Questions and Answers with The Wolf Pack : The Cold War and the Great Depression

Question from Susan B

Regarding the Cold War and even the Great Depression, so many have made such good contributions on these subjects that I want to suggest an complete article devoted to them.

If you, or your parents or grandparents, went through the Great Depression, what were some of the things that ‘got you by’? What was the attitude towards the hobos that would come to the door for handouts? Did you or yours ever have to get your meals at a soup kitchen? How did you make ends meet with very little or no income coming into the household? Were you or your family forced to leave all behind and ‘hit the road’?

On the Cold War, what memories do you have of that era? Did you and your family live in fear? Did you have a fall out shelter and what was in it? Was your family willing to share the shelter with neighbors? Was there prejudice against those from Slavic countries in your area?

Just a few suggestions to get this ball rolling! Looking forward to all of your comments, fellow Wolfies!


  1. Nebraska Woman says:

    My maternal grandparents were not affected by the Depression at all as my grandfather had an excellent job as station master at the railroad. Later he opened his own business and was successful at that. They lived about a mile from the rail lines. My mother remembered that my grandmother cooked huge noon meals so she could feed the hobos. Grandpa had made several tables and benches for the back yard, and my mother’s and aunt’s job was to bring filled plates to the men and wash them later. Grandma scrimped on other things so she could feed these men.
    My father’s family was another story. He grew up in the dust bowl years around Oklahoma and Texas. My grandfather was lazy; my grandmother industrious. Both Dad and his brother worked for a rancher in the area since they were in 4th grade. They pulled in a full day’s work doing a man’s job—punching cattle, chopping cotton, anything. They would bring their dollar home and give it to Grandma, who in turn did all the heavy work around the farm because there was no one else to do it. She farmed with a mule, canned the yields from her garden, kept the house and chicken yard immaculate while her husband sat around and smoked. Dad remembers that in late winter/early spring, all they had for dinner was her home canned food and beans with the inevitable cornbread. They consumed this without question because they knew they were lucky to get it. My uncle had to quit school in 8th grade and my dad finished when he was 20. Dad had an athletic scholarship to Baylor which brought him out of poverty, but my uncle never escaped from it.
    Life was tough for Dad, but my mom did not feel the effects of the times. She only lacked for clothing in college, but my aunt, who had an excellent job, would buy material enoough for 2 dresses, my mom would make them, and they were both happy. Mom worked part time at a myriad of jobs and was very pleased and grateful when her paternal grandmother sent her half of her tuition money one year.
    Hmmm. I learned from this that industrious get ahead. I am proud to say I did not inherit the lazy genes from Dad’s father.

  2. The only thing I remember hearing about was complaints from my mother that grandpa ordered them to use just 3 sheets of toilet paper per trip. He would dole it out before you went to the outhouse!

    • TP was a luxury for many during the Depression. Many used the old sears catalog or newspaper.

      • Tactical G-Ma says:

        I don’t remember ever using toilet paper at either of my grandparents. In the 50’s Dad built a house with indoor plumbing and a septic tank/cess pool sorta thing. That required TP so it wouldn’t clog up.

  3. riverrider says:

    all i know is that when my great-gma died, her house was FULL of shoe boxes filled with ww2 ration coupons. she saved EVERYTHING, wasted nothing,ever. gma said it was due to her depression era experience. she was 97 when she died in 1970. up til then though tortured by arthritis she refused indoor plumbing and took me on walks to dig roots n things. of course i was too young to know what or why, except i remember sassafras root tea, for tired blood she said.

  4. My parents grew up during the depression. My mom had Italian (mostly)immigrant parents and her dad worked for the body Maine railroad as a track laying and repair crew. He rode a by cycle or took a train anywhere they needed to go. They were never hungry but didn’t have luxuries. My dad was the son of English (mosly) immigrants and grew up hungry and hopeless. In the out back of northern Maine. One of the affects of his upbringing facilitated his hoarding in his adult life. I grew during the Cold War era and the constant fear of nuclear attack had such an affect on me that I’m certain it has been one if driving factors in my desire to be self sufficient. We didn’t have a fallout shelter as a child but I remember asking my dad what we do if they sent a bomb over and he told me he would bust thru the concrete basement floor and dig a hole deep enough for us (all 9 of us) to get into and wait for the fallout danger to pass.

  5. Donna in MN says:

    My father remembered in Deland Il, a hobo walking the RR tracks in his back yard was hit by a train. He said there were parts all over and the worst he ever seen, even when he served in WW2. My grandparents and great grandparents never suffered the depression being better off with jobs and farmland not hit by the dust bowl.

    The cold war brought on emergency drills and it was hiding under our desks for a nuke attack,(a gov’t program to instill false hope of survival) and when it became more dangerous for tornados than a cold war, we cowered in the hallways (a more realistic saftey measure).

    Being a kid in the 50’s and 60’s, a nuke attack was not realistic (in the middle of the corn belt), and what damage they showed on TV made it all silly to me to hide under a desk and not in the school’s basement..

    • Grannytraveler says:

      Had to laugh remembering the nuke drills in the 50’s and 60’s, cowering under desks. LOL The Cuban Missile Crisis was another thing entirely. There were armed soldiers in our suburban part of Miami and I remember a lot of my fellow students flying north with their families. My Dad said they were nuts as we were actually safer in the Miami area because anything that hit us would also affect Cuba 90 miles away. I even made it onto a fake news segment showing kids trying to get into a neighbor’s shelter after an attack. The news was trying to show what would happen a la the Twilight Zone episode.

      Both of my sides of the family seemed to have made it through the depression OK without any dire privations. So didn’t learn anything from them about how to survive.

      • Nebraska Woman says:

        I had to laugh at those drills, too.

        How would a desk protect us? Also, the shelters located in the school’s basement were a joke. No toilets or running water.
        I remember huddling next to the building during one of those drills. That’s a laugh, too.

        I forgot to mention that in Texas during a storm, Dad said it was impossible to breathe inside. Grandma was worried about my aunt who was a baby at the time.

  6. Harrison Bergeron says:

    Both my parents grew up in the depression. Sadly, it made my dad an extreme tightwad – couldn’t enjoy anything…

    But overall, people were different back then – for the most part, they rolled up their sleeves and did what they could to survive.

    Today – people act like animals under best conditions, don’t want to think about what they’ll do when the gov’t nipple dries up…

  7. I’m just under 50, but my mom was born in 1927 so I heard a good bit about the depression and still deal with “stuff” that was saved because someone MIGHT find it useful. I do remember my mom talking about hobos asking for food but only ever in exchange for work. It’s not like now when everyone just wants a cash handout. I see people begging for money on street corners near where I work. The DH and I have been approached in parking lots several times by people asking for money “to buy food” or “to pay for lodging for just one more night”. When I have extra food leftover in my lunch bag, I will give it away, but I rarely carry cash so rarely give away money. I get some strange looks when I hand someone an apple and a piece of cheese, or even a container of yogurt and a spoon. I’ve done both and one daughter witnessed both times.

    As for the “stuff” I mentioned earlier. My grandparents almost never threw anything away and neither did my mom. When my mom died and we were going through her stuff, we found farming records from when my grandfather was alive. My grandfather died a few years before I was born. We also found old copies of Life Magazine. I currently have many of my mother’s college notebooks and many old letters from her time. My youngest daughter actually went through some of them and found them quite interesting. Some of the information I still have stored MIGHT be of interest to an historian or a museum, but how do you get that information in the right hands?

