Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Aug 17, 2012

Inspiring Depression Era Stories & Where We Are

Photo Taken Between 1935/1942 via the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information 

Inspiring Depression Era Stories & Where We Are-

Today I read Ohiofarmgirls blog profiling Ohio's Great Depression Story Project What a wonderful project that state did! While I haven't gotten thru all of them, there are some that really stood on for me. Many brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of my Mom's stories of the Depression in rural Nebraska- drinking coffee a child, since there was little milk. Not being able to eat chicken or eggs as an adult, since they raised their own and that's almost all they ate meat-wise. Walking two miles to school in the winter with frostbite, having their hands shoved under the cold water spigot in the one room school house, and hearing their knuckles crack as they thawed. Being the youngest and rarely having anything new, including clothes. There were good stories too- of her Dad bartering his mechanic's services for food they couldn't grow or afford. My Mom said Grandma raised chickens, had a very large garden, canned, baked, sewed, knitted and made quilts. All that NORMAL STUFF. It's sad that I never knew her, since she died when I was a baby. I bought a Rhode Island Red chick (one of my first) as a little tribute to her since she has some back then. She sounded like quite a woman! She always looked old in her photos, even when she was younger. That kind of life would surley do that to you, raising four girls in tough times.

It really put things into perspective about where we are now- how spoiled and self-centered many of us are in America. Many families survived only due to the ongoing help of family and friends, and ingenuity too! Many in this country simply have no interest in learning those skills. That's sad...

I listed these by category-

Clothing store with tailor in doorway, Mexican district, San Antonio, Texas

CLOTHING- "I was in the third grade when the Depression came. I remember it well. There were nine of us. I had no shoes, so my dad made a pair out of cardboard and glued it together. When we ran out of glue and had no money to buy more, we used rubber bands and a paste made with flour and water. When it rained, I was soaked. I had no umbrella, no rubbers and no raincoat, and stayed in school the whole day in wet clothes until I went home." - Gladys Saba Wright, age 89, Richmond Heights

"I remember that my mother took down the white cotton curtains from the back windows of our house in order to make blouses for our school uniforms. She did not have enough spare cash to spend on either the blouses or the material to make them." - Geraldine Stevens, age 85, Worthington

"Our family had a mantra, which was: 'Use it up, wear it out; Make it do, or do without.' We did this with everything. My mother and grandmother were seamstresses, and my mother made nearly all of my clothes, including suits and coats, throughout my college years. My after-school play clothes were frequently made from feed sacks, the patterned, cotton bags that contained the chicken feed my grandparents fed to their chickens. The cloth was durable, quite colorful and survived many washings. I never had to worry that I would find someone else wearing the same clothes I had! My grandmother went a bit farther. Ladies' clothes in those days had long, full skirts (no such things as slacks or pants for women). Once a dress was worn out, the still-good material would be made into a blouse. When the blouse was no longer wearable, it became an apron. When the apron finally was not usable, what was left became a dust rag. My great aunt and many of the women in the small town where they all lived were quilters, and every scrap of material left from the original garment was hand sewed into beautiful patchwork quilts, then quilted during the evening hours when the work of the day had been finished. These, of course, were our winter blankets." - Mary Lou Pollak, age 78, Fairview Park

Anyone know what breed these are???      [Untitled]

FOOD- "My earliest memories of the Great Depression go back to people coming to our door, selling big red delicious apples for five cents each. My father was a minister and five cents was hard to come by. Once in a great while, there would be a spare five cents to purchase one of those delectable apples. It was carefully cut into five pieces and distributed. As a seven-year-old, I wondered if the time would come when I could have a whole apple to myself." - Elinor M. Brown, age 85, Napoleon

"When my husband was about eight or nine years old, his mother sent him to the store to get some soup beans to cook for their supper. He had to walk down a hill that was a little over a mile long. On his way home, the bag in which the beans were broke and the beans spilled onto the ground. When he got home and told his mother what happened, she gave him another container and told him to go back and pick up the beans, so he went back and picked up every bean. Another time, he sat down at the table to eat breakfast and his mother said to him 'I don't know what you are going to eat because we only have some homemade bread and milk.' So she broke up some bread in a bowl with some milk, and that was his breakfast." - Irene Burkhart, about her husband, Lawrence, age 86, Shadyside

"On a normal weekday, they would eat vegetable soup that included pretty much whatever they could scrounge up from the leftover food. They grew their own garden in their back yard, full of green beans, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. If they were lucky, they would eat chicken as a specialty on Sundays. Their family owned their own chickens and rabbits. The local grocery would call Grandma's house when the meat came in; that way they could get to the store before it was all gone. Everyone used stamps as the form of money, due to the fact that food and gas were rationed. These stamps bought most of their food for the month. They never went out to eat. Every night, when the boys arrived back home, they would eat with each other at the dinner table." - Meg Denman, sophomore at Madison Comprehensive High School, about her grandmother, Marcella Denman, age 92, Mansfield

