Summer 2016 Newsletter

During the hardest of times, the Great Depression, government invested in jobs, education, art, theater, parks, and infrastructure. The New Deal rebooted the economy, rekindled Americans’ spirits, and built the foundation for our nation’s future prosperity.  The question is, Why not now? We’re working to document, preserve, and rekindle what the New Deal stood for and achieved. Here’s a sampling of stories that we think will inform, surprise, and delight. Please share our newsletter and give us the thumbs up on Facebook. Help us spread the word: We need a new New Deal today!

Thanks, always, for your support.

In this Issue:


Centenarian Rupert Lopez Recalls Life in the CCC

Rupert joined the CCC in 1935

Rupert Lopez
Rupert joined the CCC in 1935Photo Courtesy “Corrales Elders”

Rupert Lopez is 100 years old. He joined the CCC when he was about 18, serving from 1935 until 1940. As a CCC applicant Rupert had to pass a physical exam to show that he possessed three natural masticating teeth and was at least five feet tall and 107 pounds. Rupert said he had to eat a lot of bananas to make the weight requirement. New Mexico enrollees gained an average of 20 pounds in the CCC.

Enrollees could take a variety of evening classes while serving in the CCC. Rupert learned English from a teacher in Camp SCS-8-N, Catron Ranch in San Ysidro, New Mexico. In 1937 the CCC sent Rupert to college in Las Cruces. He later returned to the CCC as a Local Experienced Man. So-called “LEMs” lived in local communities and served as foremen overseeing less trained CCC workers.

Rupert Lopez in the fourth man from the right in the front row. From Civilian Conservation Corps Official Annual 1936, Albuquerque District, 8th Corps Area, page 46.

Roster of men in CCC camp SCS-8-N in San Ysidro.
Rupert Lopez in the fourth man from the right in the front row. From Civilian Conservation Corps Official Annual 1936, Albuquerque District, 8th Corps Area, page 46.Photo Courtesy Dirk Van Hart

Rupert taught and supervised the production of adobe bricks used to build the Old Santa Fe Trail Building, a National Historic Landmark. The outstanding Spanish revival-style building served as the headquarters for the National Park Service Southwest Region for 56 years, from 1939 until 1995.  Rupert is the last living member of the CCC who worked on the building, In 1940 Rupert moved to Corrales where he lives today.

On June 24, 2016, Rupert attended a ceremony in Santa Fe where he received the Kathy Flynn Award for his service during the New Deal.

The following was excerpted from an interview conducted by Deborah and Jon Lawrence at his house on Rupert’s Lane in Corrales, New Mexico, on July 11, 2015.

When I went to the CCC in 1935, I had just finished high school. I was about 18.
At that time I was working for 75 cents a day. When I joined the CCC, they put us on a truck. They wouldn’t tell us where we were going. They went west, out to the other side of San Ysidro, to the Espiritu-Santo Grant. There was a camp right there. It’s up off old Highway 44. Now it belongs to the Indians. There still are adobe ruins there.

Rupert and Reymunda Lopez

Rupert and Reymunda Lopez
Wedding photo, 1939Photo Courtesy "Corrales"

When we got to the camp, the buildings were up. They still needed sewer and electrical lines. We worked with picks and shovels. I did that for probably two weeks. In high school, I had tried to take bookkeeping and typing classes because I wanted to clerk.   When the CCC found out that I had finished school, they made me a warehouseman. A warehouseman could get $36 (a month) just to hand out the tools and supplies to the workingmen. Then the superintendent put me to typing and taking care of all of the books for the mileage in the trucks, the tools, the supplies, and so on. I took care of that.

The big wheels (at camp) were army captains and lieutenants. But the foremen, they were working people.

When we first went into Camp 8, there were already some people from Texas there.
We called them Tejanos. We had some problems with them. They didn’t like us. At meals, the tables were long. We ate on one side of the table; they were on the other side. They wouldn’t pass us anything. So we began to fight in the mess hall—Tejanos against the Spanish. Finally the commander stopped the fighting. He said, “If you want to fight, I am going to give you some gloves.” And he did. We didn’t fight with fists anymore, just gloves. We had good fighters, good boxers. They learned that our boys were better fighters than theirs. Little by little, all of the Texans went “over the hill.” (They deserted).

