HistoryBuff.com March 2009 Newsletter
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Economic Stimulus Plans

The topic of economic recovery is in the minds of most Americans today. Although Obama's Economic Stimulus Plan was signed into law, very few specifics were announced to the public. It also has not been determined how long the recovery progress will take. Perhaps a look back at FDR's "Economic Stimulus Plan" will provide insight to what and how long it takes for financial recovery.

In the case of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the downward spiral actually started with the stock market crash in October 1929 when Herbert Hoover was president. From 1929 forward, unemployment was increasing at a rapid rate. Those that were still employed had their wages reduced by as much as 60%. Only at the end of his administration did President Hoover agree to loans of federal funds (bailouts) to states whose resources had been exhausted by the burden of caring for the unemployed. In 1932, $2,000,000,000 was provided.

For the presidential election of 1932, the two main candidates were Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Herbert Hoover's popularity was falling as voters felt he was unable to reverse the economic collapse, or deal with the rising unemployment rate. At the time of the election, the unemployment rate was 23.6%. (For Februaray 2009, the national unemployment rate was 8.1%.) Hoover attacked Roosevelt as a dangerous radical who would only make the Depression worse by raising taxes and increasing the federal debt to pay for expensive welfare and social-relief programs. FDR used Hoover's failure to deal with these problems as a platform for his own election, promising reform in his policy called the New Deal. Roosevelt’s campaign song was "Happy Days Are Here Again." In his campaign speeches, Roosevelt was vague in what exactly would be contained in his New Deal and was elected by a landslide.

When FDR took office, he immediately began a massive campaign to help get the economy back in good shape. Roosevelt was not interested in just merely handing out money to the unemployed. Instead, he created the Emergency Conservation Work project. Roosevelt was able to present his plan to congress and get it passed in a mere 18 days - the fastest that ANY bill was ever passed. (Obama's Economic Stimulus Bill took 28 days to get passed.)

In 1933, those who were unemployed and between the ages of 18 and 26, were hired by the Federal government to provide labor for conservation of the nation’s natural resources. This program was called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC.) Men were divided into camps and lived in tents. A camp typically consisted of 200 men. For their six month enrollment, enrollees were housed, clothed, fed and paid $30 a month, of which $25 was sent home to needy family members; after all, what good was $30 in the pocket of a lad living in a forest camp? What the economy needed was dollars to circulate and the CCC helped make that happen. The establishment of a CCC camp typically meant an additional $5,000 in monthly expenditures in the local marketplace. Some camp commanders, sensing that the presence of their camp was not fully appreciated by the local populace, used silver dollars to pay the enrollees their $5 monthly allowance, which was often quickly spent in the local town. Merchants, suddenly finding so many silver dollars in their cash registers, would quickly realize what a boon the nearby camp had become. Thirty-dollars a month does not sound like much. However, keep in mind that $30 went much farther in the 1930s. In today's money, that $30 a month would be the equivalent of hundreds of dollars.

The CCC was responsbile for many conservation programs. Billions of trees were planted in the Dust Bowl region to break the wind, hold water in the soil, and hold the soil in place. The CCC also made outstanding contributions to the development of recreational facilities in national, state, county, and metropolitan parks. More than 3,470 fire towers were erected and 97,000 miles of fire roads built. More than 84,400,000 acres of agricultural land received manmade drainage systems. 1,240,000 mandays of emergency work was completed during floods of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, as well as disease and insect control. Other CCC camps built trail systems in Grand Canyon, visitor amenities in Yellowstone, Shenandoah, and Acadia, improvements at Mesa Verde, Colossal Cave, and Colorado National Monument and forestry improvements in all of our national forests. The CCC was also involved in providing assistance with natural disasters, including a hurricane in New England in 1938, floods in Vermont and New York, and blizzards in Utah.

The reach of the CCC not only provided income for the families involved, but their wages were spent in stores which gave the stores more income. In addition, the crime rate dropped by 55% shortly after the CCC was formed and kept dropping. Unemployed young people were no longer roaming the streets looking for something to do. In addition, over 40,000 people who were illiterate were taught how to read and write.

