Friday, September 19, 2014

Franklin Roosevelt and Pilot Mountain School

I've been watching the Ken Burns series on The Roosevelts. Watching isn't exactly the word. It's too nondescript, because this history narrative has enthralled me. I checked to see if that's the word I really wanted to use and um, yes...enthralled, to hold spellbound, to captivate.


Not that I was even alive during the Roosevelt years, any of them. After "watching" these episodes, I'm positive I wouldn't want to have been alive during the Roosevelt years, any of them, although I more than admire those who doggedly survived those years, and grew strong because of trials they faced. Tragedy. World wide war. Uncontrolled disease. World wide depression. World wide war, again.

It's not as if I hadn't studied history. I have, although by the time my introduction to US history classes in high school and university arrived at the twentieth century, time was running out and we hurried through.

These episodes don't hurry. They show what I missed in those history classes, the family saga connected to the country where I live.

What I found most interesting is the verification of details I found during my research on the story of Pilot Mountain School. I saw this school's story unfold on television in the background of the Roosevelt story, Franklin's at least. He had polio. Chapter five, Pilot Mountain School children were quarantined due to the polio epidemic and their parents lived in constant fear that this horrid disease would strike their children next.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Roosevelt, 1937.
Photo credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
As president, FDR made a deal with the country, a New Deal, one designed to help the individuals suffering through the Great Depression no matter where they were, the South Mountains of North Carolina even. The REA, Rural Electrification Act, brought electric lines through the valley and to the proposed school site. The PWA and the WPA and the NYA, all economic recovery acts that brought jobs and institutions and training and yes, Pilot Mountain School. Partially funded by the PWA, the Public Works Administration, overseen by the WPA, the Works Progress Administration, and built by the boys of the NYA, National Youth Administration (boys age 15 and up because the men were called to war), this school would not have existed without some kind of deal, some kind of New Deal. It's there in chapter three of Lessons Learned, the results of the Roosevelt initiatives.

Chapter four, now that's another Roosevelt story, the World War II story and how the children and teachers of Pilot Mountain School supported the war effort and endured the hardships of the war reality. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History Check it out and as you watch, enthralled, think of this little school in the South Mountains of North Carolina.

Catch of the day,


No comments:

Post a Comment