Seneca County NY Democratic Committee

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Voices of our Members

Do you ever wonder why Democrats are Democrats? What makes us tick? What do we really believe, and why? On this page, members of the Seneca County Democratic Committee share their experiences and thoughts. Get to know us better-- you might like us!  

The Works Progress Administration Saved my Father's Family from Despair and Hunger in Terrible Times

By Gail Dalmat

Recently I found myself going through some family photographs and found some of my Uncle Jack, who joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from Oklahoma, and was sent to Idaho to build roads and a park including cabins. The CCC was one of the many New Deal programs that helped my family at their home/farm in Oklahoma. There was a rolling furlough program at the penitentiary (the main source of cash that could be distributed equitably in rural SW Oklahoma at that time). And there was a program where the Federal government came to each farmer, purchased their livestock for cash, and then returned ownership of the livestock to the farmer (cash and food). But the CCC built many of our State Parks right here in New York, so it has special meaning for me now.

My parents came to adulthood in very different situations at that time. My mother lived in a town in northern NJ and her father was a chemical engineer who helped Mazola and other corporations adapt corn into margarine and corn sweeteners (that was a priority because sugar as well as butter/dairy products were going to higher-priority use rather than to consumers). Aside from rationing, I don't think they suffered overly during the Depression and World War II. To this day she is a Herbert Hoover Republican. My father's family, however, farmed in part of what was the Dust Bowl, and the devastation they experienced was compounded by the Great Depression. They were Southern Democrats who in all other ways were exceedingly conservative. But pragmatics win out here, and they swore by all that FDR did.

When Obama was elected, many people like me lobbied Obama to create some kind of New Deal. It would have overcome the problems of the Great Recession, leaving us in a much better condition, instead of bailing out the banks. Today, maybe sufficient numbers of people are frightened enough that it could be implemented. Senator Chuck Schumer has suggested it could be done.

Regarding specifics, of course, as a Progressive, I support Bernie Sanders' platform and proposals, including the Green New Deal, Expanded Medicare for All, his Emergency Response to the Corona Pandemic, and Revitalizing Rural America. His plans are detailed and well-thought-out.

Here are some of the pictures my Uncle Jack brought back from his time in the CCC.