Hoovervilles



"The Experience of the Hooverville seems to be sapping Connie's dreams of their vitality: "If I'd of knowed it would be like this I wouldn' of came. I'd a studied nights 'bout tractors back home an' got me a three-dollar job." -- John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath



hooverville_1.jpg


What were Hoovervilles?
After the onset of the Great Depression,many families were forced from their homes due to foreclosure. With no other alternative form of housing these families were forced to seek shelter in shacks made of wood, tin, cardboard, and various other scrap materials. These shacks were called Hoover Hotels, named to mock President Herbert Hoover, and eventually the families, confined to these shacks, would congregate together in what would become known as Hoovervilles.
The Term Hooverville was first used as a campaign slogan by the Democratic National Committee in the early 1930s. Often times, Hoovervilles would spring up where ever there was free space such as under bridges, in fields, and even in Central Park in New York City. Local Authorities would not recognize Hoovervilles as legitimate settlements. There are many accounts of raids taking place on the shanty towns. However, out of necesity, most of the time the Hoovervilles were allowed to exist peacefully.



Hooverville
By: David Wagoner


I wasn't supposed to go where the bums lived,
But I could see their houses made out of crates
And tin cans hammered flat, out of tar paper
And cardboard boxes, the doorways curtained with rags.

I watched them wash their closthes and their underwear
And their bodies
in cold Lake Michigan for a mile
Between us and South Chicago. Freight engineers
Would whistle and wave at me, but not at them.

My mother fed some almost every morning,
So I knew they'd ridden boxcars from somewhere else
And were going somewhere else sooner or later
But meanwhile had to stay here and be hungry.

I sneaked out of my bed and bedroom window
Some nights and saw their fires flicker to life
Along the tracks and burn from yellow to red
While a kind of hoedown with banjos and guitars


Was craking and plunking almost as faint and far
And near as the mosquitoes and hoptoads
And crickets. I could hear them singing. Their shadows
Danced in firelight. Nobody danced in our yard

Or in our neighbors' yards. Our short front lawns
Ended in cindery ditches and roadbeds
Where cattails puffed their seeds over the crossties,
Where tumbleweeds, on the loose, were ready to roll.

central_park_hooverville.jpg



All Prayed Out - Thomas Newman


Works Cited
Albok, John. Central Park, Hooverville. 1933. PDNB. Photographs Do Not Bend presents: John Albok. 11 Oct. 2008. Pegasus News. 7 Mar. 2009 <http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2008/oct/11/photographs-do-not-bend-presents/>.

"Hooverville." Answers.com. Wikianswers.com. 7 Mar. 2009 <http://www.answers.com/Hooverville>.

"Hoovervilles." Hoovervilles. 10 Jan. 2009. Youtube. 7 Mar. 2009 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISniZI_H7mE&eurl=http://shsgreatdepression.wikispaces.com/Hoovervilles>.

Lee, James. Hooverville. 1933. Museum of History and Industry and the University of Washington., Seattle. Archives and Records Management. 20 Nov. 2001. King County. 7 Mar. 2009 <http://www.metrokc.gov/recelec/archives/kcarch/slhoover1.htm>.

Newman, Thomas. Cinderella Man Motion Picture Soundtrack. By Thomas Newman. Online music. 2005. Imeem.com. 19 Apr. 2008. Imeem, Inc. 7 Mar. 2009 <http://www.imeem.com/people/4NnejTx/music/U7OVbqdM/thomas-newman-all-prayed-out/>.

Wagoner, David. "Hooverville." Article Archives. 1 Jan. 2004. The Southern Review. 7 Mar. 2009 <http://www.articlearchives.com/humanities-social-science literature-literature/1535043-1.html>.