Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography
Series 19: Students & Community Residents
William (“Bill”) Blair Jr. – PMSS Student, 1940-1944
BILL BLAIR WWII LETTERS
TAGS: William Blair; Bill Blair; WWII; letters; William Hayes; Pine Mountain Settlement School; Harlan County, KY; farms; farming; cows; dairy; war; military training; work program;
The letters of Bill Blair are addressed to William Hayes who was farm manager at Pine Mountain from 1937 until 1953. Hayes assumed the responsibilities for the farm shortly before his graduation from high school at Pine Mountain in 1937. Bill Blair was one of many students who worked on the farm crew at the School and under farmer Hayes. Bill Blair left in 1944 to join the war effort and was in training when he corresponded with Hayes. The letters contain much information about the farm program at the School, the disciplines learned in the program and the application of those disciplines in military service.
The letters also capture the difficult years of World War II and the pressure it placed on the School and on the families who had children attending Pine Mountain. It records the anxiety of young men going to war and the interruption in the educational processes for young men at the School as well as the interruption in their assistance of their families.
Of particular interest is the recounting of community challenges brought on by the war. Many families saw their young men go off to war leaving the family household to manage farming, food, health issues and other major survival events. In one of his letters Bill Blair describes the breeding of a steer that the farmer provided the Blair family to get them through the war years. Today, “Heifer International,” a world wide organization that provides assistance to families in need, follows the same practice but on a larger scale. It is heartening to know that Pine Mountain used some of the same strategies employed by this later organization to assist their local community in need.