Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An 80 Year Cycle


Both of my parents were children of the Great Depression. I don’t think the Depression had too much of an impact on my father’s family since they ran a successful bakery and actually made most of their money in boot legging. I never heard my father say anything about being poor. On the other hand, my mother’s family suffered greatly. Her father died of a heart attack on a WPA bus going to his job.

The Great Depression was always very much on the minds of those that survived; even when times were good. My mother-in-Law came from a wealthy family that lost everything and this tempered her to the point where she does not get attached to possessions. Though she can afford whatever she wishes, she chooses to have very few things. On the other hand, my Father-in-Law has many possessions and knows the value of each item. He is a big proponent of owning gold and silver. It seems that my in-laws are constantly seeing the depression in their rear view mirrors and suddenly it is coming into focus again through the wind shield.

I never realized it at the time but my mother gave me helpful hints of how to live through a depression as I was growing up. She would tell me things like, “If you ever lose your job, get a temporary job in a restaurant and you’ll never go hungry.” My favorite was, “If you ever have to sleep on a park bench, newspapers make good blankets and will keep you warm.”

I asked my mother how the current situation compares to the Great Depression. She said that things are bad but they have a way to go before they even approach the devastation of the previous depression. Back then, everyone was touched by economic doom. Most people today have been brushed by doom, but not yet dipped and drowning in it.

14 Comments:

Blogger Donna said...

My parents always told me they were not affected at all by the depression (they married in 1932). They said they were so poor that it made no difference to them. They worked as hired hands on farms, and in spite of the drought at the time, farmers still needed hired hands.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

What I find so amazing about my grandparents' generation is how they maintained their dignity and just kept on going after living through a depression and WWll.

I fear that I don't possess that same strength of character should it all happen as bad again.

6:55 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

What alot of people fail to realize about the "great depression" is that the country was in horrible shape and had been declining steadily for years. One of the things that lead up to the main problem was that bazillions or people were emigrating to this country and we had no place for them to live or jobs for them to have. I'm not knocking immigration... it's just one of the root causes of the depression, tho. But this huge trend in "outsourcing" jobs to other countries is driving us closer and closer to that edge. We are not in that bad a shape right now but if we can't reverse the trend, then we might be in for a real hard time.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guy, you have one smart family. Gold, Silver are good investment(I think)Work, work, work is good advice.I like your mother-in-law way of living.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't want to say that THE GREAT DEPRESSION is the only thing my mother ever talks about but the dear woman's frugality is what defines her. Quaker Oatmeal for breakfast, the old fashioned kind that comes in the cylindrical box. The fridge might contain a small jar of mixed jams and jellies, combined remnants of jars past. She has a nice collection of well worn rubber spatulas. Last summer the grandkids had a contest of who could find the oldest home canned container in the pantry. I believe it was some applesauce from 1980. It was still pretty good. Gardening, canning, hunting, fishing, two freezers full up. Dad's folks had money. I don't think he ever missed a meal, but during the 1960's when he was working for the state making 5K per annum he enjoyed the fact that his wife could feed the family on a budget of 35 cents per family member per day.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

I am VERY grateful for my depression era mentality that the old timers firmly instilled in me from birth.
It has served me well in good times and bad.
I have no problem spending large amounts of money on sensible things.
But no $5.00 cups of coffee, no cable, no timeshare, no gambling, no pissing away money on nonsense.
We take joy on enjoying the simple things in life, regardless of bank account balance.
We don't worry about keeping up with trends or the Jones's.
By god, I've got mine!

1:00 PM  
Blogger FrankandMary said...

I am attached to very few possessions, and usually if I am attached to one, it is for the memories or the people it evokes. I'm attached to very few people also :-0. I am fascinated by depression era men & women, what they had, what they did not have, how they just BUCKED UP. It is entertaining reading but also very instructive.~Mary

2:16 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Donna, there will always be work if one doesn't let their ego get in the way.

Trish, you may surprise yourself whenpush comes to shove, but hopefully it will never get that bad.

Darev, Right you are.

Anon, Experience pays big dividends. Their experience has been helpful to us.

Other anon, It got tiring hearing about it, but I'm glad I listened.

Gearhead, That's one thing I've always appreciated about you, it's like you were born in another time, and knowing your uncle I can see how you were influenced.

Mary, Glad you stopped by, I'm a Jersey Boy myself and spent a lot of time at Barnagat and Manasquwan.
I visited your sites and can see you are deeply rooted with appreciation of the past. By the way I loved the movie thing in your profile. Hope you visit again.

6:13 PM  
Blogger g said...

i hit my first great depression about 2 years ago (it's still lingering a bit). I completely understand the "don't get attached to possessions" concept.

a valuable lesson learned the hard way.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Nulaanne said...

Also one big diffrence between the Great Depression and now is unemployment. During the Depression the government had not set up Unemployment. I dare to say that if we today did not have unemployment things would be much much worse.

10:02 PM  
Blogger MissKris said...

My parents came from New England and their families were devastated by the Great Depression. I grew up being admonished to "Use it up, wear it out. Make it do or do without." Also to never live beyond my means. My dad went to work at age 13 to help his family survive. My mom had both sets of grandparents move in to help THEM survive. To the day he died, my dad would never eat pork and beans. He said he ate so many of them while growing up he couldn't even face them on the plate. As to our household at this moment, Dear Hubby's work is slow but maintaining. My work NEVER slows down and NEVER ends, hahaha! ;-P

4:44 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

g, you survived it, though the local paper tries to deflate you to this day. Sorry, man...

Nulaanne, right you so are. It's a good thing someone was thinking to put that in place.

Kris, That's funny because I seen that, too. Another food people avoid is the food they ate while they were in the military.

5:32 AM  
Blogger g said...

nothing to be sorry for and frankly, it doesn't really bother me. if people believe that bs, i guess i shouldn't really care.

that paper is wearing out those shoes anyway.

what are they gonna write about now that us politico cowboys are gone?

6:49 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

What you need to do is do something excellent so that is the last impression the paper readers will have of you.

9:00 AM  

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