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The Journal of John Clementine

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BC: Works Cited "Hard Times, C. 1930." Http://www.shorpy.com/node/6520. Web. "Hoover." Http://www.google.com/imgres?num=10&hl=en&gbv=2&biw=1280&bih=856&tbm=isch&tbnid=H_wKRnBbrR7J_M:&imgrefurl=http://www.shmoop.com/executive-branch/photo-herbert-hoover-president.html&docid=ElP4TM2XN6QRLM&imgurl=http://www.shmoop.com/media/images/large/herbert-hoover-president.jpg&w=483&h=599&ei=wwlpT5jbLOHn0QGuifGvCQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=410&vpy=322&dur=234&hovh=250&hovw=202&tx=129&ty=132&sig=105040232108717746695&sqi=2&page=1&tbnh=153&tbnw=118&start=0&ndsp=30&ved=1t:429,r:9,s:0. Web. "Hoovervilles-A Downturn In American History." Http://hoovervillehistory.tripod.com/. Web. "Inauguration Day Events." Http://inaugural.senate.gov/history/daysevents/index.cfm. Web. "Lee Pickett Photographs." Http://content.lib.washington.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/pickett&CISOPTR=1264. Web. "Roosevelt, Franklin D.: New Deal Pin, 1932." Http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/72254/Franklin-D-Roosevelt-New-Deal-pin-1932. Web. "Sk Steel." Http://www.stumpranchonline.com/skagitjournal/S-W/Gen/SkSteelInt20s.jpg. Web. "Wall-street-1929." Http://www.poorwilliam.net/pix/wall-street-1929.jpg. Web. "A World Full of Signs." Http://colorsinlove.blogspot.com. Web.

FC: John Clementine | 1929-1933

1: John Clementine (1930)

2: August 12,1929 | Dear Journal, It is a hot summer's day but I have to get ready to go to work. My name is John Clementine. I am 33 years old. My wife Laura and I live in Kansas with our son Todd. He is six years old and as happy as can be. I was born and raised in Kansas but when I was 18, I moved to New York where I met Laura. I didn't really like it up there so since I was farmed raised and preferred the country side so I moved back to Kansas with Laura. Two years later we married and one year later Todd was born. Soon after, I got a job at a steel factory to support my family. My job at the steel factory can sometimes be difficult, since the world demands so much steel. When I 'm not working in the factory, I enjoy writing. It has always been my goal to become a successful writer. I like to write stories about anything I can get inspiration from. Hopefully someday my work will be published. I also enjoy fishing and going out and getting drinks with Robert Wilson and Will Hading, two of my co-workers at the factory. They are two guys who just love to have a good time. Robert is married with two kids and he lives a couple of apartments down from me. Will however still lives with his parents and is not really with anybody right now. Robert and I have been trying to get him to go out on a date for some time now but he refuses. He says that when the time is right he will get married. Todd will be starting school soon. Laura is so excited to finally have Todd out of the house and into school. I guess I'm happy for him although I'd much prefer it if he grew up on the farm like me. I've been thinking about moving the family back to New York but I can't risk losing my job. Sincerely, John Clementine

3: My steel factory

4: The streets were packed when the market crashed!

5: Last month, the stock market crashed. I couldn't believe that that had happened. How could the stock market crash? I don't know what this will mean for me and the other factory workers. Hopefully I won't lose my job. If I do lose my job, I'd be totally screwed. Laura doesn't have a job, she stays at home, cleans the house and take cares of Todd. If I lose my job than Laura will have to go to work. But with all of the other stuff I'm hearing about factories laying people off, I don't know where she could possibly find work. All Laura is good at is cleaning and cooking so she could be a maid. She's also good at fixing up clothes so she could work at a seam tress. I don't know how President Hoover is going to fix this but I hope that whatever he does it will help get rid of this problem. I really don't want to lose my job and I don't think anyone else wants to lose their job. On the other hand, I want to start writing a story, but I'm having trouble coming up with something to write about. I suppose I could write about the stock market crash and what the country is going through. The holidays are coming up soon. I wonder what kind of Christmas we will have this year? Sincerely, John Clementine | November 17, 1929

