WPA Workers Remembered in New Book

Tuesday, December 9th 2008, 3:16 pm
By: News 9

By Darren Brown, News9.com INsite team

There's been much discussion lately about "economic stimulus," and "putting America back to work."  For Oklahomans used to hard work, that's nothing new. 

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt unveiled his "New Deal" back in 1935, the country was in economic turmoil.  Unemployment was at record levels, but Americans didn't necessarily want a handout, or a dole.  They wanted to work.

The Works Progress Administration fulfilled that need.  It provided Americans a means to work and feed their families. 

The Oklahoma WPA built roads, bridges, libraries, schools, and many other structures that still stand today. 

"Dug wells, built storm cellars--you name it, the WPA did it," said Marjorie Barton.  Barton is the author of "Leaning on a Legacy, the WPA in Oklahoma."

"I wanted people to understand the vastness of the program," Barton said.  "So the chapters in this book reveal that--the conservation program, of course the public buildings, and then the defense projects that we had, and the work in sewing rooms and canning rooms."

Barton's book is filled with photos of Oklahoma's WPA legacy, most of them recent.  She also did her share of traveling.

"It could never be a book that went out and told you exactly about ever school that was built and every building that was built, I mean I don't think anybody has that kind of time, or ability."

"They were teased about leaning on a shovel, so the joke was that WPA stood for 'We piddle around', 'We poke along,' Barton said.  "So I decided that they--so what if they leaned on a shovel, they were leaning on a legacy, because we still have it --we still have much much of the work that they did."