My aunt grew up during the Depression, and was very frugal all her life. She
was a talented seamstress, and we joked that she never wasted even a scrap of
material. When sheets wore out, she made pillowcases. When those wore out, she
made dish towels. When those wore out, she made handkerchiefs. When those wore
out, she stitched all the leftovers together and made a new sheet!
on June 30, 2010 9:58 PM
I always find it fascinating listening to stories from the depression. One of
my good friend's mother who grew up in Iowa told me how her mother used to make
dresses and quilts out of feedsacks. It was tough times for farmers in those
days as well and most of the kids in her school had clothes made from feedsacks.
Feeling nostalgic for the old days she recently made several quilts from replica
feedsack fabric which were a huge hit with the friends and family she gave them
out to as gifts.
I also remember hearing stories about how my grandmother took a sympathetic eye
towards hobos and would offer them a sandwich and some snacks as they passed
through town looking for food. My father told me how the hobos would leave a
marker in front of the houses that were friendly to hobos as a way to help out
the next set of hobos passing through town.
My father also told me how my grandfather worked five different jobs to make
ends meat. There was so little work back then that you could only get a couple
hours work at each job. My grandfather use to come home in the late afternoon
and take a nap before his next shift began. My father said one of the biggest
fears he had in his life was making noise and waking his father from his
Whenever I meet people who are old enough to have experienced the depression I
always ask them about their experiences. These people never forgot how tough
some of those days where. They say the finest steel is forged in the hottest
fires. I've always admired how that generation's ingenuity and frugality stayed
with them throughout their entire lives.
I'm looking forward to hearing other Tip Heroes recollections and lessons they
learned from people who went through The Great Depression.
Ray @ Tip Hero
on July 01, 2010 3:43 AM
I hear stories from my Grandpa, he was a child during that time and he fondly
remembers how his whole extended family took up residence in a large house
together. As an only child he loved living with his cousins! He said all the
adults were blessed enough to have work, and every payday evening they would all
sit around the kitchen table and dump out their earned money and do the family
A lot of the other things they did were the same sorts of things my inlaws did,
they were legal immigrants to the US in the 70's and came with next to nothing.
Growing their own food, canning, making their own clothing (my mother in law
used rice bags instead of feed sacks for nifty shirts) and even inviting people
on their property to pay to pick berries were some of the ways they made a
dollar stretch. They used and re-used, they repurposed and refinished, and they
knew how to pick something up off the side of the road and make it into a
on July 01, 2010 9:52 AM
My Papaw grew up in the depression and his advice was touching because I know
there were probably a lot of times when he was hungry then, and funny, because
of the enormous disparity in the way things are now, where there's food
everywhere you look--at least in the US. His advice to me was "Eat all you
can every chance you get, you never know where your next meal is coming
on July 01, 2010 2:14 PM
My Grandmother was an older child during the Great Depression. When my Mother
asked her what it was like, Grandma looked at her, surprised and said "We
didn't know they WAS a Depression! We was already poor!" She did say they
had cousins who came from the city to live with them; her family were farmers,
so they raised their own food anyway. She said there wasn't much food to be had
in the cities even if you had the money to buy, and that some of the country
people dressed out cats (butchered, for those of you who don't know what that
means) and sold them as rabbits in the city. Ick. On the other hand, when you're
starving and/or poor, niceties tend to go out the window.
The biggest lessons I learned from my Grandmother were to: 1) Make do. 2)
Make it yourself whenever possible. 3) Oh yes you can. Whatever it is you think
you can't do--take a second look and keep going.
She was a hard woman in terms of how she met life, but she often had to be.
She also had great generosity. She fed more people than any one other individual
I have ever known. They didn't always appreciate it, and never did I hear a sour
word out of her about that. She had no time for the terminally lazy, but she
would make excuses to take people doing without food canned goods, garden
produce, and so on no matter why they were without. She really couldn't stand to
see people going hungry.
She also taught me something offhandedly one day when we were chatting. She
told me that in the old days people used to make almost everything, because back
then groceries didn't sell the things they do now, and that if they did it was
too costly. If you wanted sweets, or jams and jellies, for example, you made it.