When I was working as a clerk at the camp, they started giving grants for college. They wanted me, so I went to college in Las Cruces. I thought it would get me all the way through college, but it only lasted for six months. There were only two men from the whole group who had enough money to finish school.

I worked on farms and I worked awhile at motorcycle delivery. I had an Indian 1932. Later, I traded my motorcycle for a 1932 Chevy.

Camp 8, with all the people, was transferred to Santa Fe. When I went back into the CCC, I was a Local Experienced Man. For Local Experienced Men, they chose men who could do something special, like making adobe. That was the only way that I could go in the CCC again. I was a leader. I was in charge. There were only two Spanish foremen,  the others were all Anglos. They assigned me to teach the men how to make adobes for that big (NPS) building in Santa Fe. We made probably 500 adobes a day. It was hard work. It was a big project.

Rupert Lopez on his tractor

Rupert Lopez on his tractor
Lopez farmed 11 acres at his home in Corrales, NM. He also had an orchard of 400 peach and apple trees.Photo Courtesy Dirk Van Hart

I was married October 1939 during my tenure in the CCC. I met Reymunda in downtown Albuquerque at the skating rink. We used to skate together. We rented a house in Santa Fe—five dollars a month. We lived in Agua Fria, on the south side of that spring. Agua Fria was a spring that came in from the mountains. I used to travel on the motorcycle in the morning to be there at the CCC. I was a sargeant.

There was a time after I got married when I would go to school at night and take classes in English. Then I passed my examination for civil service and I got out. The CCC was being ended and they were closing a lot of camps. I got my discharge from the CCC in 1941. I went to work for Kirtland Air Force Base as a warehouseman. Then I transferred as an inspector to the National Guard. When I was in the National Guard, I was one of the guys who were appointed as an inspector to work in Korea. My wife stayed here. I was there for 18 months on active duty. Then I retired from the military.

When I came to Corrales they right away made me mayor domo of the church. At a meeting, we decided that our church was too old and it was cracking. Too much money was needed to make repairs. Since I was the chairman, Father Baca told me to make a drawing of a new church. So I drew a schematic of the church that I wanted. We held a fiesta and we collected enough money to make the new church. I was involved with the Planning and Zoning commission for 7 years, and I was on the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission, and the Sandoval County Senior Affairs Board for 19 years and with the local Soil Conservation Service.

Then I used to farm. Chiles, tomatoes–you name it, I used to sell it.  I would drive my produce as far as Grants and Manzano. I drove a tractor up until I was 98. I just stopped driving it two years ago. Now my son does the farming.

Deborah and Jon Lawrence are the co-authors of Contesting the Borderlands (University of Oklahoma Press, April 2016) and Violent Encounters (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011). They co-edit and publish Desert Tracks, the bi-annual publication of the Southern Trails Chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association. Deborah is the author of Writing the Trail: Five Women's Narratives (University of Iowa Press, 2006). The authors thank Dirk Van Hart, Jerry Rogers, Ernesto Ortega, and Kathy Flynn, whose assistance made this interview possible.

The Lost Artworks of the Civilian Conservation Corps

L to R - B.T. Jones, Park Interpreter, Wally Scherrey, Park Superintendent; Richard Davies, Executive Director Arkansas Parks and Tourism (Davies’ grandfather directed the park’s CCC camp); Kathleen Duxbury; Rachel Engebrecht, Park Interpreter; and Gardner Yeaw.

