Thursday, April 21, 2011

REALLY HARD TIMES? You Can't Even Imagine It!

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT! Heaven forbid that you will ever be able to say the same.  YOU PROBABLY DON'T EVEN WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT!

Born two years into the Great Depression that lasted until I was 10 years of age, and World War II, I distinctly recall the way of life in those difficult years.

I just shared with my son that my dedicated purpose in life in those years was to come up with five pennies each week.  I would do any chore.  I once killed a sick dog for a man for fifty cents, which he failed to pay me. I had my eyes on the ground constantly searching, searching, searching.  

THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON MOVIE WAS FIVE CENTS.  My cousins, Bob & Junior Shirley, whose father was always employed as a NYC railroad engineer, always had five cents.  We would walk, barefooted two miles to town each Saturday to watch two or three replays of the new, talking movies.  I probably made two movies out of three.  I LEARNED TO HUSSLE EARLY IN LIFE! 

ACTUAL CASH WAS NON EXISTENT FOR MOST PEOPLE! How did people live?  Well, many did not!  Ten percent of Americans, 7 million people, starved to death in the great depression.  Their deaths were not listed as "starved" but as "WASTING DESEASE" or "VICISSITUDE".  As I searched dilgently for 5 pennies, Mom searched for food--she fed us.  Dad made and sold moonshine, a truly riskly proposition.  Seems as how men always found money from some where to buy booze.

One out of three workers were out right fired, others were employed but only on a part time, when ever, if ever basis.  In 1932 only 10% of the work force was truly employed full time.  Dad was always employed but seldom worked more that a few days a month, if that.  Mom, a highly qualified seamtress, worked more often in a local shirt factory. 

Of course there was no unemployment pay in those days.  There was soup kitchens for the men in large cities.  My church, the Easton United Methodist, fed the community twice a year at Bean Suppers, a tradition that continues until this day.


Five million American farmers were driven from their land by what was called the bank reclaiming debt.  In 1933 the federal government bought and destroyed six million hogs.  Two million head of cattle were destroyed in Texas alone.  ALL THIS WHILE MILLIONS WERE LITERALLY STARVING!  The government bought corn and wheat and either burned it or dumped it in the ocean.

Why?  Reducing supply to drive up the price of farm profits!  I KNOW!  As I said the government was of no help whatsoever.

There was a large farmer in my neck of the woods.  He hired Dad and my two teen age brothers to cut corn for him, from when you could see in the morning to when you couldn't see at night.   I carried their lunch to them, beans in a mason jar, biscuits and, for Dad, coffee with canned milk.  The pay for the three of them?  One dollar a day.  Most of this rich farmers land lay idle as he was paid not to grow anything.  There was no complaint about the low pay.  Too many others were standing in line for the job.

People left their homes to wander the nation looking for anything better, more than two million men, 8,000 women and 200,000 children.  We lived by the railroad and these hoboes regularly knocked on our door begging for food.  Mom always fed them something.  There were no picky eaters, trust me.

In one year 6,500 hoboes were killed, either by accident or by the railroad "bulls".  Riding the rails was a dangerous life style.

There was a movie called Rollover.  I am sorry that I cannot find that movie.  It described what happened when America's debt holders refused to roll over their debt and asked to be paid.  When payment could not be paid, UH SUCH PAYMENT COULD NOT BE MADE NOW SHOULD THE CHINESE ASK TO BE PAID, within a week, in the movie, the world was thrown into a full blown depression even worse than the great depression of the '30's.  SCARY!

LIFE IS SO VERY GOOD TODAY, 9% UNEMPLOYMENT NOTWITHSTANDING.  Yet, Murphy's Law has not been repealed.  If it can happen, it will, at the worse possible time.  Be encouraged to get involved putting an end to the wild spending of your government.  Just in case, however, I think you would be wise to prepare for the worse.  What can it hurt?

God Bless!

1 comment:

Phatmom said...

I was in line at the Walmart pharmacy the other day , when I heard the cashier say to the man in front of me, "These is hard times." I thought to myself, "Lady, you don't know hard times." I was thinking of what you described in your blog, The Great Depression. People have forgotten history. They don't realize it could happen again. Also, most people today, not remembering that time period, have nothing to compare today to. The other thing I thought was, "this lady needs to learn to speak better English." Another great blog, Cuz! As always, I enjoyed it!