    Over the years, I have learned that there is a need for purging but also for knowing the difference between something truly useful and something that just needs to be trashed. It took me a long time after my divorce and my mom’s death to start purging papers from my mom’s business records and from my former marriage, but I did it and I made use of them – I burned them and put the ashes in the garden. Burning things is a great way to purge, not just the stuff but also the bad memories some of it may carry. I still have issues letting go of things, but not near like I used to because I have also realized that I just don’t have the time to do with some of the stuff all the things I think I would want to if I kept it (quilting, crafting, etc). Don’t worry, very little goes in the trash – a LOT goes to others who can fine a use for it.

    As for the cold war, I don’t really remember anything. I’m at a strange in-between age where we did tornado drills instead of nuke drills. However, I do remember there being signs in a couple of the schools I went to that said certain areas were designated fallout shelters.

    • GA Red, the stuff from ur grandparents, u could offer it to a local museum or local historical society. If there’s none in ur area, is there one in a neighboring county or the state capital?

      • The next time I’m cleaning out stuff, I’ll see what I can find. My daughter really enjoyed reading through my mom’s college stuff because of the vast difference in how things were being taught (history) to what she was learning in school at the time. Interestingly, my mom was getting a much more liberal view in the mid to late 40s than what my daughter was getting just a couple of years ago.

  8. SoCalPrepper says:

    My maternal grandparents raised me, and my grandpa was born in 1925, so he grew up in the depression era. He told stories about walking to school extra early to start the classroom’s stove for heat, so he could get an extra penny or two that week to help feed the family.

    They were in Oklahoma, and my grandpa, 10 brothers and 1 sister, lived in one of those big canvas tent house things for at least part of the time. He also told stories of hunting frogs and squirrels for food. They had a .22 rifle, and he would talk about having to replace the firing pin all the time because they were using little nails they would shave down because they couldn’t afford to replace the actual firing pin. His family would work on farms when there was stuff to do – he would plow fields with a plow horse, and talked about one season where they were harvesting turnips – and the farmer let them eat all the turnips they wanted. He never ate another one!

    My grandpa only made it to 4th grade before dropping out to help feed the family – his mother was ok, I guess, but father was an alcoholic. He did odd jobs until he moved to California at around 16, and worked orchards here, and at a plant that made clay pots, and then as a carpenter in the carpenter’s union. He was GOOD with building things, and built a successful business down here in Torrance, CA.

    He was drafted during World War II, and ended up a Marine. He was stationed at Mare Island, and, while he was there, the officers discovered he was a great mess cook – so he actually never left the base there! He cooked for the officers’ mess, which was crazy hours and hard work, but never ended up seeing combat, which I’m thankful for. He still earned “expert” levels in pistol and rifle.

    So what got him through? The attitude that the work is out there, you just have to get out and go find it – there is always a way, and you better go do it and stop crying about your situation. Handouts? Never. That was SO against our family philosophy…my grandpa’s feeling was that they should be out doing something to earn their keep.

    I probably have a lot more stories, but I have to quit now before I totally lose it. My grandpa just passed away last September, 7 days before his 88th birthday. My grandma and mom had already passed, so that was the “last stand” I guess for me – my dad is still around but only kind of counts (I know you know what I mean) and I have a few aunts, but I’m pretty much on my own now….

    • Donna in MN says:

      I am sorry for your loss..I too have lost the old ones and parents who taught me so much, I know they are with me because I keep hearing their jokes, antidotes, and stories in my head when similar things come up. Reminds me if I embrace the ones I love, I never really lose them.

    • Encourager says:

      Sorry about you losing your grandpa, SoCalPrepper.

    • SoCalPrepper,

      It looks like we’re neighbors. Sorry to hear about your grandfather. I lost my step-mom in March. Do you know the “Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf” in the Manhattan Beach Mall? I’d be happy to run into you there one day and buy you a cup.

      • SoCalPrepper says:

        Thanks! Seems we are neighbors! I’m a little bit north, in the Burbank area, but I actually used to live in Marina del Rey and know that Coffee Bean in MB well!

        We’ll have to figure out when we’re crossing paths. My “prepper” email is meyerlemony [at] gmail – it would be great to see if we have other pack members in so cal to meet up with too!

  9. Hunker-Down says:

    My mothers parents immigrated with her oldest sister from Belgium. My grandfather died before I was born. Mom said he had a general store with a whisky still in the back room. He sat staring at a shot glass waiting for a drip of moonshine to show up. Mom had 3 sisters and a brother who died of pneumonia as a teenager.

    I remember my grandmother sending me to a nearby tavern to buy a loaf of bread. She didn’t speak English, just put a nickel in my hand, aimed me at the tavern and pushed.

    My father, his parents, brothers and sisters all suffered from the depression. My grandfather rented and farmed a thousand acres. I have no idea why he would rent and not buy something smaller. There were two houses on the farm for farm hands and their families. My dad had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. When each boy reached 14 he was given a trotter and a courting buggy. When they reached 16, a new car. My grandfather was talked into joining the KKK by neighbors. He did, then investigated what it was. One of the very few times my dad laughed was in telling me how his dad buried that KKK uniform in the dead of night, and how embarrassed he was to have been talked into joining.

    Dads oldest brother flew a mail route in Michigan with Charles Lindbergh and was a pilot in WW1. He told me stories of crossing the Atlantic and the butchering of live cattle on the boat for fresh meat. He flew before they figured out how to mount a machine gun behind the planes propeller, so they were used as enemy spotters and dropped bags of nails on the German tents.

    Great life, right? My dad was getting ready to go to medical school when the depression hit. They couldn’t sell any crops. They burned corn to heat the house. They were kicked off the farm. Grandma took in laundry to earn money for food. They went from respected, successful, rich farmer to white trash.

  10. I’m 63, so not old enough for the Depression or WW!!. I do remember the short stories my parents and grandparents talked about when us kids would complain about not having something. I really respect them for what they went through to provide for their families honestly, and not by robbing banks and stealing from other folks. I served in Viet-Nam and then later the Persian Gulf war. Living conditions in the latter was much better as was the food. Young soldiers would complain about the dust and not being able to shower everyday, but I would remind them of what we had in Viet-Nam for weeks at a time. The greatest generations have really shown resourcefullness and stamina. I doubt the current young ones will niche their mark in the next apocalyse.

  11. My Dad and uncle were boys during the depression and tell stories about climbing on warehouses at train time with their buddies and shooting at hobos with slingshots. My paternal grandfather was a dragline operator, and always had work but was really tight with a dollar. My maternal grandfather was a subsistence farmer and raised hogs. Neither grandparents wanted for anything to eat , but never had many “luxuries”.

  12. Petnumber1 says:

    My parents were both depression-era kids, but their stories were very different. My mom grew up right outside of New York City, and they were hit hard. My grandfather was a general contractor, and he would do home maintenance/improvement for his neighbors in exchange for food, stuff, or whatever they had. Grandma ran a bakery in town until her landlord lost the building, so she rented a tiny little area(I can’t even call it a storefront, because it was basically a hole in the wall with shelves against the back wall, a Dutch door, and she sold her items out of the top of the door. She would get up in the middle of the night, bake a bunch of stuff, drag it all on the train into Manhattan, sell it out of her storefront until it was gone, then get back on the train with all her empty boxes and come home. If she couldn’t sell it all, she would “recycle” it into our meals.

