The Ache In My Heart

Bookwoman on Horseback delivering books to a rural school

The other night, Vickie Carter told me about the “Horseback Librarians” and then followed up by sending me this link: https://dustyoldthing.com/book-women-horseback/.   The images are stunning.  They tugged at my heart.

I had never heard of this particular WPA project before.  Vickie’s mention came right at the time when Nyel and I are watching the Ken Burns “Country Music” series on Netflix — a gazillion more images from our beleagured country during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl years.  And, too, images from the WPA projects and the beginnings of hope for so many.

“Migrant Mother” by Dorthea Lange

I thought of Dorthea Lange and her iconic photographs of migrant California farm workers — photographs taken as part of yet another WPA project.  They  have become symbols of the hard times for those years that the oldest of us only remember through the stories of our parents.   And I thought of how few of us there were gathered  at her funeral in Berkeley in 1965 to pay her tribute.  My heart ached then, too.

I went to a bookshelf in our library to look for my copy of Washington, A Guide to the Evergreen State — part of the WPA Writers Project and published in 1941.  My friend John Snyder had snagged it at a book sale years ago and knew I’d love it.  Again, my heart ached but more because I couldn’t locate the volume.  I’ll probably spend the day looking…

Vintage WPA Poster

Lots of heartache this morning!  Our “hard times” now need a different kind of vision than FDR’s New Deal and the WPA.  I wonder if there is anyone imaginative enough and tough enough and charismatic enough to fill the bill.  And what will the price be this time around?

Not a very cheerful beginning to this Sunday morning, I’m afraid.  I’m off to talk to the chickens about it all.  At least they will cluck-cluck sympathetically — not a solution but it beats a tweeting alternative.

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