That was really the first it had occured to me that one could indeed do this. My
own Mother is very thrifty, but in a more modern sense. When she canned it was
half whimsy and half convenience. I'm 42 now, and have recently begun applying
these do-it-yourself principles in earnest. I am SICK of buying EVERYTHING!!
There really is no need, particularly with cleaning products, as most of the
"old" methods work as well as or better than their modern
counterparts. This buy-it-all lifestyle has begun to offend me on a deeply
personal level. Can't tell you why; I don't know. I do know it's a permanent
change on my own part, and I rightly attribute the fact that I even knew it
could be done to my Grandmother. I wish I could tell her.
on July 01, 2010 2:35 PM
the one thing that sticks out in my mind is a recurring comment from my
Grandmother, and it reflected how they lived and survived- live simply. Get your
produce fresh from the farmer and never take more than you or your family need
to live, yet share with your neighbors when you get that abundance.
I try to live like that today- we are a society obsessed with 'stuff'.
Ironically, many websites/blogs are revisiting the idea of living simply. Words
to take to heart then and now.
on July 01, 2010 2:38 PM
I remember my mother's recipe for tomato soup. Hot water and ketchup.
She would order the hot water in a diner.
on July 01, 2010 2:47 PM
My mother and father were children during the Great Depression. They told me
many stories about growing up during that time. One story that really stands
out in my mind is how my grandmother used to go to rummage sales and buy older
wool coats and make them over for her family because they couldn't afford to buy
new ones. She would bring the old coats home and carefully take them apart,
turn the unworn side of the wool to the outside, then re-cut and sew them into
"new" coats. I've been told that she was as kind as she was thrifty.
She once saved her egg money for a very long time and purchased a new sewing
machine. One day, a family with several children came through town in an old
wagon. Grandma could see that they didn't have hardly anything. She befriended
the woman and gave her the new sewing machine and some fabric so that the woman
could clothe her family. I don't think she ever was able to purchase another
new machine in her life, but continued to use her old one. She always gave her
on July 01, 2010 2:50 PM
When my Grandmother passed away, my Mom found a sewing basket complete with
bras that Grandma was taking usable parts of and sewing onto others. Also found
a wooden sock darner and a stack of socks that had been mended over and over.
Really small pieces of material became doll dresses, straps,or were sewn
together for bigger items.
My Mom was a kid during the depression and when I was growing up, she bought all
of our dresses and skirts too long and then saved the cut off material to add to
the bottom when it became too short.There were darts sewn into every blouse to
be let out when they were too tight.
I have lived and learned frugality as well, though not to the extent of
Thank you Grandma, thank you Mom, for sacrifices made and lessons taught.
on July 01, 2010 2:58 PM
My husband's Mom and my Mom have both gone on to be with the Lord. They both
shared times with me about the depression and what they learned. I think this
would apply to every day, depression or not. Live well below your means, so you
can save something every week, no matter how little the dollar amount. Give a
little of what you have to others less fortunate and the last bit of wisdom is
to question every purchase before going ahead with it.
on July 01, 2010 4:15 PM
My Grandmother would say things like, "Don't want more than you
need." She would tell us to be thankful for what you have each day. If
you have enough to share then do so. She always had a garden and would save the
seeds. I use to cut out the eyes of the potatoes when we couldn't manage to eat
all she had grown. We would share the eyes of the potatoes with the neighbors.
I was told to use every bit of the potato even the skin. She made great potato
chips. I miss her.
on July 01, 2010 4:43 PM
My great-grandmother made quilts from worn-out men's suits for her children.