“Section of the Lodge” and “View From the Lodge” by CCC artist George Gordon Snyder were recently returned to Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton, Ark.
L to R – B.T. Jones, Park Interpreter, Wally Scherrey, Park Superintendent; Richard Davies, Executive Director Arkansas Parks and Tourism (Davies’ grandfather directed the park’s CCC camp); Kathleen Duxbury; Rachel Engebrecht, Park Interpreter; and Gardner Yeaw.Courtesy Kathleen Duxbury

In 2005, thirty years after the death of my father, George Duxbury, his treasured photo albums resurfaced; fragile books containing a photographic record made during his 1938-1941 service in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in New York, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

The location of my father’s first CCC camp, as luck would have it, was three hours away, at Gilbert Lake State Park in the Catskill Mountains—a park created by CCC labor that also had a campground and CCC museum. Believing all my CCC questions would be answered, my husband, Gardner Yeaw, and I loaded our recently purchased 1978 Bluebird Wanderlodge motor home, hooked up our tow vehicle, packed the albums, and set out for Laurens, New York on our maiden voyage.

"Sixteen Tons" passing through Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower National Monument

"Sixteen Tons" passing through Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower National Monument
Kathleen and Gardner have journeyed 80,000-mile (and counting) to discover CCC Artworks.
Photo Credit: Kathleen Duxbury

We were impressed by our first visit to a CCC-planted forest and park, but surprised to learn that the Hartwick CCC camp where my father had lived was long forgotten. It was suggested we visit the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

What began as a quest to learn more about my father and the CCC may have remained at an uncomplicated level had it not been for the discovery of a candid black-and-white photograph of a young artist taken at a New York Adirondack CCC camp.

His name was Hans Held and the chance discovery of his portrait, along with his 28-foot CCC mural we later found displayed at the Adirondack Museum, would dramatically change the focus and direction of our research travels and introduce us to a quiet part of American art history—the CCC art project.

Brandon served with the CCC at Sibley State Park in New London, Minn. Kathleen found this ink drawing, published 1937 in the CCC newspaper, Happy Days. The original has not been located.

“Progress Through the CCC,” by Arthur Brandon
Brandon served with the CCC at Sibley State Park in New London, Minn. Kathleen found this ink drawing, published 1937 in the CCC newspaper, Happy Days. The original has not been located.
Photo Credit: Kathleen Duxbury

Begun under the Public Works of Art program (PWAP) and lasting from 1934–1937, the CCC art program was administered by a special section within the Treasury Department. Some 300 young artists were sent to CCC camps around the country to make a pictorial record of life and work in the Corps, considered the greatest conservation movement in American history. Artists were instructed to send their watercolors, oils, drawings and sculptures to Washington D.C. The Treasury Department allocated the art to various government agencies, federal buildings, including Congressional offices, schools, and CCC camps for display.

Over the years many works were removed to storage and forgotten; others went missing. Some remained in place but lost their provenance as part of the legacy of the CCC.

Fitzgerald served with CCC Co. #935 at Point Defiance State Park, Tacoma, Wash. This watercolor is now part of the FDR Library and Museum collection.

“Sunlight In the Timber,” by Edmund James Fitzgerald, 1935
Fitzgerald served with CCC Co. #935 at Point Defiance State Park, Tacoma, Wash. This watercolor is now part of the FDR Library and Museum collection.Courtesy of FDR Library

Hoping that these artworks might be identified and appreciated by the public has led Gardner and me on an 80,000-mile road trip through the lower 48 states. Our research is focused on creating a readable and accurate record of the program and artists, and tracking down CCC artworks. Happily, circumstances at times have aligned to allow for the proper identification, procurement, recognition, and public display of several pieces.

We are fortunate and extremely grateful to the many archives, museums, universities, libraries, societies, clubs, organizations, other researchers, CCC artists’ families, and many wonderful people who share our appreciation and quest for knowledge of this little known New Deal art program. Our hope is that any and all CCC art will be protected, treasured, and valued for the history it depicts and ultimately be publicly displayed. This would honor what was clearly the original intent when this quiet part of American art history, the CCC art program, was personally approved by President Roosevelt.

Kathleen Duxbury is a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) researcher, author, and CCC baby living in New Jersey. She is the author of CCC ART – Marshall Davis – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and is currently working on the story of the art and artists who inspired the CCC statues. kathleenduxbury.com. Her blog can be found at newdealstories.com.