    Hobos were a way of life, but they only asked for meals, not money. Both my grandparents always tried to help whoever stopped by, but that person had to earn their meal – they would put the men to work on virtually anything they could think of. One time, a man came by with a string of fish he had caught in Long Island Sound, and made a deal with Grandma that if she cooked it into a stew, he would stop by every day for lunch, and we could eat the rest. Grandma always said that we were blessed, and therefore we had a responsibility to help others – “to whom much is given, much is expected.”

    My dad’s family never really talked about the depression. They lived in the backwoods of the NC mountains, were very poor anyway, and because self-sufficiency was their lifestyle, it just didn’t affect them that much.

    The Cold War was an interesting time for us. My father was in the Navy, and in 1966, he was sent to Guantanamo Bay (GITMO), Cuba. We went with him, and while I was really too young to know anything was wrong, I was always interested in the weekly drills they would do, the huge fences between the base and mainland Cuba, and the few times they thought we were being invaded, and our dads all had to muster in their assigned place and the families had to go into “blackout” mode (blackout curtains, stay in the house, no noise, etc. until the all-clear was given. I particularly liked these because it meant there was no school. 🙂

    • My dad didn’t talk about the depression (to me) and really wasn’t around much when I was growing up. I heard many more stories from my mom.

      The DH and I have talked about the depression and the various stories he heard from his mom and her family as compared to what I heard from my mom, plus what we’ve seen in documentaries. To us, it seems that if you farmed in the SE, your lifestyle was very self-sufficient and the depression was felt, but food was not totally scarce. Yes, they had to stretch things and my mom wore flour sack dresses, but there was always food.

  13. tommy2rs says:

    My grandparents made it through the depression and the WW2 shortages without much trouble. They had a small farm and my grandmother wrote plays and entered cooking contests for the prize money, which she won more often than not. My grandfather also had a side business. During the Depression they had a hobo mark that told that a meal was available if one was willing to work for it but not to cross the lady of the house.

    I was able to get my mother to write down stories from her life so I have several legal pads with all sorts of family history, anecdotes and examples of day to day life. She also went through all the heirlooms she had and added tags with their origins and dates.

    • Hey Tommy,

      I don’t want you to give away anything that’s personal, but I’d love for you to transcribe some of what’s on those legal pads your mom wrote. I think it would be absolutely fascinating to get a glimpse into that past.

      • tommy2rs says:

        I tried scanning them but the OCR software couldn’t read what my Mom wrote. Lol…she’s the only person I’ve ever known that had worse handwriting than mine. As far as typing them in, the kids have been after me about that as well but with the arthritis it takes me forever to even do a post on here that’s intelligible….lol. Takes 3 times as long to typo correct as it does to type. I’ve gotten The Boss to agree to do it but I have to decipher the hieroglyphics for her so it’s slow going.

  14. Reading the posts I see a common thread: those that did OK lived on farms where they could grow their own food and those that had basic skills like being a carpenter. Today food is grown on huge commercial farms mostly. How many people have backyard gardens? How many, many people work in offices and have no skills with their hands? If we had another Great Depression it would be a very, very different one.

  15. I remember the duck and cover practice at kindergarten and grade school. We would all run into the windowless storage closet, which I suspect was built for that purpose, sit cross legged, bend over as far as we could with our arms over our heads, and wait for Mr. Khrushchev to explode a bomb over our school.

    I remember stealing the first aid kit from the school bus when I was about 6 or 7, and hiding it in my closet, and filling wine bottles with water and putting them in the pump room, because that had a concrete ceiling. My parents didn’t find them for months, and didn’t mind when they did. They weren’t into preparing, tho.

    One of my better friend’s parents, did, though. They built a fallout shelter in grandma’s basement, which was used mostly for storing non prepping gear. I don’t remember any food or water in there. Might have been.

    I remember the two Nike missile sites, one in downtown Milwaukee by the lake, and the other in River Hills, which was another suburb nearby. Sometimes we would drive past one or the other and see the white missiles pointing up into the sky.

    Mostly they lay down in concrete troughs to protect them. They were intended to be fired if incoming Soviet bomber fleets were over Wisconsin, and were to be exploded about 60 miles out, in the air among the fleet before they could get to Milwaukee.

    It was years later that I found out that Nikes carried nuclear warheads, so we were planning on airbursts over Wisconsin (and probably over or near smaller cities like Oshkosh, which were more or less 60 miles out) in order to protect industrial Milwaukee.

    So thinking back, we had nuclear weapons deployed in downtown Milwaukee, and in the suburbs, planned to be used over our own state. They were all over the country, of course, so long as there was a chance the Soviets would deliver bombs via bombers, rather than ICBMs.

    I remember TV ads of Khrushchev pounding his shoe on a table, and the voice over saying “This man is saying “We are going to bury you.”

    I remember the Lyndon Johnson ad against Goldwater (which IIRC only ran once), of a little girl playing in a field full of flowers, picking the petals off a daisy, suddenly replaced by a mushroom cloud, with a voice over saying that we needed to love each other, or else. Vote for Johnson.

    You can see it here:

    I remember my friends and I turning the big crawl space under our summer porch into one of our numerous forts. I drilled a hole in the ceiling and ran an extension cord up to an outlet on the porch so we would have a lamp, and we used a loose board for a spy port and gun port for watching for Russians coming down the road.

    We also had rock fights on the beach. One of my friends had a Nazi helmet his father brought back from the war, with a bullet hole on the right side and a small outward dent on the left side, which we would trade around during the rock fights. One time we were lobbing rocks/grenades at each other over a hedge and I had no sooner gotten the helmet on than a particularly big grenade landed right on top.

    I still have a small scar on my forehead from where a friend’s little sister hit me with a rock. I got two stitches for that one. I don’t remember any parental admonitions about more rock fights, though. We were all allowed to do pretty much as we pleased.

    We picked up a lot of planks by beach combing, and one time dug a big pit in the sandy soil of the vacant lot next door, covered it with driftwood planks and then newspaper, and covered it all up except for an entrance. It made a great bomb shelter, if not easily defended.

    We were very big on rock fights, and playing army. Between the recent World War, the Korean War, and the Cold War, war was on the kids’ minds.

    I remember sitting on the kitchen counter when I was 9, home alone with my two older sisters, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and my sister telling us that Milwaukee was 35th on the list for the Russians to bomb. I have no idea if she was right, but I remembered.

  16. Exile1981 says:

    I remember duck and cover drills and that horrible jingle —– “When you see the flash, duck and cover, duck and cover.”

  17. Big Bear says:

    I was 10 years old in 1957 and vividly remember the beginnings of the cold war and our fears of nuclear war. I lived in a small farming community and my father owned the Purina Feed dealership. So, even though we lived in town we had close connections to the farms. I used to go with my dad on Saturdays when he made his rounds of the farms to take orders for the coming week and to collect debts. It was a small town and my dad carried the debts of many farmers until their crop was taken to market. Many times the farmers wouldn’t have the cash to make a payment so my dad would take vegetables, chickens, pork, beef or other goods in trade. Bartering was a way of life. Adults back then were mostly all children during the great depression and they remembered the hard times during the Great Depression. My folks were from Tennessee and Texas, and they both knew the value of a dollar as well as preparing for the future. I had two uncles that had left home as teenagers to work for the CCC. One worked on the TVA project and the other was sent to New Mexico to build roads. I remember their stories of what it was like living in the CCC camps. Times were tough back then but most people seemed to be up to the challenges.

