New Hoovervilles

March 5, 2009 at 11:14 am | Posted in News | 2 Comments

hooverville-154In our book The Scavengers’ Manifesto, we wrote about “Hoovervilles”: During the Great Depression, tens of thousands of newly displaced jobless and homeless people erected shantytowns, creating slapdash temporary houses from scavenged scrapwood, scrap metal, cardboard, crates, bricks and other junk. Named after then-President Herbert Hoover, these sad testaments to economic crisis sprawled from coast to coast. At its height, Seattle’s Hooverville (see picture at left) had more than 2,000 shacks. When we wrote that portion of our chapter on the history of scavenging, it was mid-2008 and the current crisis was well in the future, as yet undreamed-of. We mused about whether such things could ever happen again, whether a time could come when Americans would have to build new Hoovervilles.

That time has come. “Sprawling across the skyline, this is the modern-day tent city which has returned to haunt America,” we read in the Daily Mail, beside grim photographs of tents and huts made of wooden pallets lined up along a riverbank. “With its ramshackle tents and flimsy box dwellings, the site in Sacramento, California, is reminiscent of the shanty towns of the Great Depression. Many of the inhabitants are victims of the economic crisis, who have suddenly found themselves unemployed and homeless for the first time.

“The settlements, dubbed Hoovervilles after Herbert Hoover who was blamed for the 1929 crash, are gradually growing in size and spreading across the States as the current downturn continues. It is unclear how many people are now living on similar sites but the figure is likely to number in the tens of thousands.” 

Will those settlements be called something else this time?

California Thrift-Shop Heists

March 5, 2009 at 10:50 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

revivalsIs this another sign of the crashing economy? In the California desert, armed robbers have been hitting … thrift stores! Granted, these are BIG thrift stores, but still.

“Police are searching for a man who robbed a Cathedral City thrift store at gunpoint,” reports local TV station KESQ. “Officers responded to the reported armed robbery at Revivals Thrift Store at 68401 E. Palm Canyon Drive about 6:02 p.m. Wednesday, said Cathedral City police Lt. Earl Moss. The lieutenant said a middle-aged man wearing a black baseball cap, black jacket and blue jeans walked into the store at closing time and pulled a handgun on the clerk. The clerk gave the man an unknown amount of cash and the suspect fled on foot, Moss said. The robber was described as around 5-feet 11-inches tall, weighing about 220 pounds.”

This was not the area’s first thrift-shop heist:

“A suspect is still at large in an armed robbery on the Ramon Road Revivals that took place Dec. 1 of last year.”

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