Underwear was sewed from flour sacks. My great-granddad grew pumpkins and made
pumpkin butter for biscuits and pies in the big black laundry kettle, in the
fall. My grandfather picked up coal, fallen from overloaded rail cars, from the
railroad sidings and sold it for a nickel a bag to pay bills. Knives were
hand-ground from leaf springs of junk cars, and handles were whittled. In the
South Georgia area, farm wagons weren't purchased during the
Depression--instead, they had the "Hoover wagon", junk cars with the
tops cut off, used to move hay and hauled by mules.
on July 01, 2010 5:00 PM
My Father, who passed away at age 86, lived in Beverly Hills with his Aunt
during the Depression. Don't think they were rich, she had a chicken farm. Dad
told me that he was extra small and one rooster was extra large and used to beat
on him. He fed them with a baseball bat in one hand and a feed bowl in the
He told me that for 10 cents you could see a bunch of movies and get a huge bag
of candy, but oh the work for that! One year he spent the summer working for a
lady taking care of her house and yard and his end earnings were 89 cents which
the store owner was so suspicious of that he called the lady to verify what Dad
was doing with such a fortune.
Dad told me at Christmas he got a real apple or an orange in his stocking and
one year his mom gave him actual machine made mittons! Apparently his mother
He told me that she made everything from scratch and that he loved the smell of
Before he died, he lived in Flint, Michigan and always was ready to share
everything with those in need. He was a special person.
on July 01, 2010 5:20 PM
I have been around many people who lived during the great depression. Some of
the things I recall them saying were that (1) they ate what was given them and
didn't ask for more. (2) They took nothing for granite. Paper, metals, glass
anything they could make money from or use (re-purpose) they did it. (3) The
threads they used to sew with came from old clothes, linens and such. They
gently removed them and reused them to alter hand me downs. (4) Quilts were made
from any scrap of material they could find and they would use old worn out
blankets for the middles. (%) This one really hit home with me. Old
handkerchiefs, scarves and bits and pieces of material were fashioned into dolls
and other toys.
Makes you feel so stupid that these people learned conservation in an era that
we are in now that takes everything for granted.
on July 01, 2010 6:17 PM
Wow -- all these comments sound so wholesome and uplifting. My family seems
really resilient to me, but if I were to collect the Depression "tips"
from my family, they would be these:
1. Marry someone with a job, if you're hungry, but don't expect the marriage to
2. Have a friend with a chicken coop that you can live in, and pray the state
doesn't visit and see how your kids are living.
3. Buy a woman's suit from the Salvation Army for pennies. Take it apart, turn
it inside out, and resew it. When the neighbors accuse you of giving
"favors" to sailors because your clothes aren't rags, move away, or be
taken for a "loose woman."
4. Become a nun. They'll feed you. Take in your brother's kids.
5. Don't visit your elderly mother where she lives, bc the lady whose kids
she's taking care of doesn't like it.
6. Wait until you're 45 to get married.
7. Only steal food if you absolutely have to.
8. Drop out of school.
9. Don't let a med student do exploratory surgery on your eyes, no matter how
much they offer to pay you.
10. If your mother dies, and you move into the orphanage, be grateful --
they'll feed you and send you to school, unlike your friends.
11. Let your 5-year-old walk four miles to school bc you're working.
12. If you're caught in a snowstorm bc you're a cook in a mining camp, hope the
local Paiute Indians will find you.
13. Check under the front porch every morning to see if the hobo lived through
the night. If he did, give him soup and bread.
14. After the Depression ends, don't talk too much about what you had to do to
All these things happened to my family. My 97yo aunt is still alive, is an
optimistic and loving woman, and recently said, "I was cold and I was
hungry, and I wouldn't go back there for anything."
The best cure for a recession is hope, expansion, and opportunity. I wish that
for all of you, and will try some of the tips from your upbeat families!
on July 01, 2010 6:27 PM
If Dad was still alive, he would be 89. He lived much of his life during the
Depression. His family was split up after his mother died and his father became
an alcoholic. Dad never complained about the times; he was just grateful for
those that helped him. He lived in Stephenville, Texas, at one time and was
taken in by the school janitor. In return for helping the janitor clean the
school and prepare it each day, Dad received room and board. He also taught me
an important lesson-it's not how much you have, but how much you do with what
you have. He told me of a young lady at Tartleton State University, in
Stephenville. She won the Deportment Award one year because she was always very
ladylike and was always neat and well groomed. After she won the award, she
revealed that she only had one uniform (which the students wore at that time.)