    As the cold war heated up our town elders created a Civilian Response group (all volunteers) that trained to be able to help the community survive if needed. It seemed to me that all of the townsmen were veterans of WWII as I watched the annual 4th of July Parade. It was the biggest holiday of the year and our flag was proudly flown from every building for weeks before and after the 4th. Those men that had served proudly marched I the parade, most in their uniforms (if they could still fit in them).

    Our schools taught the three R’s along with History and there was no such thing as dumbing down the curriculum. Teachers didn’t belong to any union and were considered to be dedicated, professionals by our community. Gangs were more likely to egg your house than to do anything violent.

    We had a root cellar that doubled as our fallout shelter. As I remember it was always full of home canned food: staples like flour, sugar, salt, and such. The Cuban missile crisis was a very big deal and “duck and cover” was taught in the schools. Like ducking under a desk would be protection! Our neighbors were like family and we all looked out after each other.

    Although the threat of nuclear war was palpable we all trusted our government to do what was best for our country. Politics was not a dirty word and politicians were, for the most part, considered to be honest people! I wonder now if I just too young to see reality or if there was actually a time and place where this was actually true.

  18. My dad grew up in the depression, he did not know he was poor, his family lived in an apartment building, several generations and extended family living in the same building, everyone pitched in to do something, they had several business going, they sold ice cream(they had a small commercial ice cream factory on site), fruits and veggies from horse drawn carts, grew summer veggies behind the horse barn, and everyone worked, most several jobs. He said that no one went without food, although meat was missing from the menu a lot of the time.
    The cold war I remember, we were so close to New York City, and we had Missile tracking radar on the ridge behind our home, so doing anything like building a bomb shelter was pointless, we figured we were goners. What did happen in that time was my folks were more worried about another depression, so they had lots of “stocked up”(their word for prepping) food and water.

  19. I’ve interviewed some of my older relatives to learn more about my family history. The ones who lived thru the Great Depression lived on small (40 acres usually) farms in Wisc. They told me farming was much different back then, in that farmers grew a wide variety of crops & always had a large garden. THus, during the depression, they were never hungry or lacking food, b/c they grew almost all their own food. (yeah, we’d say they were “self-sufficient.”), & what they didn’t grow, they’d trade w/ neighbors & occasionally the general store in town.

    But the Depression did affect them in that they never had $$ for anything. Made clothes out of seed bags, flour bags or gunny sacks. Or hand-me-down clothes. If they wore a hole in the bottom of their shoe, Mom put a piece of cardboard in it. & ran around barefoot during the summer. & the lack of $$ meant they couldn’t afford to replace any of their farm machines (that were still pulled by horses then). But replacing a horse was done by mating (can’t think of the other term) or trading for one.

  20. My paternal grandparents came from the Ukraine a few years before the Depression and lived near the lake Superior area. Grandfather was very fortunate to get a job with the rail line at that junction where boxcars carrying grains from the Prairies were transferred into boxcars returning east. His job was to sweep out the Prairie boxcars before they returned west, and he regularly dragged home many sacks of sweepings to feed their precious chickens or to trade some. Gran lost a few hens when the rooster foraged in the woods and the ladies followed, so she tied a rope to the rooster’s foot and she didn’t lose any more hens.

    They never noticed any discrimination as immigrants, if anything, everyone worked to help one another in case they themselves needed help. My gran walked everywhere, miles at a time, to save money, had a big veg garden of staples in the front lawn, and did all her own preserving, including her own apple pectin for jam making, as well as meats. The kids foraged for wild fruits and mushrooms. As needed (and often out of season) Gramps shot a deer which they quickly processed into sausages or salted meat before the law could figure who’d been shooting. My dad fished the local river to feed the family and his dog, a part husky. Bears were a serious problem so the dog was a good alarm.

    They’d also built an indoor dirt root cellar below the cabin floor where they stored the prepared meats, barrels of kraut, potatoes, etc. The trap door was hidden and covered with a mat in case thieves or the law searched the house (and found nothing). Gran said that if you worked hard and used your brain you wouldn’t starve.

    • do you have your gran’s recipe for apple pectin? thanks.

      • HiPlains says:

        Wasp, here’s a link for homemade apple pectin….very simple!

        • She passed away just before I was born, but the posted link would be very similar to what she made. My dad said that all her jams and jellies had an apple flavour to them which he really liked. Just remember that the pectin must be made when apples are ready, usually at busy harvest season time. And that not all apples have great pectin content. You’ll need to research varieties.

          • Papasmurf says:

            High Plains, I can remember my Great-Grandmother crying when her Quince bush died. My father and uncle removed the old bush for her and my father offered to get another quince for her, but she said no, she wasn’t likely to live long enough for the thing to produce. I was about ten then, and quince had very little in the way of apple, or really any, flavor. She used “boughten” Certo after that, but thought it inferior. And just by the way, she lived to be 96 and my oldest daughter remembers her well. – Papa

  21. My dad was born in Kentucky in 1921. The family lived in a coal mining town in Appalachia (a “company” town) but my grandfather was an electrician, not a miner. Dad and his brother were assigned the chore of walking along the tracks after the train passed and gathering lumps of coal so the family could heat their house. The only other unusual thing I can remember being told is that they had one lightbulb and they would unscrew it and take it into whichever room they were going. I wish I could ask questions of my dad or especially my grandmother. I would like to know how she fed the family of six — parents and four children.

  22. JeffintheWest says:

    My parents were both born in the 1920’s and grew up during the Depression; Mom was five in 1929, and Dad was seven. Mom’s family was a big one and her parents owned their own farm in Ohio free and clear (no debt — so the bank couldn’t take their farm away). Her father spent the depression feeding his extended family, most of whom were worse off than they were, so they never had much, but they always had enough. She learned how to make her own clothes and do the cooking and everything, and most of that she learned in school (remember when schools actually taught stuff you needed or wanted to know instead of how to sing Obama songs?). She married Dad in 1942 and left the farm to work first in an ammunition plant, and later went to DC as a secretary until the war ended.

    Dad’s family was a lot worse off — they worked in the clay pipe mills in Urichsville Ohio and when the depression hit, those plants pretty much closed (back then Urichsville was known as the clay pipe capital of the world, and produced most of the pipes used in municipal water and sewege systems throughout America,but when the depression hit there was no money for things like that for over a decade). They scrounged and did whatever they could to raise a few dollars here and there. Dad actually dropped out of High School in 1940 in order to go into the CCC in order to provide some money to his family (half of his paycheck was sent to his parents every month as part of the deal) and then joined the Navy as soon as he could and continued to send roughly half of his check to them right up until he married Mom in 1942.

    Because of that experience, both of them knew the value of a dollar and worked hard to maximize how they used them — Mom was still making her own clothes right up until the year she died, and was actually pretty darn competent at it. (She was also a professional quality baker — her baked goods were simply amazing and have very rarely been equaled much less surpassed by any professional baker whose services I’ve used over the years.)