In addition to the CCC, in 1935, Roosevelt added another program called the Works Projects Administration - WPA. The WPA also provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States. Between 1935 and 1943 the WPA provided almost 8 million jobs. Wages ranged between $19 and $94 a month, depending on skill of the worker. Anyone between the age of 18 and 65 was eligible to be hired. The program built many public buildings, projects and roads and operated large arts, drama, media and literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food as well as providing clothing and housing. Almost every community in America has a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency. In addition to laborers, other fields of employment were offered. Authors were hired to write pamphlets, manuals and books about the program; Artists were hired to create murals and paintings, many of which were hung on post office walls as well as create statues for public buildings and city parks. Photographers were hired to photograph works by the WPA. Women were hired for sewing jobs. Musicians were hired to provide entertainment. Almost every other field of occupation was also hired. Expenditures from 1936 to 1939 totaled nearly $7 billion. Vocational training of the unemployed was also offered to make them available for factory and other fields of employment.

Before 1940, there was some training involved in teaching new skills and the project's original legislation went forward with a strong emphasis on family, training and building people up. When America entered WWII, the CCC and WPA were slowly phased out and the economy was well on its way to a full recovery.

A Second Childhood

In the early-1970s, back before you could get an online tDPT, I was an orthopedic technician for a 500-bed hospital. My main two areas to work were the Emergency Room and the Orthopedics Ward. One afternoon, an ambulance brought in a 73-year-old man that was a resident of a nursing home and had fallen and broken his hip. He kept asking where his mother was. He was politely told by a nurse that he shouldn’t worry about that now. The man went on to tell us that he had three meals a day with his mother and they watched TV together everday. Since he was 73, none of us believed his mother was still alive. Back then, it was referred to being senile or having a second childhood. Today it might be called Alzheimer’s. The man was taken to surgery and then to his room. While in his room, I heard a voice outside in the hall yelling "Where’s my son?" Next thing I see is an old woman bent over and walking with a cane. She couldn’t have been over 5 feet tall. Yep. This was the patient’s mother. She was 90 and lived in the same nursing home with her son! So much for a second childhood!

A Small Price to Pay

It was a day in April of 1936. My grandmother lived in Salmon, Idaho at the time. Salmon was a typical small-town with lots of farms nearby. The local sheriff knocked my grandmother’s door and told her that he had some bad news for her. He reported that her son, my uncle, died in a bad automobile crash down in Pocatello - a town in Idaho over 200 miles away from Salmon. The sheriff went on to explain that in the crash, the automobile burst into flames. Her son was badly burned in the accident. (To make matters worse, her husband, my grandfather, died on Christmas Day in 1935.) Arrangements had been made for the body to be shipped back to Salmon so they could hold the funeral and burial there. Since the body was badly burned, they held a closed casket funeral two days later.

A week later, she heard someone entering her back porch. She figured it was her neighbor and went towards the porch. When she saw who it was, she fainted just after she said “You’re dead!” Yes, it was her son! As it turned out, he had been hitchhiking and got a ride with a stranger. In the car crash he was thrown out of the automobile and landed on his head. It left him in a coma for almost a week. It was the stranger that got burned. Somehow, the identities of the two got mixed up. It wasn’t until he awoke from the coma that the mix up was discovered. Telephones were few and far between in 1936 rural America. As soon as he was released from the hospital, he made his way home. The downside was that she was left to pay the hospital bill. A small price to pay to get your loved-one back.

Web Sites Worth Seeing

Friends, knowing my interest in history, sent me information about two Web sites. One site is a multimedia presentation of the Battle Hymn Republic. Although some of the words to the original song are changed, to me, it makes it more meaningful. My first time seeing the presentation, it made my spine tingle. The song is now more patriotic than before. Unfortunately, even with a broadband connection, it takes a while to fully download and start playing the audio and the text to start changing. For those with a dial-up connection, it will probably start and stop several times. Let it play through all the way first, then click the Refresh/Reload button on your Web browser. This time, it will play without interruption. It is well worth the wait. The Web site URL is:


The other Web site contains unique information about the massive escape by POWs in a WWII concentration camp. Seventy-six men escaped on the night of March 24-25, 1944. The movie The Great Escape, made in 1963, with Steve McQueen is about this feat. The site has an interactive map, drawn after the war by one of the POWs. When the map appears, move your cursor over the numbers (no need to click) to display an explanation of that activity. The last number to roll over is 16. Be sure to click the "Next" button to move along. The Web site URL is:


HistoryBuff.com Update

I have created and added a new header for every page on HistoryBuff.com. See it by going to almost any page on the site - except the Online Newsletter Archives pages.

I spent the last few weeks researching and entering data about United States presidents. One file is a listing of all of the president's cabinet members and years in office. This file can be accessed by going to:


I also added a file of little-known facts about each president. The file includes cause of death, where they died, where they are buried, what each president's Zodiak sign was, deaths in order of age and, deaths in order of the month they died.


