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CHILDREN OF THE DUST BOWL by Jerry Stanley

CHILDREN OF THE DUST BOWL

The True Story of the School at Weedpath Camp

By Jerry Stanley

Age Range: 9 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-517-58781-5
Publisher: Crown

 In his first book, a professor with a specialty in California history recreates experiences like those described in The Grapes of Wrath, in a photodocumentary that follows the ``Okies'' from Oklahoma to a California so overcrowded with Dust Bowl refugees that jobs were scarce, wages meager, and the local population so horrified by the crowds of hungry, uneducated migrants that violence against them was common. By 1937, somewhat better conditions prevailed in 10 camps built by Roosevelt's Farm Security Administration; still, locals were unwilling to receive Okies in their schools. Stanley details the building of a remarkable school at one camp, largely thanks to the vision of Superintendent of Schools Leo Hart, who leased 10 acres of federal land and some decrepit buildings for $10.00, paid for a truck himself, solicited donations of materials, hired teachers who were willing to teach anything or help out anywhere, and organized staff and children to build the school with their own hands. Much of the curriculum was practical (trades involved in construction; an on-site farm); much was creative (high grades won the privilege of driving an airplane on a runway--or of being allowed to help dig a swimming pool). Stanley makes it clear that successes weren't universal (though by the time the school closed non-Okies were clamoring for admission), but notes the later successes of many Okie graduates. Lucid, dramatic, and splendidly inspiring; based largely on interviews with participants, including Hart; many excellent period photos. Bibliographic note; index. (Nonfiction. 9+)