    As far as the Cold War goes, I guess it’s like anything else — when you grow up with it, it just seems normal. NOT having the Cold War hanging over our heads seems like the weird thing to me, even today. And actually, in one sense, the Cold War made the world a SAFER place than it is today. Both sides were excruciatingly aware of the fact that the other side could literally incinerate an entire continent if it came down to actual war, and as a result tended to work hard to prevent any kind of incident that would tend to lead that way. 9/11 never would have happened in the Cold War — the Soviets would have been as eager as us to stop such an act cold since they would have been desperately afraid we might blame them and respond accordingly — just as we would have done everything possible to prevent such an act on Soviet soil. Sure, there were proxy wars and guerrilla campaigns and coups and assassinations all the time — but those things still happen, and now there’s no “brake” on them at all, like there was when both sides worked hard to prevent things from spiraling out of control. Of course, it was scary from time to time as well — periodic bouts of nuclear brinkmanship as first one side then the other attempted to “show resolve” or misjudged how strongly the other side might feel about some attempt to shift the balance of power a little more towards your side, but every one of the leaders involved had grown up and fought in World War II and not one of them really wanted another global war, especially not a nuclear one. Really, that’s why this whole “Rhineland-redux” thing over the Crimea is so scary — it is literally almost identical to the whole Hitlerian use of ethno-centrism and anger against an “imposed peace” by outsiders as a method of justifying aggression in the face of a disfunctional and disunited “military alliance” that has outlived its initial purpose and failed to effectively define what it’s new purpose is or should be (in 1936-39 it was the Anglo-French alliance, now it’s NATO).

    Anyway, you asked, and that’s what comes immediately to mind….

  23. HiPlains says:

    One of the things that impacted our family, was that after living through the WW2 bombings in Germany, my parents made it very clear that if shtf while any of us kids were away from home, we were to drop everything and come home. Reason being, there was so much irrational behavior and panic in group shelters that they witnessed in addition to losing control of your choices. Older kids were to get younger siblings by the hand and “GIT” home – even from school – just shut your mouth and go. We were taught that we were a unit and would gather all at home, then deal with the problem together.

  24. I grew up in an entirely different time period. My earliest memories are of watching the evening news to see if my dad or anyone local was KIA in Vietnam. We would ride our bikes around the base (Westover Air Force Base in Springfield, MA) and wait for the death notice cars. All the kids in the neighborhood would follow the black, bleak cars to see who’s daddy died that day.

    Our favorite game was Star Trek. There was an abandoned hospital and barracks on a closed-off part of the base. We would imagine that all the adults were dead and that it was our job to secure the base. We almost got caught by MPs once.

    • Bam Bam – I don’t remember much about Vietnam except that when my oldest brother was getting draft notices in the early 70s, I was really scared that he would have to go and get killed. It was somewhat humorous that it turned out to be football drafts – at least that is what I was told.

      • Tactical G-Ma says:

        I attended my first Vietnam casualty funeral, a friend’s closed casket funeral. He was a year older than I. I remember wondering if he was in there or was it just a pile of rocks.
        In 71 or 72 while at Elmendorf AFB, we went to DefCon 3 and went into lockdown in shelters for something like 20 hours. I don’t remember why. But afterward even going to the movies or grocery shopping meant knowing where the shelters were. But I tried not to think of it or else I might go nuts. I just prayed cooler heads would prevail.

        • JeffintheWest says:

          Might it have been in ’73? That was the year the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Egypt and Syria was fought, and the Soviets alerted 7 Airborne divisions for movement to Syria and Egypt. Nixon ordered us to DEFCON 3 in response.

  25. CountryVet says:

    Both my parents have passed now. My mother’s family barely survived the Great Depression. They lived in a small town. She told stories of being sent out with a single 22bullet and was expected to bring something home or the family did not eat meat. They foraged for wild foods and grew what they could. An infant sibling died. LIfe was HARD- they were hungry most of the time. My father was raised on a ranch. They had plenty of food, but he told of long lines of young able bodied young men coming by willing to work all day for just a meal. Before his death about a year ago, he cautioned me many times that we have something comeing that is going to make the Great Depression pale in comparison. Mother expressed the same sentiment on more than one occasion and urged me to start canning and dehydrating 5years or more ago. .

  26. Spinning Gramma says:

    Some of you probably remember the painting of the old man praying for his supper of soup and bread. According to my mother, this man was a hobo who came through a little town in N. Minnesota during the depression and earned his supper by posing for the artist, Eric Enstrom, who was my mother’s girlfriend’s uncle. My mother’s family had money since her dad was postmaster but they also had a small farm and had food but not much extra anyway. Since he was postmaster, he knew what families were hurting and was known for giving his clothes away. One Christmas he asked all his kids to choose one of their gifts to give to a poor family who had nothing.

    • Donna in MN says:

      That was a well known picture, my grandma had it hanging in her breakfast room in Minneapolis since I was born . Thanks for reminding me how it came to be-

  27. All I can say about the cold war , is that the Russian people were lied to as bad as we were lied to . I notice we didn’t mind the different politics when we were fighting WW2 together , in fact making our propaganda movies for the home front about how brave the Russians were ……then all the sudden all the bullshit went the other way . In modern day , the propaganda is going full blast again …………..but this time you have a choice ( you did the first time as well , but chose not to think for yourself ) Does this government represent who you are and what you are all about as a person ? No ? …well guess what , the other sides government most likely is not who their people really are either . The cold war is over ….its not the Soviet Union anymore ( unfortunately WE have tried to fill that void ) so you have a choice , be led around by the nose AGAIN …or not . I know many Russians , I like them as a people , ……..I can tell you this , I would much rather be around Russians , than Mexicans . Just Sayin .

  28. My parents are long gone. Dad was born in 1918 in central Wisc and Mom was a couple years older and born in El Paso Texas. Mom lived on a cotton farm in the Rio Grande valley and she had 5 sisters and 6 brothers. She said things were not great but they did okay. Dad lived on a hard scrabble farm in rural Wisconsin where the soil was mostly sand, but deer were plentiful when you had ammo. From what I remember, they built their own house when times were better and cemented some dimes into the concrete sill of a window. During the depression, my grandfather could not find work and they pried the dimes out to have money to buy food. Eventually he left for Chicago to find a job because there was no work locally. He was a brick mason by trade. Dad said every day they would look down the road hoping to see him walking back toward home. He said the day my grandfather came home they had no food left and he was so hungry. My grandmother took the last of some flour in a can and the rest of the bacon grease and made gravy for him. He told me he remembered it to be one of the best meals he ever had. Right after he finished the last of it, my grandfather showed up with groceries.

  29. Both of my parents grew up during the great depression. My mothers family was large but my grandpa had a job which kept him home and employed once WWII broke out. Both of her grandparents lived on farms and supplied them with food from time to time and my mother would spend summers helping on the farm. My mom worked on a truck farm as a young women later on to earn a little money which she probably gave to her family. She didn’t speak of these times much, most likely because times were hard. She eventually went to business college in the 1950’s and became an accountant.
    On my dads side he had grandparents and cousins who all had farms. My grandfather was a caretaker for wealthy people who owned summer homes near where he lived. My grandmother would do housekeeping for these people, do laundry, can food, make homemade soap and raise a family. The family always had a huge garden and my grandmother canned everything possible for the long MN winters. My oldest brother was a drunk who was married with his own family but he was a tool and die maker and had work. My other uncle went to the CCC’s and sent money home to the family. He was drafted and served throughout WWII in the pacific in the U.S. Army and sent some money home. When my dad was a kid he had a .22 rifle given to him by a rich uncle and said he hunted all day most of the time to bring home meat. My uncles and my dad would go fishing a lot as well to bring home some food. My dad had to quit high school after my uncle was drafted because his father became sick and could no longer work and he had to support his family. He joined the U.S. Navy when he was 16 or 17 in about 1942. My grandmother would feed hobos all the time but they would have to split or chop wood or do other chores for a meal. My dad never said that one person expected a free meal.

