|By: Leslie Salinero|
In lieu of resorting to the bottle to escape the misery of the 30s, however, one might’ve frequented the local theater, as the film industry began producing motion pictures with sound and some in Technicolor during this decade. Some of my personal favorites of this time are the “monster movies” starring Bela Lugosi (Dracula) and Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, The Mummy). New Orleans, at present-day 623 Canal Street, was actually the site of the first exclusive “movie theater,” called Vitascope Hall, established in 1896. New Orleanians loved to “go to the show” indeed – my grandparents and parents have often recalled what an inexpensive and popular activity this was in their younger days.
The most significant event characterizing the 1930s was the Great Depression, which in part, according to our own records, left Delgado Central Trades School inadequately funded. Though many students would go on to find profitable work in the future, many struggled financially in the 30s. Depression-era Delgado student Abner Menge, a 1939 graduate, built a model of a steam engine as part of his coursework, but couldn’t take his work home because he couldn’t pay the $15 materials fee – just one telltale example of hard times.
Despite financial woes, Delgado continued to teach interesting and valuable skills, such as aviation mechanics training, to its students, who then constructed the Flash and Maid racing aircrafts. See a video of the Flash in action by clicking here.
|Delgado's "Flash" aircraft|
With the establishment of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Delgado provided technical training to workers hired to complete various public works projects around New Orleans. The WPA implemented a broad range of city-wide improvements, including extensive work done in City Park. Below is an example of a 1936 paving job in the park.
During the 1930s, the stage was set for major world conflict with the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi-led Third Reich in Germany in 1933, leading to the outbreak of WWII in Europe in 1939. Indeed, Delgado maintained its reputation for quality trades education, as students trained there would be instrumental in the war effort in the following decade.