The fifth grader never ceases to amaze me! When I picked him up this afternoon for our usual Friday night "Gammy-Night" he was working on a little project that involved a shoe box, popsicle sticks, glue, moss, stones, and other assorted things. We had this conversation:
ME: What is this? Is it a school project?
J: It's a Hooverville.
ME: A what? (I knew what a Hooverville is, but was stunned at this point)
J: A Hooverville. Have you ever heard of a president named Herbert Hoover?
J: Well, a lot of people had to live in little communities called Hooverville's while he was president because of the Great Depression. People didn't have much money because there were no jobs. I'm reading a book about this and doing this project.
I'm stunned at this point, really I am. But what surprised me was the conversation that we launched into. I asked him about the Great Depression; he knew a lot. I reminded him about our visit to Mission San Jose(remember Learning a little history) and the fact that the Mission was almost gone and we had discussed the New Deal that created the jobs for the men who worked on rebuilding the walls and the buildings. We had camped at Bastrop State Park one time and I shared with him that it had been built as part of a program to create jobs so people could work again. And, I shared that the River Walk that we love so much was a part of that program.
As we got in the car I told him about my parents and how frugal they were all their lives because they were children during the Depression. Really, he asked. Your parents were children then? So I told him a few stories and as we talked I realized that from his studies and his reading he knew how poor everyone was and how hard life was during that time. We also talked about the lecture I attended at the Quilt Festival about Making Do, Surviving the Great Depression and how my parents never threw anything away that might possibly be reusable.
Tonight I've pulled up some pictures of Hooverville dwellings and showed him so he would have a better understanding of what he is replicating in his project. However, I was well pleased that he has such a realistic understanding of that time in history. I was also pleased that his teacher is covering a subject that is sometimes overlooked or under studied. And, I'm glad that I can share my love of history and historic buildings with him. Perhaps someday he, too, will share his love of the past with someone.