Friday, August 11, 2017

The Hearth

In trying to conquer all understanding of the Great Depression of 1929 -41, I've been reading a few (quite a few), documents written by the distanced, report-voice, of a government employee. Though I've been tempted to speed read, I try to walk down the page taking in all the sites, smells, and sounds.

The report on the Tennessee Valley Authority,  one of Roosevelt's New Deal projects, follows the expected protocol of dull writing. It's informative and interesting, only if one cares about the Tennessee River systems in the 1930s.

The unnamed writer reports on the goals of the TVA. The objectives are to 1) control and insure proper use of water resources, 2) conserve and preserve land resources, and 3) create more widespread use of electrical power.

In the control water resources objective, nine dams were built or had plans to be built and one dam was purchased from private interests. The author continues to explain the increase in electricity power available to people previously without, and job training for the construction workers whose work will end.

It's all pretty dry, but in the end, not even this government worker can resist a human story. I like to think of him or her as a future Literature professor or storyteller.

In the building of dams and the accompanying reservoirs, certain people were displaced and their homes destroyed. The report writer feels that the families, in general, had their lot improved by the forced changes, but he's obviously touched in an objective sort of way when he tells the heart-story, "In moving these people, due regard was paid to their natural feelings, for in many cases they left homes occupied by their families for more than a century. The story is told of one family who resisted removal because it would entail extinguishing the hearth fire that had been burning continuously for three generations. The TVA cut the Gordian knot by keeping the fire going while it moved the family to its new home."

And that folks, is the soft side of history, the human-touch, the heart-warmer, and in this case, government workers who moved not only the table and chairs, but a hearth's burning fire.

No comments: