Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Depression Era was a Home Wrecker


Here my boyfriend's dad shares another moment in the life of a child born during the depression era.

Today I am a very satisfied and happy member of the middle class America, retired now for 38 years. I was born in 1924 as the oldest of 7 children in the cold real depression days in the 1920's to early 1930's.  Those were the days when practically everyone was out of work including my dad.  We went many days without 3 meals a day.  I remember one period of 2 weeks where we only had onion and mustard sandwiches for 3 meals a day.  When we moved into a vacated home we had no bed to sleep on.  We slept on the floor near the fireplace and huddled together to keep war.  I remember hunting rabbits with my bb gun.  Many days I would bring home a rabbit or a bird for meat on the table.
Occasionally I had a job picking strawberries at a penny per basket. I also worked on a farm (14 years old) from morning to evening harvesting hay and wheat for 25 cents a day with a luncheon meal provided.  Boy, did I enjoy that meal as the farmers had meat and vegetables for all of their meals.
I remember too how difficult it was for mom and dad to provide shoes and clothes year round for all of us.  We would go the summer and early fall seasons in our bare feet.  For school we would get a pair of tennis shoes.  By winter we had holes in the bottom of our shoes but still had to wear them to school.  Clothing was handed down from one child to another.  Being the oldest I was fortunate to get the new clothes when they were available.  Most of our clothes came from caring neighbors.
When Roosevelt became president he set up food programs from farmer surplus programs.  Boy, was that nice to pick up canned bully beef, flour for bread, rice and beans.  Later they passed out new clothes for the needy.  My dad received a brand new gray herringbone suit which was only good for Sunday church.  However, I attended one high school function where I was happy to be allowed to wear dad's suit. I really felt I looked like the cat's meow which was used to mean spiffy do or sharp.  Later on we were given a double bed where we four boys were happy to share it each night.  It was a little crowded but we kept warm that way.
Later on dad was fortunate enough to be hired on under the WPA (Works Progress Administration) working on the roads.  This wasn't automatic.  You had to have some connections which my dad had.  Once in a while he would find a side job like digging a trench for a drain pipe at a residence.  I was given the job of using the pick and shovel along with my dad.  My brothers were too small to help.
Later on as the years went by the coal mines and coke burning ovens were activated and dad found a job in the mines and living conditions improved considerably.  During these hard times my family moved at least 12 times.  I don't know if we were evicted or what but these moves were necessary.  I remember some families actually lived in the vacant coke ovens.  These were used to burn coal from the mines to be used in making steel.
As I look back on those days and the easy comfortable living that I am enjoying I bless our Good God for all of the blessings he has bestowed on me and my family.


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