Each night she would hand wash it, dry it and then iron it for the next day. As
Dad always said, whatever you have to wear be thankful and take care of it. My
Dad too like so many others was "green" before the word recycled had
ever been invented. Most of all my Dad had a great faith in God. He wasn't
educated in great universities, but he was one of the smartest and finest men
I've ever met. His legacy lives on in his children and grandchildren today.
on July 01, 2010 8:21 PM
All the way in the mid 60's, maybe longer, at the end of the week whatever was
left in the fridge, from the previous week went into a pot on the stove. My dad,
of Hungarian descent, called it slumgullion. Maybe that's a Hungarian term?
on July 02, 2010 7:25 AM
My great grandparents handled the depression in different ways. They were all
farmers and teachers. My one great grandfather made moonshine, and did a little
hunting on the side (poaching), more than once he and grandpa had to lie on
their stomachs in the middle of their fields hoping the government officials
didn't find them, he then would take his produce down to Chicago and sell it.
My grandpa would climb the beams in the barns and catch pigions (also known as
squab (not sure on the spelling) and they were a delicacy for the wealthy. You
had to catch them with your bare hands and wring their necks... Grandpa was a
pro and could kill 20 in a day.
He also found out that people down there wanted skunk skin coats... all was well
until he nicked one of the sacks and smelled for two weeks... he was asked to
not return to school until he smelled better. He liked school so that was a bit
hard. He didn't mind sleeping in the barn though. Everybody was poor, but it
was a rural area and everybody fed themselves.
My other great grandparents had had a lot of money in the 20's. They had won
the sheep competitions at multiple world fairs, and were a very modern farm.
They had electric milk pumps and indoor plumbing, and silos. When they decided
that they would turn off the electric instead of paying out the money it was
hard work that they hadn't had to do for a long time... they sucked it up and
did it. They had sent the older kids all to high school and college (rare at
the time), my grandma had to take care of her elderly aunt and pay her own way
to high school to get her teaching certificate, she was always sad about that
because she was as smart as the older kids and never got college degree. At the
same time nobody complained because here in Wisconsin you could go from one side
of the state to the other and never leave bank and insurance land. The
insurance companies bought land cheap from the banks and rented the farms back
to the farmers. All the old people I knew growing up talked about farm sales
that nobody would buy anything at... if you bought something it was money for
the bankers, and nothing for your neighbor, and if you were going to be mean
just remember how you treated your neighbor on the way home because the other
neighbors were going to take it out of your hide. I would say from one old guy
at a farm sale in the early '80's that you only had to give a few butt whippings
and nobody would buy anything at a sale. Nobody liked bankers much either.
When wool coats got too worn to re-sew they turned them into batting for quilts.
Around here there were a number of drought years (nothing like out west, but
still real bad) and people would graze their cows along the sides of the road
beds, right up to the road. They would also at times graze farms that had been
taken by the bank and were not being farmed, without permission.
on July 02, 2010 11:26 AM
My grandma live in Brooklyn,New York. She and my granddad lived through the
great depression. They wasted nothing. They owned a candy store where my dad and
siblings helped out everyday before school and even on the weekends. They helped
stock the shelves stack the newspapers and whatever else needed doing. Grandma
use to steep tea for drinking and then dry out the tea bags on the steam
radiators. She used the same tea bag for many cups of tea.
They all worked hard and there was no time for complaining about nothing. Life
was hard , but they made the best of it.
on July 02, 2010 2:55 PM
I remember my mother always saved the bacon grease in an empty coffee can that
was on the stove. She used it to flavor a pot of green beans or to fry up
leftover boiled potatoes and onions. She also used it for cornbread-some in the
batter and some to grease the pan. It sure was good!
on July 02, 2010 5:13 PM
My Grandpa Blain was a genious. For their refridgerator, (ice box) he would go
to the lake in the winter and get a ton of ice blocks, transport them home to a
barn that was insulated with saw dust from the local sawmill. The ice kept
frozen even in the summer months, and they had plenty of it all year for their
on July 03, 2010 11:44 AM
When buying bib overhauls for her husband and son during the depresion, a
relative of mine always bought the longest length in the legs. She would cut
them off and hem them to the correct length. The part she cut off was saved for
patching the bibs when they got a hole in them. They couldn't afford to buy new
ones. She just kept patching the old ones with the extra material she had cut
off the bottom of the legs.
on July 05, 2010 8:46 PM
During the depression, my mom, who is now 84, said that the elementary schools
would serve lunch every day and it was always vegetable soup. Each student had
to bring his own bread.
