Thursday, August 4, 2011

How We Got Through the Great Depression

During the 1930s our Dad was gone much of the time looking for a day's work here and there leaving Mother alone with first, Louise, then me (Dwight), then Liz, and a bit later in the decade, Judy.  We lived in a two-room uninsulated home that would probably be called a shack today.  Here are the resources Mother had to get us through that troubled decade:
  1. Maybe three or four pans and a cast iron skillet.
  2. Two coal stoves, one for heating the bedroom, one for cooking and heating the kitchen.
  3. An enamel dishpan, which sprouted a hole midway through the decade.
  4. Two kerosene lamps.
  5. A can of kerosene.
  6. A stash of coal and green cottonwood for burning in the stoves.
  7. A cellar full of canned peas, beans, tomatoes, corn, peaches, pears, apricots, strawberry jam, plus some potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and a few apples.
  8. Mustard for mustard plasters.
  9. A water bucket for carrying water into the house from the outside pump.
  10. A scrub board.
  11. A galvanized metal bathtub for laundry and baths.
  12. A big garden and an apple orchard in the summer.
  13. Two beds, one of which my two sisters slept on, and the other, a cot, which I slept on, and a sort of couch that Mother slept on in the other room.
  14. A rolling pin and bread pans.
  15. Irons Mother heated on the stove for ironing clothes.
  16. Surely I have left something out.
What we did not have:
  1. A car.
  2. A telephone.
  3. Electricity--until 1939.
  4. Inside plumbing and bath rooms.
  5. Washing machine.
  6. Many toys.
  7. Many clothes.
  8. Store bought groceries of any kind except for a few staples.
But what we did have that got us through the Great Depression:
  1. Love in great abundance.
  2. Warmth.
  3. Great imaginations for inventing things do do.
  4. Mother's indomitable will, perseverance, mustard plasters, and lonely days and nights.
  5. Dad's sacrifice in looking for a day's work anywhere and everywhere and showing up some Saturday nights with the Denver Post with its "funny papers" and making a kite for us that flew and pulling us around in our red wagon and playing his harmonica for us and giving us hugs.  And then he was gone again.
That is how we learned to get by on our own throughout our lives, to tough out the bad times, and to stay close to one another.  So we really came out ahead, didn't we?


Elizabeth said...

Thank you. That was great writing. You did forget the chickens (my picture with them proves that we had them), and there was at least one cow to milk. Milk and eggs. At Louise's birthday party, Wayne Lynn told me that he never ever knew a woman who could work as hard as our mother. Both Mother and Father were heroes who saw us through that difficult time, and allowed the last things you list - the definite pluses for our childhood.

Ann said...

And it is because of those years and the attitudes of our parents that we take time out from the "busyness" of our days to tease, cajole, encourage, and/or annoy each other. The cast iron frying pan that Grandpa Wasden repaired for Mother year's ago that cooks my stove top roast to perfection has become a wished for treasure among my children, perhaps in hopes of keeping that spirit of survival going through the next generation.

Dwight said...

I should have known where the cast iron frying pan went. Of course, Velna has her mother's, but she never uses it. Maybe I'll get it out.

Elizabeth said...

Ask Ann - she knows all about how to take care of cast iron frying pans, etc. "Here's whatcha do."

Judy said...

What's this new thing in the blog where certain words turn red and are underlined. When you click on it, you are invited to search more info based on that word. What's the deal?

Elizabeth said...

Tell me more, Judy. My computer doesn't do that????

Dwight said...

This is supposed to be about the Great Depression before we even heard of computers.

Louise Blood said...

Getting back to your wonderful concise account of those depression years. What is so special about those years is that as children the memories are happy ones. One thing that is so imortant is that we were free to be ourselves. Our imaginations knew no bounds: there was our imaginary family with all kinds of adventures; we were sure there were fairies living in our yard to watch over us. Our minds were opened up with the wonderful fairy tales in the children's literature book to all kinds of imaginary worlds and instilled in all of us to want to explore the world further in books.