a working man’s journal from the depression, black and white beach pier wallpaper, those darn college punk voters

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940 is from the Library of Congress Collections. Most of the writings seem more like semi-regular journals, but there are also letters. These are from an average guy. An average worker at the time, between 1936 and 1940, during the Great Depression.  For some odd reason you’ll have to go to the main page and search for the title of the link to read this journal from Mr. Trout or any of the others in the collection. maybe they do it to prevent hotlinking and spam blogs from stealing bandwidth. All emphasis mine.

“We lived in a furnished room, the three of us; cooked, ate, and slept in it. Soon I left the mill and went into the insurance business. I’d already done some of it is Los Angeles, y’know. I built up a debit and averaged fifteen dollars a week. Well pretty soon the company cut my commission, so I quit ’em.

“Then I went back to the mill, in the weave room as a cloth doffer. I stayed in the mill three years off and on. It was during this time our second girl was born. This was three and a half years after the first one. I’d learned somethin’ about birth control, y’see.

“Well in the meantime I’d joined a labor union. It was the United Textile Workers of America. Yeah, A. [f.?] of L. I was very active in the union work. I’d never thought much about unions before, but I took right to it. I did a lot of studyin’, readin’ and [speech-ankin’?]. And I held offices.

“Somehow the management found out about it — I hadn’t been keepin’ it any secret — and the superintendent called me in the office one day and began tellin’ me how much they thought about me, and he said if I’d give up the union why they’d find me a better job. And they did. They gave me a timekeeper’s job and I wore my best suit and white collar on the job. But I didn’t promise nothin’, see?

“Well I held the job all right; I could do the work, but I didn’t give up my union activities. So they demoted me back to a ‘learner-weaver’. It was just about that time a union supervisor asked me if I’d take a trip with him for two weeks. He’d heard I was a good driver and he wanted me to drive him around the country. He’d pay the expenses. Well there wasn’t much I hadn’t learned about a car on that trip to California, so I went to the boss and asked him to let me off for two weeks. I didn’t tell ’em for what purpose, y’understand, I just made up some excuse, I don’t know what.

[  ]…”As soon as I reported at the mill the overseer [?] me. They’d heard about what I’d done and he said I didn’t need the job because they understood I had another one. Bein’ sarcastic, y’know. Well I got mad and I cursed him. I told ’em they couldn’t starve me to death and [?-?] ’em sometime I’d get even with ’em. Losin’ that job didn’t matter so much, but the blackballed me from all the other mills. I’d get all kinds of promises for jobs because I was known as a good worker. I’d fill in applications, y’know, and they’d say they were pretty sure they’d put me to work in a day or two, and then when I’d come back they’d tell me they didn’t need me.

“Well there was nothin’ to do but apply for relief. I did, and finally got a job on the WPA. Worked on a labor project; dug ditches, rolled wheelbarrows,“Oh! I forgot to tell you about the strike at the mills in 1934 and how I got jailed. I was walkin’ down the street one day and I had a pair of spy-glasses with me. Well I looked through ’em and over on a hill about a mile away and saw a group of men standin’ around on a road. Well I thought there’d been an accident, as I walked on over there and found out they were armed with clubs and all sorts of weapons. They said they were gonna beat up some Negroes who ‘are scabbin’ on the job. They told me to take my glasses and look down the road for the trucks which were bringin’ the Negroes to the mill. Well I watched for the trucks and pretty soon I saw ’em comin’ ‘way off, y’know. But the trucks didn’t only have niggers in ’em but they were loaded down with soldiers too — the national guard.

“Well I told the men what I saw comin’ and they all dispersed — ran away. But I stayed there. I didn’t see why I should run’ I hadn’t done nothin’. Well the trucks came on up the road and when the soldiers saw me with the glasses they jumped out and arrested me. They put me in jail and I stayed there eight days. They put me in a filthy old cell. It was just about six feet long and not that wide, and the cot had a dirty old mat on it so full of bugs that I had to sleep on the floor. The jail was owned by the mill. You see, the mills just run the whole town and they could do what they liked.

“For a couple of days my wife and children didn’t know where I was. But about the third day some of the soldiers went over to see my wife and told her they’d jailed me. They tried to pump her, but they didn’t get anything out of ‘er. There wasn’t anything she could tell ’em anyway; I hadn’t done nothin’.

