WPA writers project resulted in story collections
Joy Graham

Little did I know in the 1950’s when I studied President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program that 50 years later I would be writing a history article for Milam County.

For all you youngsters, anything 50 years old or more is history.

In the 1930’s there were over eight million people in the United States out of work. The government’s goal was to employ one person per family.

To make this happen, through the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Writer’s Project, artist were hired to paint murals in post offices, construction workers repaired highways, built bridges, and municipal buildings in cities.

After the Great Depression, America had been in World War II; rationing was instituted to feed people, ration gasoline, shoes, sugar, and other needed supplies. The stock market crashed and banks closed. People needed jobs.

In Milam County’s Lilac community, unemployed teachers were hired to set up classes in schools, teaching creative writing.

A collection of 14 such stories were written. In 1935, Hilda Boecker wrote: “From Germany to America” The story of the Boecker Family in Lilac, Texas.

Sissy Granger wrote “The First Days of School”, Jenny Cole wrote “ Teachers Prepare for School Opening”, Flossie Lambert wrote “Children Ride the Ocean Wave.”

Bill Headley wrote “Friday Afternoon Program”, Ellie Pratt wrote” The First Day of School”, Mrs. T. J. Hunt wrote “Fifth Grade Spelling Class”, Patrick O’Kerr wrote “Games of Competition: Games of Chance.”

Mozell Price wrote “The Lilac School Operetta,” Dorine Tucker wrote “Easter Egg Hunt,” Annie Margaret McQuary wrote “Recess At Lilac School.”

Raymond Yardley wrote “Awards & Seventh Grade Graduation”, Mrs. Gus Ruzicka wrote “Working With The Lilac PTA” and Stel la Irene McQuary wrote “A Historic Election at Lilac—1932.” Other WPA projects built municipal buildings. The petrified rock buildings at Ledbetter Park in Cameron were a part of this effort as was the old City Hall in Taylor, now slated to be demolished.

Another time, another era. Does this make a difference in today’s society? Some will say “no.”

I challenge you to think of today’s society versus what you have just read.

“ We the people of America survived. Here in this part of Texas some continue to hold true to the values of life and strive to maintain our Integrity.

Lilac School is now a Memory but the people that made it left their part in history for their ancestors.

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2013-08-22 digital edition

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