Useful lessons learned from the Great Depression

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by MtWoman

(Note: the numbers in certain places are references to the links and info provided at the end.)

Recently, there was a discussion here on the SBlog (as I like to call it) about what knowledge and wisdom our parents and grandparents may have to share with us from their experiences during the depression. I decided to “interview” my father on the subject, using the specific questions that Hunker-Down and Bam-Bam proposed, and expanding from there using my own questions.

It was a very good experience for me. My father is a tough German man, and is seldom open to such things, especially because having to ‘think back’ reveals to him how his memory is failing. But I was gentle and patient and this time he opened up quite a bit. I learned a lot about him, other members of our family, and myself. Discussing my family of origin, and what their lives were like has given me a better understanding of how I am, and what life was like ‘back then’…and what I can do to ‘prep’ for my own future. I’ll share with you here what I found out.

First a little history:

It seems that my father, who was born in 1925, making him 4 years old when the market crashed at the start of the Depression, didn’t have a very hard time of it, really.

His parents were German immigrants, who had been “sponsored” (1) by some other family members to come to the US. In those days, immigrants had to be “sponsored” for a year, which meant someone vouched that you would not become a “burden to society” and they would cover your financial needs until a job was found. There were other requirements, like taking the “umlaut” (those two little dots over some letters) off your name if you had one, which my grandparents had to do. My grandfather came over first (1922), and my grandmother came a year later. They were married here in the US in 1924.

When my father was born and through his childhood, my grandfather worked, and my grandmother was a housewife. They had a small house in Minnesota (one of my most favorite places to go in the summer as a kid). It had a couple of bedrooms, a kitchen, a ‘sitting’ room, and – my favorite – a screened in front porch where I would sleep on a cot sometimes in the Summer, and watch the train go by on the tracks just across the street.

There was electricity in the house and running water and ‘flush’ toilets. They had an apple tree, a good garden, and a ‘cellar’…a space under the house with a hardened dirt floor. I remember there being bushel baskets of root vegetables down there and some jars on shelves. My grandfather had some barrels at the corners of the eaves of the garage which gathered rain water. Their house was 1-2 miles from downtown.

Here is my interview with my father:

Q: Dad, I’m writing a piece about helpful lessons from the depression, and I’d like to ask you some questions about your life during that time, ok?

A: Ok. But I don’t know what I’d have to share.

Q: Well, let’s start with the situation today and how it compares with back then, as in the economics changing, recession, food prices, etc, and the impact that is having on our society and had then.

A: It’s different today, and you can’t really compare. Those were the best times of my life. Everything stayed the same. There was no new phone every week. No new autos all the time. People have all kinds of goods now. How many cell phones does there need to be anyway? Back then, people’s attitudes were different. They worked together more. Now they’re ready to shoot their neighbor. Back then, that wasn’t the case. And not everyone had a gun and a sack of ammo. We had to cooperate to survive. Besides you couldn’t shoot your neighbor for food, ’cause he didn’t have any either. More people were in the same boat. Now there’s more spread between statuses. Back then there was haves and have nots…no middle class. What’s going to happen, no one knows. It’s too complicated now. It was simpler then.

Q: Was there any ‘bartering’ or trade of goods?

A: Not really. We just co-operated and just helped, not really for trading. If someone needed something done, we’d just help. And they would do the same for us. But this didn’t come up often. Most everyone had basic skills, like sharpening, woodwork, stone work, whatever. People knew these things. Had to. My uncle was a stone mason, and he helped my father build the garage and enlarge the cellar.

Q: Were there people who’d come around to sell things or do chores? A “rag-man”? Do sharpening?

A: Occasionally a farmer would come by in a wagon with produce. And yes, there was a “rag-man” too. Milk & ice were delivered. No one doing sharpening…everyone did their own of that. You could sharpen on an old piece of concrete block.

Q: Did Grandma & Grandpa deal with any of these vendors?

A: Sometimes with the farmers, but not the rag-man.

Q: Where did you get your food? Did Grandma & Grandpa have a garden? Or animals?

A: No animals. Had a small garden and an apple tree. Pretty much everyone had gardens. Even the city people had gardens. But we got food from the store.

Q: So there were grocery stores?

A: Mostly shops, like a butcher and baker. But there was a grocery store. I was sent to do the shopping sometimes.

Q: How was food kept?

A: We had an ice box (2) for things.

Q: How often was shopping done?

A: Once a week.

Q: Where did the food in the stores come from? Local providers?

A: Yes. There was no imported food, except maybe in New York and a little from Canada. There was no Chinese crap. Even gas was from the USA. 5-10¢ a gallon. 99% of things were US made.

Q: What did Grandma cook? Did she can foods? Did she bake bread?

A: She sometimes made jelly. And she baked sometimes, but not bread. Usually rolls and sometimes cakes. We ate roasted meats and vegetables…a common German diet. Pork, chicken, beef, in that order. Very little fish…only what we caught, and we didn’t fish often. Sauerkraut. Rye bread from the bakery.

Q: Did Grandma make the sauerkraut or was it store-bought cans or jars?

A: Store-bought. But sometimes it would come from other people.

Q: Did you ever eat noodles? Did Grandma make noodles?

A: No, no noodles. Grandpa was a meat & potato man, that’s all they had in Germany, and not much meat.

Q: Did you eat salads?

A: We’d have cucumber salad. Cucumbers and onion with vinegar, black pepper, sugar, and water. It would be made some hours or a day ahead.

Q: What about desserts? Didn’t Grandma make puddings?

A: She didn’t make puddings until later in life. Well, she made rennet puddings(3). But we didn’t really have desserts.

Q: What about snacks? Did Grandma make cookies?

A: There were no snacks. You ate at mealtime, and that was it. Except for eating fruit off the trees in the neighborhood. Sometimes there were cookies at Christmas.

Q: How many meals did you eat then? Breakfast , lunch, and dinner? What did you eat for breakfast and lunch?

A: We had three meals like now. I didn’t eat much breakfast after I started school. We’d have sandwiches for lunch, or just a small dinner type meal.

Q: People ate less back then didn’t they?

A: Yes, but not because there wasn’t food. They just didn’t eat as much. They eat more now because of those damn advertisements. And because they don’t prepare it…it’s all already made.

(My response: I think people eat more now also because food is less nutritious and people eat, but then are still hungry.)

Q: What kinds of vegetables did you eat?

A: Mostly root vegetables: rutabagas, turnips, celery root, carrots, potatoes, onion.

Q: What about fruits?

A: We went to the countryside in season, and picked grapes off government land. And we kids would eat lots of plums from neighborhood trees.

Q: What about grapefruit and oranges? Bananas?

A: No bananas. And grapefruit and oranges were only at Christmas.

Q: Was the bulk of your vegetables store-bought food or home-grown food?

A: Up until I was maybe 15, it was mostly home-grown, then there was more from the stores.

Q: So Grandpa grew the root vegetables?

A: Yes, some.

Q: Did he grow cabbage? Or green beans?

A: I don’t remember if he did or not.

Q: Was the cellar used for food storage?

A: Yeah for some.

Q: What did you drink? Did you ever drink lemonade?

A: Water. Or hot tea. I drank milk when I was little, but not later. Grandpa must have drunk coffee ’cause he didn’t drink tea. No lemonade, but Grandma used lemons somehow for washing dishes. I remember there was always a lemon by the sink.

Q: Did people visit much? Was food shared?

A: Sometimes on Saturday or Sunday, people from the old country would come. But Grandma cooked very seldom. There was no money for it.

Q: Did they ever drink beer? Or wine?

A: Sometimes beer, but rarely.

Q: Did you ever go to a doctor?

A: Not unless you were really sick. Even if you had measles, you stayed home. Grandpa went for a TB test once. He didn’t have it.

Q: What did you take for medicine?

A: Grandma used Vicks vapor rub(4) if I had a cold, and that’s about it. I was sick once when I was 7-8. I stayed in bed, but didn’t see a doctor. Once they swabbed my throat with iodine when I was in second grade. Grandma took something for nerves, maybe Lydia Pinkham’s tonic(5). Hucksters would come by to sell it.

Q: Why did they swab your throat?

A: For a sore throat or cold.

Q: Did you take vitamins?

A: Well, Grandma had some Vit C ..some rutin (6) and we took garlic.

Q: Where did you get them?

A: They were sent from Germany.

Q: Do you remember anyone dying when you were young?

A: Yes, my aunt when I was 10-12. And my Grandfather when I was 8-9.

Q: Did you go to the funeral?

A: Not my Aunt’s but I think I went to Grandfather’s.

Q: Were the funerals like they are today? Was there a “showing”of the body? And was it in a funeral home or a personal home? Did neighbors take food to families who’d lost someone?

A: Just like they are today, in a funeral home. No…taking food was more of a Southern thing. People in the South were more scarce than up North.

Q: Did Grandma make things? I remember that she tatted (7)…did she crochet or knit?

A: Yeah. She knitted socks, stockings, scarves and Winter hats and mittens.

Q: Where did she get the yarn and thread?

A: From the store.

Q: I know she sewed because she taught me how on her treadle sewing machine (8). Did she make clothes for you?

A: Sporadically. She made some of her dresses. Mostly we bought our clothes at Montgomery Wards.

Q: Did she mend clothes?

A: Yes, lots of mending. And she darned socks (9).

Q: Did the house have electricity and/or gas? A flush toilet?

A: Yes we had electricity and gas. They came from city lines. And we had a flush toilet.

Q: Where did your water come from?

A: City pipes, and Grandpa had barrels to catch rainwater that he used on the garden.

Q: What appliances were there in the house?

A: Electric Maytag wringer washer (10). No dryer. Clothes were hung outside to dry. And there was a toaster (11), which had the sides that came down to put the bread in, and the coils in the center.

Q: Did Grandma use a washboard (12)?

A: Yes for really dirty things.

Q: Where did your furniture come from? Did Grandpa make it?

A: No he didn’t. Most of it came from saving up Green Stamps (19). The table there (pointing to the drop-leaf table in the DR) was gotten with Green Stamps, and the desk and other things. The washing machine came from Green Stamps. And maybe the sewing machine and toaster.

Q: Was there a telephone in the house?

A: Not until I was 8. It was a tall one with the receiver hanging on the side, that sat on a surface (13). It didn’t have dial because we just rang the operator. We had it mainly because of Grandpa’s job.

Q: Did you use store-bought or homemade towels and cloths?

A: Store-bought.

Q: Did Grandpa have a car?

A: Yes, a 1925 Hupmobile (14). He drove himself to work.

Q: What did Grandpa do?

A: He worked for Ford Motor Company at first, for $5 a day. Then he went to work for a grocery manufacturer, in charge of shipping. He worked long hours. Later he worked for a paper company, driving a Mac truck with solid tires, picking up scrap paper to recycle. Everything was recycled back then.

Q: What was your first car and when did you start to drive?

A: The Hupmobile. I’d drive Grandma around. I was probably 14. I didn’t own a car of my own until after the war. That was a Dodge or Plymouth. It developed a leak in the roof, so I put a rubber boat on top of the car.

Q: Like a rubber raft?

A: Yeah…a deflated rubber raft.

Q: Was there ever a shortage of gasoline?

A: No. Not until the war, when it was rationed.

Q: Did you work when you were a young man?

A: Yes. I once sold magazines house to house when I was 8 or 9. The Saturday Evening Post and Liberty Magazine (15). Sold by issue not subscription. Then I worked for a druggist, delivering prescriptions and ice cream. I bought 2 bicycles with my own money.

Q: Did you give Grandma & Grandpa any of your money?

A: Yes. When they re-mortgaged the house, I gave them a little…a dollar or two…each month to help with that. The government made it easy to re-finance mortgages to lower payments.

Q: How old were you when you did that?

A: 8 or 9.

Q: How much was the mortgage payment?

A: $5 to $15 a month. Houses cost $3-5000.

Q: What did you do for “entertainment”?

A: We kids played outside, in all seasons. We listened to the radio (16)…”Ma Perkins”, “Fibber Magee and Molly”, and a program that played a song list. We played pick-up ball games, and when I was younger, played hide and seek. And we made coaster wagons (soap box car) and had derbys (17). Once we made one, and had to leave it at the race place overnight the night before. Someone came along and clipped the steering cables. I had to hold the cables while we raced. We didn’t win. If there wasn’t something to do, you invented something.

Q: What were the soapbox cables connected to before they were clipped?

A: A steering wheel that came from a car Grandpa had junked and used for parts.

Q: Did you have toys?

A: Once at Christmas I got a toy fire engine, and another time I got a “Stanlo” set (18), like an erector set. You got 1 toy at Christmas and clothes, not like today. The kids today have so much, none of it is special.

Q: Did you have pets?

A: Not really any pets. Oh, there was a cat around sometimes. There was one that Grandma fed with a broom because it would attack her if she tried to give it food. And there was a dog named Teddy that belonged to the girl next door. But you couldn’t run around the dog. It would bite then.

Q: Did you have a gun? Did Grandpa?

A: No guns. Grandpa did go hunting a couple times, but used someone else’s gun.

Q: Did ‘hobos’ ever come by, looking for food?

