Uncle Fessie: Working for WPA during the Great Depression
This story came to me by way of a history teacher friend of mine. His uncle who endured the Great Depression in Appalachia relayed this story to friend and friend told it to me.
Uncle Fessie was a young man in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina when the Great Depression came there.
The tough Scots Irish Appalachian mountaineers were poor already, but they grew their own food, and foraged and hunted to put enough on the table to sustain themselves. Cash income was created by buying some sugar and yeast and turning a modest corn crop into liquid gold, moonshine, and hauling and selling it to the flatlands drink houses to bring back cash for much needed staples that could not be grown in the mountains like wheat flour and coffee and tea and of course more sugar for processing moonshine. This cash also bought cars, gasoline, food and clothing and farm tools and implements that were needed for sustaining life there.
Well, the Great Depression cut into even moonshine sales and profits. You could make moonshine and haul it and sell it, but Uncle Fessie said money got so tight that it drove the prices down to a point where the costs of making moonshine and shipping it were too much and the industry languished and became unprofitable.
Already poor Appalachia grew even poorer, and aside from raising some food, money and new clothing became very scarce.
Then, FDR, using borrowed money, began buying up mountain land across the ridges of Appalachia and began the WPA and CCC project of building the Blue Ridge Parkway that eventually ran from Pennsylvania to Georgia as a scenic tourist highway designed to bring automobile tourism to the impoverished Eastern mountains of America.
Uncle Fessie applied for and got a job with the WPA, and the pay was one dollar per day for clearing timber, brush and grading for the highway. Private contractors were also hired. Companies that had a bulldozer were hired on contract as were locals who owned a team of horses or mules.
More of this story at the link