As a result of my appeal for donations in the previous issue, several people made a one-time donation. They are Merrill Hudson, Mel Anderson, Paula Stephen, Debra Mitchell, Jerry Tyner, Thomas Pratt, Marian Jones, Shirley Wardzinski, Culbreth Law Firm, and Loretta J. Thomas. Thank you. One person made a one-time donation by mailing me a check. Unfortunately, I neglected to write their name down before depositing the checks. I am sorry about this.

If you desire to make a one-time donation, utilize the link below. The dollar amount donated is up to you.

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February Contest

CONTEST ONE QUESTION: American newspapers dated July 21, 1969 carried the main headline about Man landing on the Moon. There was also another major news event involving a person in politics that also made front page coverage on the same date newspapers. For both events, the press covered them widely for several days. This person is still in the news today. What was this event and who did it happen to?

ANSWER: Several subscribers cited the New York Riots. However, the correct answer is the automobile accident at Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts. It involved Senator Edward Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne. Edward Kennedy is still in the news today due to his failing health.

CONTEST TWO QUESTION: Which president served two terms that were NOT consecutive?

ANSWER: Grover Cleveland.

Ninety-five people entered. Thirty-nine people had errors in their entry. The most common error was not selecting a prize. There were also a few entries where they selected a prize from the Contest One prize list, but answered the Contest Two question or answered the Contest One question but selected a prize fom the Contest Two prize list. Nine had the incorrect subject heading. One prize went unclaimed.
The February Contest Winners Were:
  • Christian Anderson - California
  • Marsena Smith - Florida
  • Ruth E Becker - Iowa
  • Douglas Bowen - Colorado
  • Paulina Mohr - Pennsylvania
  • Glenn Wise - Kentucky
  • James Lee Weaver - Georgia

This Issue's Questions:

To enter Contest One, answer the question: Which wife of a president was the first to have a college degree?

To enter Contest Two, answer the question: Who was the only president that was unmarried when elected to the presidentcy and was married in the White House?


Contest Rules

  • Contest entry deadline is Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Later entries will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the contest deadline. Winners' names and states will be published in the next issue of the HistoryBuff.com newsletter.

  • To enter Contest One or Contest Two, email your answer to curator at historybuff.com

  • To enter Contest One, use "Contest One Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading and answer the Contest One question. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

  • To enter Contest Two, use "Contest Two Entry" for the emailed contest entry subject heading and answer the Contest Two question. Any other subject heading will be disqualified.

  • Subscribers may enter both contests, but only win one prize.

  • If entering both contests, entries must be sent in separate emails.

  • Each entry MUST select ONE prize from the appropriate prize list.

  • If answering the Contest One question, select your prize from the Contest One prize list.

  • If answering the Contest Two question, select your prize from the Contest Two prize list.

  • From subscribers entering the contest, submitting the correct answer, correct subject heading, submission received by the deadline, as well as advising which ONE contest prize they want to win, NINE will be selected to win ONE of the contest prizes below.

  • Subscribers to this newsletter that won a prize in my trivia contests in the last 90 days are ineligible to win.
February Contest One Prize Selection
(Only one of each offered)

Hard Bound Book

The Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862
By O. Edward Cunningham

In the 1960s, O. Edward Cunningham completed his Ph.D. at Louisiana State University with "Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862". While unpublished, this paper did not gather dust lying forgotten in a desk drawer. Shiloh experts, park rangers, professional and amateur historians knew about this rich source of information. For years, they have consulted it and developed their ideas from it. While not a secret, the public did not have easy access to the manuscript and many never knew it existed. Forty years after being submitted, Dr. Cunningham's manuscript is available to the public.

The book can be ordered from Amazon.com.

For information on all books published by Casemate Publishing visit their Web site.


Howdy Doody

Color Episodes of This
Classic Children's TV Series

February Contest Two Prize Selection
(Only one of each offered)


James Dean (1976)
A Movie Biography of James Dean

A Made-For-TV Movie


Make Room for Daddy
Classic 1950s-1960s TV Comedy Series

With Danny Thomas, Sherry Jackson,
Rusty Hamer and Angela Cartwright

Original Historic Newspapers

The Atlas (Boston) historic newspaper from 1837

Original The Globe (Boston) historic newspaper from 1839

Original Daily National Intellegencer (Washington, DC) historic newspaper from 1843

Original The Salem Gazette (New Hampshire) historic newspaper from 1878
That's it for this issue.

Rick Brown

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