A: Yes, but not many. We lived right on the train tracks, and the train hub was just a couple miles away. They would come and ask for work and/or food. They would be glad for just a piece of bread. One young man came and he was invited in to eat. He wasn’t a hobo, just someone without any money who was traveling the trains.

Q: Did you ever travel a train?

A: We would use it as a street car. We’d hop it in front of the house and ride it uptown, where it had to go slow through town. We’d go to Montgomery Wards to get parts for our “coaster wagons”. You could get individual parts then, like one bearing ball…you wouldn’t have to buy a whole part. With 25¢ you could get all the parts you needed.

Q: How old were you when you did this?

A: Oh, around 9 – 10 and after.

Q: Did you read much?

A: I read the magazines I sold and the druggist had a lending library. I read some of those books. And I read newspapers.

Q: Did you get books from your school library?

A: No. But I knew it was there because I was a crossing guard and we had our meetings there. They trusted kids in those days to be things like a crossing guard.

Q: What was your neighborhood like?

A: It was a mix of people, all kinds of people…Americans, immigrants, different cultures. Mostly Americans with pockets of immigrants.

Q: Was there ever trouble between Americans and immigrants, or between immigrants?

A: Not really. You were dependent on your neighbor. Everyone was busy working to get by. The problem today is this (points to computer screen)…is technology. Everything is instant and people are thinking too fast or not thinking, just reacting, and making instant decisions. Everything was simpler then. If a Tsunami happened in Japan then, you might learn of it in a week, not a minute. And anyone in the neighborhood could discipline any child, not like today. They could paddle them or smack them, or they would call the parents if it was bad enough. Everything is topsy-turvy now.

Q: Was there ‘racism’ then?

A: Not really. In high school I had a black friend. I didn’t think of him as different. It was only after I came to the south (Texas) that I came across that. The street cars were still segregated and had a sign in them saying the negros had to sit behind the sign. I would sit behind the sign or move it. The driver would stop the car and make me move or move the sign back.

Q: Were you aware of the depression in any way during that time?

A: It didn’t make a difference in my life. Not having much money was normal to me. I hadn’t known a time before that was better or different. I was aware that there was no money. And I heard about it on the radio and from newspapers. When I was 10-12, I started paying attention to the stock market. I kept records to try to understand it. But I never did. I had no mentors.

Q: Dad, how would you summarize how people handled those times:

A: Simplicity, frugality, and cooperation. Life was simpler and you were busy working to get by. You were dependent on your neighbor. You co-operated. People now are isolated by technology. No one knows their neighbors. Back then, you knew each other and would relate. And a generational gap didn’t exist then like it does now. There was no knowledge gap. Information flowed more smoothly between generations because it moved slower then. And you could expect next year to be pretty much the same as the current one. Until the war. Then that changed.

Q: Any words of advice to people today in how to handle these tough and getting-tougher times?

A: Co-operate. Those that don’t learn to cooperate won’t make it or will be shot.

I told him this was for a contest where I could win something, including buckets. He said: “Buckets are fine, but you’d better enter a contest to win a wheelbarrow, ’cause you’re gonna need one to carry your money with this inflation”

Just to add a little bit, here are some of my memories from my visits with Grandma & Grandpa when I was a girl, that I think relate to the theme of this piece:

  • -Grandma used cloth rags as “pads” for her menses.
  • -She used pine tar soap as a ‘shampoo’.
  • -She boiled milk no matter whether it was already pasteurized or not.
  • -She kept a really clean house.
  • -She gave me a spoonful of brown sugar after dinner as a treat.
  • -My Grandfather was always tinkering in the garage, and made some of his own woodworking tools (my dad still has some of them).
  • -Grandma would always sit in back when Grandpa took her to the store, even with just the 2 of them in the car.

I have gained quite a few ideas from this that add to my prepping plans, but I am not going to break down any specific things here. I’m more interested in what all of you have to say about what you get out of this piece. I will respond if there are any questions.

Bam-Bam and Hunker-Down, I hope there are some answers to your questions here. :)

INFO LINKS:

(1) “Sponsored immigration”: “In 1965, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, which did away with quotas based on nationality and allowed Americans to sponsor relatives from their countries of origin. As a result of this act and subsequent legislation, the nation experienced a shift in immigration patterns. Today, the majority of U.S. immigrants come from Asia and Latin America rather than Europe.”

http://www.history.com/topics/united-states-immigration-to-1965

(2) Ice box: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icebox

(3) Rennet Pudding: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1940,148168-255201,00.html

(4) Vicks Vapor Rub: http://www.ehow.com/list_7601699_things-do-vicks-vaporub.html

(5) Lydia Pinkham’s tonic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydia_Pinkham

(6) Rutin: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-270-RUTIN.aspx?activeIngredientId=270&activeIngredientName=RUTIN

(7) Tatting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljXBGDVwEIU

8) Treadle sewing machine: http://www.tri-stateantiques.com/temp/sewing.html

My Gma’s is like the “STANDARD BRAND TREADLE SEWING MACHINE IN CARVED OAK CABINET” that is shown on this page, and is sitting right now here in the DR. :)

(9) Darning socks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nY1jTVyBE0&noredirect=1

Darning tools on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=darning+tool

(10) Maytag Wringer Washer: http://www.shorpy.com/node/3955

(11) Toaster: http://www.toastercentral.com/toaster20s.htm

(12) Using a washboard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duJr4owjpOE&feature=related

(13) Candlestick telephone: http://telephonesofpastcentury.tripod.com/id1.html

(14) 1925 Hupmobile: http://roaring-twenties.com/id172.htm His was a “soft-top” car, not a convertible. Dad’s was a simpler model than this. This one is a coupe, his was a sedan with 4 doors.

(15) Liberty Magazine (still around!): http://www.libertymagazine.org/index.php?id=15

(16) Radio programs:

“Ma Perkins”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_Perkins

“Fibber McGee and Molly”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibber_McGee_and_Molly

(17) Soap box cars: http://rivet-head.blogspot.com/2011/05/photo-of-day_19.html

(18) Stanlo set: http://www.moah.org/exhibits/archives/constoysmotion/stanlo.html

(19) Green Stamps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%26H_Green_Stamps

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:

First Prize) Winner will receive a Stealth Body Armor Level II vest courtesy of SafeGuard ARMOR™ LLC and a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner.com   A total prize value of over $600.

Second Prize) Winner will receive a Wise Essentials Kit courtesy of LPC Survival and an EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves.. A value of over $300.

Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution” A total prize value of $28.

Contest ends on June 5 2012.

Comments

  1. don rap says:

    i enjoyed it, thank you. i’m hopeful that we are again headed to a cooperative neighborly culture and fear it will be after severe times.

    • don rap…I hope you are right about that first part, and you are probably right about the second. It always seems to take a catastrophe to get people to care about one another.

  2. Mt. Women

    Please say thank you to your father for doing this and it was very interesting to read!

    I am amazed at the difference’s between my grandparents at the same time, I did a number of video interview’s with both my grandfather and my grandmother as they were homesteading farmers, they had alot less in many ways and alot more in different ways..

    I am really surprised at the amount of things your dad had even as a very young child, must have been because they were in town?

    • Farmgal…I’ll be sharing all the thank yous and good comments with my father. And, yes, my father’s childhood seemed to be “better” than some. But I see things in him (that “frugality) that indicate it was rough times even so. But I am curious….what ‘things’ do you see that he had?

      • Hi Mt. Women

        He had power, running water, phone, flush toliet, I was born in 1972, and we didn’t get our first power at the place my folks lived till I was 6, and at that farm, there is a drilled well, and power and we had wood stove for cooking and heating but still not running water in the house, still an outside biffy, and peaple still live there but they now also have propane fridge and stove, they did put in pipes for being able to flush the water down the sink (wash hands) and down the small tub but its a grey water system only..

        My grandparents had a quarter section, they had a woodstove, that could also use coal, they had a well (and pond) but hand pumped all their water, they did most everything back then with a team of horses, no vehicle for years..

        They rarely got anything from town, salt, baking powder, black powder, yeast and cloth farm tools.. otherwise most every thing else came from the farm, grandma had sheep and did own wool and knitted anything would stand still long enough, they had a huge garden, and canned, dried and also ran trap lines/hunted, so dried and sold fur as well as wood for extra income, the main steady income was cream sales and then crops after that with critters coming third.

        Grandpa birthed the babies with grandma on the farm, only the last one was born in a hospital and like talked below, my uncle brian was born a premie, and he was kept in a shoe box on the oven of the wood stove to keep him warm.. he grew up to be a big straping guy of 6.6.. so it didn’t hold him down for long.

        I would be interested in how long the area’s that he was raised in was settled (homesteaded), I think a great deal of the difference would be that my great-grandparents and grandparents homestead in northern alberta on raw land, as it was free-land if you worked it and created farms.

        I don’t think they had the info structure in place when they were working, that it sounds like the town and area did for where your dad was raised.

        • Yes…where Dad lived was close to a city…not in it…but sort of like what the “suburbs” are today. But then, the ‘suburbs’ were still more country than they are now. Yeah…different places/areas/people had it different. I think of the depression as those pics of the lines for food in the cities. I think the ‘suburbs’ and the country had it better. There’s a lesson in that for us, I think.

  3. Northbound says:

    MtWoman, this is a superb interview. You’ve provided not just a thought-provoking article for this forum, but an incredibly valuable record of your family’s history.
    I hope you can continue to gently interview your Dad. Having worked on my family’s history for a few years, I’ve found that the more I know about their lives, the richer my own life has become.
    If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to share this interview with the online community, perhaps at RootsWeb.com.
    Thanks for sharing it with us here!

    • MtWoman says:

      Thanks Northbound. I’ll check out the site. :) And I’m with you about knowing as much as I can from my father and mother.

  4. SurvivorDan says:

    Have to take my father to get his second cataract surgery so I only had a moment to peek in on the ‘Sblog’. Will print this and take it with me. Looks like a fascinating read. wow.

  5. MtWoman,
    Want to thank you for a trip down memory lane. Your article certainly reminded me of my father. A wonderful man born in 1914. Worked as a carpenter and served in WWII with the Fighting 36th Texas Division, Company A, 141 Infantry. He later died in 1974 of heart failure. Dad was a quiet man, simple needs, and yet way ahead of his time as he raised me by himself. I seemed to have turned out reasonably well, if I say so myself. It is such a shame the moral standards and the sense of cooperation of our father’s day has disappeared. It may take a disaster of some magnitude to shock us back to that spirit or destroy us completely.

    • MtWoman says:

      MSgt…that last statement of yours may hold some truth…unfortunately. Technology seems to have us hell-bent on destroying ourselves. But I find hope in a community like this blog…seeing that there are folks who are thinking and living as naturally as possible….which is what I think of a simple life-style…it’s natural. All the other stuff is bs. Thanks for your response.

  6. MD – what a great idea and article. We can learn so much from our elders that lived through this time.

    Everyone should utilize the knowledge these folks have.

  7. Bob in IA says:

    I enjoyed this article very much. Very familar to the stories and things my grandparents and parents used to tell me about that time. They lived in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to more.

    • MtWoman says:

      Thanks Bob in IA. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to talk with my father this way. :)

  8. worrisome says:

    Nice article!

  9. Mt Woman, thank you for sharing these beautiful stories from your family’s history. It is interesting that so many of the things your father told you were not things you would otherwise have known if you hadn’t done this piece. It makes me wish I had talked to my grandparents more before they were gone, though I do still have one grandfather alive. There may still be a chance.
    The elder generations have so much knowledge that they are not aware of… we should all take the time to collect as much as we can before it is gone forever.
    God Bless,
    Cat

    • MtWoman says:

      Cat…I highly encourage you to do what you can to talk with your living grandfather. I found that it helped Dad as much as it helped me. It gave him a sense of value, something too many of our elders are lacking in today’s world. Let us know what you find out!

  10. L.A. Mike says:

    Awesome post, and glad your old man is still kickin’. The beauty of the simplicity of those times, in terms of culture, is something my generation may never know. Your father is proof that pure era’s technology is a double-edged sword. Yes we are spoiled, but I would surely miss the Wolf Pack were society to crumble. Great article

    • MtWoman says:

      L.A. Mike…that simplicity is SO important. I am so grateful that I got the idea of it in how I was raised, and it’s been an element in my whole life in some way or another. My ‘prepping’ is an expansion of that really. Thanks for your response. :)

  11. L.A. Mike says:

    …proof that OUR era’s…..

  12. JP in MT says:

    MtWoman:
    Thanks for sharing. My grandparents lived a lot like you described. I remember we didn’t have a lot, but I don’t feel like I was deprived.
    I grew up in Oregon and they had the “Bottle Bill”, requiring deposits on soda and beer bottles. I took it upon myself to spend the weekends when we went out to the west coast to bring those bottles into the store and buy school supplies, and a couple of other things. I member the lady that worked at the store asked my if a was Florence’s grandson. Because of her reputation I was deemed “okay”. I felt it also put pressure on me to not mess with my grandmother’s reputation, so I needed to “fly right”. I was really a pretty good life.