To survive, my dad had to quit school in the 5th grade and work on the farm with
the rest of the family. They didn't own the farm, but were tenant farmers.
on July 06, 2010 7:28 PM
i grew up during the depression. also never had a hot dog till i visited in te
city. remember putting cardboard in my shoes till there was enough money to buy
some us my brother and me pitched odd jobs to help out. my favorite food was a
pasty which is kinda like a meat pie. in those days i sometimes had it with out
meat but the funny thing was none of us thought we were poor cause we were all
in it together. i use less meat now cooking.
on July 06, 2010 9:49 PM
Depression angst! I was born in 1935, my husband too.His father was a country
minister with five children and industrious wife. They lived well on the farm in
Kansas. But I was the only child in my family. My parents were married in 1930,
and dad had lost the farm he and his brother leased. Banker wouldn't loan money
go ahead. Nearly 2,000 people came to dad and his brother's farm in Iowa.
Machinery and livestock went fast. Corn was 10 cents a bushel. Mom and dad
engaged five years, thinking their love wouldn't last a marriage. They were
married 37 1/2 years. I vividly recall no electricity for one month, and dad
driving his 1929 Oakland car to doctor for mom's anemia. Because of not eating
enough meat, balanced diet, mom developed pernicious anemia. It took two letters
to get commodities. I got a new dress, ran out to the old tree stump and yelled
"the commodities have come, the commodities have come." My parents had
done without soap of any kind for month, save money. They used it for me. Both
developed boils from the experience. Mom was musician for small town church. Dad
got rare job creosoting council chambers roof in March, and the wind blew hard
every day. His face was black coming home. Fifteen others worked that job, too.
Later on, my dad developed cataracts that might have come from the creosote. Dad
worked with medic in Civil Conservation Corps, then on roads WPA. WPA built
Springbrook Park, Iowa. One freezing January night, my honest dad and 12 other
guys, who couldn't afford coal, turned over a coal-filled car on the train
tracks that had set there four months. Using gunny sacks, they took all they
could handle. Grandmother was minister's wife, she fed "hobos" back
stoop of house. My mother's best friend, next door, developed tuberculosis from
an aunt visiting from Chicago. Her brother got it too. She almost died in
hospital. Years later, my supervisor asked where I used to live. She remembered
her roommate from that town. Three were given last rites by priest. Sure enough,
the other lady was my mother's best friend. Coincidence. Tuberculosis was called
the White Plague. My mother had been educated two and a half years, prestigious
university,majored voice and piano. Her father sold three small farms to put her
through. She had been adopted by minister and wife. Lived in beautiful home. My
dad wore handmade suits constructed with imported Scottish wool. He owned 13 new
cars in 12 years. Leather coat,never chased girls, and didn't save his money. I
grew up poor, worked over two years, nights in theater, for money last two years
of high school. Turned down scholarship to university, parents had nothing to
live on, hardly covered by Social Security. Finally, my dad got his honor when a
university student who was janitor with him heard Depression stories. Dad was
asked to answer questions to economics class over 100 students for one week. Dad
was self taught in law, and the classics, and could have been a mining engineer
or lawyer. He lost faith in himself. I am self taught in five disciplines. My
two children put themselves through two years college each. I have been a
successful medical transcriptionist, musician and activist in impoverished
community, helping to restore it. Love to write journals about everything. Also,
I do portraits.
on July 08, 2010 3:02 PM
I truly love to read about folks that overcome the hardships that life brings.