6: January 7, 1931 | Today when I went to work. As I was going to turn on the machine Robert came over to me and said that Mr.Davis had a special announcement to give to all of us workers. Mr.Davis is the manager at the factory that we work at. He is the one who gave me the job of working at the factory. When everyone gathered around he said he had some horrible news. Because the economy has not gotten any better and because there is not enough money to pay all of the workers, he is laying off 400 hundred of us. He then started calling off all the names of workers who were being laid off. I silently prayed that my named wouldn't be called, but unfortunately God did not here my prayers. Robert got his named called too. Will got lucky. His name was not called. He and the other 200 workers who's names were not called will be staying at the factory. Will's lucky that he doesn't have a family to feed. I wonder what job I can find now? Most places are laying off their workers. At this point in time, I don't think my writing career will take off. I guess I'll just have to sit and wait until something comes up. Maybe there is a place close by that is hiring but how am I supposed to tell Laura? she'll be devastated. And how are we going to tell Todd ? He'll be crushed as well. Sincerely, John Clementine

7: Time to join the bread line

8: March 13, 1931 | It has been a couple of months since I last wrote an entry. During that time not much has changed except for me losing my job and Robert having to move away. He said that it was for the best if he left and tried to find work somewhere else in the country. I am really gonna miss that guy and all the jokes he used to tell. Will however still has his job at the factory. Mr. Davis hasn't laid anymore workers, but he isn't hiring any new ones either. Although it is rumored that he might lay off 100 more workers. I hope that Will doesn't get fired but at the same time I am envious that he still has his job, but being envious won't give me my job back. I guess I'll just have to keep looking until I can find a job. I don't see this economy getting better any time soon. Everything that President Hoover is doing just doesn't seem to be working. Millions of people are still out of jobs and to make matters worse, we keep having dust storms. Since there hasn't been any rain, the soil is turning to dust which eventually turns into a dust storm. And the government isn't doing much to help us as usual so us down in the Midwest are left to fend our crops for ourselves not that I grow many crops. I was never into farming growing up which is why I decided not to be a farmer. Laura has a few plants that she takes care of but other than those plants, we really don't have any crops. We buy all of our food from the stores in town, but if we keep having dust storms, we'll have to buy food somewhere else, and maybe move somewhere else. Sincerely, John Clementine

9: President "Good for nothing" Hoover

10: The "free-ride" railroad

11: June 16, 1932 | Kansas. What used to be my home. I need to leave this place as soon as possible. I've spent 16 months unemployed and there is no hope of getting work in this place. I see wealthy men walking the streets, what does "trickle down" mean if they can't spend a cent on anything but personal gain? The bread lines are getting too long; even if all three of us wait for 5 hours we won't receive enough to keep our stomachs full. How can this country be in this state? Our president thinks his hands off approach is going to help, but it's never going to work. You can't fix anything without tinkering with it. He thinks his hands off approach might do something, but me, along with every man in the country, can't afford heat, can't support a family, and can't live without some kind of assistance. I don't see what he's doing up there in his big fancy house shoveling money into the pockets of greedy wealthy men. They don't spend it, it's not going back into the economy. Hoover thinks the economy will correct itself! How? We have no money to spend and the ones that do won't spend it. Hoover is a tyrant. If the government won't help me, then I'll just have to leave. Getting out of Kansas, leaving the family and all. A man's no good if he can't support his family. This government sure isn't doing anything to help me out. I'm back on my own, heading into the country to search for a way to make a buck and live a better life. It's a man eat man dog eat dog kind of world according to the head guy in office. So that's it I'm gone. I've got my clothes and shoes and that's all I own. I left a wad of what I have been saving for years on the table for Laura. I hope she finds help somehow. I love my family but I've got to make it now on my own. I'll catch a snooze on the train, but until then I'm walking.

12: September, 20th, 1932 | Well, I woke up after I hopped into an empty freight train cart, I guess it's not only me thinking about leaving home 'cause there was a little red haired girl covered in dust. I know she was coming from the dust bowl, easy to see it on her filthy face. There is not much the government could do about the act of nature, but it’s terrible. Maybe the government can’t stop the storms but they should have some kind of support for the sickness it’s causing. Dust pneumonia is a terrible sight, I hope along my travels I don't pick it up. We had a conversation. She gave me a biscuit, I couldn't bear eating her food but I was so hungry. She said she got in from Oklahoma. When she went to sleep I knew I had to leave her because she looked a lot like my wife. I grabbed her biscuits and left her the only possession I had, a picture of my family. Hopping on the next train I rested my head again as the wheels creaked of, Nebraska bound. At a stop about 200 or so miles from Nebraska a man got on. He carried himself with a sense of importance, but his clothes told me otherwise. We talked a while as I shared a biscuit with him. A former business man! Said he'd come all the way from Chicago, down to Texas, and was heading home in a failed attempt to gain something. We had a lot in common. Getting laid off was something every man could sympathize with in this day. He had some stories to tell. The government sure is screwed. He told me all about the Hoovervilles and how dangerous and horrible they were. He described them as hell, full of dying people lumped into ramshackle, makeshift houses of garbage. I don’t want to end up there but I’m sure I’ll see one sometime soon. Worse yet the government sent these agents out to knock people like myself off the freight trains. Like we are some sort of dangerous gang, instead of just starving American citizens trying to find work in the screwed up country. At least Hoover gave me my own Hoover blanket.

