Manuscripts/Mixed Material [WPA Road]
The youngest of the crew is around 21. He is of slight build, but his arm muscles stand out like heavy cord, and his shovel seems a toy in his hands. The oldest on the project is a man nearing sixty. His skin is pot black and shriveled; his form tough and wiry. He is said to be one of the best workers on the road - and the ugliest.
Several months ago the men over 65 were discharged since they were supposedly eligible for social security benefits. The superintendent says that if the truth is known they were really unfit for hard work. And one of them grumbled continually and spread dissatisfaction among the others. “The trifling ones are all weeded out now,” the superintendent asserts.
The white men have from two to three dependents; some of the Negroes as many as ten. All of them say that without this government work they could not hope to clothe and feed their families and pay the doctor bills. Over and over again they have tried to get outside jobs but there was no use, the foreman says. He for one has reached the conclusion that private industry has no jobs to offer men who have been down on their luck since the depression set in and who are getting along in years. “When a man reaches forty it is all over for him. Friends and politicians have made me promises but they were just talking, trying to let me down easy,” the ex-army officer remarks.