The difference between then and now is that the 1930s Hooverville residents were treated sympathetically by the public and, more importantly, by city officials. In July, 1931, a judge suspended the sentences of 22 unemployed men sleeping in Central Park gave each one $2 out of his own pocket. In September, 1932, 29 men were arrested "with apologies and good feelings on both sides in what the Parks Department described as Hoover Valley.
How things change.
Perhaps the most famous Hooverville was the one that grew in Washington D.C. populated by men of the Bonus Expeditionary Army. In May, 1924, Congress overrode a veto by President Calvin Coolidge and enacted the World War Adjusted Compensation Act which granted each veteran a dollar for each day of domestic service and $1.25 for each day of overseas service. A small amount, $50, was paid immediately with rest deferred to be paid in 1945. By the spring of 1932 about 43,000 marchers, 17,000 mostly out of work World War I veterans, their families and affiliated groups had gathered in Washington DC to demand early payment of the bonus.
On July 28, 1932, after unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with the marchers, U.S. Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered the veterans removed from all government property. When the Washington police tried to dispose the adamant marchers they met with resistance, shots were fired and two veterans were wounded and later died. President Herbert Hoover then ordered the army to clear the veterans' campsite. Enter now three actors in the tragic theater that followed, two villains and a neutral who would all later become American heroes, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower.
In an earlier post I included this item:
ALBANY -- In a tense battle of wills, state troopers and Albany police held off making arrests of dozens of protesters near the Capitol over the weekend even as Albany's mayor, under pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration, had urged his police chief to enforce a city curfew.
The situation intensified late Friday evening when Jennings, who has cultivated a strong relationship with Cuomo, directed his department to arrest protesters who refused to leave the city-owned portion of a large park that's across Washington Avenue from the Capitol and City Hall.
At the Capitol, in anticipation of possibly dozens of arrests, a State Police civil disturbance unit was quietly activated, according to officials briefed on the matter but not authorized to comment publicly. But as the curfew neared, the group of protesters estimated at several hundred moved across an invisible line in the park from state land onto city property.
"We were ready to make arrests if needed, but these people complied with our orders," a State Police official said. However, he added that State Police supported the defiant posture of Albany police leaders to hold off making arrests for the low-level offense of trespassing, in part because of concern it could incite a riot or draw thousands of protesters in a backlash that could endanger police and the public.
A police official added, "We don't have those resources, and these people were not causing trouble The bottom line is the police know policing, not the governor and not the mayor."
And what are these scofflaws doing that requires that the Blue Meanies attack with such force and violence; they're protesting the fact that their future has been stolen from them by the Hidden-Persuader Men who've bought the government we all thought was supposed to work for us. They're protesting the fact that 46.2 million of all Americans and 25 percent of the very young live below the poverty line. They're protesting that roughly 14 million employable Americans are out of work and they're protesting that millions of homes, IRAs, pension funds and money meant for education were stolen by corrupt, greedy bankers and investors and no one did anything about it. They're guilty of crimes such as staying in a public park beyond an arbitrarily established curfew or standing on a public sidewalk after being told to leave or not having a permit to assemble and petition our government for redress of these wrongs. Sometimes they're just guilty of providing food or medical care for those who need it. Essentially, they are protesting for you and me and they are protesting because things are wrong in America and no one else was doing anything about it.
Some other Depression era terms.
"Hoover blanket" (old newspaper used as blanketing) and "Hoover flag" (an empty pocket turned inside out). "Hoover leather" was cardboard used to line a shoe with the sole worn through. A "Hoover wagon" was an automobile with horses hitched to it because the owner couldn't afford gas.
Much thanks to the Beatles for providing inspiration and greater descriptions than I ever could.
"The Hidden-Persuader Men" large, fat Meanies who are constantly smoking cigars and carrying martinis.
"The Chief Blue Meanie" a high-pitched, flamboyant character set on ruling Pepperland with fear and oppression.