    • MtWoman says:

      JP in MT…what you say about living up to our parents’ and grandparents’ reputations is SO important and so much a part of a moral life, at least in my opinion. Even when I got in trouble, I knew the DIFFERENCE, and felt remorse…something that the youth of today (in general) seems to lack. I am immensely grateful for that being part of my childhood. Thanks for your response.

  13. great interview, much of it reminded me of my own grandma’s home. Good advise, co-operation is the key, unfortunalty I’ve seen a lot of survival forums, ect that advise people to “go it alone, shoot first, trust no one,” ect. Come to think of it…a lot of this bad advise going around in the survival world reflects the TV propganda.

    Anyways, well done article, really enjoyed it.

    • Sadly… I think some of it comes from our own experiences. I don’t know how many times I have been stabbed in the back by so called friends. So for me… “Trust No One” has become a way of life. Every week I want to participate in the “what did you do” posts…. but every week I remind myself that would compromise my OPSEC.

      It’s really sad that it has come down to this.

      • MtWoman says:

        SW…that is sad. I know what it’s like to be “stabbed in the back”. But I still believe in people in general and try to keep my mind open enough to connect with trust-worthy people when the opportunity presents itself. It’s really true that no man is an island…we NEED each other. We just have to hone our instincts so we can determine people who are trustworthy.

    • MtWoman says:

      rachel…thanks for the response. I too see a lot of ‘standing alone’ mentality in the prepper community. Makes me sad. I choose to still believe in people, WHILE I hone my instincts and self-defense skills.

  14. Hunker-Down says:

    MtWoman,

    Thanks to you and your dad.

    I was born 14 years after your father, so I don’t have any recollection of the depression, except the constant daily reminders from my parents.

    I feel so cheated as you bring back memories from your fathers words; “anyone in the neighborhood could discipline any child”. I lived in a neighborhood like that until about age 9. I remember the feeling of being watched AND PROTECTED by everyone in the neighborhood. I deserved to be spanked a few times, and was. Sometimes I felt a bond with an adult who reprimanded me when I was bad and they didn’t tell my parents; it built a sense of trust between us, a valuable thing from a morally proper adult. It takes a village to raise a child and it is missing today. I remember the feeling of protection and safety, the feeling of moral oversight in the neighborhood, totally absent today. I grieve for my children because they have no umbrella of societal protection; everyone is exposed to greed, selfishness and evil.

    I am surprised that your fathers house had water and electricity. As late as 1948 my parents moved from a city house with both to a 15 acre farm with electricity but no plumbing. It was my introduction to farm chores, draft horses (Belgian’s), cows, hogs, sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks, goats, dogs, and cats. There I went to a one room school house with no water. It held eight grades, one row of desks for each grade. It had a ‘girl’ outhouse and a ‘boy’ outhouse. The school house was just over a mile from our place.

    One of my after school chores was to go to the well, about 100 yards from the house to get a bucket of drinking/washing water. We had an orphan lamb that was raised on a bottle that chased me looking for another bottle. It would jump on me and usually get one of his legs inside my rubber boot and I would stumble and spill the water usually into my boot.
    My dad would trade labor with the other farmers, especially at harvest time.

    I need to quit now, you have stirred up too many memories, most of which I would rather forget, you know, the ones not mentioned here.

    Thank you.

    • MtWoman says:

      Hunker Down…the lack of “village” makes me sad too. The innocence and freedom that came with the safety and security of a life with “neighborhood”…being outside til dark, my mother not knowing really where I was, but not worried, ’cause she knew it was close and who I was with. Laying on the grass in a friends’ front yard watching clouds go by in the day, or the stars and moon at night. Chasing fireflies and catching them and putting them in a jar for awhile, lighting up my hands and my friends’ faces. Playing hide-and-seek all over the neighborhood…in the dark…and not feeling unsafe or afraid. INNOCENCE. Did we get in trouble…heck yes. But it was INNOCENT trouble. None of us got pregnant at 11, or smoked, or sneaked booze (until later)…and never even thought about it…heck, didn’t even KNOW about it. That was my childhood anyway, and I was delighted to find a comparison between mine and my father’s in our “interview”.

      I think the only thing to do is to pass that on as best we can to whomever we can, and hope it ‘takes’. Something I did when I was raising my son, was to believe that even if he didn’t ‘listen’ to me at the time, the thought/idea would be ‘in there’ (his mind) and could take root when needed. And that has actually come true! :)

      Thanks for your response. :)

  15. charlie (NC) says:

    I’ve had my throat “moped” many, many times with iodine for sore throat. It goes a little easier if you follow it up with a moping of simple syrup. We used to have one doctor in our small town. His license had been limited and about all he did was treat colds and flu. If you went to him with a cut or something serious he’d tell you to go to the doctor.
    He was a Dr. but had gotten in trouble because his wife had a drug habit. This was in the ’50’s. You thought drugs were a new problem didn’t you? grins.

    My parents grew up during the depression and my mom is still living.

    • MtWoman says:

      charlie (NC)…I’d love to read anything you can share from your mom’s childhood. Thanks for the response.

      • Charlie (NC) says:

        Thanks MtWoman,

        First of let me say what a wonderful interview and article yours is. When I commented before I had just skimmed over it but now have taken time to read it completely.

        I’ll have to say that my parents lives during the depression were quite a bit differnt from your dad’s. Although they grew up 100 miles or so apart my parents both grew up on farms. I never knew my fathers parents as they both died before I was born. In fact my grandmother died when my dad was a boy. I know that they had a hard time during the depression but they had food because they raised their own. My oldest aunt kind of took the role of “mother” after my grand mother died and I remember her and my dad talk about “cooking cane” (making syrup). They used to joke about the hard times in the depression. I don’t know how much of it was true and how much was just a joke. I think they just didn’t want to talk about it. The “joke”
        they repeated often was that they had no meat left so they would hang a ham bone on a wire over the table, sop red-eye gravy (gravy from cured ham meat) with biscuits, smell the bone and pretend they were eating ham.

        I did talk to a very sucessful older man a few years ago, he has since died, he told me that during the depression he “walked the road hungry” and that my grandfather often would call him in and give him something to eat. He was very fond of and grateful to my grandfather. Unfortunately all of my Dad’s family are long gone now except us cousins and we’ve lost a few of them.

        That brings me to my mother. She was raised on a tobacco farm in Columbus Co. NC. She was born in 1918 and in 1922 my grandfather bought a couple of hundred acres of woodland and they moved about 30 miles, across a river by ferry on mule driven wagons to the new place. Mama still remember crossing that ferry on moving day. Granddaddy and the two boys, who were the oldest of the 6 kids, cleared 100 acres of that land with cross cut saws, mules and oxen. By the time I came along in 1950 it was a nice farm. They built all the buildings which consisted of a house, 3 small barns and a big barn and 2 or 3 tobacco curing barns (my memory isn’t clear on the number of tobacco barns). Since they moved there in 1922 they were doing all of the work, in the years leading up to the depression.
        Granddaddy still owed money on the farm and mama says she remembers waiting for granddaddy to come home on many occasions to find out if they were going to loose the place and have to move. Thankfully he managed to hang on to it.

        Grandmother made most of the clothes for the family and yes she made a lot of them out of feed sacks and flour sacks. For those that don’t know, in those days feed and flour came in sacks ranging in size from 25 to 100 pounds and they were made out of cloth. The feed sacks were heavier cloth but the flour sacks were more like shirt or dress cloth.

        Grandmother had a garden and chickens. Granddaddy planted the garden but she pretty much tended it herself. She took care of the chickens. They were in a big wire coop out behind the house. The fence around the chicken lot was probably 30′ x 30′ at least. I just can’t remember now. It was built around a big grape arbor with muscadine and scuppernong grape vines. The family used all the grapes they could and the chickens enjoyed the rest plus it made good shade and shelter for the chickens. There was of course a big wooden coop building. Grandmother used to sweep the hard dirt chicken yard with a yard broom. A yard broom is a broom made by binding togther twigs like willow or similar long slender twigs into a course, thick broom.
        She kept it clean. I don’t remember but I suspect she swept up the chicken droppings and put them in the garden or in a compost pile for the garden. Seems to me like there was a compost pile around behind the chicken yard in an area the children weren’t allowed to go to. Grandmamma made biscuits every morning and rice most mornings. Granddaddy often ate hot rice sprinkled with sugar and covered in milk for breakfast just like we eat cold cereal now. Try it some time. It’s good.

        They also had hogs and cows. They had dairy cows and granddaddy milked them early every moring and every afternoon. My granddaddy would go anywhere in the world you wanted him to go as long as he could be home in the afternoon in time to “feed up”. Obviously he didn’t travel far and seldom ever came to see us 120 miles away. He had chores to do even up into his 80’s. He died at age 95 and she a few years later at age 96.

        On the farm he grew tobacco, corn and soy beans for cash crops.
        He saved some of the corn (I don’t know, maybe all of it some years) for animal feed. He raised sweet potatoes and irish potatoes for the family and he maybe sold some of them too.
        He also raised some wheat and oats that I think he kept for feed.

        I don’t remember but they had several milk cows so I assume he sold milk too. Most of what I am telling you is from my memory from the 50’s. I don’t know how long it took granddaddy to build up all this stuff and how much he had during the depression but I can tell you they never had a lot of cash, lived off the land and saved what cash they had. They managed to put all 4 of the girls (my mom and her sisters) through college although they all worked and had some sort of scholarship assistance I think.

        Where was I? Oh, in the same way that modern farms have a shop for equipment repairs, granddaddies farm had a blacksmith shop. By the time I came along folks had trucks and tractors so the shop was not used much but he kept his forge in working order and he often did repairs on old wagons and carts and such for himself and neighbors. I can remember as a small child turning the crank on the forge blower while he heated steel to red hot and beat it into shape. I always hoped I coul get that forge. Then one day when I went to visit it was gone. I didn’t ask for it and didn’t ask what happened to it. When I was a small boy he built me a pony cart, from scratch. He built the whole thing, wood work, wheels, the metal parts and all. He also made me a bull whip that he carved the handle for out of hickory and plaited the whip out of rawhide. I don’t have either of them any more. Much to my sorrow. My dad died when I was a teenager. When I was away in college my mom asked the tennant farmer who tended our place to clean up around our barn. My cart had fallen into some disrepair but was very fixable. The tennant didn’t know the significance of it. When I came home for a weekend I found the axle laying on top of a pile of ashes. I still have it put away. I kept the bull whip until I was in my 30’s and it had finally begun go dry rot down toward the tip end but was fixable too. I don’t know what happened to it.
        When I missed it I was living in a rental mobile home for a short while. I don’t know if someone helping the landlord work on the trailer stole it or if possibly I left it in the trunk of a car I traded off.

        Sorry I didn’t mean to get off on to my personal memories. Let’s see. In summary, my folks on both sides had it hard in terms of money in the depression but because they raised their own food and were self sufficient they got by ok but I can tell you that my mom at age 93, long retired and drawing enough retirement money to live comfortably on is STILL scared of debt and scared by her memories of the depression. Like my dad’s anecdote about the ham bone about all my mom ever says about the depression is her memory of “waiting for Papa to come home” and tell them if they had lost the farm.

        I think that’s more than you asked for MtWoman. It’s just my ramblings about my memories from a much simpler time.

        • Charlie NC…your “ramblings” are full of good stuff. Thank you for sharing. These are the things we NEED to know. The ‘joking’ was necessary I think so they didn’t give up during those hard times. And my father has that lingering frugality that no matter how good times are, which I think is from the influence of the atmosphere of those times. Several people have pointed out that my father had it better than their relatives, but I think it was still hard times for them, and affected them deeply. When I came in ’85 to help my father put my grandmother in a home, I stayed in her house and helped pack up all her things. When I got to the spare bedroom, and opened the closet, stacked to the ceiling…and filling the whole double closet…were styrofoam meat trays and newspapers. She hadn’t thrown one away in years.

          Thank you so much for sharing your stories. :)

          • Charlie (NC) says:

            Thanks for the kind words Mt Woman. All in all I don’t think my family had it to tough. They had something to eat. It might not have been what they wanted but they weren’t walking the road hungry like some folks. I think the biggest thing with them was the fear and insecurity of wondering when things would get better. That is not much different than things are now. Can you imagine what this country would look like given the financial situation today if it weren’t for so many thousands of people working for the government and drawing a government check of some sort? Dont think by me saying that that I believe all those checks and government spending are a good thing. It’s not sustainable and sooner or later it’s all going to come crashing down. Thus we prep!

            • Good points Charlie. And, yes, doesn’t seem much different than today, that uncertainty. I am so sad that my father…and all his generation… has to live through all this again…the uncertainty and fear for survival…and at their age. Really isn’t fair, considering that THEY created the security my generation grew up with.

  16. JeffintheWest says:

    Thank you MtWoman. It was a great read. My Mom and Dad both grew up in the depression, him in town, and she on a farm (they met in High School, and got married in July of 1942 while Dad’s battleship was transitioning between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans). I did something similar with both my Mom and Dad back in the 80’s, but my focus was on World War II (in the Navy, and on the homefront) and so I didn’t go back and ask too much about their childhoods. Also, I had to do it as conversations, and wasn’t allowed to tape them or anything. I wish I had now — both died within a year of each other back in the early 2000’s. If I can, and speaking as an historian, may I ask if you would be willing to make a copy of your interview available to your local university? They probably have a “living history” program there (or if not, they can tell you of one) where your interview can be placed for future generations. If you videotaped it, so much the better, though a simple tape recording or even just a copy of this transcript would be a great addition to any such program. I tried for years to talk Mom and Dad into letting me interview them formally for the living history program at the local university, and they always refused — said it was no one else’s business. Now of course, all their corporate knowledge and accumulated wisdom is no longer available. I regret that as much as anything else about their passing. They were wonderful people, as I’m sure your Dad is. Thanks again for sharing.

