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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

We hope everyone is enjoying the less humid but beautifully warm weather!  We're getting to the point we really need some rain, though.  

I was at the Danville Historical Society yesterday, doing some research about West Danville, and found an interesting item in the 1934 town reports.  Natt Burbank, the superintendent of schools at that time wrote that teachers' salaries had been cut by as much as 48% in some instances because the town couldn't afford to pay more.  In addition, there was no expenditure for textbooks and all other school items were being conserved and repairs put off until there was money available to pay for them.  

The town had many more people delinquent in paying their taxes.  In 1928 there was a balance of $70 delinquent taxes; in 1933 the list had grown to $1,566.51.  People were unable to pay their bills and many were receiving help from the town.  A Welfare Society was formed - Mrs. E. E. Hartshorn, Mrs. J. D. Williams, and Mrs. Earle Fisher were responsible for seeing that people had what they needed - clothing, food, hospital care and drugs.  They even arranged to provide phosphate and seeds for gardens.  The Red Cross helped some, and federal aid helped.  But times were hard.  The nation was reeling from the stock market crash in 1929, and by 1933 unemployment had soared to 25% from 3.2% before the crash.  Manufacturing businesses all over the country had closed or reduced production drastically - nobody had money to buy goods and people were out of work and hungry all over the nation.

These were the years that saw the beginnings of government support in the forms of subsidies and programs for the poor.  The Town of Danville received money to help build roads, support better education and help improve the health of school children.
This was the beginning of President Franklin D Roosevelt's "New Deal" that included the "3 Rs" -- Relief, Recovery and Reform.  The boom years of the "Roaring 20s" were over.

I have searched reports only through 1937, but there was little sign of real recovery in those reports.  The town and its people were struggling to make ends meet, even with government programs. It will be interesting to see the trends as the economy began to recover, and then the effects of the nation being plunged into WWII.

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