13: Crowded Hooverville like the man spoke of

14: How am I still walking? This depression is not only economic but mental. I know I'm not alone when I say that these great countries citizens are losing hope. I'm losing hope. Trying to continue in the search for work is restless. I'm missing my family. Why did I ever leave them? If I cannot support myself and I can't support my family then we might as well go down together. I'm confused. Is this country going to get helped? Will someone step in and fix all this horrible living? I'm sure other men are asking these same questions. Without my family I am alone, and so is our country. We are not united by any sense of pride or patriotism during this hard time. We walk slowly through dust and torn trails of hopeless wondering, in search of empty places. Empty rooms children once filled with joy have now become crowded alleyways filled with suffering and regret. Beautiful homes that once welcomed strangers peacefully offering assistance are now sitting idly as bank owned properties that simply can't help a soul. What do I do? What do we do. | March, 3, 1934

15: Wondering where to go...

16: Hoover &FDR riding together

17: March 6th 1934 Goodbye Hoover. Maybe there can be hope. Now I'm a republican, but FDR had some serious stuff to say about that failure of a man, president Hoover. I couldn't vote, but a man in Nebraska told me all about the election and what was going on. He said Franklin D. Roosevelt was a democrat from New York and that he was going to change this country with some sort of new plan or something. I sure hope he gets started soon because I've given up a whole lot for nothing. I gave up my family to come find work in Nebraska and it has not been worth it. I went from having some sort of life, even if I was jobless, to having nothing at all. I have seen this country for what it is worth. It's not much. I've seen the Hoovervilles. I've slept with the Hoover-blankets and I've seen what a rotten job laissez fair can do. I'm ready to see this country change. I've been patient long enough. I have kept from complaining and crying during this crappy part of my life and I can speak for everyone in the country when I say we are ready to be done with this depression.

18: April 20, 1933 | So much has happened these past few weeks. One of them was President Roosevelt's "New Deal" which are programs that he created to help out with the economy. I hope that these programs will have a positive effect on the Depression. This Depression has been going on for so long I'm beginning to think that it'll never end. I just took a train from Nebraska to North Dakota. I'm hoping to join the CWA or the Civil Works Administration. I've heard that that program was pretty good even though the jobs aren't all that great, but at least its a job that pays. On the other hand, I heard from somebody on the train that they are still having dust storms down in the Midwest. It has gotten really bad down there. I also heard that a lot of them are moving to California to start farming all over again on better soil. I wonder if any of those farmers have had any luck with farming. I don't know if Laura and Todd are still living in Kansas. I don't even know if they're even alive. I know that being in the dust storms can cause dust pneumonia which can be deadly. I just pray to God that they are safe and sound out of Kansas. Maybe someday, I will find them and we can be a family again, but at the moment I don't see that happening. I also pray to God that I will find a job eventually and that this Depression will be over.

19: The new deal will help us all out

20: CWA working on laying pipe

21: August 20, 1933 North Dakota is not so bad. I've been working with the CWA for some time now. It may not be the best program but it's the next part of my life. I started laying sewer pipe. It wasn't that bad, we would stop and build outhouses along the way. The pipe work was tiring but it kept food in my stomach. We would strip and cut huge pipes and lay them beneath the ground. It's really advanced engineering work that is going on, I'm just doing the dirty work. The government seems to be putting in a lot of money to keep up the economy. I think the program is doing something productive at least. Even if FDR says the jobs are temporary, at least the work we are doing will last a long time in America. When I was done with pipe work they moved me to something else. I started working on a public school. We have been doing the construction of the building. This is great, maybe I can even get in touch with Laura and Todd so Todd can start school here. That's a ways away though, were only on the foundation of the building. The plans to build are going to take a while. We have a two room schoolhouse in mind for the children here in North Dakota that will provide a good education. I think education is a great thing. If I had had more time to get a proper education I could have become the successful writer I have always wanted to be. Instead I'm just documenting my simple life in my diary. Hopefully someday someone could look back on what I have written to see what life was really like here in America during this hard time. The country still has a long way to go, but at least we are trying.

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  • By: Brian E.
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  • Title: The Journal of John Clementine
  • A Journal of my experiences as an American during the Great Depression
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  • Published: about 7 years ago