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The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....
 

Figuring out the Great Depression

January 26, 2019

I have taken a few days to work through new information from all the research work. This years study is so very different and I will see if I can find a way to tell about the feelings I have about this study.

I literally feel a connection as I travel back in time by way of the small bits of history left behind for us to read about.  We can see things only in pictures or antique shops, old microfilms and books and those fortunate to remember the stories told to us by our Grands and Great Grands of how it was.

What we have learned so far about the great depression, as far as it affected the home?

I have had to dig deep to figure out "why" in the microfilms reading during the times of the great depression the news looked mostly normal?  The society columns were filled with typical news, there was not a lot of talk about the depression.  It has been confusing to say the least.  

Then our recent government shutdown gave me some more insight. I saw comments from people in our very own government that did not understand why our citizens that were working without pay or out of work without pay during the shutdown were needing food assistance AND, why were they not able to just make their payments or borrow money until things got better.  Wow!  Did that really come out of someones mouth?  Yes it did.

I am much more aware of things now that we have been doing this history project. 

I have been doing a lot of math this past month figuring the what if's during our current government shutdown. I have been greatly concerned for people.   I have been figuring minimum wage, 40 hours per week pay and 4 or $5.00 above minimum wage 40 hours a week verses to see how much it does take for non retirement age people to pay rent or mortgage payments, car payments, food costs, medical insurance, medical cost, medicine costs, cable tv, car insurance, gasoline, electric bills, fuel bills, water, child care, cell phones, home phones and it is hard to see how they survive even when things are normal when they are working that 40 hours a week.  

At my age and the fact that I lived before there were cell phones and cable for television and internet, medical was not out the roof and electric bills were lower I know where to cut bills, lower food costs because I have had to do it. But, to not get a pay check, even for a week will send a typical family living off that kind of pay right where it did send them and that was to the food banks and completely stressed out how the mortgage and car payment was going to get paid. 

Even people that make a good bit above minimum can be greatly affected by no pay coming in for many reasons.  They may have a child that requires special care, they may be taking care of a parent, there are many reasons someone can live with the same pay and make it well and some not, it is not our place to judge others.

I hope if we learn one thing from this is that we need to live below our means, try and save what we can because we never know when there may be a disruption of any kind.

During the great depression there were people with great wealth that were completely out of touch or had never had any kind of money concerns.  That is why the society pages were normal.  But banks were starting to fail and it seems that depending on the size of one's town or how many small banks were around they could be in serious trouble. 

Many places, people had money in the bank but could not get it out.  The average person or someone without any savings was in serious trouble.  Some of the wealthy lost fortunes and some did not.  Those that had steady jobs with uninterrupted pay seemed to do okay while others were completely sunk.  Many men that could not find work were so devastated they just walked away from their families. 

I have learned that I am so glad that we took on this study because no matter how bad it was during the great depression we need to know what happened.

No matter what the government tried to do nothing was working, other countries were affected, war was looming between Japan and China. 

As we expanded our research this year to study pre Depression as well we found there were a lot more recessions than we ever knew about and we have learned that finances are more fragile than we ever realized. 

I have nothing against someone being wealthy, many people are, but there are the lavish wealthy and the smart wealthy. Should I ever become wealthy I hope I am the latter. 

I am writing as if I am there during the great depression. America at this time is owed war debt and other countries cannot pay it.  Many professionals, not all but many,  such as Doctors and Lawyers, business owners are not getting paid and there is a lot of bartering of services.  But not everywhere, which makes no sense to us.   Stores are trying to sell things extremely cheap but that is not working either because so many have no money.

Many farmers are taking it very hard now and trying to sell goods along the side of the road, some are destroying their crops because they cannot get any sustaining amount of money for the things they grow. Some dairy farmers are pouring milk out along the side of the road in protest of prices.  But some large farming areas are doing okay such as wheat as the government has bought large amounts of wheat to feed the poor.

People line up at the banks just trying to get money out, so we see that many people do have money in the bank but there is no money to get because the banks have nothing to give them unless the government prints money but that will only cause inflation.

It is a very confusing time because the newspapers are trying to be positive and not show how bad it is because everyone is encouraging people to spend money, advertisers are doing their best to only show the good things and the paper still has the society articles and sales on at the stores.

People that did lose their jobs cannot get jobs and the people that have jobs do not give them up. Some people that do have money are buying buildings cheap as stores are closing and buildings are empty to hold on to them to sell them when things get better.  It is starting to get useless for people to take someone to court for debt because they cannot collect the money.

Theaters and diners are struggling and lowering their prices to stay open. Often soup and sandwiches sold very cheap were keeping some kind of business coming in.  I cannot say every town and city in every state was the same but it was very very bad in many places.

Yes this is very gloomy and it was just as bad as the glimpses we have seen in old movies and photos. Much business came to a complete stand still, just when people thought that maybe things were getting ready to improve it did not. Those at rock bottom began to beg and at the same time those that did have money carried on and had tea's and remained oblivious to the seriousness of what was really happening. 

BUT, people are resilient and they find ways to cope and the 1930's was not that far away from life before the modern goods that came about in the booming 1920's. 