It helps me to see that things could always be worse, and brings me joy when
those that have suffered so can still see the good in things.
Thank you all for sharing!
on July 08, 2010 5:42 PM
My dad and his two brothers left their home in Indiana and worked on farms in
Iowa for 50 cents a day plus room and board. My mother's family had kinfolks
from Des Moines, Iowa come for a "visit" and stayed for six months on
their Indiana farm so the family could eat. My folks knew how to butcher, can
and make do. They were always frugal even after the depression and thus always
on July 08, 2010 6:58 PM
Both my parents grew up during the depression - my mom in Southwestern, Ark. in
an extremely rural area, and my father grew up in Southern Louisiana.
My mother's family lived in an area where Most people were just like them -
getting by and sharing what they could. It was not unusual for families to live
with family members "til they got on their feet again." Their clothes
were made from flour sacks and the peddler came by in his wagon and, if you had
any money, you could purchase thread and sugar, and coffee, a thimble, or nails
- even a small toy or two, mostly for looking at since very few could afford
My grandmother would measure a woman, cut a custom dress pattern out of
newspaper or tissue paper and then sew the dress, notions and all for A QUARTER!
They had it rough, but so many were so worse off. They fed many a hobo. I'm
sure a little cat was carved on a tree or fence post near their home.
It wasn't anything that no one had much, because everyone had just about the
same. The had 6 kids, raised 5, and managed to have fun and be happy and all do
rather well in life. I feel so blessed to have been raised as a self-sufficient
woman. I can do just about anything needed to survive and my husband was raised
the same. It's nice to know we could live off of the land if we so choose.
on July 09, 2010 1:09 AM
Lydia's post is probably the closest to how it really was. We can glamourize
the "Good Old Days" but for many the reality was not fun.
My parents lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War (during
the Blitz) and no matter where you lived, America or England, it doesn't seem as
if anyone was doing more than surviving.
My dad used to talk about the "Means Man" coming down the street (you
were only allowed government help if you had nothing left to sell). He said that
people would be carrying mattresses down the back streets as the Means Man came
done the front. They would each hide the others meager possessions so that they
could get much needed help. It seems the government didn't realize that no one
wanted to buy your old stuff because they were as broke as you were.
My father told us of the Headmaster of his school who used to lash out at the
children for their poverty, it was somehow their fault their fathers were
My mother, still ashamed, tells of going "coal picking" on the slag
heaps in order to have heat through the damp Manchester winters. She and her big
brother went out after dark so that no one would see them. The fact that they
were probably bumping into their neighbours in the dark never occurred to them.
It was dirty and very dangerous work but they did it to survive.
No, The Depression might be romanticized now but it was hard grinding poverty...
a "Grapes of Wrath" lifestyle; doing anything to survive -even things
you were deeply ashamed of. Those are the things our parents and grandparents
have kept to themselves.
They might choose to tell us about the "not so bad times" but few will
talk about the humiliation, the inability of a man to feed his starving
children, having no money for the doctor, hiding from the rent man. Destroying
your childs future by pulling him/her out of school so the family could survive.
Nothing wrong with being frugal but let's forget the Great Depression, it has
few, if any real lessons to give us today. We are not as poor as our parents and
grandparents were...let us hope we never are. There are govenment programs
available today that were not there 80 years ago. Those programs might be
humiliating to apply for, but we are not going to have to watch our children
starve or die from preventable diseases thanks to them.
Anyone for ketchup soup??? I thought not.
on July 09, 2010 10:15 AM
My mom and her 5 siblings grew up during the depression. They were more
fortunate than many I've read about, I believe because they lived in Florida.
My grandfather was fortunate to have at least two good jobs during that time.
When he was younger, he was a sponge diver and fisherman, then later he had to
travel by train what would be an eight hour car trip today, to teach school, and
back on the weekend. Later in life, he managed a seafood processing plant. So,
during two periods of his life, there was at least seafood to eat!
Also, living in Florida, they always had tropical fruit trees, vegetable
gardens, and raised their own chickens for eggs and eating. My grandfather and
neighbors would go on hunting trips for all kinds of game, but their favorite
catch was a type of dove. My mom still remembers how delicious dove with
grandma's special dove gravy tasted! It was a rare treat!
