Archive for January 21st, 2021

The Year is now 2021 – the Year then was 1929

I have a treasured book in my library. It is a compilation of stories gathered by the children and grandchildren of people who lived through the Great Depression. The title is “We Had Everything But Money”. I have read this book several times and am rereading it again. Why? For two reasons: for the money saving tips contained within and for the uplifting accounts of how real people made the best of a bad time.

We are not in what has been defined as “the Great Depression”, but we are possibly headed for another one. The stark differences between the culture then and the culture now are disturbing to me. The truth of every story in this book is that people helped people. They looked for ways to help. They were doing whatever they could to stay away from government assistance. The creative ways these dear people had for keeping their families together and feeding them was nothing short of miraculous. Even the children were actively involved and their memories of that time was good.

Obviously, not everyone was kind and helpful during the Great Depression. There were indeed suicides and much hopelessness and sadness. For those who lived in loving families, however, the parents endured the pain, doing their best to ensure that their children had what they really needed – their love.

Examine some of the ending remarks of the writers of these accounts:

  • “The only thing we have to fear,” the President [President Roosevelt] said, “is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
  • The helping hands that assisted my parents encouraged them to keep farming, and they stayed at it for many more years.
  • As we look back now on those long-ago years, we realize they weren’t all so bad. We not only survived; we may well have become better and stronger people for the experience.
  • In both good times and bad, our parents always had time for us. We never had much money, but we had all the love any parents could possibly give their children.
  • None of these jobs [WPA] paid more than a few dollars, but they did offer the dignity of work for pay, and proved to be the salvation of many.
  • Still, thanks to the generosity of those who shared their food with us, I can honestly say I never went hungry.
  • My grandparents taught me a lot about life. They taught me not to judge a book by its cover, and that money means nothing compared to decency and character.
  • I was only 9 years old, but I learned several lessons from these wanderers that have stayed with me all my life: keep your pride, be grateful for gifts, and use your initiative and skills to provide for your family.
  • There may have been a shortage of money, but there was never a shortage of love and caring, and for that I’ll always be grateful.
  • And many, many more.

There are many things we can learn from this period in our history. If our culture now was the same as it was back then, it is evident that there would be a lot less complaining and a heap more ingenuity. I pray for that.