SPHS students ‘Making Do’ through the hard times of the Great Depression

January 10, 2003
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesNone of the 10th grade Santa Paula High School students who took part in “Making Do: Hard Times in the 1930s” California Oil Museum exhibit actually lived through the time of America’s Great Depression, but many now feel they know it.And the defining event that started it all - the Stock Market Crash of October 1929 - is the first thing the students tackled, learning not only what it was but what it meant to the nation’s economy.“Making Do: Hard Times in the 1930s” was prepared by students of Edward Arguelles’ Agricultural Science-Human Services Academies along with Margaret Booker’s 10th grade World History class.The exhibit required the students to research the painful years of the 1930s in Santa Paula and throughout the nation. During their research, the students discovered stories and photos of human hardship and the simple pleasures of everyday life in that decade, known primarily for the Great Depression and the emergence of FDR as president and author of the New Deal.It was during the Great Depression that many families who fled the Dust Bowl migrated to California, with many finding a new home in agriculturally rich Santa Paula.SPHS students also researched the lives of their 1930s contemporaries, and the exhibit shows teen life in Santa Paula.The pain of racism and ignorance of the 1930s is also explored by the student researchers and curators as is the lawless ways of the gangsters that became media stars, from Baby Face Nelson to Ma Barker to John Dillinger, considered folk heroes by some.
The exhibit even includes the menu for what would have been a Depression-era Christmas dinner - heavy on game - and presents that would have been typical in those days.Handsome Vernon Duncan probably did all right for Christmas 1936, the year he graduated from SPHS, but he died fighting in World War II, just one of the profiles of a local kid of the 1930s done by a local kid of the 2000s.Student Jessie Leidig became a big fan of social historian-song master Woody Guthrie, a “big inspiration. . .he was the voice of the era, he gave people hope, his songs showed how things were,” said Leidig, who found biographical information and Guthrie compact music discs on the Internet.Curator John Nichols said he sees the exhibit as “service learning. . .the students serve the community and learn through the exhibit,” which offered numerous facets of the 1930s on the local level - including the Limoneira labor strike - and comic book heroes that kept the nation’s spirits up.The Timmons Foundation sponsored exhibit will continue through January 19.Call 933-0076 for more information about the exhibit and COM hours and admission costs.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.