FDR was chief cook <br />of alphabet soup recovery

FDR was chief cook
of alphabet soup recovery By Bob Karolevitz
Writer At Large The WPA wasn't all bad – despite what some of the political pundits said about it. The Works Progress Administration headed up by Harry Hopkins was one of the programs that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt instigated to try to overcome the throes of the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was a scary time! Not only were there economic problems, but dust, grasshoppers and long lines at soup kitchens added to the dilemma. All the New Deal programs he tried were reduced to initials – like the CCC, the NRA, the FHA, etc., and Roosevelt was known as "chief cookof our alphabet soup" recovery program. As you can imagine, there were lots of jokes attributed to the WPA (called We Putter Around by the press.) Typical was the line in the novel, To Kill a Mockinbird, when one of the character was described as "the only person fired from the WPA for laziness." The object was to get jobs for the unemployed, and much political boon-doggling was involved. Sure, a lot of guys in South Dakota learned to lean on their shovels to feign working. Dad worked one day on a WPA project and then quit because it caused good men to be cheaters. He ended up hating FDR so completely that he wouldn't even cross Roosevelt Boulevard when we lived in Los Angeles where he had gone to find work. But despite that, many roads and bridges were built, too. Besides that, Wilmot got a town hall, Canton a jail and Lemmon a swimming pool; a museum was built in Rapid City; a city hall was erected in Yankton and a new courthouse for Aurora County at Plankinton owed its founding to the WPA. And there were more! Sidewalks showed up in many places, all stamped with the make-work program. Large art murals and literary projects were included, and almost any community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the program. Hungry kids got government meals and clothing was distributed. Public buildings got large on walls (murals, some of them bad); and drama, media and literary projects were instituted in some cities – anything to put people back to work. Prevailing wages in the various communities were paid. Expenditures for wages from 1936to 1939 totaled almost $7 billion, a pittance compared to the costs of the Iraqi War. I even used research of destitute writers which was published by them in the South Dakota Guide and paid for by the WPA. I don't know if other states had a similar book, but I assume most of them did. Even if that's all the New Deal did for me, it's reason enough to say "the WPA wasn't all bad." © 2008 Robert F. Karolevitz

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