Grandma also had a special way to stretch their beef ration: She would take a
piece of lamb (which was not rationed) and tie it up with the beef roast, and
marinate baste it with a mustard sauce before braising. My grandfather hated
lamb but never knew for many years he was eating (and enjoying) lamb with his
My grandmother also reused every piece of material, the children shared and
passed down clothes and shoes, she took in laundry, sewing and ironing, and
That's the other thing, and this was common during the Depression -- many of the
relatives would send their kids to live with my grandparents, so they always had
a full house. Either the relatives did not have enough money for all the kids,
or sometimes they needed "straightening out" as teenagers. My mom and
siblings really seemed to enjoy having the extra kids around to share chores,
play ball, and have fun together.
My grandparents were kind, but everyone had to pitch in and help, or out you
went! The children all went to school and that was part of their "job"
(and a privilege) plus home chores and to not make life harder for their
parents! They lived in the city, jobs were more that scarce, so there wasn't
much work for kids unless their parents ran a business. Grandma worked as a
housekeeper for a wealthy family. At the end of the evening, my grandfather
would bring her clean trashcans lined with newspapers. The leftovers from the
day's meals of the wealthy family went into the clean trash cans, separated by
more newspaper. On the way home, they would stop at various neighbors,and
divide up the leftovers, and take some home for their family.
Also, even though it was the depression, in our area the county jail prisoners
had plenty of food, sooooo my grandfather knew the sheriff of that time, and he
would call the jailhouse and if they had any sandwiches leftover, he would go
pick them up and share them or feed his kids.
Even after the depression, when I was a child, whenever you visited my grandma,
there was always a big pot of stew or spanish rice with peas keeping warm on the
pilot light of the gas stove, for anyone who stopped in and was hungry. People
did stop in for food, even after the Depression, for lean times didn't stop at a
certain date, it took a long time for the country to climb back.
Thank you for letting us share the pride we have in our parents, grandparents,
great-grands, for persevering and taking care of us during such hard times.
on July 09, 2010 12:26 PM
I'm sorry but I don't agree with the philosophy of "forgetting the
Depression" and that it has no lessons for us today! If we don't learn
from history, it's destined to repeat itself. We have gone through many
economic cycles in the US and unfortunately some people are suffering.
One thing that the Depression taught most Americans is that we pitch in and help
one another. Yes, there were terrible times; just as there are terrible times
today. But, the lesson to be learned is that we help one another! Yes, thank
God for the programs available today and thank God that people have a generous
spirit and are able to help those that have nothing-even though they may not
have very much themselves. That's the American Spirit--alive and well!
on July 10, 2010 9:40 PM
I agree..forgetting past lessons learned is a dangerous thing. What makes
anyone think that it can't happen again? Arrogance & foolish pride. It not
only can happen again, but WILL happen again. It may not be in your lifetime,
but what about the lifetime of your children or grandchildren?
Only this next time around, we'll no longer be an agrarian society and at least
able to feed ourselves when there's no money. Or, perhaps worse yet, there'll be
plenty of worthless money but nothing to buy. We've lost 2 generations worth of
basic skills and knowledge that everyone took for granted. And we've gotten
soft... physically, mentally and emotionally. All the latest techno-electronic
gadgets in the world won't make up for that. And as far as relying on the
government to "provide" for your health, wealth and well-being? Read
the latest headlines. We're bankrupt as a nation and printing money to keep the
illusion of "all is well" alive as long as possible. Other countries
are at least admitting that they've overspent and are now begging others to bail
them out. We are headed not only for a national great depression, but a global
meltdown. Educate yourselves in basic skills and listen to those elders who
still remember another way of life. A life of faith in God, self-reliance and
on July 15, 2010 4:03 PM
I was born in 1931 and hardly rememberwhat I ate, except for buttered bread
with canned creamed corn on !, cardboard in my shoes, picking up coal off the
street, and the coal stove in the kichen where I bathed in a bid galvanized tub.