    • MtWoman says:

      JeffintheWest…thanks for the response. I will look into the local college and see if they have a program. Good idea!

  17. BullDogBeau says:

    Thank you for sharing this. As a man in my mid 30’s I find it so interesting how it was “back when..” I admire the older generation and how they lived. It seems a shame where we are now in this generation. The entitlement mantality, people complaining of not having when they have 3 televisions, two cars etc. I do love technology but wish it wouldn’t have changed people so much.

    Thank you and your father again,
    Beau

  18. Ms. ACW says:

    Thanks Mt. Woman, this was a great reminder of my early years living next door to my grandparents and a street over from my great grandparents. My dad told us lots of stories of what his life was like growing up. He was born in 1930 and they lived in a town. Times were tough but like your dad, he said they didn’t know any different. I remember him telling that they owned a cow and his job was to find places to take her to graze on kudzu. They didn’t have a garden but my great grandfather had a garden and shared with his family. It is a great thing to learn about the earlier times. Thanks.

    • MtWoman says:

      Ms ACW…thanks for the response. It IS a great thing to learn about earlier times! And doing this interview, I could see that it made Dad feel valued…a good thing, I think for our elders. I wish I had done this with my grandparents. I never knew my great-grandparents.

  19. Really nice article. Not only is this insight to life before, but will remain a prized memory for you.
    The depression was for most a difficult/to hard time.
    My mother grew up during it and even as a kid she didn’t like being poor. But I think she learned a lot from it as she held our family together for years and quite well under the circumstances.
    She was the story teller of the family. Some are not repeatable as they are for family only, but she told of the hard times.
    Your father is right kids now-a-days do not know how to get along with out all the modern technology. If the S-does-HTF they will be in a world of hurt.
    The things I learned from my mother was done day by day and became just normal to me. But I realize now that she did a pretty good job of it and I am glad I paid attention as much as I did.
    My growing up in the 1950’s was difficult, but nothing like during the depression. I remember Mom and my Aunt canning peaches. And the chutney(?) mom made from left overs from peoples gardens. I remember red-eye gravy. I remember all the methods Dad came up with to kill a turkey, the gunny sack and clothesline was something else. I remember my Uncle’s garden. I remember the almond and walnut trees and pompegrante bush in their yard. And a wild mint that they put in their tea. I remember mom and my aunt sewing our clothes (loved smelling the new clothes smell). I remember new school shoes blistering my feet.
    I remember my mom telling me how to wash clothes on a wringer washer. And if you had to haul water what you did was wash the babies clothes first, then the white clothes, then the colored clothes, then the work clothes. And showing me how to fold them to put through the wringer so you didn’t pop the buttons off. You would wring them from the washer to the cement tub for rinsing then wring them and flop them into the clothes basket. Then haul them out to the lines. Whew! Wash day was long and hard.
    My folks taught me a lot. I am so glad and I think I have passed some of it on to my kids. But I cannot tell them, nor get them to realize how hard it could get.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Ellen,

      My mom had one of those new fan-dangled washers with the rubber squeegee rollers, no motor,so she used a washboard in the tub. I pestered her so bad, playing in the wash-water that she would trick me to keep my hands out of the water by putting a mouse trap under the water. She did it many, many times but I never did see her sneak it out so she could keep using the washboard.

      • Hunker-Down
        Those knuckle busters were sure heck on a women’s hands.
        Work clothes are the pits to do on a rub board.
        But the trap would have been bad on your fingers for sure.

        • Hunker-Down says:

          Ellen,

          I was probably 3 or 4 at the time and too dumb to know that she probably didn’t set the trap, but then, maybe she did!

        • Encourager says:

          Yep, and they were tough on stupid kids who stuck their hand in the blasted wringer – you only do it ONCE! Lol, yep, that was me. What was I thinking? That was the problem, I wasn’t!!

      • MtWoman says:

        HD…great memories!

    • MtWoman says:

      Ellen…thanks for the response. GREAT memories you have. And the SKILLS you learned! Invaluable. And I agree…no way to tell kids…or anyone…how hard it could get.

  20. farmergranny says:

    thanks for sharing such great memories with your dad. My sister and I tried to get my grandma to talk about “old times” and she shared a few things…like two of her daughters dead of measles, having to stay in bed for 11 days after a birth; waiting until grandpa made $5.00 a week before they got married. Grandma was a wonderful cook who worked for wealthy Milwaukee families; she taught me to sew on a treadle machine and to embroider before I was five. Grandpa was a blacksmith until he moved to the city to work at A.O.Smith. I still remember grandma wearing a corset until she died! One fond memory happened when I remarked about grandma still dressing and undressing in the closet. She just smiled and said, “Honey, it keeps the mystery alive”. thank you for the memories!

    • MtWoman says:

      farmergranny…nice memories! Two things there: ANTICIPATION…something lacking in this ‘instant’ society. And “keeping the mystery alive”…something else missing. I guess all we can do is try to keep those things alive in our own lives, and be examples to those around us. No-one may grasp it, but when the time comes, they will remember. That’s how it’s worked for me with what I ignored or dismissed while I was growing up. When I needed to know it, it was there in my memories.

  21. Kelekona says:

    This is one reason for regarding the amish. When the old forget what they know, or do not pass it on, at least we have a group of people who are keeping the simple life knowledge fresh. Still, it’s good to know how things were.

    As for the cooperation thing, I’m going to die. I’m the type of antisocial where I usually help the type of person that would disappear when I need a hand up. At least I have a broad definition of what I can do without inconveniencing myself.

    • Kelekona…I am not very familiar with the Amish…I will look into their life-style.

      And…you might surprise yourself when TSHTF. I’ve seen some ‘antisocial’ folks rise well to the occasion under pressure. You’ll probably know who’s worthy and who’s not. :)

      • When you check out the Amish, get acquainted with more than one of them since the variance in attitude and approachability is great withing each community. I was born and raised in a community surrounded by the Old Order Amish and since my family was one of the English families in our town “accepted” by the Amish, I learned a great deal living amongst them. I even was fluent in the German dialect they use when I was a child.

  22. Soggy Prepper says:

    Wonderful article MTWoman! Thank you so much for taking the time to write all this down and share it with us. Something you will be glad you did someday especially when your dad is gone.

    My mom would have been 85 (passed 2 yrs ago now). She was German also but from North Dakota and raised on a farm. Her mom and dad were Germans from Russia, can’t remember what part now though. She was the 13th child of 13. I never wrote down the stories she shared, but I remember some of them.

    She said they didn’t feel depression much as they had a farm with animals and gardens. They never went hungry. Oranges were only at Christmas and if they bought store bread it was only as a treat, her brothers called store bought white bread, cake.
    Her dad would actually give other farmers seed to re seed their fields after crop failures and they would then return the seed plus some when they had a good crop, all on the shake of a hand. She said her dad never hailed or droughted out and her dad claimed it was because they gave God his day and helped others.

    One story struck me. One fall/winter they were taking some grain to the grain elevator and one of her uncles died on the way. She said it was really cold and they had to get the grain where it was going. Her dad put the body beside the road, sold the grain, picked up the body (frozen solid) on the way back home and waited until the ground was warm enough to bury the body. Wild. I remember asking her, “why would they do that?” Her response was, “what else could they do? They had to sell grain.”

    They slept on and covered with feather ticks, *I still have a couple, love them!) they had pee pots in their rooms, out house out back.
    My mom’s brother’s wives gave birth on the farm. One baby was born “too soon” as she called it. Her mom wrapped the baby, put it in a box and stuck it in the wood stove surrounded by warm bricks like an incubator. The baby lived!

    They had a summer and a winter kitchen. The “summer” kitchen was in their “sod” home they built when they first homesteaded. They built the house later which was where the “winter” kitchen was. They had hired farm hands, usually about 10 in addition to the family that worked on the farm and her mom cooked for them all. Lots of bread, kucken, smoked ham and cheese. She said they always had ham and cheese on the counter. (yes the counter).

    They would wrap hot bricks in blankets and set them in the sled in the winter to warm feet when they hitched the horses on Sunday and would go to church. They never worked Sunday, never.

    Hard life but satisfying. Maybe it’s just simply harder to get into trouble when your working to survive.

    M.D., maybe there is another book idea in all this information for you. The Pack could submit stories of old and you could compile and sell it as, Lifestyles of the First Preppers of the Depression era, or something!
    Just an idea :)

    Again, Thanks MtWoman, a very good and memory evoking piece!

    • MtWoman says:

      Soggy Prepper…GREAT stories!! There’s so much in them to consider when prepping…or just in giving thought to how to live. I firmly believe in a simple life…the direct connection between NEED and SUPPLY…gardens, livestock, etc. Unfortunately, today’s world makes that very difficult to accomplish. We can try though, right? :)

  23. mountain lady says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article. Brings back so many memories of my mom and grandparents, and even my great grandparents. They were all so thrifty and self sufficient. I, too, have many stories, and when I think I have it bad now, I think of them and how they perservered. I can do it, too. Some days I just forget that I have this knowledge tucked away in there.

    • MtWoman says:

      mountain lady, please share with us the stories you can. There’s GOLD in them! And thanks for the response. :)

  24. Gretchen says:

    Great article. Thank you so much for sharing.

  25. I was born in 1938 and things were just like that when I was small. They started changing after the war. When I later went to live in Germany in 1963 (husband in Air Force) I found things like that there still. Biggist difference is Personal Values. They were better then. My father told me that my word was the most important thing in my life. They did business with a hand shake that was binding. Try that now.

    • MtWoman says:

      Ann…so right. People would pull out their Purell hand sanitizer! Sad isn’t it? Thanks for the response.

  26. button crazy says:

    My mother grew up in East Texas daughter of sharecropper. My Grandfather died in 1937 leaving my grandmother with children and my youngest uncle was born after he died. As Mother said the wolf was at the door a lot of nights, meaning they went to bed hunger. Three of my uncles were sent to the CC camps. The black man across the road from my grandmother would bring her a hot coal to start her fire in the early mornings. She could not afford matches. My father was from back east where there were soup lines. Entire family’s would be in line. One reason we always had lots of food to eat, I believe that Mother going with out food had a big impact on the rest of her life. In the south family gatherings are for eating and seeing family. As a teenager, I attended a funeral that the person was at home for viewing. The year being around 1962. Someone sat with the body all night. One of my great aunt’s did not have indoor plumping in East Texas until the late 1960’s. Her grown child put it in. Enough family stories.

    • MtWoman says:

      button crazy…I can relate to some of your stories. And they are good to read. Great reminders of what’s real and what’s not. Thanks for posting.

  27. Thanks MTwoman for a wonderful essay. I enjoyed it and I am glad your parents did not have to go through the deprivation I did as a kid. I was born in 1939 and a lot of my experiences were during WWII. We were a large family living on an acre of ground on the outskirts of a small town. We had no electricity until 1951, no running water in the house until my Dad closed in a porch where the well was located and made it into a kitchen with the pump at the sink in 1952, and we used an outhouse until 1952 when we finally got pressurized water and I spent my spring vacation from school digging and pouring a septic tank and leach field, so we could have an indoor bathroom. We used coal and wood for both heating and cooking fuel until 1951 when Mom got a bottle gas kitchen range and 1952 when we got oil heat and a year later when they ran a gas line out to us. We also got a phone in 1952 that did not have a dial on it and when you picked up the receiver, an operator or a neighbor would answer since we were on a party line and neighbors looked out for each other back then. We raised a large garden, raised hogs, rabbits, chickens had a horse and wagon, had a couple of milk cows. Mom rendered the lard and tallow, leached her own lye and made her own soap and canned in the same kettle which my brother and I had to keep hot with corn cobs and small pieces of wood. We had a smokehouse that did not get much use since you were not supposed to butcher your own livestock during WWII. You were supposed to sell it and then buy it back at a big inflated price and with ration stamps. Mom made saurkraut, hominy, jellies and preserved fruits, and also canned a lot of vegetables. We had a car sometimes after the war was over because Dad had to sell his truck during the war to help the war effort. We hunted when ammunition was available to supplant the table and when ammunition became unavailable in 1944 we used bow and arrow, an old metal pipe blowgun and spears. In 1948 when rationing went off we were again able to buy ammunition by the round beginning in 1949. There were eleven of us surviving kids with the youngest being born in 1948. Times were very hard and I did not have a change of clothes until 1953 when I grew tall enough to detassel seed corn for DeKalb. I was the first boy after a string of four girls so I had to hit it hard and early. We were good kids I guess back then cause the only trouble we were ever in was at home. My Dad was a mean person who beat us regularly when he would have a temper fit, so I left home at 17 to go in the Army to get away from it. After Christmas of 1953, Dad traded our place for an unimproved ten acre patch of timber five miles from town and we had to start the process all over again. We moved into an eight by sixteen cabin as soon as school was out that spring and doubled the cabin on Labor Day. Times were till very hard so I left home in 1956 to make my own way in life. I managed to finish high school and gain a BS in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering while in the Army. I got married in 1959 and got out of the Army in 1965. I have always provided for my family and have always been able to do anything needed to be done and out first years of marriage required me to supplant the table with odd jobs during off time from the Army, wild game and gardens when we were lucky enough to have a permanent station so she could be with me. I look back on all of this and wonder just what would modern day kids (like my grandchildren) would go it they had to do half of the stuff much less be deprived of their gameboys, cellphones, mp4 players, etc. I hope I never have to find out what they would do. Harold

    • MtWoman says:

      Harold…thank you so much for sharing your story!! I am sure you are a good person for all that hard work. I know that the work ethic that my father instilled in me has stayed with me and has kept me grounded, even through some “rebel” times. Like I’ve said in some other comments, I firmly believe that whether or not children or grandchildren listen or observe consciously, that EXAMPLE stays with them, and they can draw on it when needed. It has worked that way for me. Thanks again for sharing.

