4 thoughts on “Vanport, circa 1944

  1. It’s always nice to see a memory of Vanport with a little “life” in the picture! πŸ™‚
    It’s a nice change from the dull, the grey, the decimated, the homeless and the rest of the aftermath!
    Thank you! πŸ™‚

  2. While Victory Gardens grew around the state, they perhaps had their biggest impact in the urban setting of the Portland area. Thousands of new gardeners took to the plots. By May 1943, just the children alone were cultivating an amazing 135 acres of land, with more than 2,000 young people participating in the Victory Garden program. All of the schools took part by instructing fifth grade through high school students during class time. The actual gardening would be done outside of school hours with each student being registered for an individual garden area. “Important-looking” V-garden signs that included no trespassing warnings were also given to each student. Concerned with rising juvenile delinquency, school authorities thought it was “better for children to have gardens than to be entirely unoccupied when school is over.” And at least one teacher, Miss Maude Mattley, thought that the children made good gardeners: “…it is safe to say that most of these young gardeners were far better prepared to start out with a hoe and a rake than the average adult victory gardener.”(7)
    Meanwhile, adults streamed into Portland area classes to become better gardeners. The local victory garden committee offered the free classes throughout the city. By May 1943, 12 classes were underway with more planned. While some children attended, most of the students ranged from 20 years old to over 70. Taught by experienced volunteers, the weekly classes took place in schools, private homes, or “wherever the requisite space is available.” Lessons highlighted each class but question and answer sessions were a popular component. According to one teacher: “We try to keep the subject matter seasonal and very practical. What to do this week, what things to plant, how to care for the things already set out…just whatever is timely.” While many of the classes were held in the evening, some daytime classes were offered for the large number of defense industry workers on “swing shift,” often from 4 p.m. to midnight. The classes were becoming popular in the defense housing areas and organizers wanted to “start a class for gardeners in Vanport City and Kaiserville, and have more than 200 names signed up for membership.”

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