need it more. President Roosevelt I believe it is time to do something that way no one has to be turned away from the only meal that they will have. I believe the government should start putting more money into these soup kitchens and help supply them with fresh food; just look how much extra food some of these farmers have. For the families we should give them some sort of ticket so they can go to the store and get the food and things they need for free. We need to take action and quickly before there struggling times get any worse.
This is a picture is just to show how crowded these soup kitchens can get. Most times people have to end up sitting on the floor or try to eat while standing up.
This is Miles eating the only bowl of soup that he had for the week. He camped out overnight that way he could get a little more soup in his bowl. He said it was good even though it didn't last long.
During my more recent travels I came across a lot of families living alongside the dusty and dirty countryside roads. Most of these families were called Okies, despite being from Oklahoma or not, fresh from the ruins and remains of the Dustbowl disaster. I would see them everyday on my travels, sitting a roads clustered close together in their makeshift homes, typically battered and worn down tents. They were a pitiful and filthy people, most of them starving as they headed to these Northeastern states in search for jobs and hardly ever finding what they're really looking for. Though all of these families touched a spot in my heart, none of them brought so much sympathy from me than one particular woman and her family. I passed her one day on my way to review a recent lynching with the wind blowing in my face and the sun shining on my face. I was driving along the countryside and looking out the window of my Model T to see, at that exact moment, a beat up tent on the side of the road. I would've normally looked sympathetically at a poor family and looked away in an instant but I couldn't take my eyes off of this particular one. I pulled the car over and got out of the car, walking over to them in almost a daze. As I came closer, I could see the filth in the tents and the grimy belongings that sat around the makeshift house. The people inside were worse. There was a woman with her two children, children who scurried on her lap and hung onto her when their sorrowful eyes fell onto mine. The woman looked over at me and did not move or scurry away. Her eyes were strong and she stared right back at me as if asking me to judge her. I knew these people were Okies. It was obvious in how skinny they were from the lack of a decent and regular meal, how their home was torn and worn out. These people, attempting to leave the horrible windy and dusty disaster in search for a better life instead found empty stomachs as well as pockets. The woman did not beg for food or even speak to me at all. No words were spoken yet I know I will never be able to forget her. Her children were still hanging onto her when I got back into my car and left, but their images will always be in my mind. President Roosevelt, people like this need money. They need work and food. This woman and children are living like animals alongside the road as they always will be in a search to find something to eat. Her children will grow up to be fearful and unknowing of the good in the world. These people deserve work. They went out of their way to find something good and they deserve to have it. Perhaps if you could set up special jobs for only these people such as working on a farm. That way people of any age could do the work. Perhaps these people could be given food instead of a small amount of money. That way, they won't be worrying about not getting enough pay to feed their entire family. They won't have to worry as much anymore. I would do anything to help these poor people in our world. They deserve more than they've ever gotten.
I have been in the Hooverville's, as these people call them, for a few weeks now. It has proved to be quite an eye-opener. Many of them were farmers until their farm was taken like John's was. He had a nice big farm in Oklahoma and was forced to leave when production fell. A man came in, told them the farm was sold and that they needed to leave, and they did. Many hoped of finding work in California. Ads had circulated around the middle states where people were in need of work and thousands fled to California to fulfill the job request. "At least 6,500 hobos were killed in one year either in accidents or by railroad "bulls," brutal guards hired by the railroads to make sure the trains carried only paying customers" (Riding the Rails). This is a major issue. A buddy traveling with John, Willy as they call him, lost an arm from a guard that was on the train. Hobos call them "bulls" because they brutally throw people off of trains that don't pay, but that was until recently. Some trains are adding empty box cars so as to accommodate the extra travelers that can't afford to actually ride the train. This has helped decrease the number of people getting injured or killed. John doesn't get much to eat and he can carry all of his belongings in a small sack attached to a stick as well as a sign that promotes his wishes for a job. He started out with his truck packed full of his belongings and his family. Unfortunately, the truck broke down, and his small family either starved, died,or left in hopes of a life better than what John was leading. He now travels with that buddy I mentioned earlier, Willy. They are very skilled at hopping on the trains and taught me as best they could. Now, I'm not saying that this is something we should be promoting, but we need to do something. The guards can't just beat the people riding and expect people to stay off. This is not helping the situation at all. At the same time, we can't promote riding the rails for free because this causes less money flowing back into our already poor economy. I have come up with a few solutions for this problem. We could lower the rates at which it costs to ride the trains. This would make it more affordable to most, but there will still be some people that can't afford it. Sir, I'm sure you very well know that you can't please everyone, but we need to try and do what's best for the majority of the population. Another solution that has come to me is allowing a "working on the train to ride" deal. I'm sure most train companies could use help somewhere somehow within their business. Before people hop on the train, they could go to the station and do some sort of "chore" for the company. This could be anywhere from washing out a car to refilling the coal bins before they leave the station or whatever else the companies need. This keeps people from taking a free ride because they can work to get it. This also helps out the businesses too because they get work done without really paying the workers. All they have to do is allow them to get on the train and ride wherever they need to go. This benefits both the rider and the company. The rider gets to their destination without losing a ton of money in the process or any money in the process. I think the second is our best bet, but combining the two would prove to be most beneficial. It would help everyone out so much. Think of the potential benefits.
Life is Rough, Life is Tough