      • I would like to hope what you say about staying with you is true but I have my doubts. Some of the grandkids will be allright and others will struggle some before they too pull through, but I have a couple I feel there is no hope for them. When the plug is ever pulled, they will go down the drain in helpless confusion. I used to think that my youthful days were days of deprivation and hopeless toil. I feel that was a mistake on my part as a lot of what I learned those years has helped me and others I have assisted pull through lean times. One of the salient points happened the other day when a grandson was trying to saw a piece of trim lumber and the saw kept sticking. He threw it down and said it is just a piece of useless junk. I picked up the saw and using a nail set, I reset the teeth to give it a decent kerf and without resharpening, the saw just glided through the material. He was shocked and amazed and I told him that is just one of the things I would like to teach you and pass on that knowledge but you are so difficult, it is hopeless to even bring up the topic until something like this happens. He promised to listen in the future and he checked out the other handsaws, reset two more of them and sharpened one when I taught him how to check the teeth to see if they were sharp enough.

        • Harold…that’s wonderful!! You got his eyes & ears!! Can’t get better than that. He’ll never forget what you showed him, even if he ‘forgets’ for awhile, while ‘busy’ with other things. What a gift you gave him! :)

  28. MtWoman says:

    Thanks for all the responses. I am glad that my article has recalled memories for a lot of you.

    For me, I wanted to see what I could glean from his experience to help me “prep” today. I feel that increasing economic hard-times are the most possible SHTF scenario we face, regardless of the cause or source of it…political, terrorism, martial law, natural disaster… whatever. In doing this interview with my father, I found a consistent theme: self-reliance ALONG WITH co-operation, which actually mirrors what I believe and strive for.

    I also found that, even though he had it fairly good during the depression compared to others, that he has an ingrained “frugality” code. Even when times are ‘fat’, he is extremely frugal.

    So, his advice of frugality, co-operation, and simplicity is what I strive for. For me, this makes sense as a way of life, regardless of the economic, political, or environmental atmosphere, and whether there is a SHTF scenario or not.

    I also found some interesting things in our conversation that could be directly translated into prepping ideas:
    -simple toys and games for kids AND adults. I plan to listen to the radio more than watch TV. And to look for people to play games with (cards, etc.)
    -developing ‘trade’ skills; being able to provide a direct ‘necessary’ service (sewing/mending, sharpening, mechanics, etc.). When my grandson was contemplating becoming a video game maker, I tried to interest him in finding and learning a trade…like mechanics. He compromised and is going for working on computer systems. At least that is something a little more in demand than the video games. I think in his future, a ‘trade’ will be invaluable. For myself, I am looking at learning to weave and make useable pottery pieces.
    -using simple foods
    -obtaining and using simple tools and appliances
    -keep an open mind in regards to your ‘neighbors’. Even though times are different today, people are basically the same, and want the same thing: connection. I am working on being more open to people I perceive as ‘different’ than me, and that I would usually not particularly look at for interaction. This has led to my making the acquaintance of people who actually have some of the same line of thinking I do, but who LOOK and ACT differently. I am grateful for this.

    I would hope that there is some value in this article for prepping, as well as for the ‘memories’. Has anyone gained any prepping insight from it? Please share!

  29. Krystle says:

    Thank you so much for this article, it’s been one of my favorites so far. Please thank your father. I wish things were more like that now. I know alot of people had a really hard time of it back then, but people also knew things that we don’t. The were ingenious. I’m 28 years old and I feel as if I know nothing about the things I should and too much about things that don’t matter. I, too, believe that all this new technology sometimes forces us to focus on the wrong things. What if there were no electricity one day, and we couldn’t run to the store? What if our cell phones stopped working, or (gasp) no FACEBOOK (which I don’t use)?! Once upon a time, women my age had full pantries of food they put up themselves, washed laundry by hand and mended their own clothes, and grew their own wholesome food. Men had fathers that taught them to build with their hands, how to fix things, how to hunt. My grandparents died before I knew them very well, and neither of my parents have any knowledge like that to pass on to me. I have to figure it all out myself, and I’ve only just started. I have a very long way to go. Again, thank you for the article.

    • Lantana says:

      Krystle, in the short time you’ve been posting, you’ve impressed me with two qualities that many your age (and mine!) would be well-served to cultivate: common sense and get-up-and-go.

      Keep building your knowledge and skills and you will be a force to be reckoned sooner than you think.

      • Thank you so much. I’ve read and re-read your comment several times…it fills me with such a swell of pride! Thank you so much for the encouragement, and for making my day.

        • Krystle, you’re the one doing yourself proud–I’m just callin’ it like I see it.

          Looking forward to seeing how you’ve put your time, energy and ingenuity to work this week in the next WDYDTWTP thread this coming Saturday.

      • Encourager says:

        My oldest son is 30 and he also has this common sense and does what he puts his mind to. He is getting pretty frustrated that he can’t find a woman who has common sense, can cook and is willing to learn new skills. I think there are many in this age group whose eyes are being opened to reality. He had a period where he lost his job and he ended up selling everything he owned just to pay the rent and car payment and to buy gas to look for a job. He took whatever he could temporarily to make ends meet. Would not even consider coming back home. At first I didn’t understand, but now I am so proud of him. He eventually landed a great job but it was hand to mouth for a while. He greatly matured through these trials.

        • Encourager, you’ve got a right to be bursting your buttons over that one, that’s for sure.

          Keep telling him to hang in there–it is worth the wait to find someone you can be equally yoked with.

          • Encourager says:

            @Lantana, LOL, I had a dream (same dream many times) where he was married to a woman with long, curly, red hair. So I keep asking him if he has met any redheads. I get ‘the look’. I would rather he wait for the right one, then marry the wrong one. He would never think of divorce and picking the wrong one can mean years and years of misery.

    • MtWoman says:

      Krystle…I have copied your comment and sent it in an email to my father. I will be doing that with all the comments…he will be very pleased. But I wanted to send yours first. It will do him a world of good to see your “thanks” and to know that a 28 yo can get something out of his story. Thanks! :)

      • MtWoman, thank you so much for that. I am genuinely moved that reading my comment will make him happy. I actually wanted to go on, but didn’t want to rant or take away from your post in way. I would be more than happy, honored, in fact, to send him a more in-depth response by email if you would like. I appreciate so much the things he and others like him have to share with us. It breaks my heart that people my age are going to lose that. Thank you again, many times over for this post!

  30. MtWoman, a great article! My dad was born in 1925 and passed away 5 years ago. I was a bit disconnected with the age difference as to what they had gone through until I was in my teens except learning about what my grandpa and uncles went through in WW I and WW II.

    When my grandma talked about it and had me go to the garden for veggies or fruits its how they did it back then I listened, maybe she had a sweeter way of making it sound and someone who was alive when Haley’s Comet was cool. She also talked about the grand pa I didn’t know that dies years before I was born since he was born in 1896 I believe. She remarried and her second husband passed when I was about 3 years old.

    I loved going through the house and garage and seeing links to my families past. There is a youtube blog I’m subscribed to that shows how they prepared food during the depression.

  31. MtWoman,
    My dad was born in 1921 and mom in 1928 and although I never formally interviewed them, they did talk about their lives as they were growing up quite often; although a lot of times it was meant as a point to me and my siblings when we complained. You think you have it hard, well when I was a kid, blah, blah, blah, LOL. The only thing dad wouldn’t discuss was what he did in the war. Over the years I found out that he was a medic in a hospital in the UK that also had a POW wing. When I took German in H.S. the only phrase he knew was the one for no smoking. Beyond that he just wouldn’t talk about it.

    OTOH, your Q&A brings back lots of memories, both in stories from my folks and personal experience as a kid. I remember the rag man, the junk man, the ice man, and the milk man. Our lifestyle was a synthesis of the depression. A lot of food came from the store, but we had cherry trees and grapes and always had a garden. Must have been some barter going on, because we canned and froze lots of things in the fall that we hadn’t grown, and I suspect had been traded for some of our excess. The groceries were like your dad described, mostly small family owner shops who knew you by name.

    When you discussed people eating less and having 3 meals with few snacks, I think back to how my family did the same, and how we all survived. An occasional ice cream or candy bar was considered a treat, not part of a balanced meal.

    And the telephone question brought back some interesting memories. We had a 5 digit phone number ‘91078’ and I can still remember when they added two more digits to the number to make it 7 digits. Back then “long distance” was also a treat, and a costly one you used sparingly. It’s no wonder the current generation has no concept of this, when they can call, IM. Skype, or Facebook folks all over the planet as easily as we made local calls. No, more easily.

    I could ramble on here for a while, but it would be better for everyone to cut it short, so I will end on the memory I cherish and abhor the most. The S&H Green Stamp. If everything else was the same, like relative distance to the store and cost of the products, we always shopped where they gave out those stamps. You got one for each $0.10 of purchase. You filled pages in books with them, and then could trade books of stamps for merchandise. I remember many evenings helping my mom double check those pages, putting rubber bands on the books, and counting and stacking books, so mom could get a toaster, or a new chair, or whatever. Their catalog was almost like a Sears catalog with all kinds of goodies, as long as you had enough books of stamps.

    In some ways those were the days, but the technology (especially in the medical and pharmaceutical fields) we have today has probably kept a lot of us (my folks included) alive long past their original expiration dates, so all in all life is still pretty good. And in the end, it’s as good as we each make it.

    So MtWoman, thanks again very much for the memories.

    • MtWoman says:

      Ohio Prepper….thanks for the response. Yes…so much to know and learn from our elders…and each other. And LOL on the Green Stamps!! I too remember filling book after book with them. Yuk. I had to lick them. Didn’t think of a sponge! :)

      • MtWoman,
        I don’t think sponges had been invented, so we also licked them. Seems so obvious to me now, LOL.

        • Hunker-Down says:

          OhioPrepper,

          My mom made me lick all those stamps. I think the glue was still made from horse hooves, at least it stunk like the smell when we trimmed the Belgians hooves. YUCKKKK

        • Those who could afford them used natural sponges.

          • Harold,
            That was an attempt at a joke. Synthetic sponges were available and were used for cleaning chores. It’s just that we never thought out of the box in using them for the stamps.

            • I was also just taking a poke. Do you have any idea what a natural sponge cost during WWII. More than a pair of shoes which were rationed and I don’t think they even had ration stamps for natural sponges. As far as the cellulose sponges, I highly doubt if any of those would have been available during the war years since stuff like that was dedicated to the war effort.

  32. Carl in W.V. says:

    I really enjoyed this artical it is a life that I long for. I was somewhat of a history buff when I was younger and I questioned my grandparents all the time. They were born in 1909 and 1912 other than a rough childhood here in southern WV they had it good in the 30’s and 40’s my grandmother ran a boarding house and grandpa worked in the coal mines. neither of them ever had a drivers license or owned a car. they bought milk ,veggies and meat local. Granpa said some folks just wouldn’t go in them mines so they hunted for game and dug ramps and sold them. he also said they bartered food with the italians he said them women sure could cook.

    • MtWoman says:

      Carl in W V…thanks for responding. I am glad the article brought up good memories. We have much to learn from the past, and as they say…if we don’t, it will repeat itself. :)

  33. Thank you for sharing that discussion. I am actually trying to get my life back to a simplier time. I am spending less time on this machine and more time tending my gardens and animals.

  34. mindyinds says:

    What a great article! Have been watching Depression Cooking with Clara on Youtube this afternoon – more tips on coping, including keeping your sense of humor and using what you can get for free or nearly free.

    • MtWoman says:

      mindyinds…someone else mentioned Depression Cooking. I will definitely be checking it out. Thanks for your response.

  35. Encourager says:

    Thank you, Mt. Woman, and please thank your Dad for us! I have decided to ‘interview’ my MIL about the depression. She was born in 1918 so was a bit older than your Dad during the depression. She, too, came from German immigrants. I don’t know how it will go as she as advanced dementia. But sometimes she is so coherent talking about the past. Will let everyone know how it goes!