"Dad had built a Fruit Cellar in our basement and it was all concrete. This is where the jelly and canned goods were stored. There was always a large sack of flour and a bucket of lard, and my mother would make wonderful bread and rolls, and pies from the apple orchard and the berries we picked. Her pies would have won prizes. Because of my parents ingenuity I don't recall going hungry. Mother was a great cook, and what ever she made was delicious. Bacon was bought in a slab that you would slice off. Somehow, we always had real butter, but it was about 19 cents a pound. Mother made very good salad dressing with a bit of bacon grease, vinegar and a dash of sugar and salt in a skillet. This was poured over leaf lettuce from the garden or dandelions. Lots of people came to our home and ask for apples from our orchard. Mom would always give them some." - Martha Rosella McCabe, age 88, Saint Clairsville

"Mom canned as many things as she could, such as tomatoes, green beans and fruits of various kinds. But the mainstay of our diet during the lean years was a combination of dried beans, cornbread, onions and potatoes of one kind or another. Mom would cut dandelion greens for some added nutrition and cook them in bacon fat with a little vinegar on them." - Wanda Stubbart, age 78, Columbus, Vic Thomas, age 83, Middletown and Kathleen Lambert, age 80, Middletown

    Two boys standing in front of candy store window, street scene, Circleville, Ohio (see general caption)

RECREATION- "Toys were at a premium. We used to find a bushel basket, knock the bottom out of it, nail it up on some garage and that was our basketball net. To play football, we could not afford equipment, so we just played without it." - Raymond J. Mock, age 85, Centerville

"A sled was a sheet of cardboard and McKinley Monument was the best hill. The park to play in was Water Works Park. In the summer, it was Myers Lake Park for the grocery store picnic. Ice cream from Islays was an extra treat once or twice a year in the summer - my Grandmother always bought. The ice man gave us all chunks of ice from his truck. We also had a milk man and a bread man, when we could afford them. We took rides in the car on Sunday afternoon and walked to church every Sunday morning. Watching movies a couple times a year at Dueber Theater was an extra special treat. We played, kick the can, hide and seek, tag, hop scotch, red rover, jump rope, etc. There were a lot of fun times, as everybody shared the same hard times. We kids really didn't know we were poor." - Doris Portmann, age 76, Navarre

"Dad made us some toys and we would spend time at night before bed time playing games. Mom would sit by the kerosene lamp and read letters or stories out of a book for us. They loved us so much. At bed time, she would get bricks out of the oven on cold nights and wrap them in towels and put them in our beds to warm up the bed and keep us warm. There was no heat in our bedroom or insulation in the ceiling, walls or floor, so it got very cold." - Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"We entertained ourselves, playing board games, outdoor hide-and-seek type of games, roller skating as fast as we could around the block or listening to radio serials such as 'Don Winslow of the Navy' or 'Jack Armstrong.' We read a lot of books from the library. We learned about the outside world from LIFE magazine, a large glossy format that was a veritable history of memorable photographs. The swimming pool season ticket was $2. Going to a movie cost a dime. There was no air conditioning, but the Ohio Theater was comfortably 'air cooled' with fans blowing across blocks of ice. Broughton's Ice Cream had sodas and sundaes for 12 cents, while an ice cream cone was a nickel. S. S. Kresge was full of wondrous items you could buy for a nickel or dime, many of them now collector's items." - Esther G. Schwartz, age 77, Columbus

"There was an ice house on the corner of Nevada and Parker, and we kids would go there to get free chunks of ice. Sometimes in the summer, we went there and got chips of ice to make our own ice cream. We all took turns grinding it until done, but what a treat it was for us! Our toys were mostly handmade. My brothers made their scooters out of orange crates and wheels, when they could find them. We girls made our own dancing dolls out of hollyhocks. What imaginations! For adult entertainment, Friday nights was usually Pinochle night with the neighbors, at their house or ours. We never had a sitter, so when it was at the neighbors, my brothers watched me. We played games such as hide and seek with a candle lit to find each other - it's a wonder we never started any fires! Also, my brothers made a basketball net over their bedroom door from a box and, having no ball, they used my favorite muff - I hated that!" - Mary Johnson Shank, age 77, Toledo                      
Anyone know what breed these are???


Candy C. said...

Very inspiring stories! We truly have become a nation that has forgotten how to take care of ourselves and it is sad.
The white goats I would say are Saanens, not sure about the others but they look like Toggenburgs to me.

Leigh said...

Very interesting. What struck me about the stories was the common sense in them. Nowadays we think it pitiable that they would forced to be so frugal yet I wonder if all the luxury and plenty available to the following generations really made us a better people.

nancy said...

It really made them a better people, and us? Time will tell...