It wasn't too bad for a child though
on July 15, 2010 9:02 PM
Great stories. Thank you for sharing. My mother lived through the great
depression and I wish she would have told me more about it when she was living.
I only have a few stories she shared. I don't really know why she didn't share
more but the stories she did share I will never forget.
I plan on sharing some of your stories with my elementary students when we read
the American Girl books.... and with my own already grown children just as a
reminder to be careful with their money considering we are so in debt as a
country to other countries and I believe our nation is headed for hard times
sooner or later......
Thank you again.
on July 16, 2010 4:53 PM
I agree with Karen's post. We must return to growing food as a part of our
everyday life. We grew tomato plants for the children in our little private
school. It was so much fun giving the little plants and hearing about the
tomatoes they produced. Let's grow a new generation of vegetable gardeners,
encouraging them at every opportunity. There is plenty of land for us to go
back to feeding ourselves. Chickens and a family cow even can follow. We can
adapt and get creative and industrious. Aren't we the descendants of the fine
people written of above?
Also, if you have not investigated CSAs we highly recommend it.
How about a question of how we can become more self sufficient and teach the
next generations to be. I love reading this sort of column. Thanks
on July 18, 2010 9:37 AM
Wow, I used to visit my grandparents and they would spend the time answering my
questions about the Depression. The main topics that I remember and try to live
by is as follows and might I add that this advice is what we are all trying to
live by now and be frugal.
*Use everything do not waste.
*Do not live bigger than you are.
8Do not waste food, grow it, preserve it, and serve it.
*Wear well made clothes and shoes and wear them long and well.
*Do not use credit cards pay cash and barter.
*Use second hand items shop garage sales you do not need the newest gimmick at
the store for anything. *Read, knowledge is power.
*Make your home as comfortable as you can for energy purpose.
*Take care of your doors, windows furnace and fireplace.
*Never buy a new car buy a well cared for used car and pay cash.
*Live to pay off your home trade up maybe once and make it your life home.
This advice saved me from suffering as others have and been foreclosed on in
todays times. My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes by bad
mortgage advice or loss of income I know it could still happen to me if I lose
my income but the advice and stories of my grandparents have gotten me thru 2
bad marriages and recessions.
My daughters have told me as adults that they never felt poor and we have a nice
small home almost paid for, 3 cars not new but paid for.
My utility bills are small and house is comfortable in the cold because I am
very much into insulation, planting trees and shrubs in key spots of the
house/yard and my tvs 3 are almost 30 years old and still working.
I have a garden I share, I have fruit and make jam I share. I make my own soap
for laundry and I have a blast doing this I make my own rugs and have hard wood
Simplify it enriches your life it really does.
Stay away from the banker he is evil.
If you have been knocked down simply begin again.
And the library embrace and support your library.
And your Church because if God puts you to it, he will pull you thru it.
It truly was the talks and stories of my grandparents that kept me going on
problem solving in living. I was fascinated and in awe of some of their stories
and sometimes sad. It is easy to talk about how to maintain and different when
you have lost but simply beginning again sometimes opens doors of greatness that
you would of never opened if you were still where you were. God Bless!
on July 20, 2010 8:47 AM
During a diaster The local Red Cross sent
out a call for many items including pillowcases which can be used in several
ways as bags to carry other items, etc.
One old or unused sheet will easily make several pillowcases.
on September 02, 2010 10:40 PM
My mom told me that she and her sister would get on the local bus (as they
lived in town)and ride it out to the last stop out in the boondocks where the
orchards and farms were. They would take pillowcases with them and glean in the
apple orchards. They would get as many fallen apples as they could carry and get
them home. Then with their mother the apples would be made into juice or
applesauce and canned.
My dad and his brother would go door to door in the town and ask if anyone had
any work they could do. When asked if they knew how to fix a roof or some other
task, they would always say "Yes", then they would figure it out to
get it done. There were ten more mouths to feed at home and their dad had been
run over by a bus, lived, but could not do much work.
on December 12, 2010 10:57 PM
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