  30. hvaczach says:

    My maternal grandma and grandpa lived just a 1/4 mile from the tracks, she often fed the hobo’s they would offer a day’s work for a day’s meals, and being Iowa farmers always work to do. Her thought was either get a day’s work and give em a good meal or plan on them killing a few chickens or a hog or robbing you blind. The times were tough and she alway’s said treat people with respect and give them a chance at dignity (work for a meal) and they never had trouble over all those years! That being said those were a different time the welfare hoards didn’t exist then.

    • hvaczach says:

      By the way my grandpa was also known to make a killer apple brandy back in the day probly didn’t hurt anything.

  31. My dad and aunt shared lots of stories of growing up in the depression. My grandfather was a country doctor for the rural community in which they lived. He also farmed, tended his orchard, raised chickens, pig and hogs, so they did ok in the depression, but that wasn’t saying much! People still had babies, broke bones and had farming accidents & my grandfather treated them regardless of their ability to pay because it was the right thing to do. Just like in the movie ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ people paid him with what they had. Sometimes it was a ham at Christmas, a bag of fall apples, or help in the spring to get the soil tilled for Spring planting. As a result of these lean times, nothing was wasted. My grandmother made quilts from old clothes, they raised bees for honey and we’re really very self-sufficient. Once my dad wanted a new pair of shoes for school, so he pulled the soul off his shoe, went to my grandfather to show him the ‘proof’ that he needed a new pair! To my dad’s surprise, he agreed. With the anticipation of a new pair of shoes, my dad was quite shocked at supper when my grandfather came into the house for supper with my dad’s shoes. He had cut out a new sole and sewed them onto the original shoe. He only comment was, ‘This will do until next fall’. Great Example!

  32. Maternal grandparents lived in El Paso, Tx where my mother was born in late 30’s. Grandaddy was a carpenter and later a Baptist minister. When things were tight, he would do carpentry for trade. Many people instead of paying the minister a salary, they gave food, or animals. They weren’t well off by any means, but they were happy.

    Paternal grandparents worked land up around the Red River. My dad would leave early on weekends at age 6-7 with a gun and hunt for food for the rest of the family. He says it was nothing for him to be gone all day and the rest of the family would help him skin out whatever he found. My grandmother canned everything and I remember she kept a garden, even in later years. When she would write me letters she would put in how much everything cost..down to the penny. She sewed everyone’s clothes.

    Daddy was drafted during the Bay of Pigs for which I was born out of Texas at Ft. Gordon, GA. His job was to train recruits to lay elec. line (they used spikes back then to climb the poles). Mother and I came back to the farm now in North Texas Panhandle with my paternal grandparents. Mother never canned much except jams but did sew and even made my dads suits.

    I was a duck and cover kid back in the 60’s. As kids we would watch the sky during recess so we could alert the teacher if we saw anything…they had us petrified. Mother and daddy always did things themselves. They started with a two bedroom cinder tile house and added on until they have 4,000 sq ft. now…of course, my brother and I learned to lay tile at an early age.

    Daddy’s family always saved things…just in case. Mother hates clutter and throws away things that she needs three months later. Since I put my house up for sale and moved home to take care of my parents and let them live in their home as long as possible many of my preps are in their storm cellar and anywhere else we can find. Mother thinks it is silly, but I just put on my Scottish stubborn.

  33. My maternal grandparents lost their farm in Rose City, Ark. during the Depression. They were forced to move to the city of Little Rock. They shared two lessons:

    1. Banks can get away with stealing. Grandfather said he had a bank receipt showing he had paid his farm note, but the bank back-dated the farm loan’s due date two days. They came to the farm and told him the receipt in his hand was void because he was “late” in paying the loan off. The bank foreclosed immediately and kicked the family of five off the farm. They wouldn’t even let my grandfather take his farm equipment for resale – said it was part of the foreclosure.

    2. Everyday skills can make money. Before losing the farm, my Grandmother sold her homemade fruit pies for money. Afterwards, she worked as a seamstress and also handcrafted delicate lace for women’s dresses. My Grandfather worked the railroad, and did fishing and hunting when at home. He also was known to make moonshine. They had a big garden that took up the entire backyard – and always saved seeds.

    What got them through it, was their willingness to work hard.

  34. My maternal grandparents were born in the 1890’s in southern Indiana.. My mother was born in 1921. She had 3 older sisters, 3 younger sisters and 4 brothers. My grandfather was a farmer. Around 1928, he sold all his farm equipment and animals (I have a record of the sale) and moved to Illinois where he worked as a foreman. They rented a nice house and then the depression hit. My grandfather had kept the farm, evidently he had rented out the land. They moved back to Indiana. They lived on beans and potatoes, biscuits, milk, butter, and pork , canned veggies from their garden in the winter. In the summer, there was eggs and fresh garden produce. They had an apple orchard, other fruit trees, wild blackberries. So, they did not go hungry. However, 5 of the 6 oldest children were girls. They worked from before sun-up to after sun-down 4 months of the the fields. School was 8 months in farming communities and many did not go beyond 8th grade. The oldest girl went to live with her grandparents so she could avoid the farm work. The next 4 girls worked in the fields with teams of horses doing hard labor at a very young age.
    They also milked the cows, curried the horses, collected eggs, worked in the garden, washed clothes, ironed clothes.etc etc. My mother said they couldn’t wait till Sunday so they could have a day of rest. Later on they did get tractors. My 2 older aunts pretty much won’t talk about it. They are all still living 99, 97, 94, and my mother is 92. My grandfather also drove the school bus, and in the summer, the mother and her sisters would often sleep in the school bus parked under the trees.

    They had 2 dresses a year, one for church, and one for school. My grandmother would look at a dress in the Sear’s catalogue and could make one from just a picture. They had 1 pair of shoes. My mother was also an outstanding seamstress, and could make anything.

    For Christmas, they got a piece of candy, an apple, and an orange.
    One year 4 of the girls got 1 tube of lipstick to share between them.

    There were 2 rooms upstairs. One the girls slept in and the other the boys. My mother shared a bed with 2 to 3 sisters at a time. In the winter she would wake up with snow on her bed, because the upstairs was not finished. They took warmed irons wrapped in newspaper to bed too.

    My mother said that all of their surrounding neighbors, friends, and family lived like this too. They did not know that they were poor and had very little because everyone else around them were in the same situation. If you wanted to eat, you worked hard.

    They lived out in the country so there were not a lot of hobos. Sometimes there were men looking for work, and my grandfather would do his best to find something for them to do to earn their meal.

    My paternal grandparents were born in the 1880’s. My grandfather was a railroad engineer and did quite well until the depression. My father said that he had purchased several new Fords before the depression hit. My grandfather lost his job, and moved his family back to southern Indiana where he was from, to a small plot of family land. He never worked again. I am not sure if he even tried to find work. My grandmother and her children (7) did all the working, in factories, in the garden, whatever to feed the family. My father worked hard, but his family just had a garden, not farm land.

    My father and mother got married in 1940.when my mother turned 18, after an altercation with her father. My grandfather did give them a milk cow for their wedding present and some chickens. Later my dad worked for the REC putting in electric lines. They went to Holister and Branson, Missouri, and some places in the south. Quite an adventure for 2 farm kids.
    So, from this my parents are very frugal, and hard working people all their lives. They don’ t believe in all of the handouts and wealth redistribution.

    My father was in WWII and the Korean War. He was stationed in Japan, Iwo Jima, Guam, Philipines, Egypt, Lebanon, Germany, Turkey, that is just overseas. I remember them talking about running to the foxholes, I think it was Japan during the Korean War. My mother was in charge of equipment supply parts acquisitions for planes during the Korean War while my dad was stationed in Japan and they (the US) would not sent her repair parts because we were not in a war!!!. Her bosses plane went down and he was killed because he flew in a plane that was not fit to fly. So, even back then we were not supporting our troops!

