political pilgrimage 2

Franklin D Roosevelt had a part in The Old Fools political pilgrimage.  When FDR became president he asked his friend Harry Hopkins  to head up relief programs for the nation. The president and Hopkins did not believe in simply giving money though money was needed.  Instead they saw jobs that needed to be done and paid the unemployed to do them.  The Old Fool doesn’t understand how anyone can say that the government can’t provide jobs? FDR found jobs to do and trained men to do them. The Old Fool quotes the following paragraphs from Wikipedia :  Emphasis is The Old Fools

FERA, the largest program sponsored by Roosevelt from 1933 to 1935, involved giving money to localities to operate work relief projects to employ those on direct relief. CWA was similar, but did not require workers to be on relief in order to receive a government sponsored job. In less than four months, the CWA hired four million people, and during its five months of operation, the CWA built and repaired 200 swimming pools, 3,700 playgrounds, 40,000 schools, 250,000 miles (400,000 km) of road, and 12 million feet of sewer pipe.

The WPA, which followed the CWA, employed 8.5 million people in its seven-year history, working on 1.4 million projects, including the building or repair of 103 golf courses, 1,000 airports, 2,500 hospitals, 2,500 sports stadiums, 3,900 schools, 8,192 parks, 12,800 playgrounds, 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, and 651,087 miles (1,047,823 km) of highways and roads. The WPA operated on its own, and on selected projects in cooperation with local and state governments, but always with its own staff and budget. Hopkins started programs for youth (National Youth Administration) and for artists and writers (Federal One Programs). He and Eleanor Roosevelt worked together to publicize and defend New Deal relief programs. He was concerned with rural areas but increasingly focused on cities in the Great Depression.

The most popular project of the Roosevelt’s New Deal was the Civilian Conservation Corp.   Again The Old Fool quotes from Wikipedia:   The CCC was designed to provide employment for young men in relief families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 2.5 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).

The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the New Deal programs. Principal benefits of an individual’s enrollment in the CCC included improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employ-ability. Of their pay of $30 a month, $25 went to their parents. Implicitly, the CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation’s natural resources; and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.

During the time of the CCC, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.

Of course, the Old Fool wouldn’t know these facts if it weren’t for Wickipedia and other Internet resources.  But he does remember unemployed neighbors, one of them a Mennonite, who worked for the WPA  by cleaning the sides of road that ran past his house.  He remembers that these men were not always highly motivated by the work given to them and that some people said that WPA stood for We Poke Along. 

He also remembers seeing truck loads of otherwise unemployed young men going to and from work on soil conservation projects and national forest and park projects. 

The Old Fool was impressed when he learned that many of the barracks used by Conscientious Objectors in WWII had been used by the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corp. It is likely that the California fire towers he lived in during his time in Civilan Public Service as a Conscientious Objector were built by CCC men.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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