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March 13, 2007 at 4:10 am #601
Anyone here have any tales or stories they were told by relatives or friends about the Depression?April 7, 2007 at 9:11 pm #8367
I remember my Grandfather telling me how he hopped a fright train from Oklahoma to caifornia in 1937, he was 14.May 23, 2008 at 10:58 pm #8368
Yes.My Dad graduated from Scranton Central HS in 1935. There just were not any jobs available. He was able to get work at a gas station in suburban Philly through a relative. Later, around 1940, he moved back to Scranton, and got a job with Coca-Cola, where he ended up staying (minus 3 years in the Service of Uncle Sam) until retirement.Dad said they were lucky in the fact his father was a lineman/troubleshooter for Scranton Electric (later absorbed into PA Power & Light), so his dad never lost his job, no matter how bad times got people still needed lights. They were one of the few families in their neighborhood that had a car. So they were relatively unscathed by the Depression.My Mom graduated from Scranton Tech in 1941, and the difference in jobs were amazing as by 1942 jobs were plentiful. Mom worked for the Murray Corp, which made wing components for the B-29.But the Depression was harder on her family. Her dad was a coal miner, and the work ebbed and flowed with demand, so they had flush and lean times. Mom remembers walking the railroad tracks with her sisters picking up coal that fell off the passing trains. While they had food on the table and a warm house, there never was much extra money, yet Mom said they were happy. "I guess we were too stupid to know we were poor" is what she said.Funny thing, children of the Depression are different...they save EVERYTHING (I think my dad had saved every electric motor out of every washing machine my Mom ever had), yet as a kid myself and my siblings had everyting we could ask for, without being spoiled. Yet we had to all work, hard, no excuses (try working for your Dad as a HS kid ;)) and I think that work ethic was a result of not being able to find a job, and once a job was found, the fear of losing it. Kids these days need a healthy dose of my Dad's work ethic. I'll ask my wife about her Mom's experiences on the farm in the '30's and 40's and post them at a later timeMay 23, 2008 at 11:21 pm #8369
My father was born in 1927 and my mother in 1931. My paternal grandmother owned her own restaurant and my paternal grandfather worked odd jobs until World War II then he drove a gasoline truck. My maternal grandfather “rode the rails” in search of jobs for awhile until the war. Mom always said his situation was made more difficult at the time because he was an immigrant from Germany. By the time World War II broke out, Grandpa was a naturalized citizen and found work as a tool & die maker. My maternal grandmother took in washing and ironing for families and raised chickens to sell their eggs. Both grandmothers had gardens for canning vegetables and any surplus was either given to family or friends.From my parents and grandparents combined experiences, I've certainly learned not to waste anything. Mom and my grandmothers taught me to use every last iota of food; don't let a thing go to waste. Clothing can be mended and worn around the house versus tossing out. These things make a difference, in my opinion.May 27, 2008 at 12:39 pm #8370
My grandfather was a beef rancher in Oklahoma, where the family still lives. When the depression hit and the beef market slowed down my grandfather wildcatted for oil on the family farm. He hit a big one and we had a well on the farm that produced well into the 50's. When I was a kid, the rig he used to drill sat in the barnyard. There are still natural gas wells on the place. I have seen pictures of my Grandfather pulling the rig around the farm in the 30's with an old Holt Caterpillar tractor that we still used in the 780's when I was in high school. My family was one of the ones that stuck it out through the dustbowl in Oklahoma. My Grandmother has told me stories of the dust storms and one of the things she hated the most was that no matter what you did, the dust still got into everything. Now that I am older, I wish I had listened better to the stories my Grandparents told before they passed away.July 19, 2017 at 11:16 am #58132
Even in the years after the Great Depression, it must have taken people a bit of time to recover. There was a recent article with photographs and stories about how bustling Coney Island was during the 1940s, and one story stuck out to me from a guy whose parents migrated from Italy to New York:
‘Whenever we passed Nathan’s there was a tug at my father’s coat – and I’d say ‘Papa, fracoforte!’ – I spoke Italian, my first language, and he’d give me a slap on the back of the head and say ‘walk and be quiet.’ I didn’t know why he refused me a hot dog, it was only a nickel! But later on he said to me ‘my dear son, in my old leather purse, I had just enough in there to get us there and get us home.’ We had no extra money for coffee or soda or Nathan’s hot dog.
It amazes me that poor people today have it so much better than poor people of the past. That family had to enjoy the free sights and sounds of Coney Island but couldn’t do much else. I’m sure there are people like that today, but I imagine that even poor people in our time would have money to buy some food here and there when on an outing.
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