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Students get feel for Great Depression poverty with hands-on experience!

posted Mar 23, 2016, 10:39 AM by Cabool R-IV Schools   [ updated Mar 23, 2016, 10:41 AM ]
What would you do if you suddenly had no job, no money, no food, no place to live? That scenario was all too common during the 1930s in America as people struggled through the Great Depression. And American History students at Cabool High School got a taste of what life was like for many in those lean years during a special project this past week.

The sophomores in two classes taught by Dennis Brown and one class taught by Shelby Conn were challenged to build basic shelters using only what they could find. “They had to be scrap materials just like the people did in the Depression,” Brown said. Also, only materials that might have been available at that time were to be used.

The commons area between the CHS “A” and “B” buildings became a temporary “Hooverville” as students devised their shelters.

Hooverville was a common term for the homeless encampments that sprang up, usually at the edge of towns, during the Depression. Herbert Hoover was the nation’s president at the time. Persons who found themselves with no family to stay with and no means to obtain housing for their families constructed crude shelters from whatever was at their disposal in order to survive.

Justin Watson headed up the student effort in Conn’s seventh hour class. They constructed a shelter that could accommodate four or five persons.

Watson said he got wooden pallets from local businesses and tore them apart for basic building materials. Other students contributed slab wood, cardboard and a tarp. “I brought in a lot of tools and equipment,” Watson added.

After assembling their scavenged goods, they then started making a boxy shelter with a wood frame and slab wood siding.

Watson said he enjoyed the project because it was a chance to get some hands-on experience.

Students in Brown’s classes used pallets, old tin, and scrap plywood to construct a shanty that class member Chayton Reese estimated could sleep up to ten persons on its cardboard floor. The basic structure, which had no heat source, was supplied with a tin roof that helped absorb the sun’s warmth during the day.

Rounding up materials and trying to fashion something livable from them was an eye-opener for students. “I feel they had it rough,” Reese said of persons living in the Depression. “They came from scratch.”

In all, four makeshift structures were built. Other CHS teachers then toured the Hooverville and voted for the one they liked best. The winning class was to receive a prize, which had not been determined as the Enterprise went to press. Then the structures were dismantled.
Hooverville 1

Using scrap lumber, old plywood, used tin and discarded cardboard, students in one of Dennis Brown's classes put the finishing touches on their makeshift shelter Monday afternoon on the campus of Cabool High School.

Hooverville 2

Students in Shelby Conn's seventh hour American History class pose with the shelter they constructed from found materials as part of a study on the Great Depression.

News Article By: The Cabool Enterprise