    • MtWoman says:

      YES Encourager…please DO share what you get!! There’s GOLD in those elders! :)

      • Encourager says:

        Well, the ‘interview’ didn’t go so well. We got a call this morning that Mom was ‘acting up’ at the care facility where she lives – she wanted to go eat in the dining room in her nighty and that was not allowed. So she got stubborn, shoved her walker against a few aides and the nurse called us and asked what they should do. We pay close to $3000 a month and they want to know what to do??? Have they not had to deal with this with other residents with dementia?? They ended up sending her to the ER by ambulance!!! So we met her at the ER and sat with her most of the day while she ranted and raved about the horrible people, and then started on us…all the tests were normal, which means Blue Cross will refuse to pay for the ER visit. We had to wait two hours for the facility to come pick her up (we had our Jeep and with 4WD she can’t climb into it). So after she calmed down I asked her what she remembered about the depression and she said they had no problem as her Dad worked straight through it. When I asked her about WWII she demanded how could I expect her to remember something so long ago? So…end of interview. Oh, well, maybe on a better day.

        • Encourager…so sorry you had this trouble. I have it with Dad sometimes too…gets testy. Don’t give up. DO try on a better day. Knowing someone is interested in her life may let her open up. Keep trying, and please share whatever comes.

          • I have to add…it has taken me a long time and a lot of work for Dad to trust that I am interested in him. My ‘interview’ with him couldn’t have happened any sooner at all than when it did…4 years of work later.

  36. I’ve been lurking here for a year or so and just wanted to say that I *especially* thoroughly enjoyed this article. Thanks to you and your dad for taking the time. I have to say I agree with a lot of what he said!

    I’ve learned a lot from this site, thanks to you all.

    Jess

  37. Great article , my grandparents went through the great depression , they had a self sustaining ranch . Anything they wanted they could barter for with beef . They said that the barter system was the best way to get by , everybody did it to a degree , if you had a skill or produced something , you could trade it for the basic needs .

    • MtWoman says:

      T.R. …yes..bartering. My father said they didn’t think of it that way. If something was needed, it was just done if it could be…without thinking of return. But I think bartering is what we will have to do. Everyone wants something now.

  38. I forgot to mention in my previous postings that my Dad was born in 1898 and my Mom in 1908 and were married in 1926. My grandpa came to Illinois from Kentucky in 1874 and married a local girl in 1876. My Dad was one of three surviving children of fourteen children. He and his brother both died at age 73 and their surviving sister who was an original Harvey girl who married a conductor on the ST&SF was widowed and remarried. She died in 1957 while I was in Korea.

  39. Survivordan says:

    I drove my dad home after his eye surgery and I asked him many of these same questions and more. Wow! We’ve talked before about our combat experiences, women and drinking escapades but this…..was different. I thought I knew all about my dad and my grandparents but today was an eye opener. My dad also grew up in the Great Depression. He said he never noticed they were poor because he was too busy and having too much fun with his chums. He also said folks helped each other more and neighbors cooperated with each other.
    They never sued each other. Grandpa once had a neighbor who wouldn’t trim his trees that had great big limbs that hungover into Grandpa’s yard. The guy punched out my grandfather over the issue. The next day my grandpa awoke to the sounds of the neighbor trimming the trees. Later he chopped and stacked all the wood in my grandfather’s wood pile as an apology. later that day they shared some beer and became life long friends after that.
    I always tell people to pay attention to their elders cuz they might learn something. I’ve learned plenty about living from my dad but I learned a lot more about him today. And a lot of it does pertain to prepping and survival. Thanks kiddo.

    • Survivor Dan…yes…it was ‘different’ for me too when I ‘interviewed’ my father with these questions. I think it might be different for them to talk of their childhood than to talk of war, etc. And that spirit of co-operation seems to permeate the stories. My father has a couple of friends that came from ‘misunderstandings’. They seem to take those experiences differently than they would be taken today. So glad you had that experience!

      • I mean: the experience of having that talk. I know I go about the daily necessities with my father, and sometimes forget to be personal. It’s good to do that with our elders.

  40. Lantana says:

    Thank you for an excellent article, MtWoman, and please let your dad know how interesting and thought-provoking we found his experiences.

    I am so grateful to have been able to spend a lot of time with 3 of my grandparents growing up, and for all the family stories and history they shared.

    Sometimes it feels like our child-centric society robs kids of their elders’ wisdom, as parents try so hard to give their child wings that they neglect first ensuring they have roots. . . .

    • Lantana…I will be copying the thanks and responses and giving them to my dad. And, yes, it is a definite plus to spend time with elders. And your last statement is PRICELESS….so true.

  41. Mt Lady, Thank you and your dad so much for this article. Really enjoyed it. Brought back lots of memories of my Grandma who passed away 4 years ago this week. I loved hearing her stories of the depression and I’ve tried to pass them on to my kids.

    For anyone interested in further reading Cooking with Clara is a great book that is a real-life story of life in during the depression and the recipes used.

    • Sunny…great that you got stories from your Grandma and have been able to pass them along. There’s GOLD in our elders. Lantana’s last statement above tells exactly how it is when that doesn’t happen. And I will be passing along the thanks and comments to my dad.

      • axelsteve says:

        My grandparents were farmers from Kansas. My grandpa joined the navy before he got drafted. He was stationed in sasaluito Calif and port Townsend Washington.He wanted to go back to the farm after the war ,my grandma said no to that.They settled into Novato calif which was a tiny town then.They were frugal people from farm living and the deppresion.My granpa was a Irish/Italian. I referred to him as a mc tony later on in life.He lived 88 years and my grandma lived about that long.

  42. 1984MSgt says:

    My father was 12 years old with two older brothers and one younger by four years when they went through the Great Depression in Oklahoma and Arkansas. What you described is quite similar. Things got very rough in the winter months for my Dad and his family. Until the day he died (1994) you couldn’t get that man to eat oatmeal. I think each family has their tales of success and of survival through those years. Bottom line is that each family worked with their neighbors and church members to help those less fortunate. God bless them all.

    • 1984MSgt..LOL on the oatmeal. My father doesn’t like white potatoes for the same reason. And yes, that co-operation was key to survival. We all talk at times about ‘going it alone’, but I don’t think any of us will last long or thrive without co-operation. Thanks for responding.

  43. recoveringidiot says:

    Thanks for a great read MtWoman!
    It seems the effects of the depression varied some according to your location. I think indoor plumbing was unusual here until the late 50’s – early 60’s, we didn’t get an indoor toilet until 1964. I thought we had moved to the big time, no more hauling “thunder mugs” to the out house and no more digging new out house holes! My great grandmother kept a pee pot right to her death, she said a person should not be running around the house in the dark to pee. I said, but grannie, we have lights! She came right back with “yes, and that bill comes every month just so you can see how to go pee!” She told me when they got electric power her husband threatened to cut them off because his first bill was almost $5.
    I learned much from my grandparents and my parents. We may have been poor but I didn’t know any better because all our neighbors were as poor or worse off than we were. I’d love to be able to ask my grandfather how he cured/smoked the hog meat and so many other things. I feel lucky to have learned what I did from them, the younger generations are generally clueless and that may be very hard on them one day.

    • Great stories recoveringidiot. There is so much to learn from ‘hard times’. What I got from my father that seemed the most imp0rtant is to live FRUGALLY even during ‘fat’ times. He has always lived that way, and has had a good life because of it. Thanks for the response.

  44. What a good article Mt Women. We should ask our folks about our history before they pass on. We would surely miss out on a lot. I sure do remember the wringer washer I had. My hair was down to my waist and I got my hair caught in the wringer….. I had to reach around and turn the nob even though I couldn”t see it. lol, The next time I washed the clothes I tied my hair up.

    • mountain lady says:

      I managed to get my arm go through one of those wringers. The lady that let me “help” caught it quick and threw it into reverse and my arm came back out with no harm done. She made me sit on the stairs and watch until she was finished.

    • Terri…I got my hand caught in one once. Not fun. But sometimes we learn by our mistakes, eh? :) Thanks for the response.

    • That too brings back memories of my mom and sisters having to scrub clothing on the scrub boards and how happy she was to get the first washing machine. It was a wooden tub with a rocker for the agitation that was moved by a pair of handles on both ends that my brother and I had to work back and forth to agitate the clothes in the water. It was made by the Taylor Manufacturing company in Chicago and later in Los Angeles in the 60’s I worked for one of the sons who had a commercial refrigeration business. Mom got a used sears hand wringer a year later that clamped on the edge of a granite laundry tub that Dad came up with from somewhere. She had a big copper kettle that she heater her wash water in and my brother and I had to keep the fire going under it just like the iron kettle in a previous posting. She eventually got a square tub Maytag powered by a little two cycle engine that also had a powered wringer on it. Dad later made maple rollers for the hand wringer and we used it to roll our own home grown oats for oatmeal. Such memories these stories have dredged up for me. Things I hadn’t remembered for a long while like the blowgun I used to use during WWII when ammunition became unavailable. We used hickory darts with fire hardened points and the sap from a jimson weed pod that would numb birds and rabbits. We made those darts and used some cotton balls that we had grown to propel them through the tube which was a piece of aluminum fuel line from a WWII bomber that had fallen off the freight train close by our house. What a find!!! I was so proud to have found it and did not know what it was until years later when I worked in aerospace in California and looked up the number that had been stamped on the pipe.

      • Harold…great stories….and so PREP oriented!! A blowgun! I don’t think that’s been covered in any of the prep articles I’ve read. It’s probably on here (MD & the Pack have covered about everything), but I haven’t seen it. Great idea! And the rollers for sqishing oats…another great PREP idea. This is what I was hoping would come out of my article here. Thanks much for sharing.

        • HI MtWoman and Harold-
          A blowgun might be a very useful prep tool, and jimson weed grows wild in most temperate regions. Think I’ve seen it as far south as Orlando, and is highly toxic. Useful tool.
          Anyway… recently found out that slingshots are illegal in NYS. It is a carryover from a law passed in the 50’s as a response to some gang activity in the inner cities. Never been taken off the books. Now, however bangers just use handguns… plenty of them on the streets, and it is probably easier to get one illegally than through legal channels here.
          There doesn’t seem to be such a law about blowguns!
          Worth cultivating a good alternative skill like that. Darts will take a bit more work and time to make than shooting pebbles out of a slingshot, but still essentially free and unregulatable. I like it.
          Cat

          • Black Locust thorns make wonderful darts and do not have to have the tips fire hardened. I was usually able to gather usable darts at about a 1 in 6 ratio. You do need to scrape them a little just back of the point to enable them to hold the jimson weed sap and still have a point hard enough to penetrate through fur and skin.

  45. Great article! Thank you for preserving some wisdom from a wiser generation.

  46. My stories from my grandma about their survival during the Depression:

    When the stock market crashed, she wanted to take their money out of the bank, but grandpa said, no the bank will never close. Well, it did and they lost their savings of $5,000.00, which was a lot back then, never got it back from the bank.

    It took about five years before the full effects of the depression were felt in the western part of the U.S.

    They lived in a small town where everyone knew each other. Grandpa was a mechanic and they bartered with the people in town, trading meat and other items for car repair.

    Grandma had a big garden, she was good at growing things, and she canned a lot of the produce from the garden. She would get her canning stuff out on the back porch and have a few days of canning, it was very hot and tiring work, but they had food to eat for the next year. They never had to go hungry. Great Grandpa had lots of skills, they had fruit trees in the yard that he grafted, they had a cherry tree with 3 kinds of cherries on it. And other types of fruit, grapevines as well.

    Grandpa loved to hunt, and he got a deer every year, which they butchered and kept in a friend’s freezer.

    Grandma was a great cook, made food and baked cakes and all sorts of things. She also sewed clothing, knitted and crocheted. I had a shirt she made for me when I was little.

    They called the doctor when there were serious illnesses, like when my aunt broke her arm, but didn’t go for all the tests and preventative stuff people do these days. Grandpa pulled his own tooth out with a pliers when it went bad, because he didn’t want to pay a dentist to do it.

    Nobody locked their doors back then my mom says it was because nobody had anything to steal.

    Grandpa was also very handy, he carved rifle stocks for himself and could make almost anything.

    They never felt want during the depression although they didn’t have a lot of stuff and didn’t own their house. They always had the basics and enough to eat. Probably because Grandpa had good job skills as a mechanic and they were wiling to barter for their services.

    • Banaras….so similar to my father’s story! Thanks for sharing.

      • thank you for sharing your dad’s story, I enjoyed reading it very much. I appreciate you opening up a opportunity to tell our story, I was the only person in my family that was interested in hearing the stories of my elders. It’s nice to be able to share it with those from other families who liked to listen and learn from their elders.

        • banaras…you never know when any information will be useful. My father’s other kids aren’t really interested in any of this, but I met a young woman the other day who was, and she got a lot out of what my father said. So, I know what you mean. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  47. village idiot says:

    Very nice article, MtWoman. I have so many memories of my parents and grandparents, but the one relative who loved the past and catalogued our family history was my great-aunt Fannie. She told many of the family stories that went all the way back to the Civil War. Those were hard times for our family, worse than the Depression maybe, but this is your story isn’t it? Thanks for doing it.

