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Walker County..

      

WALKER COUNTY ALABAMA AND THE W.P.A.---

  PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT AND THE NEW DEAL

By Ruth Teaford Baker

 There are a few senior citizens living who remember the Depression years.  Most all of the older generation heard tales told in their families of those hard years.  The loss of savings and the utter fall of the financial institutions in this country left a huge void in the work world.  How to pull the economy back from this deep pit?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a national program and the Congress approved it in 1935.  The name was changed in 1939 to the Work Progress Administration (WPA).  This work/relief agency was one of the most important of the New Deal. 

It provided the vast numbers of unemployed in this country a job, an income, and self respect.  Between the years of 1935-1943, the WPA provided about 8 million jobs.  The cost over the 8-year period was about 11 Billion dollars.  A low amount considering the enormous job accomplished. 

In the towns, it was used in street building and repair, sewer construction, and other infrastructure building.  Municipal projects included schools and recreation facilities to meet the needs of the general population.

The New Deal as such, created a host of new federal agencies.  These were popularly known as the “alphabet” agencies because they were referred to by their initials.  These were charged with a variety of tasks intended to offer economic relief, recovery, and reform.  A handful of these agencies were created to put people to work on public projects.  Young people were especially targeted in an effort to provide employment and job training while improving American communities. 

Three of these “alphabet” agencies better known to the people of Walker County are:

1.    CCC: Civilian Conservation Corps.  It was created by Congress March 31, 1933, under the Unemployment Relief Act to employ young men to work in reforestation and wildlife projects.

2.    CWA: Civil Works Administration.  It was created in November, 1933, to provide emergency jobs for 4 million unemployed Americans through the winter.  Subsequently taken in under the WPA.

3.    WPA: Works Progress Administration. As I have written above, it was created by federal executive order to employ people on public works projects. (These were very varied.)

Most all natives of Walker County have heard about these projects.  I remember the Sewing Room, The camp of young men in the CCC, and the farm works, such as making mattresses. 

In Townley, across from the Grusin Store, and in a building I only recall as a part of the buildings where Mr. Ed King had a business, was the location of a sewing room.  If anyone can remember these rooms in other communities, I would love for you to write your stories for me. 

The CCC Camp was past the Boshell Store and Will Boshell home just off the railroad track.  There are faint memories of talk about their escapades.  I do know that a local doctor caught a truck loaded with barrels of body waste dumping off a bridge on Terrapin Creek.  A big hulla-balloo followed and it was stopped.  I never heard where they went from there.

Every community had a mattress-filling place.  Our place was at the Center Hill Church here in this community where I live.  The church has been long gone, but the memories linger on.  Other recollections of this church were its all-day preaching, singing, and eating at noon. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt was revered by most Americans for his strong leadership in the New Deal concept and its part in pulling the country out of a tailspin of economic woes. 

I ask for your stories of those days.  You may not have lived them, but most families have their own tales about the past.  If you don’t write them down, they will be gone forever.  I have said these words many times, and you, the readers, have repeated to me many times that you wish you had written all those stories from your past.  This is a labor of love for us all to get our collective family history on paper to preserve it.