Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bellevue NYA School 1943

Jim McKee the Historian writer for the Lincoln Journal Star had an article this morning on the Bellevue College which opened in Sept.  1883 in a Church.  Clark Hall was built on  a high hill with a beautiful panoramic view and opened with 35 students in 1884. There was no mention of the years the facility was utilized as an NYA school so this was my letter to him.

       Jim: Your article today on Bellevue College brought back many happy memories. Here are some pictures from the 10 weeks I spent in the NYA school there in early 1943. I graduated from Garland HS in the spring of 1942, worked on construction of the Lincoln Army Airbase during the summer, shucked corn in the fall and enrolled in the National Youth Administration program at Bellevue after the first of January. NRA was established by Executive Order on 6/26/1935 as part of the WPA program for young people 16-25 years of age. By '42 it had been placed under the War Manpower Commission. It was a program to educate, provide work, recreation and counseling to unemployed young people. The Bellevue facility provided training in Welding, Sheet Metal work and as a Machinist. I took Sheet Metal Course. Us boys lived in Fontenelle Hall where the cafeteria was located and took our turns or punishment peeling potatoes and working on KP. The girls lived in Lowrie Hall where we were not allowed to visit. As I remember there were some 50 fellows and about 25 girls there at the time. Some of the boys were paroled to the head of the school from the Omaha Court System but most students were of good character. We were paid a modest amount and produced products for the war effort. Our sheet metal department must have built a thousand tool boxes for the Army. My Dad rented an additional farm  and by late March, wanted me to come home to help with the farming. I understand the NYA program was phased out by Congress later in 1943 since unemployment was no longer an issue. My training helped me to draw and read blueprints in my later career with the USDA Soil Conservation Service but I never had the opportunity to build airplanes at the Martin Bomber Plant for which I was being trained. 
Clark Hall

Dormitories from Clark Hall

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