The 1920's was a bit loose and people made and spent money, partying, dancing, drinking, eating out. There was the boom of the stock market during the 1920's and cars were being sold and houses were becoming more modern and people were letting go of the old ways of doing things but many still had the know how to do it the old way and enough to help them somewhat cope through this trying time.

My mother would talk about how she and her brother would take a cold biscuit to school and that is all they had to eat and I have learned that many schools closed during the great depression.  Before these studies I had never understood when my mother mentioned only having biscuits that she was talking about the great depression because she did not talk about the great depression. More and more I am understanding why my mother would save things and I have mentioned before in a post I now understand her obsession for pecans.  When pecans started falling she was there to pick them up and during the great depression the wild plums and fruit trees and nut trees, wild berries must have saved many a family during that time.

My neighbor Naomi told me stories of how her mother had a pressure cooker during the great depression and she would can vegetables and meat for others bartering for a percentage of food from their gardens.

I was asked recently what time in history I would pick to want to live and I said possibly very late 1930's to early 1940's. Those two years between the end of the great depression and the beginning of when the U.S. became involved in world war 2 must have been the most cautious improved time in history for housewives.  

In the early 40's World war 2 was another blow but income was some better because so many were going to war and others, women included were going to work as replacements in factories and businesses and people were finally earning money.  But then even if they did now have money, they were unable to purchase many things because of shortages and war rations.  In the 1930's there were many deaths due to starvation and the 40's many deaths due to the war.  So the people that lived through these times went through great loss and difficulties but became what as we know as the strong generation.  

 We should not overlook world war 1 as that was a terrible war and there was a recession and the Spanish flu so times were hard just before the 1920's.  I do now wonder how life would have been had the people during the 1920's not embraced the modern goods and fancy things and spent so lavishly above their means?  Had they not used credit and taken so many chances with the stock market?  Were the people that remained steady through the 20's and lived within their means the ones that skimmed by and was able to feed their family?  I can see them darning socks and patching pants, slipping every penny they could into their little can.  Stretching the meals and where we should learn the valuable lesson that the nutrition is in the broth.

Long ago quilts were very important for survival from the cold, much further back before the times we are studying.  Before world war one there were nice quilts available in stores and catalog's but during world war one women started making quilts for the soldiers as the government encouraged women to make quilts and bandages.

During the great depression woman started saving any piece of fabric they could to make quilts because there was no money to buy goods or pay for fuel to have heat. There was a need for extra layers of quilts to stay warm. There was no money to buy fabric so most anything worn out would have been used to make a quilt.

During world war 2 woman made quilts to support the red cross and once again began knitting bandages. 

So here we are 75 to 85 years later depending on which era, the great depression or world war 2, from when people had the skills that were "necessary" to get themselves through difficult times. 

Today farms are industrialized, but the smaller farms such as a local organic dairy struggle because they need people to buy local.  We will need those local farmers if something bad should happen and it would be very good to support our local growers anyway.

I am not saying this because I feel something bad will happen, I am not trying to predict we are going to have another great depression.

I have never said that we should all live a simple life, but I do feel we should not lose the skills that our generations before us had because "if" we ever do have a situation we would need those skills and those tools. The skills our ancestors had were passed down from generation to generation then faded away as we became more modern and actually lazy. Now we pay for all kinds of machines and gadgets to do our work and then we pay to run them and pay for the extras they need and now they are being made to not last as long so we have to purchase them more often.  Anyone my age knows a refrigerator or washer lasted a very very long time.

We are living in a time when someone's cell phone acts up or there is a short cable outage people start having a meltdown.  If the power goes out many people are at a complete loss of what to do. This is a serious situation if we cannot even get through a day or two without electricity.  Just a storm can cause this and often does. 

I want to embrace the past and I want to learn what I do not know. Getting older does not mean it is time to stop learning. I have been surprised at how difficult it is to do something once again that I did years ago but stopped doing such as when I started canning vegetables again. Making butter, I forgot to rinse the butter and so it soured quickly. 

We went through a time where we were eating out and broke our routine of cooking.  It is difficult to start something back when we get away from it.  We feel better when we are doing things the old way and regularly in the home. 

I think it is very important to know how to grow food and not only to do that but how to save seed or have things growing to plant out later on when it is the right time of year such as these sweet potato slips above.

I just wanted to take the time to tell you my feelings of what I am learning.

It is very interesting of how the ladies were so particular such as washing only on Monday and getting it out early.  How the first telephones were, the different types of tools that were used in the kitchen as I have shown in the earlier posts. 

I have learned that long ago there were a lot of contests in the paper.  Recipe contests, household tips, laundry tips and such. 

In this study I can feel uppity people and I can feel the gentle people. What I don't feel at all so far is the rage, impatience we seem to have today.  I see that being properly dressed was very important and taking much care of their clothing and shoes was a given.  This was certainly not the disposable generations and women wore aprons daily to protect their clothing.

Some have asked about our menu, this has been difficult because we are torn with the old menu's and the issues with food sensitivities of today.  What I am working on right now is a similar menu of the past but our version today. 

We will be back into the journal of Albert and Gladys very soon and a few fun extras coming up.  I hope this post was not too long.  Grandma Donna

 
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