Although some folks might consider the Great Depression ancient history, to anyone who lived through that time, the memories remain vivid. Using her own childhood during that period as inspiration, Anne S. Cottle chronicles the lore and life of the federal project where she grew up in Pender County.
Cottle starts with the history of the land where Penderlea is located and tells how the place came to be chosen as the first federally sponsored experimental farming project in 1933. From there, she explains how the thousands of acres the project covered were prepared for construction of the farm houses, barns, and outbuildings that made up each homestead.
Of course, the human element at Penderlea formed the soul of the place, and Cottle captures that aspect to perfection. Combining personal recollections of Penderlea with plenty of good old-fashioned research, Cottle has crafted a collection of photographs and memories in The Roots of Penderlea that illustrates the way residents worked, worshipped, and watched out for each other.
With 75 years having passed since Penderlea and the New Deal got off the ground, Cottle thoughtfully provides an update on the more recent social and economic changes that have occurred there. As she points out, the place is still on the map, literally and figuratively, astride N.C. Highway 11 in northwestern Pender County.
Covering a unique corner of North Carolina history and geography, The Roots of Penderlea is an interesting look at a time when cash was short but character and kindness were in plentiful supply.
The Publishing Laboratory. 2008, 100 pages, paperback, $19.95. Available through the distributor at (800) 222-9796 or www.blairpub.com.