    So, my mother has always planned and prepared. She stored extra food ,and other supplies and taught this to my sister and I. It is a way of life.

    I don’t remember the cold war other than my father did something with missiles in Turkey and Germany during the Cuban crisis. We were living in Turkey during that time. I think he kissed the ground when we landed in Germany after getting out of Turkey where you basically had lost your American citizenship

  35. Chuck Findlay says:

    Only one comment about not trusting banks?

    I have some family members that have had bad (illegal action) experience with banks in resent years. I think that we are poised to have a lot of people that are going to learn the hard way that banks are not to be trusted. My grandparents lost money from bank actions. I was young and never got the story as to how they lost it, but they considered it theft and they never trusted a bank again. I never forgot that lesson and do not keep much money in the bank. I keep it at home in a safe. I feel this is more of a safe way to secure my hard earned money then to trust a bank. This way I don’t have to ask for and get permission from a flunky to get my own money.


  36. OK, Here’s my story. Pop Pop and Nana were born in 1902 and 1903 respectively. They were my mom’s parents. Pop Pop graduated college at 18 in 1920. He was in ROTC at the time but at 18 was too young to get a commission. They told him to come back when he was 21. So at 18 he got a job at the Philadelphia Electric Company as an engineer. He was too young to enter into WWI and was considered an “essential civilian” during WWII. So no war for him. Nana was a housewife and a mother to three children. Her only son, my uncle, spent his time in the army guarding the under reaches of the White House as an MP during Viet Nam. I had no idea that the White House had below ground floors. That is apparently Top Secret, but he told me that when I was five so it sucks to be him for telling a kid that information. My Grand Parents weathered the first world war, the great depression, and the second world war in a sleepy little suburb of Philadelphia, PA. I remember my grandmother warning me about hobo’s. My dad’s parents, Mee Mom and Bee Bop… I named then when I was two and just forming sounds, don’t judge… had a different life. Bee Bop was an industrialist. He was a snack food king. He had a factory that made pretzels that he eventually sold to a company called “Granny Goose”. He had one daughter and one son. He treated that son like shit. That was my dad. Dad went into the Army between Korea and Viet Nam. He was a company clerk. He explained to me it was like “Radar O’Reilly” on M*A*S*H but that he was in the same time Elvis was in. Dad didn’t get drafted, that’s why he was only in for two years. Mom and Dad got married after he got out of the Army and adopted me a few years later. Mom said they moved 13 times in 3 years while dad moved from job to job.

    This is all anecdotal. I didn’t start to show an understanding to what was going on around me until I was about five years old. Mom and Dad split up, and mom put me in the back of a ’71 Pinto and drove me from Pennsylvania to California. The guy she met up with on the way was her boyfriend. I hated him, but oddly never had any ill feelings towards the girl my dad was banging. Perspective is an odd thing when you are five.

    Long story-short, we wound up in a suburb of Los Angeles. 13 miles south of Rocketdyne. These were the folks that built and tested the rocket engines for the ICBM’s, and we were about 60 miles away from Vandenburg AFB. If you think that earthquakes were a problem, you have never been woken up at 6am when Rocketdyne was testing a rocket. The whole house shook!

    As far as memories of the Cold War go, it was constant, abject fear. My step-father worked for a defense contractor. He had a Top-Secret security clearance. I heard the clicking on the phone line when the government was listening in and checking out. I saw the cars parked keeping us under surveillance. I learned at a very early age that Freedom is only given to a select few. We used to play street hockey, and we made it a point to slap that tennis ball onto the surveillance cars as often as possible. They always drove Ford’s, odd.

    I don’t know if my parents ever lived in fear, but I know I did. We as a family didn’t do anything to prepare. My step-father said we were too close to a ground zero target so we wouldn’t have to worry about it. He was a huge wine drinker, so I would take his wine bottles and fill them up with water and hide them in my closet and under my bed. Then mom found them one day and lost her mind. She thought I was emulating him and trying to “drink” so she emptied them out. I got grounded.

    The question was, was there any racism towards any one from Slavic countries. The answer is no. My step-father was the biggest bigoted racist I’ve ever met. The racism that I was indoctrinated with was towards blacks and Mexicans. I had never met anyone from a Slavic country while I was growing up.

    I went to college and after the money ran out, I chose to enlist. It frosted all of my parents asses that I chose a combat arm. Granted, it was the Air Force, but most people don’t know that there are combat arms of the Air Force. Apparently, I was the only one in my family to willingly put himself in harm’s way. Nature vs. Nurture. Don’t forget, I was adopted.

    Since my step-father was such a racist and if you can’t tell by now that I am as white as you can get, it really frosted his ass when I got married.

    Let me be clear here, I got married because I was in love. It was icing on the cake that the woman I fell in love with was black. And she was fully on board with dealing with the racist prick that was my step-father. I had to be on board with dealing with her dad. He was just as big a racist and a former Marine. We both had our work cut out for us.

    There was a movie that came on TV when I was in High School. It was called “The Day After”. I remember seeing the promo’s for it and it made my stomach hurt. I never watched the movie. When the kids in school talked about it, I remember having to run to the bathroom to throw up. That’s when I realized just how out of touch people were. The town I grew up in could be called Provo, UT south… and these people just didn’t get it. I was constantly asked, “do you think this could really happen?”

    I came from a very coddled, very entitled, very white family and yet, I’m the only one with callouses on my hands. I’m starting to think that callouses equal brains.

    • Thanks for relaying your story. The DH calls me “The Pale Princess” and says my pasty white legs glow in the dark. Fortunately, he also knows I’ll work just as hard if not harder than he will when it comes to physical labor, especially in the yard. My calluses aren’t as bad as they used to be, but I do have some. My childhood would also seem rather privileged, but all four of us children have done our share of physical labor. I think the key is not being afraid to get your hands dirty.

      • Heh, yea. I don’t get sunburned because I don’t go out in the sun. I can still get Moon burned pretty badly. By your name I’m guessing you’re a red head. I hate the term ginger. I am too. There’s something odd about our skin. It burns really easily, but takes twice as long for a callouse to develop.

  37. Cold war? Wonderful time for a 10y boy.1969 with two friends we sneaked to the frontier in the Harz mountains with our tuned Airguns and blew up “SM 70” anti personal mines.
    And then there was a wonderful alert at the communist side with beautiful fireworks :)).

  38. My dad was older than my mom and grew up in the depression. His father left his mom with 4 kids. She washed and ironed for the wealthy, she was a caretaker for a widowed lady with a stipend, she grew food, my dad started trapping at 5…they just worked it out.

    She married my “grandfather” when my dad was still young, it was a Brady Bunch situation. My grandfather worked as a ranch manager, so food was no longer a problem. As soon as they could, they bought land on the outskirts of town and built a house on it. Themselves.

    My dad and his new brothers lived two years in a tent before they could add on a room for the boys. My grandparents had lots of chickens, a huge garden, many fruit trees, a pond they dug themselves and stocked with fish, a water well that they dug themselves, and a full shop and barn. When a night club was built down the highway, they bartered with the owners for beer.

    It was the ultimate in self sufficiency. It was a good life. They lived this way until I was in junior high.

    Thanks for sharing, everyone.