New Deal Activist Kathy Flynn Honored As “Living Treasure”

New Deal activist Kathy Flynn

Kathy Flynn
New Deal activist Kathy Flynn
Photo Credit: Clyde Mueller Courtesy of Santa Fe New Mexican

Kathy Flynn, founder of the National New Deal Preservation Association (NNDPA), was recently named a “Living Treasure” for her work documenting and preserving New Deal history, sites, and artworks.

Kathy, a long-time New Mexico resident, grew up in Texas amidst the Dust Bowl. Her public service career included working as a reporter, a hospital administrator, and civil servant. Her job as Deputy Secretary of State sparked her interest in the New Deal. She later founded the NNDPA in order to document and preserve the New Deal’s legacy.

New Mexico is exceptionally rich in New Deal history. Courthouses, post offices, libraries, hospitals, theaters, schools, and more, were built in cities and small towns throughout the state. During the Great Depression, more than 50,000 New Mexicans got work with the Civilian Conservation Corps. Kathy tracked down and interviewed all the New Mexico CCC members she could find. She also set out to recover New Deal murals and other artworks that had gone missing or been painted over. She authored three books about the state’s New Deal history, art, and architecture.

Kathy has raised awareness of the New Deal through advocacy, education programs, commemorative events, and tours. She recently hosted a public forum that brought several descendents of the original New Dealers to Santa Fe to share memories of their famous families and their achievements—Nina Roosevelt Gibson, the granddaughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; David Giffen, the great grandson of Harry Hopkins who was head of the Works Progress Administration; Tomlin Coggeshall, the grandson of FDR’s Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet; T.J. Walker, the grandson of Frank Walker, an FDR confidante who coordinated the New Deal agencies; and David Douglas, the grandson of Vice President Henry Wallace, who also served as FDR’s Secretary of Agriculture.

Last fall, the NNDPA’s archive of articles, books, and ephemera of the New Deal that Kathy had assembled over decades became part of the permanent collection at the John Gaw Meem Library at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Last spring, Kathy was named “One of Ten Who Made A Difference,” an annual award presented by the Santa Fe New Mexican, and was honored by Santa Fe Living Treasures, a nonprofit organization that recognizes elders who have generously served their communities. Kathy’s oral history will be soon be available to the public at the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library in Santa Fe.

Susan Ives is communications director for the Living New Deal and editor of the Living New Deal newsletter.

The Biggest Post Office Mural in the Biggest Town in the Biggest State

Mural “View of Alpine,” by Jose Moya del Pino

Mural “View of Alpine,” by Jose Moya del Pino
Alpine, Texas
Photo Credit: Jordan McAlister

This is definitely NOT a tall tale. In 1939, Bay Area artist Jose Moya del Pino entered the Treasury Department Section of Fine Arts competition for the post office mural in San Antonio, Texas. Depicting the Alamo and Sam Houston, he hoped to win the commission, but it was not to be. As consolation he won the commission for the newly built post office the small West Texas town of Alpine with his entry, “View of Alpine.” When he got word of his commission, Moya could not travel the 1,400 miles from his San Francisco studio to do his research, so he wrote to the local postmistress for help. Promotional materials on Alpine, describing itself as “the biggest town in the biggest county in the biggest state in the union,” became his sources.

Moya’s initial pencil sketch presents the central theme: the benefits of the post office to local Sul Ross College students and cattle-raising residents through books. The sketch includes the nearby landscape, college campus, cattle, and horse. Further in the process, color was added and details of the local landscape took shape. For the cowboy, Moya found inspiration in California, recalling in his oral history, “There was a fellow that lived around here, Mr. MacNear, who had a $40 hat, a Texas hat, and boots. I asked him if he would pose for a mural, and he said he would.”

