Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories/2017/Fall/Section 26/Louis Huber

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Louis Huber
[[File:
Louis and His Produce
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Born Louis Huber
March 4, 1881
New Orleans
Died ?
Occupation Truck Gardener

Overview[edit]

Louis Huber was born on March 4, 1881.  He was a truck gardener who lived in New Orleans.  His wife was interviewed by the Federal Writer's Project to obtain his information[1]

Early Life[edit]

Little is known about the early days of Huber’s life.  However, it is known that Louis Huber was born to Frank Huber and Frances Reiser in New Orleans where the family owned a three-quarter of a mile farm, which they used to make a living.  Besides Huber, Frank and Frances also had two other children.  Unfortunately, one died for unknown reasons, which left Huber with one sister[2]

Education[edit]

Huber was no scholar.  His wife described him as “[not knowing] much” and he only made it to the 4th grade at Gentilly school.  Gentilly was extremely small, containing only one teacher for the entire school.  Despite the lack of school records, Huber was known to be chased up a tree by his teacher if he didn’t know his lessons.  He’d stay there all day in fear that he’d get punished[3]

Early Adulthood[edit]

Huber married his wife, Pauline Philebar, in 1906 in New Orleans where they had their two children.  Their oldest son, William Huber, was born on May 30, 1907 and their other son, Edward Huber was born on January 11, 1909[4]

Occupation[edit]

Huber took both pride and joy in being a truck gardener (a farmer who sells and transports his produce locally).  However, before he settled down and found his passion, Louis worked with the Sewerage and Water Board until he was laid off in 1929 because of the effects of the Great Depression.  Fortunately, Louis was able to farm six of the lots formed from his deceased father's land.  Louis worked the land with his brother-in-law where they grew leeks, mint, snap beans, mirlitons, thyme, sweet corn, radishes, mustard, beets, carrots, eggplants, and turnips.  Huber faced the difficulty of keeping his land fertile, so he purchased $10-$12.5 of manure a year.  The Hubers didn’t make much from these gardens as their reported weekly earnings ranged from $0 to $4.50.  In the words of Louis, it’s because “people plant too damn much”[5].   

Adulthood to Death[edit]

Huber and his family moved several times before they found their family home.  They first stayed on Broad Street, then Orleans Street, and finally moved to his family owned garden in 1916.  Eventually, Huber later built a house in 1928 that contained a bedroom, parlor, bathroom, and kitchen.  Because William and his family also stayed with them, the back porch was later converted into a bedroom and playroom to accommodate his grandchildren, Shirley (age 10) and Bill(age8), The house featured a yard with mulberry, peach, and fig trees.  They even kept a few livestock such as chickens and two baby ducks for the grandchild Shirley.  The Hubers had two vehicles, a car that was used to take stuff to the market and an old truck that often broke down.  Huber later died at an unknown date[6]

Social Issues[edit]

Layoffs from the Great Depression[edit]

The Great Depression was a time of hardship.  Money was scarce, yet when people needed money the most “labor hours fell 35 percent below their pre-Depression [levels]”.  This caused suicides to “peak with unemployment” rates[7].     

The Price of Agricultural Goods During Depressions and Recessions[edit]

Louis Huber was quoted saying that “people plant too damn much”.  In economics this concept is illustrated by the supply and demand graph in which demand is shown to decrease as supply increases. Brainard expounds upon this concept by explaining that a "redistribution of incomes between communities could lead to a decrease in the aggregate purchase of one of the commodities" within the community[8].  In short, lowered wages leads to people buying less.  The profits farmers get for their goods decreases for another reason, inflation on agricultural prices[9].  An increase in agricultural prices doesn't result in more profits for farmers, but as proven by Brainard, people actually lessens the profits gained[10]

The Influence of the Great Depression on Farmers[edit]

During the wake of the industrial revolution, the concepts of commodities and speculations were introduced to the U.S. Midwest and coastal cities[11].  These concepts caused the price of agricultural goods to be vulnerable to wild price changes through the opinions of a few speculators.  This vulnerability was further increased through the passage of the United States Farm Bill in 1916 that provided farmers subsidies for rice, cotton, "corn, soybeans and wheat"[12].  Farmers focused on these crops and used the subsidies to invest in technologies that allowed them to raise their crop harvests.  This combination of subsidies, increasing technology, and the insurance of commodities resulted in very successful farmers who employed workers[13].  However, once the speculations and commodities failed in the midst of the Great Depression, average life savings fell from $939 in the years 1925-1930 to -$1580 in the years 1931-1932[14].  The price of wheat fell from "$1.40 per bushel in July 1929 to 49 cents – a fall in value of about two-thirds in just two years"[15].  These low prices may have helped people struggling in the Great Depression, but the farmers and their employees were left with shriveled paychecks.   

 

  1. Scott, Jeanne. “‘People Plant Too Damn Much...’” In Federal Writers Project, 13,598-13,606. Accessed October 12, 2017. http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/03709/id/1114/rec/1.   
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  6. Ibid
  7. Tapia Granados, José, Ana Diez Roux, and Alejandro Portes . “Life and Death during the Great Depression .” National Academy of Sciences 106, no. 41 (October 13, 2009). http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/40485181.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A9f5aa048112a2dc66379b4170f04c832
  8. Brainard, William. “The Possibility of Oversupply of Local ‘Public’ Goods: A Critical Note .” Journal of Political Economy 75, no. 1 (February 1967). http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1829549.pdf?refreqid=excelsior:865c1e1678ffdcf2335fdb1910af448e.       
  9. Warren, Stanley. “Long-Time Price Changes and Farm Operation.” Journal of Farm Economics 21, no. 1 (February 1939). http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1230631.pdf?refreqid=excelsior:f1e3a69bde5c3da401a91a706fc63720.      
  10. Brainard, William. “The Possibility of Oversupply of Local ‘Public’ Goods: A Critical Note .” Journal of Political Economy 75, no. 1 (February 1967). http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1829549.pdf?refreqid=excelsior:865c1e1678ffdcf2335fdb1910af448e.       
  11. “Agricultural Markets and the Great Depression: Lessons from the Past .” University of Cambridge. University of Cambridge, May 7, 2014. http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/agricultural-markets-and-the-great-depression-lessons-from-the-past.       
  12. Pollan, Michael . “You Are What You Grow.” New York Times. Accessed October 10, 2017. http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/you-are-what-you-grow/.   
  13. Cribb, Julian. .. The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2010.   
  14. Warren, Stanley. “Long-Time Price Changes and Farm Operation.” Journal of Farm Economics 21, no. 1 (February 1939). http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1230631.pdf?refreqid=excelsior:f1e3a69bde5c3da401a91a706fc63720.   
  15. Warren, Stanley. “Long-Time Price Changes and Farm Operation.” Journal of Farm Economics 21, no. 1 (February 1939). http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1230631.pdf?refreqid=excelsior:f1e3a69bde5c3da401a91a706fc63720.