FDR's bank holiday' amplified the Depression

The Tribune-Democrat news article of April 1, “Census figures will offer snapshot of life in 1930,” paints a very rosy picture of Johnstown in 1930. The reason the Depression had not “set in” in Johnstown was because the market crash of '29 had happened only two months before.
When FDR declared a bank holiday in 1933, and several banks did not reopen, that is when the Depression really “set in,” not only in Johnstown but all over. One of the banks that failed was Title, Trust and Guarantee. That's where the school savings were held “in trust.” To the best of my knowledge, no one ever recovered a nickel.
Additional memories of the '30s:
A favorite is how one news agency bribed a ham radio operator to broadcast a story that the Que had broken so that it could get pictures of people running for the hills. (Note to The Tribune-Democrat: It was not either of your papers.)

Dick Fisher formerly of Johnstown, resides in Vienna, W Va.

Plumber 'drafts' eldest

In the 1930s, we lived in Johnstown's Moxham section, where my father's plumbing shop was in the rear of our home.
The master plumber thought it was necessary for the eldest son, at an early age, to learn pipe and fittings sizes for all kinds of material so that when the burlap bags were returned from jobs with unused material, someone would be able to return these items to their respective bins for use another time
Always, the journeymen filled bags with material in excess of needs for any job and consequently there seemed to be an unending pile to restock. This chore also applied to new shipments received during the week.
A boy in his teens, as a member of a family of plumbers, had the added chore of collecting all of the lead water and waste pipes returned to the shop during the week.
The lead pipes were cut into short pieces with an ax and placed in a hot cast-iron lead pot. As the lead pieces were melted, the impurities that rose to the surface were skimmed off as dross and cast aside. The cleaned molten lead was poured by ladle into cast-iron molds, creating five-pound cakes. These cakes later were remelted and poured into the joints of cast iron soil pipe.
The process was not without risk. As old pipes were cut; quite often water would be trapped inside and with the ends sealed in the cutting process, each piece became a steam-propelled bomb when the whole pot of molten lead exploded.
Through the years, the shop ceiling got plastered with lead splatters from this activity

Robert M. Livingston is a resident of Johnstown.


Campaign efforts to organize Johnstown's steel workers from 1936 to 1941 oftern resulted in violence, including this scrap outside a mill gate.

'Hobo Jungle'
Sandyvale housed makeshift camp

In the 1930s, we lived in Johnstown's Hornerstown section near Sandyvale Cemetery and the B.&O Railroad crossing.
The crossing was where unemployed men, who rode the rails from city to city looking for work, jumped off freight trains to stay awhile in the “hobo jungle” - a makeshift camp - in Sandyvale Cemetery. As a result, there was a steady parade of hoboes at our backdoor asking for something to eat in exchange for work. My mother
most often gave them a fried-egg sandwich, coffee and homemade pie - which they ate on the back porch.
One time she offered a man cookies, but he said, “I hear you make good pie, ma'am, so if you have any I'd appreciate that”
He got the pie plus the cookies.
Another time a man appeared with a bloody gash on his forehead. He said he fell when he jumped off the freight.
Before giving him lunch, my
mother washed his forehead and applied a bandage.
Sometimes they didn't ask for prepared food, but for onions, carrots or potatoes for a stew they were making at Sandyvale with meat scraps from Stuver's Meat Market on Homer Street
In the summer months, early risers would see hoboes leaving Horner Street front porches, where they had spent the night on gliders and swings. The only time I saw the hoboes was at our backdoor, because I was told never to go into Sandyvale unless with an adult.
But as I recall, the hoboes never caused major problems.

Betty Martin Marky is a resident of Ligonier

1-room school; 9 pupils

I remember that 1934 was my first year in school. I went to the Dry Ridge School situated between Manns Choice and Buena Vista in Bedford County There was one female teacher for all nine kids.
We walked to school a mile and a half one way We had outside toilets, and a crock jar in the corner for water. Two classmates were chosen by the teacher to walk to the nearest farm for water from a pump. We carried the water back in a bucket.
The one-room school was heated by a pot-bellied stove that sat in the center of 'the room.
When it was your turn to be taught, one or two kids would go to the front of the room. Some grades had only one child. I was in a grade with Mary Turner who now lives on Dry Ridge Road, Bedford County

William K Smith is a resident of Johnstown.

Life was simple but happy

Born in the only home still standing in the 600 block of Locust Street, Johnstown, I have great memories. For many years, we had gaslights on the first floor, kerosene lamps for the bedrooms and an outhouse in the back yard.
Life was very simple but happy. Highlights were visits to C.A. Young slaughterhouse on Matthews Street; watching a circus unloading on Railroad Street; and cattle being unloaded from railroad cars at Armour's Packing House.
Many times we watched as hooded men burned crosses on Green Hill at the top of Locust Street.
While we children in our area played under the
corner streetlights, our mothers socialized outdoors and kept an eye on us.
St. John Gualbert's convent was just an alley away from our house so we (me and my siblings) were “go-fers” for the sisters, to the drug stores, etc.
My passion was roller skating. With few autos, it was safe to skate down Main Street to the Point.
My favorite was skating down to the “Old Democrat” building to visit Dad, who worked 5p.m. to 3a.m.
I could go on and on.

Ruth (Adams) Widmann is a resident oj Jonnstown.

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