Monday, February 16, 2009

New Deal Memories: Pensacola High School

More than ever, as we have said, we think it would be a service for someone to track down surviving area residents, workers, and visitors and add their memories of the New Deal years in Pensacola to existing archives, contemporary reports, collected letters, exhibits, and now web sites.

Plenty has been written or recorded, of course. But still out there are many who remember, as children, how it was. Human nature being what it is, their memories probably have softened over the years. Looking back on hard times, one tends to fondly remember the good times more than the bad, especially if you were young at the time.

Exhibit A: Someone by the name of Del Jupiter, in a letter to the editor of the Atlanta Constitution, reminisces about Franklin Roosevelt's visit to Pensacola and the old and new segregated high school building:
I agree with Jonathan Zimmerman that “Schools desperately need traditional federal aid” (issue Feb. 11). I remember so well the dilapidated high school in Pensacola, Fla., which blacks attended with its pot-bellied stoves, no science labs, no library, no cafeteria, and worst of all, the smelly bathrooms outdoors. We benefited from PWA and WPA funding which resulted in a gleaming, new school building.

My diary entry attests to the fact that on Aug. 9, 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited our city. The next day our family went to see the new high school. I am sure the building of that new school provided jobs for the community as well as educational opportunity for the students. So why can’t the Republican opposition restore federal funds for school construction to the bailout money?

As for who should do it, we nominate Charley Reese and J. Earle Bowden, both of whom grew up in Pensacola exactly at the time we have in mind.

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