“Well they kept me shut up there and asked me a lot of questions. They didn’t do nothin’ to me except to threaten me. They told me they’d heard a lot about me and the things I’d been doin’ in the union. I wish I’d done half as much as they said I did. They told me if I didn’t lay low and stop my union activities, they’d put me away for good. Then they let me go. “As soon as I got out I went right down and got a job on the picket line picketin’ the mill. I worked three months picketin’ and got two dollars a day. Sometimes forty-five cents an hour.

A little disturbing that the National Guard could jail someone with or without criminal charges. Than hold them in secret,without informing his family. He is an FDR supporter, but he goes on to tell about having never voted, why and how much it cost to support his family,

“I figure I need exactly two hundred dollars a month to live on. Every bit of it. Anybody with a family does. that’s why I’m for the union. I don’t care if people do say they’re always belly-[?]’ and wantin’ more. Sure they want more, why shouldn’t they? Everybody in the world should have two hundred dollars a month, especially men with families. Is it right for me to try to live on eighteen dollars a week when I know that eighty percent of the wealth of this country is controlled by five percent of the people. Is that fair? Tell, me!

“And that brings up another thing. Do you know I’ve never voted in my life, never been able to exercise my right as a citizen because of the [poll?] tax? I’ve had to eat and sleep and I can’t pay a poll tax, can’t have a voice in my own government. You quote me as sayin’ I’m very interested in some [?] to remove the poll tax. Sure I’m for this administration. I’m with Roosevelt right up to the hilt. I don’t know whether Roosevelt’ll have a third term or not, but if he doesn’t … God help this country! I’m dealin’ with the workers every day and I know what they say. They’ve got more from this administration than ever before and they’re not gonna stand for anybody takin’ it away from ’em.  ( a short history of poll taxes and their use to discourage African-Americans, native indians and poor whites from voting, especially in the south)

“Religion? I’m not sure what I think along that line any more. I know religion doesn’t influence my morals. I’m moral for moralities make …… because of the effect it might have on me physically and mentally to indulge my lower desires. I think the average church is just a racket. They don’t really give the people anything. Understand, I don’t mean I’d do away with the churches. But I don’t have anything to do with ’em. I’ve found my own philosophy. It may change every day, but I’m findin’ it. I’ve just come to the conclusion that most churches are not interested in humanity for humanity’s sake.

black and white beach pier wallpaper

 

Letting college students vote. Imagine that. Everyone knows college students don’t know their tatter tots from cheese crackers, In states, parties clash over voting laws that call for IDs, limits on where college students can cast ballots

New Hampshire’s new Republican state House speaker is pretty clear about what he thinks of college kids and how they vote. They’re “foolish,” Speaker William O’Brien said in a recent speech to a tea party group.

Voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do,” he added, his comments taped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students lack “life experience,” and “they just vote their feelings.”

New Hampshire House Republicans are pushing for new laws that would prohibit many college students from voting in the state – and effectively keep some from voting at all.

Keeping people from certain demographics from voting is obviously a pretty old tactic. According to Cons it is one of the great injustices of our time, but none of the studies done on voter fraud support the view that there is any great conspiracy to commit fraud, Extremely rare for illegal ballots to be cast

Justice Department report shows very few prosecutions for illegally casting ballots. According to a report by the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department, from October 2002 through September 2005, the Justice Department charged 95 people with “election fraud” and convicted 55. Among those, however, just 17 individuals were convicted for casting fraudulent ballots; cases against three other individuals were pending at the time of the report. In addition, the Justice Department convicted one election official of submitting fraudulent ballots and convicted five individuals of registration fraud, with cases against 12 individuals pending at the time of the report. Thirty-two individuals were convicted of other “election fraud” issues, including Republicans convicted of offenses arising from “a scheme to block the phone lines used by two Manchester [New Hampshire] organizations to arrange drives to the polls during the 2002 general election” — in other words, these convictions were connected to voter suppression efforts, not voter fraud. Several other people listed in the report were convicted of vote-buying.

NYU’s Brennan Center: Allegations of voter fraud “simply do not pan out” and distract from “real [election] problems that need real solutions.” From a 2007 report by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice..

To put that 17 individuals convicted of voter fraud – casting more than one ballot – the population of the U.S. is about 340 million and the total number of registered voters is about 142 million. So the percent of people who commit actual fraud in a dismal point with a lot of zeros

4.92957746 × 10-8

There are quite a few more cases of registration fraud, but that is where people register to vote multiple times, not that actually tried to vote multiple times. Even in the best of economic times this black helicopter view of voting fraud is a waste of millions of dollars. Now it is a waste of millions and precious jobs.

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