Post Office, Alpine, Texas

Post Office
Alpine, Texas

Moya completed the mural in oil and accompanied the work to Alpine for the 1940 installation and unveiling. In his oral history, he recalled the local reaction,

“Oh, they were pleased. Some of the old-timers came to the installation and made a lot of comments. They would say, ‘Mr. Artist, I think it’s very good, your mural. Those hills, they are just like the hills of Alpine.’ Then a couple of students who studied at the college came and said, ‘But you know, one thing that is very wrong. You put a cowboy reading a book. And a herd of cattle so near the cowboy. That would never happen in Alpine, never. A herd of cattle never comes into town. They stay in the distance, long out in the range.’ And there was criticism like that.”

Alpine is still many miles from a big city, but it has enough attractions for a top ten list in the February 12, 2015 edition of Texas Monthly. The old post office is now the Brewster County Appraisal District office, but the mural remains, attracting tourists on the lookout for the Living New Deal.

Quotes and background information on the mural are taken from the Oral history interview with Jose Moya del Pino, 1964 Sept. 10, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution at http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-jos-moya-del-pino-12903 .

Fran Cappelletti volunteers as Librarian for the Jose Moya del Pino Library/Ross Historical Society, www.moya-rhs.org, based in an 1864 Octagon House at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross, California. He writes about local history and helps to maintain a collection of books, photos and oral histories.

San Francisco Zoo Artworks a Legacy of WPA Women

Mosaic “Children and Their Animal Friends,” by Esther, Helen, and Margaret Bruton

Mosaic “Children and Their Animal Friends,” by Esther, Helen, and Margaret Bruton
Mothers Building at San Francisco Zoo
Photo Credit: Barbara Bernstein

Designed by noted architect George W. Kelham and completed in 1925, the Mothers Building was for years a refuge for women and their children visiting the San Francisco Zoo. The mosaics and murals— all by women artists hired by the Works Progress Administration— were added between 1934 and 1938.

“Saint Francis—” the patron saint of animals and namesake of the city of San Francisco–and “Children and their Animal Friends” are two elaborate mosaics at the entrance to the building. Sisters, Margaret, Helen, and Esther Bruton, well-known artists in the Bay Area, designed the mosaics in Alameda, California by laying out the tiles on the floor of their studio. They installed the murals panel-by-panel at the Mothers Building in 1934. The works are inscribed “To the memory of Delia Fleishhacker,” the matriarch of the San Francisco philanthropists that donated the zoo to the city.

Mothers Building

Mothers Building
San Francisco ZooFriends of the Mothers Building

Inside the Mothers Building are four colorful murals that depict the story of Noah’s Ark painted by Helen Forbes and Dorothy Pucinelli. The egg-tempera murals cover more than 1,200 square feet along four walls. The mural on the north wall depicts the building of the ark; on the west wall, the loading the animals; on the south wall, the landing of the ark; and on the east wall, the disembarking of the animals.

The San Francisco Zoo is only a few blocks from the ocean. Over the years moisture from the salt water and fog have taken a toll on the murals. The mural on the west wall of the animals entering the ark is in desperate need of repair.

WPA artists Helen Forbes and Dorothy Puccinelli

WPA artists Helen Forbes and Dorothy Puccinelli
Painting the murals at the Mothers BuildingPhoto Courtesy: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Sadly, the Mothers Building itself has been closed for ten years, awaiting seismic work. The San Francisco Historical Preservation Fund, the Recreation and Park Department, the Art Commission, and the San Francisco Zoological Society commissioned a needs assessment and restoration plan. The report estimates it would take $5 million to bring the building up to code. A fundraising effort is underway.

Anyone having photos of the murals taken before the damage occurred is asked to contact Richard Rothman, [email protected]. The photos will be used to guide the mural restoration.

Water damage

Water damage
West Wall mural Mothers BuildingPhoto Courtesy Friends of the Mothers Building

Woman and Water Buffalo

Woman and Water Buffalo
Detail “The Story of Noah’s Ark” mural at Mothers BuildingPhoto Courtesy Friends of the Mothers Building

Richard Rothman has worked for many years to protect WPA art in San Francisco and is leading the charge to get the Mothers Building reopened. He became interested in WPA-era murals in the late 1970s while a tour guide for San Francisco Heritage. His advocacy helped spur the restoration of the murals at Coit Tower where he gives City Guide tours.