Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The WPA at Work in Orlando

The entry just before this one is about the Orlando young men who joined the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the Great Depression in the late 1930s. Another of FDR's New Deal programs, the WPA (Work Projects Administration), was busy in Orlando during the late 1930s.

by Donna Gloff

Walter and Iva (Paugh) Donaldson lived in the northwest corner of Orlando that is in Gilmer County. Walter was born about 1888 to Hansen and Sarah Catherine (Sandy) Donaldson. The Donaldsons and Paughs were pioneer/early settlers of Virginia's frontiers and served in the Revolutionary War. Iva was born about 1889 to Benajmin and Mary (Sandy) Paugh. Marriage records show the Sandys, Paughs and Donaldsons were close-knit.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, Walter worked at a quarry that supplied stone for the massive road improvement projects that were part of the WPA. He also took advantage of a WPA program that provided adult instruction in reading and writing. Walter became the subject of a New Deal photo essay when he was chosen the "one millionth person" to learn to read through this program. The essay is at http://newdeal.feri.org/library/h_3s_gp.htm. The photos in this entry are from that essay.

Above left: the caption with this photo reads "Mrs. Donaldson prepares a meal while children watch their father write a letter. Donaldson was taught to read and write in a WPA Educational Class."

Right: the Gilmer County quarry where Walter Donaldson was employed.

Left: Claud Loy Heater, son of Thomas and Sarah (Mick) Heater, was Walter's teacher.

Right: the caption with this photo reads " Before Mr. Donaldson was instructed in educational classes any business to be transacted had to be handled by some one in town. Mr. Donaldson is now able to talk figures and amounts of money with those who wish to buy his crops without fear of being on the losing end of the deal."

Below: the elementary school where Walter's class met and two photos taken during class. Below that, the Donaldson home in the late 1930s in Orlando, Gilmer County.

. . . . .

comment by Joyce Brannon

When my parents, Bruce and Olive (Henline) Brannon, moved to Ohio they sent for Lula Donaldson to come and stay with my brother and me after school. That would have been around 1944-1945. My parents were working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. She didn't stay very long because we moved back to WV in 1946 when my mother became ill. The Donaldson name is so familiar, but I was so young and only remember Lula.

Right: back row: Bruce Brannon, Olive Brannon, Lula Donaldson. In front, Joyce and her brother Robert.

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