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First Meals Served Transients In Renovated Pullman Hotel

In scarcely more than a month's time the old Pullman hotel on Miles street occupied by the U. S. Transient bureau has been transformed into a clean, attractive, and home-like bureau by and for the country's "waysider," whom the government is seeking to help by offering food, bed, and clothing until the time again comes when the clouds of despair and deprivation disappear.

The first meals were served at the old hotel Friday night and since that time an average of 75 men have been served three meals a day. From the time the bureau was first opened here the local branch of the Salvation army said last month 2134 meals were served government men at this place.

A proof of the enthusiasm which the men have shown in fitting up the old hotel is indicated in the fact that although the lease for the building was not signed until about noon . Aug. 2, 40 beds were set up and the place cleaned up enough be be habitable by that evening.

Men Enthusiastic

The same enthusiasm has reigned since. Rooms have been scrubbed and scoured and new paint applied. Furniture has been constructed and much in the line of carpentry accomplished. The dining room has been made especially neat and attractive with soft green, cream and white paint. The floor in this room according to the men in charge, was so dirty wire brushes had to be used to cleanse the surface. The old bar has been transformed into a serving counter which can be used as soon as stools have been installed. At present, only 26 can be served at tables at a time.

A kitchen has been arranged directly off the dining room. Lawrence Smith, who came to the headquarters as a transient, has been placed in charge of the kitchen as chef on a payroll basis.

Director Chester G. Seamens in charge of the headquarters, testified to the great interest in cleanliness on the part of the transients. A laundry has been established where each can do his own washing and cleaning. Director Seamens also said the greater majority of the men are also a fine type, retaining a great amount of self respect and extremely cooperative. Those who have come to the place have ranged from all classes and have been educated in practically every form of trade. There are a few, however, the director said, who have been habitual loafers even before the depression and it is these few who have caused unfavorable public attitude towards the others.

Clothing is issued the men on a work basis. Seamens said since this plan tends to build up the morale of the individual and the bureau. Bedding is changed one a week and each day the rooms and cots are thoroughly inspected and cared for.

Need Clothing, Books

Donations of old clothing would be greatly appreciated, the director said, and there is also a need of books, magazines, used furniture, musical instruments, radios, and athletic equipment. There is hardly any time during the day when some members of the place cannot be seen enjoying ball throwing or some minor form of sport on the grounds near the railroad tracks. A gas stove has already been presented by Mrs. Carroll of Conway street who is associated with the Salvation army.

Since June 6 there have been registered 644 men from every state in the union and from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Poland, Russia and Italy. There have even been whole families apply for lodging and board. These, Director Seamens said, have been sent to suitable living quarters. Among those who have come to the headquarters there has been a certified public accountant, several college graduates, and men representing all branches of skilled labor.

In registering the physical description of the individual is taken together with his previous address, employment, length of time employed, and his plans for the immediate future. Careful advice is given regarding the feasibility of his plans. If the plans are not considered worthy, the person may be invited to go to either the Warwick or Wakefield camp. Those, who because of age or some other reason, are unemployable may remain at the hotel where they will be well fed and provided for. There is a constant population of about a dozen who are unemployable.

Registration is carried on from 9 a. m. to 9 p. m. every day except Saturday when it is from 9 to 6. There is no registration on Sunday.

Harry C. Turner, as superintendent, has been busy assisting Director Seamens. Through their friendliness and good spirits the two have made the local branch one of home-like atmosphere and pleasant to those who have been discouraged and lost heart in the surge of times.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This article in the Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette describes the creation of a living space for the "transient" unemployed in an old hotel. The plight of transient workers and farmers, who traveled the nation's highways and roads in search of jobs, was a major local problem during the Depression. Transients created large ramshackle settlements, often called "Hoovervilles," on the edges of cities. Local governments resisted helping the transient poor for fear that aid would attract more "hobos." The New Deal established a special transient program in 1934 that centered on the construction of camps and facilities like the one described in this article. The popular movie "The Grapes of Wrath" (1936) ends with refugees from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl being welcomed into a New Deal transient camp.

 

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"First Meals Served Transients in Renovated Pullman Hotel" article from the Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette
date   Sep 10, 1934
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
width   3.25"
height   12.5"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L08.046


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See Also...

"Government Ready to Buy Butter and Beef for Needy" article from Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette newspaper

"Franklin County to get C.C. Corps Camps in Four of State Forests at Once" article from Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette paper

"For the Softies" editorial from the Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper reprinted from The Holyoke Transcript


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