    • village idiot…thanks. Please share any stories you would. They benefit us all. And the Civil War times would hold many useful stories for us preppers. Wow…that would definitely be a useful thing to hear about.

  48. goldielocks says:

    My Grandfather was born in Denmark in 1886. Came to America by himself at the age of 19 with $19.00 in his pocket. He was a baker. I was half raised by my Grandparents so I really heard the stories of the Great Depression. My Father was the baby of the family being 20 years difference from oldest to youngest of six kids and born in 1929. At 12, he sold apples from their orchard on the streets for a nickle apeice during the war. Grandfather had a bakery and a government contract to bake bread for the bread lines. Gramma was on the homestead milking the cow, traded homemade butter for sugar etc. Clothes were made from flour sacks. We ate, meat and potatoes at every meal, saurkraut was always on the table and fried apples, yum! My Grandfather always said: only buy what you can pay for that way no one can take it away from you! To bad our society isn’t that way now. Grandma saved string, plastic bags were washed out etc. Desserts were a piece of fruit. They raised chickens, gardened and they lovingly argued who could make the best bread! Funny! Lots of food stored in extra metal cabinets. And everything was made from scratch back then. You never ate in a restaurant. There weren’t to many fast food places back then. And as a child you better behave ’cause any adult would make you behave and tell your parents if you were naughty. Those were the good times. They survived the depression by being self-sufficient and not owing anyone anything. They lived very simple lifestyle and they were happily married for 62 years. I was lucky to be half raised by them it wore off on me.

    • Goldilocks…some similarities there with my Dad’s story. Thanks for sharing.

    • recoveringidiot says:

      goldielocks, you said “And as a child you better behave ’cause any adult would make you behave and tell your parents if you were naughty.” that’s one thing I remember growing up was that it made no difference where you were, if you started cutting up the first available grown up would give you a whacking. You would be jailed for that today. I see so many young parents letting their kids run wild never punishing them or even a reprimand. My mother only had to give me the “look” and I’d straighten up quick because the “look” was your only warning a whooping was coming if you didn’t square up quick.

  49. MtWoman,

    Thanks to you and your Dad for taking your time to share this with us. I found myself in tears reading your article and the responses from the Pack.

    I think the sadness is partly because the people of that generation are passing on and taking all of those memories and knowledge and skills along with them.

    And part of my sadness comes from how far removed we are as a society from those days of hard work, ethics, morals, sense of community. I am almost ashamed of what we have become.

    But mostly I think I’m sad that we have lost so much joy in life. I know I have. Everyone from the depression era that I have talked with about that time in their lives all said regardless of their circumstances they were happy. What has happened to us? As much as we have progressed, have we somehow sacrificed the true essence of living?

    I learned so much from my grandmother and mother and father. My grandparents’ generation is gone now and my mother is the last one living from her generation. She just turned 87. I miss them, their wisdom, their stories.

    I am very good with my hands and have always been crafty and handy with home improvements. My toolshed makes most men jealous. LOL It seems I’ve always known how to sew, mend, darn, cook, bake, garden, can, swing a hammer, fix things. My mom always tells me I’m just like my grandmother. I have memories of her coming to stay with us for a few weeks every summer. She was busy all day while my parents were at work. She’d be down on her hands and knees laying a new floor in the kitchen, repairing the front porch and painting it, canning, baking, making pickles, hanging the laundry out, baking bread and rolls. Never sat down until dinner. She went to bed at 7 p.m. and read for a while and got up every morning at 7 a.m. She was an amazing woman and I’m proud to be compared to her.

    Your article and all of these posts are priceless stories that give me pause. They struck a nerve. Right now I can’t tell you why, but I know this is going to make a very big impact on how I live my life from this day forward.

    Thank you, again, and thanks to the Pack for sharing your own stories. Wouldn’t it be great if there was no such worry as OPSEC and we were all part of a real community/neighborhood – true friends/neighbors? I have a feeling it would be very much like it was “back in the day.” Thanks, MD, for giving us the next best thing – a virtual community.

    • Conmaze…I had to hold it together while interviewing my father, but I, too, felt what you feel. We’ve lost depth in our society…connection…with each other, and with the earth. And I also felt that his story (and the ones I’m reading here as comments) are changing me…for the better. I complain and grouse a lot…if not verbally, then at least mentally. I think it’s part of what we think we’re supposed to do somehow…at least for me. That’s changing…thank goodness. My father’s story and the stories here are sobering me…thinning out the effect of our tech society and getting me thinking about what really matters. And to make sure that JOY and GRATITUDE is a daily part of my life.

      And how wonderful that you are like your Grandmother!! What a compliment.

      I think when our parents generation…and ours…is gone, much goodness of how to live will be gone as well. My hope is in the young people here who are paying attention.

      Thanks for your response conmaze. :) I am glad we are at least part of the same online ‘village’. :)

    • You hit the nail on the head. This article and all the responses made me teary as well.
      Your grandmother was an amazing woman!

  50. Thank you, that was very entertaining and helpful. I hope your father realizes what he shared with you will reach so many people who don’t have that voice of experience in their lives. It’s a wonderful example of the cooperation he was talking about.

    • Rain23…this is so well said. And a take on it that we all need. That maybe today, internet ‘community’ is still community!! I will be passing all the comments and thanks to my father. He will be glad to read yours. :)

  51. Hunker-Down says:

    Several folks have touched on the topic of hunting. My boyhood years occurred around 15 years after the depression. By the time I was old enough to hunt there were almost no animals left. The depression forced folks to develop hunting skills and they used them throughout their lives and by the time I was allowed to shoot a single shot 4-10 there was nothing left to shoot at. There were no deer, no ducks or geese, no coyotes, no creek critters to trap; only a very few squirrels and rabbits left. I was probably 50 years old by the time I saw a local wild deer.

    Today we have ample game because they are protected by law and propagated by wild game departments.
    Kids that should be learning stalking skills are thumbing their cell phone, strengthening their myopic view of reality.

    When TSHTF, skilled preppers will be forced to harvest the wild game and we will shortly return to the hunting environment in which I was raised. I hope we are not forced by circumstance to hunt in that environment again.

    Can the person whose cell phone you pay for skin a rabbit?

    • Good thoughts Hunker Down. Something we preppers need to stay aware of, and make others aware of if possible. One of the things I think about that is really important to remember is how many MORE people there are now than there were during the Depression. That will put a much BIGGER strain on resources in a SHTF scenario than back then, including game. I think the population numbers will be THE biggest problem as time goes on, SHTF or not. Thanks for your comment.

      • Hunker-Down says:

        MtWoman,

        The 1940 census was 132 million and grew to 308 million by 2010. Gun growth is probably worse. We need to develop a taste for TVP and stock a bunch while it is still being made (we have none).

      • That is exactly why all of the survival stories prophesy a large population die off it it happens. Imaging the inner city welfarites who know nothing about acquiring food other than the store or fast food places.

  52. Thanks MtWoman. You brought back a lot of memories. I grew up in my maternal grandmother’s house in a big city in S. TX. My sister lives in the house today. My mom would tell me a few stories about the depression when asked. They made out better than others thanks to her father. Growing up there was a ringer washer with clothes rinsed in a wash tub out back then hung to dry. She had a bottle of “bluing” to put in rinse water for white clothes. She used a rag mop instead of a store bought mop.

    My father grew up in NW AK. My first visit as a college freshman to the other grandparents was interesting. In the ’60s they had electricity but no running water. The well was next to the front porch with a well bucket. Grandma cooked on a wood stove. Didn’t hear anything about that time from him. Did hear a few things from an aunt. My uncles hunted with a borrowed .22. They didn’t own a gun. In his later years my grandfather grew flowers, walked to town to the U of Arkansas to sell them. One year they had pictures of him in the year book selling the flowers. The students just knew him as the “flower man”.

    Both grandfathers had a couple of jobs at the same time, so they could support their families.

    • Papabear…SO many similarities in everyone’s stories of those times, and yours is no exception. BLUING!! I remember my grandmother using that. I wonder what it was. I’ll have to research it. Thanks for your post. :)

      • Bluing was added to white clothes to make them whiter. It used to come in balls in a cardbox. We used to load it into 410 shotgun shells and shoot things with it when mom did not catch us raiding her bluing supplies. Such memories that one little word brings back. We had a hard time during the war and actually had to use some percussion caps and the black powder that was on hand to reload shotgun shells with using broken glass or small pea gravel, bits of nails etc for the shot. And those were just the good times. Never mind what the bad times were like, walking two miles to school in the wintertime with worn out tennis shoes with holes in them and arriving with feet so cold that I was lucky I did not loose toes to frostbite. What I would have given for some plastic bags back then to wrap my feet in.

        • Thanks Harold. Yup…many memories associated with certain words for myself too…and smells and tastes. Brown sugar is one…my grandmother gave me a spoonful every evening as a ‘treat’. She never made desserts, so this was the only ‘sweet’ I ever got when with her. To this day, I think of her when I smell it. :)

    • Papabear says:

      A few hours later I realized a typo was in this. I should have written “NW AR” not “NW AK”.

  53. Pineslayer says:

    MtWoman, thanks for a great post that spawned many great stories. Perspective comes to us in many ways, I wish you were my neighbor.

  54. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    Good read, thanks for sharing

  55. rich hutchin says:

    Thank you- & let your dad know every time someone here says to thank him -i hope he sees how many people today are searching for the advice of our elders! One benefit of our technology is that people like me far away are able to hear his wisdom, so it’s not all bad. My parents & grandparents have all passed so I no longer have access to any more of their knowledge. My favorite piece of wisdom from your interview: “Co-operate. Those that don’t learn to cooperate won’t make it or will be shot.”

    • Yes Rich…that is what I saw as an important part too, and something the masses are not so good at any more.

      I am copying all the responses and thanks today, and giving them to my father. He will enjoy reading them.

  56. Weemowop says:

    Great story…
    One thing my grandmother who lived in a city on the East coast passed down to me was that noone had money for new clothes. She remembers wearing anything she could find that would fit. At some points this even included wearing very formal attire passed down from her aunt to attend high school during the day. No choice about it, kids outgrowing the clothes they had wore anything they could get their hands on…. Also, my grandfather had significantly malformed toes as an adult as a result of wearing shoes longer than they properly fit as he was a growing young man during the depression… something to think about if you a prepping with kids.

  57. Patriot Dave (kna David the new one) says:

    MtWoman:
    I got a lot out of the glimpse of life in the 30’s. At first, I was struck by the number of things your Dad said they bought at stores. Then I realized that the depression did not affect everyone the same. Then I realized that I was another product of the progressive media re-writing history. The primary thing you see about the depression is food lines. As if everyone in the nation was standing in one. The second thing you see in history books is all the government programs and the shovel ready jobs and how the guvmint was your best friend. The history books don’t mention that the depression would have ended a decade sooner if the gov. had not intervened. (it did end sooner in other countries)

    My Mom has always been tight lipped about her childhood. She was born 1930. I sent her a link to your article hoping she will open up.
    I could not get much out of my Dad either, until a few months before he died. Then he would only tell me fun stories.

    • Patriot Dave…yes, I was ‘enlightened’ too by how relatively “easy”my father’s experience was; I had the same impression that there was NOTHING but food lines and hobos and homeless hardship. I also realized (as mentioned by someone above) that the UNCERTAINTY of the times must have been hard, even if you had food and a home. I see it in Dad’s ‘frugality’ – even when times are ‘flush’ he will not spend unless he has to, to the point of letting the house get in dis-repair, etc. I think there is an underlying fear there of being without funds. Of course, today’s “economy” (and I have that in quotes because it’s suspect to be called that) doesn’t help…I think it triggers the same fears as back in the Depression.

      Thanks for your response. And please share the ‘fun’ stories or any others here. I think they are benefiting us all.

  58. Patriot Dave (f.n.a. David the new one) says:

    screwed up. meant fna not kna.

  59. Hi WolfPack-
    I wrote a longer post yesterday that disappeared as soon as I hit submit. First time that’s happened to me here.
    My father’s parents were young adults during the 30’s. They are the ones I was closest to growing up, as they lived with us during the summers. All of my grandparents lived in the immigrant boroughs of NYC in very crowded apartments with many generations packed very close together. My grandfather was a machinist and mechanic, and his salary paid the rent, but he had a nasty habit of drinking the rest. My grandmother had to make do with what she and her boys (my father and his brothers) could glean to be able to find enough to eat. All able-bodied members of the household worked for whatever they could get – a nickle to deliver groceries, a penny per newspaper sold on the corner in the business district, a batch of traditional pastries sold to the owner of the coffee shop for $1.50… everything went into my grandmother’s tulip jar in the kitchen, to be used to purchase whatever they couldn’t grow on the rooftop garden or back yard, or pluck from under their chickens and pigeons. The walk to the market took them through a park, and there were greens free to those willing to pick them, to be cleaned and cooked with dinner. Dandelions and elderberries were pressed and made into wine, (my grandfather’s homemade specialty). At the market, for whatever was purchased, a few green stamps were given out, to be pressed into books and exchanged for special things. My grandmother’s tulip jar and decorative plates came this way, and they grace my kitchen today exactly how they did in her kitchen all those years ago.
    My family survived on odd jobs and resourcefulness, with everyone pulling together to make the most of what they had. And they lived in the middle of one of the biggest cities on the planet, with far too many people in much too small a space.
    I know the prepper dream that is near and dear to all of our hearts is to escape the city limits and live on our own self-sufficient farm, but maybe we could do a whole lot of people good by using our prepper knowledge to come up with a plan for those trapped in the city. I suspect there are far more people in that situation than there are in need in the countryside, and if we can help some of them survive in place, there will be fewer who have no choice but to join the zombie hordes flooding out of the cities when there is nothing left for the gubm’t to hand out.
    Cat

    • Cat…excellent points. I think it’s not always a choice to “bug out” or move, and the skills to “bug in” are necessary and possible. I think the key though is co-operation, something that sure seems to be missing in today’s world, especially the cities. I would think that finding a network of folks of like mind would be crucial. I feel it’s necessary even out here in the boonies, but would SURE be into it if I had to live in a city. Thanks for your response.