  39. Tactical G-Ma says:

    There was a great depression?
    I’m an Appalachian. Some people didn’t have indoor water. Some had dirt floors. Some had walls that were leaned against posts in the ground. My mother could make a penny scream.
    Some had more than others but all were frugal. My fathers parents were able to buy a little cotton field in northeast Alabama. Sold that and bought a spread on Lookout Mtn. In N. GA. My mother’s family were N.GA for generations. They had food to eat. Clothes to wear. Shoes. Not much store bought. They didn’t know there was a great crash. I do know that my father’s family held FDR and the Supreme Court in total contempt because of clippings I found in their Bible.
    The barns were guarded by big dogs. Trespassers were met with rock salt or buck shot. Strangers and hobos were not greated warmly.

    • The DH and I were discussing how the depression hit Appalachia before it hit elsewhere. The biggest difference was that those that had land were typically able to feed themselves.

      T.G-Ma – don’t you live more south now? I was at the farm a couple of weeks ago and thinking of you.

      • Tactical G-Ma says:

        GA Red
        We are now near Auburn because we have grandchildren here. Over the years some of the family has spread out but still in the south and mostly along the TN state line.

        Both of the old homesteads are still in our family. Lots of good memories.

        But, honestly, Atlanta’s weather is too cold for me now that “Arther” is my other man!

        • We were driving through Ft Benning toward Terrell County when I thought of you. There’s a house and acreage for sale down the road from the farm. It’s been split into two parcels totaling almost 28 acres. It’s interesting, but I don’t think our finances could survive the change.

          I may be about to blow OPSEC but then again, it’s easy to get lost in a crowd. Atlanta’s weather is fickle at best. Frost one morning, then 80s the next day. The cold that bothers me most is the wet, nasty cold and we got plenty of that this winter. I would prefer to move further north than to go south. My theory is that I can always add layers to get warm, but there’s just so much I can take off.

          • Tactical G-Ma says:

            GA Red
            I love where we are. We’re only a few hours from family or the coast and are far enough off the beaten path for some safety. I’ve thought and dreamed of expansion but DH and I have our hands full. So much so that we had to sell our rabbit farm. Now we only have chickens and vegies, fruit, and nuts. The older we get the less we are able to do and we need to stay low maintenance.

            • Low maintenance is really good. One day, I will get there too. For now, I make the best of where I am.

  40. banaras says:

    My grandparents and mom and aunt lived in a small town during the depression. Grandpa was a mechanic and he had a garage, so they got paid in food sometimes for working on people’s cars. Everyone helped each other out, and my grandma had a big garden. They also had some fruit trees, so every summer gram would be out on the back porch canning all the fruit and vegetables. She said it was really hot and tiring work. They were very frugal and didn’t waste anything. They said nobody ever locked their doors in those days because nobody had anything to steal. My gram told my mom they were lucky because things were much worse in the cities. They always had enough to eat and didn’t seem to suffer during the depression. They were just working class people. Gram was raised on a ranch and her father knew how to graft trees, make a spring house, root cellar, all the things we call self sufficiency today but back the it was just normal life.

    • banaras,
      You stated, “They said nobody ever locked their doors in those days because nobody had anything to steal” and listening to my folks and grandad I heard the same thing; except, it was just because there was nothing to steal. If you look at the general crime rate during the depression era (excluding the bootleggers and mobsters), crime was very low. I think it was at least in part due the the fact that we were a more moral and ethical society.

      • The DH says his grandparents owned a general store back then and there was some theft, but his grandfather knew who it was and didn’t do anything because the person was only taking food to feed his family.

  41. JP in MT says:

    When I was in school, jr. high I think, I had a cousin who was a contentious objector in Vietnam. Or at least he was until running with a stretcher with a wounded infantryman on if towards a medivac helicopter. He thought his partner had been hit because the stretcher dropped behind him. Turned out it had been “cut in half” by machine gun fire. After that we was an armed medic who shot back.

    • JeffintheWest says:

      Getting shot at tends to cure both conscientious objectors and atheists, I’ve noticed. Little bit of historical trivia: Alvin C. York, who won the CMH for destroying a German machine gun unit single-handedly in World War I started out as a conscientious objector….

  42. JP in MT says:

    My grandparent grew nuts, walnuts and filberts. They raised a small garden. There used to be chickens but not for a while. There were some hold over things (like canning, home cooking, gifts of baked goods, and a pantry) but they moved forward. With no debt. My Mother enjoyed the things modern America had to offer, but because of poor choices in mates, struggled financially. As I grew up she continued the canning, baked good gifts, and a small pantry, but mostly I think because my Step Father was in commissioned sales so income fluctuated. She was a saver, but was unable to pass the understanding of why on to my sister and I. I learned the hard was, not sure my sister has as of yet.

    Because may SF was in commissioned sales, we were told that there were 2 subjects you didn’t discuss with others; religion and politics. (What I now consider 2 of the most important things TO be discussed.)

    Personally, I graduated from high school at 17 with a draft number of 56. I went to all the recruiters to find out what jobs I could get if I volunteered. 2 months before my 18th birthday they cancelled the draft. I enlisted 3 years later. I consider myself to be a “Cold Warrior”. My first assignment after schooling was in Berlin when It was still a divided city. My 2nd overseas tour was in the 2nd Armored Division in Germany. My 3rd was a year in Korea, Platoon Sergeant for 3 remote detachments along the DMZ. All during the “Cold War”.

    War with a major power was what we trained for. It was a “fact of life”. I wouldn’t say I hated the Eastern Block countries, I just tried to understand their thinking and tactics. You were simply packed and ready to go. My “stateside” assignments were teaching/training assignments. Getting technically ready for war (I was Electronic Maintenance for the MI Corps). I reminded the soldiers that they were going to to from “highly trained electronic maintenance technicians” to “under trained Infantrymen” with the first Nuclear blast, so “get ready for it”.

    Prepping meant skills and training, not stockage and preps. What you had with you was all you were going to have. And you had better be able to carry it on your back.

    I retired in 1995, the DW in 1999. We now had a place in 1996 and started prepping in 1998.

    I think I liked the Cold War better than the War Against Terror. You knew who the enemy was. You could learn their tactics. We still can, but we can’t seem to shift our military thinking paradigm. It’s like trying to kill flies with a hammer, a big hammer. You are too slow and they just keep “bugging” you.

    Now you don’t know where the danger is going to come from. Financial, strategic war, terrorism, industrial accident, natural disaster, civil war, biological (man-mad or natural), breakdown of infrastructure? Being mental prepared, personally trained, and as independent of “the system” as possible on makes sense now. I’d rather work on making us more prepared for whatever comes our way than take a cruise or a overseas vacation. Maybe one day things will calm down enough to think of those things again. Maybe it’s for my children and grandchildren.

  43. John Meyer says:

    Mon and Dad lived in central Illinois, Dad shoveled coal from the barges on the Illinois river for 50 cents a ton, they also maintained a railroad switching station for the TP&W that ran through Peoria. Mom did most of that effort and canned both veggies,and par-boiled rabbits for themselves and raised rabbits that were sold to the high class hotels in Peoria. Mom’s favorite saying from the depression which lasted almost ten years was “Eat for the hunger thats coming.” They also lost their home & savings from the banks, after which they never trusted banks again. They survived because they worked 2 to 3 jobs, helped hobos & ,familys people passing through, learned that city folks were in dire straights and country folk seemed to thrive, They watched as people from the the city traded away their possessions to the farmers for food (which was king). They placed their trust and hope in God and not the Government was the problem not the solution. Their warnings were be vigilant and wary of Government always, otherwise the inmates will run the institution, and we are today right at that point. .

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