  60. Heartland Cindy says:

    Short term lurker here (but I’m in lust with this site) – jumping in without a life jacket. :) This article was wonderful for many reasons, but most of all, it’s a fantastic reminder of how we should all respectfully learn from our elders!

    Both of my parents were actually born during the Great Depression (1933 & 1934) so neither of them (as babies & toddlers) remembered factually what was happening at the time. Although, they each had plenty of tales to pass on from their parents, to relay to us kids born in the late 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s.

    Our parents died all too young in the 1980’s but not without insisting us youngsters, their children, spent plenty of time with the grandparents who did remember the Great Depression, clearly, and kept us kids active in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts (before they turned far left and headed off the cliff) 4-H Club, & school courses in both shop (mechanics & carpentry) and home economics (cooking and sewing) not to mention how often they shared their own life skills and experiences over the years.

    Both genders of us kids learned about animal care, guns & gun safety, fishing, gardening, archery, mechanical repair, building, sewing, cooking, baking, camping, etc., – with a sound education of morally correct behavior needed to pull it all off correctly, too boot.

    Computer, internet, cell phone & IPad/Kindle technologies are great! That we can connect with others and collect information and buy a new book or musical recording with such speed and ease these days is nothing short of terrific!

    None-the-less, failing to teach the kids & folks younger than ourselves how to get along without the bells and whistles, is a giant failure. Why can’t we make them listen? They need to learn how to get along without it all, ‘cuz there “ain’t” no promise it will always be there!

    Thanks, MtWoman, for a great article to remind us all of the importance of sharing wisdom from our elders. You sure sparked a lot of memories & interest on this thread! Wishing the best for you and your father!

    • Heartland Cindy…thanks for a great response. How fortunate you are to have had all that wonderful training! My father and mother gave me much of that too…mainly, how to think through a problem to a solution without just calling a “fixer” or just buying something new. My father to this day “invents” solutions. He just ordered a scientific bottle to separate the ethanol from gasoline, as he needs gas without it to put in his ultralights, and it’s getting hard to find. Yes…he still flies, but only one short loop up and around the airstrip. I have learned from him that what you know is what you will still do…and BE ABLE to do…when you are older. Flying is in his blood, and he may not remember my name on occasion, but he remembers how to fly.

      And as to getting the younger gen to listen to reason about tech, well…I don’t see it happenin’ in general. However, I must say that my grandson, who has done pretty much nothing but play video games all his life, has grown into a fairly astute young man. His idea of what he wanted to do was always to “make” video games. Now, as he nears HS graduation, he has realized…and on his own I might add…that that’s not such a realistic idea, and is pursuing a degree in network systems instead. I am proud of his growth, and it gives me a sigh od relief. There IS hope!!!

      Thanks again for your response.

      • Kelekona says:

        MtWoman,

        just as well about him not wanting to go into video games. All they do is train you to fall into a fallback career of running your own programming company. It was better in the 90’s when the fallback career was bent toward wedding videographer with a good foundation for a career in book cover illustration, and they actually taught you a bit about 3d graphics.

  61. Awesome interview. I wish more people would choose to do this… including me!

    • millenniumfly…well….get on with it!!! :) And share it here. I think we’re all benefiting from the stories here, and more won’t hurt.

  62. Yadkin Girl says:

    MtWoman,

    Great interview and what a great man your father is!

    I adored my grandparents who struggled through the depression and, I believe, it helped create who they were. They were dirt,dirt poor but my father and uncle never knew it because my grandparents were so loving and giving and funny. They did it all, like your father states. And, even thought they were poor they always gave to others. My grandmother could make a great meal with little. She would make, what she called, Chicken Pot Pie, using potatoes for the ‘noodles’…mmmm, it was good. I still make it to this day. She had a “Sand Tart” recipe that made a zillion (exageration) cookies with very little sugar and butter. Their house was known to be a place you could go if you were hungry. They didn’t have a farm or land. Just love.

    They were part of the Great Generation. And, boy, they were.

    Thanks again. You brought back many memories of these fantastic people who I am thankful were in my life.

    I have to go now because I am crying…. Happy tears for these two wonderful people who blessed me with love, happiness and the desire to help others.

    • Yadkin Girl…thanks for your response. And, yes, I get teary too when I re-read all these stories. They WERE a great generation, and we owe them a deep debt of gratitude. Thanks for your response. BTW…any chance for a recipe for those “sand tarts” or the pot pie??????

      • Yadkin Girl says:

        I was wrong, she called it “Potato Pot Pie”:

        Broth:
        3 lbs chicken (I use a whole chicken) – cover with water, slow boil 1 hr. Remove chicken, cut up into small pieces. Keep broth to put noodles in (below)

        Noodles:
        mix:
        1 c mashed potatoes (from scratch!)
        1 t shortening
        1.5 c flour (or enough to make consistency of pie dough)
        Roll dough thin and cut into small squares (I make 1″ x 2″ rectangles), drop into boiling broth piece by piece (do not add several at a time as they may stick together). Cook 30 minutes, salt and pepper to taste, add cut up chicken & parsely, cook additional 10 minutes.

        This is really a soup but due to using the potato noodles, the broth ends up being thick.

        Sand Tarts:
        (I guess I lied about these – they do take a lot of sugar and butter… but the recipe makes so many – I mean a lot!!! – that relatively speaking, there is not a lot used)

        3.5 c sugar
        4 eggs
        1 lb butter
        0.5 c sweet milk
        8 c flour (this should tell you something!!!)
        1 t baking soda

        mix all ingredients and let stand covered in fridge overnight.
        Roll thin (as thin as you can), brush with a beaten egg, cut into squares (I make mine about 1.5″ x 2.5″), spinkle with chopped nuts or colored sugar, bake 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes

        • THANKS Yadkin Girl!!! Can’t wait to try these! :)

        • Oh my…yum!
          Thank you, Yadkin Girl. I’ve printed these out on my 3×5 cards and added to my recipe box. These recipes are very clise to my normal way of cooking – I expect they will get alot of use.
          Thank you for sharing them.
          Cat

  63. MS Senior Chief says:

    As a young boy growing up on a Mississippi Delta cotton farm during the early sixtys, I would sit for hours and ask my Granny questions about different aspects of life. Granny had just lost my grandfather in 1929 and still had 4 or 5 children at home on the farm. When I asked about the depression, she stated she hardly knew that there was a depression. She had a garden and canned her vegetables, raised chickens and sold the eges, and had a milk cow. She had a hand pump, no electricity, and probably an outhouse. For those who have the means to do it, maybe her method of preparing is just what we need.

    • MS senior chief….good, good point!! For those of us that can, living on the land and keeping it simple is a good idea. Thanks for your response.

  64. I liked your father’s perspective on his survival and the great memories of those here who remember their grandparents going through the Great Depression… although my grandparents were so self-reliant that the depression really didn’t phase them, which is another reason to be prepared, have a garden, natural food surrounding you, the skills to live primitive, and gather like minded neighbors together.

    Funny how our grandparents and parents worked hard for the next generation’s lives to be easier, to not have to live the hard life and an unexpected result occured…………. most people lost that generation’s skills, our country lost manufacturing, and got lazy and depend on gov’t handouts and here we are…………..

    • Donna H….you hit the nail on the head. And I’d add that it’s a rotten shame how that generation has to RE-LIVE the uncertainty of economic instability, after they worked so hard to create the stability we got to grow up in (my gen). Makes me very sad…and mad. But…I think there ARE folks who carry on the skills and knowledge from those times. I just think the amount of tech-reliant folks makes it seem otherwise. Thanks for your response.

  65. Everyone…I am copying all the responses and thanks and will be giving them to my father today. I’ll post his response…if there is one. Sometimes he just doesn’t say anything. But we’ll see. :)

    And I want to thank you all for your responses…it has been great reading them, and I’ve gotten some good prepping ideas.

  66. Hunker-Down says:

    I haven’t mentioned this because I did not live it, only heard it from my mother.
    My grandfather rented 1,000 acres during the 1920’s, forward into the depression. His sons, Max, Shorty, Tater and Brick (nicknames) each received a ‘courting buggy’ on their 14Th birthday and a car on their 16Th. There was a second house on the property where a hired family lived.
    Uncle Max flew a plane in WW1 in Germany. He flabbergasted me with a story of butchering cattle on the boat to Germany so the troops could have fresh meat. He later flew mail in Michigan for the government on the same route as Lindbergh. I was told that my dad was ready to go to medical school when the depression ‘hit’. He never made it.

    They couldn’t sell the corn crop and ended up burning it to heat the house. My grandmother took in washing to earn money.

    I don’t know why they rented the acreage, I was too young to wonder why.

    • Interesting story Hunker Down. Again, the lesson seems to be: you do what you need to when you need to.

  67. Interesting. This article & comments have now been “shared” on a different blog (see “trackback” below), and without any contact with me….did they say anything to you MD? I know that anything put on the net is subject to public use, but usually I assume…or at least hope…that there will be some sort of “professional consideration” from someone before using content for their own purposes. And I didn’t know that the content here could be linked out like that.

    I am glad that they appreciated my article, but doing this was a very personal endeavor, and done specifically for this blog, as I felt ok sharing with the Pack here. I feel a little violated. Makes me look at things a little differently, knowing that this (that anything can be linked from this blog) can happen. I’ll have to be more careful about putting such personal things here…or anywhere.

    I have left a comment on the other blog stating simply that some “professional consideration” would have been appreciated.

    • Having read the current “What I did to prep this week” post, and your post about “linking” MD, I now understand the openness of this blog. I still think a little professional courtesy would have gone a long way, on the part of the person who re-posted this thread.

    • MtWoman
      There is no “subject to public use” for info posted online, online content has the same copyright protection as any other written works such as magazines. However, posting a short “snippet” with a link back to the original post is considered normal and acceptable. This type of this can be good in most cases because it sends more people to the blog to read the post increasing the potential to help more people…

  68. Kelekona says:

    Copyright law is twisted, and I probably don’t understand it well.

    If you gave an article to MD for his blog, it’s probably some form of implied permission. You did not say in words that MD could repost, but it would be implied by entering his contest. (Perhaps there is an official form, otherwise it’s wishy-washy.)

    Some other blog stealing a non-MD post from this site…. either MD or the contributor probably has claim enough for a formal letter. I think the only protection they have is the lack of law-educated person to clarify the matter.

  69. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very useful info particularly the last part :) I care for such info much. I was seeking this certain information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  70. Encourager says:

    Welcome, Fumiko Sandford. Looking forward to helping you anyway we can! The Wolf Pack is awesome, full of great people who are full of great advice.

  71. MtWoman says:

    Hey everyone…I have shown my father the responses here, and he was very interested in what you all had to say, especially the stories and memories you all shared of those times.

    What he said: “It’s great that they can appreciate what I had to say, and gain something from it. And I really like the stories they have to tell. It’s interesting to see how it was for others during those times. This must be a good group of people.”

    I explained how the “group of people” is called the Wolf Pack, but he didn’t quite get that. :) He understands that it’s a group that is trying to be self-sufficient and is concerned about the state of affairs in the world. He said: “Smart people then too. They SHOULD be concerned”.

    Doing this article was a great gift to me, as I had not heard many of the things he had to say about his childhood. It has given me an insight to him, and some information about a ‘simple’ lifestyle that is useful to me now. And I have learned even more from the stories you have all shared in response. Thanks to you all for your responses.

    I encourage everyone to “interview” your elders…ANY elders…as they are fonts of wisdom.

    • Your dad sounds wonderful! I so agree with your last sentence. I wrote a family history book last year, and interviewed some aunts and my mom, and others wrote their stories in more or less detail, it was very poignant. Make sure to interview your dad for his detailed life story, too. Most of us never hear our elders’ stories in great detail. As we get older we think of more questions to ask!

      • MtWoman says:

        Thanks Natalia. It’s a great thing for all to get the stories and lessons. :)

  72. Bam Bam says:

    Mt. Woman,

    Thanks for posting your father’s comments on what everyone posted. I am grateful to be a part of this community. Thank you for your work on this post. This post has my vote for top post this go around.

  73. MtWoman says:

    Thanks Bam Bam. It was a work of love for sure. It was the first time he was willing to open up with me and talk about all that. I am grateful I had the format of this blog to spur me on! :) Thanks BB.