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Remembering the generation that remembered the Great Depression zooeyhll General Discussion 30 05-08-2018 09:50 AM
What would happen if there was another Great Depression? zooeyhll General Discussion 109 03-30-2018 11:50 PM
DACA parents and slaveholders Medieval Man General Discussion 10 09-09-2017 11:21 PM
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Old 08-17-2018, 12:50 PM
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Here's a thread I started back in May:

"Remembering the generation that remembered the Great Depression"

I think it was the stories of my parents' experiences that was one of the reasons I became a prepper.

Mom and dad were both born in 1914. Dad was a farmer and married mom in 1936---the height of the Depression.

Last edited by zooeyhll; 08-19-2018 at 09:12 PM..
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:50 PM
Sneeky Sneeky is offline
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I believe my dear Grandma was “illegitimate” and sent away to work for other people when she was very young, under 12, as kind of a servant. Her family treated her badly – like her status was her fault.

When she and my Grandfather were courting, during the depression, they would walk the roads looking for discarded pop bottles to turn in for a deposit.

I have a pic of my Grandfather sitting in the grass, legs out straight so you can see the bottoms of his shoes, which have large holes “patched” by him putting newspaper inside like an insole. I also have a pic of my Grandfather plowing with a horse.

By the time I was a kid they were near retirement age and had a small brick house, car, and lived frugally but comfortably. They always had some of my favorite treats in the cabinet when I visited, plus ice cream, and I got to have a whole soda to myself.

My Grandma especially was the most generous person I ever knew. I mowed their grass or did other chores for them and my Grandfather paid me $2 but she would always stuff a couple extra dollar bills in my pocket when Grandpa was not looking as I left and tell me to go get an ice cream sundae. Writing this makes me tear up, I miss them terribly.
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:57 PM
Gator Monroe Gator Monroe is offline
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All 4 , but sadly I was only able to meet One (Due to other 3 being born prior to the 20th century )
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:58 PM
ncbill ncbill is offline
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One set of my grandparents did just fine - professional, white-collar employees who never lost work, though they didn't retire until around 1980 (grandmother age 65 & grandfather age 75)

Other set were did whatever they could...grandad did OK in retail.
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:02 PM
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My grandma was a kid during the depression. The main thing she remembers is her family saving everything. If it could be reused or repurposed at all, they kept it. That habit lasted into her mid 60's, when she realized that she was a major pack rat bordering on a hoarder, and made the conscious decision to throw out a bunch of stuff she didn't need and get her house in order. She's in her 80's now and her house is still pretty straight.
Read my content at and
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:07 PM
MtMoriah MtMoriah is offline
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My grandfather was born in 1898 or 1899 (nobody knows, not even him) and my grandmother in 1910. They lived on a small farm in northern NH from about 1930 to 2010 when my grandmother died.

The farm was unaffected by the depression but they regularly fed depressed "tamps" as the made their way along the local railroad.
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:55 PM
ridgerunner1965 ridgerunner1965 is offline
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im the original poster. have to say I love all these stories. many of them echo what my grandparents told me.

I remember a day prob in the late 80's. I was working in the yard and a strange car came down my driveway.

a very very old gentleman got out and came up to me. he asked who I was and how long I had lived here.

we got to talking and he was telling me how the farm was layed out then and what they raised and all.he had lived on my farm during the depression and for long after.

there is a creek behind my house that when I was young had a lot of different kinds of fish in it.

I asked him if he ever fished in the creek as a boy.

his answer was "hell son we were farming 80 acres with horses,THERE WAS NO TIME TO GO FISHING!

I think of him when im working in my garden, as often I find metal bits of harness and horse tack. I think where my garden is was a stable at one time
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:10 PM
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I remember when I was growing up that my grandmother on moms side thought margarine was a gift from god. she didn't have to churn it and it was cheap.

my grandparents had shelves in their basement that were filled with 1000's of margarine tubs,plastic jugs,ice cream buckets etc that were carefully washed and stacked.

my mom just could not understand why she kept these things.

when my mom asked her about it my grandmother almost cried. she said that things like this would of been so usefull to them during the depression. she could just not bear to throw them away.
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:00 PM
benson56 benson56 is offline
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Can you imagine cooking with a woodburning cookstove when it was 100* outside????
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:12 PM
edprof edprof is offline
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Originally Posted by drray777 View Post
My father was born in 1909 and had a small grocery store in Sugar Creek, MO during the depression. I was born late in his life and he used to tell us stories of how he made it through. For reasons that he never explained, he had stockpiled tobacco, sugar, toilet paper, coffee and some other long term items in the basement of the store. With those items he survived and was even able to help others in the town by making soup and serving it from the back door at lunchtime some days. He also extended credit to people who were without food, knowing that he would never be paid back. He said if he needed lumber, he would go to the lumber yard and trade a carton of cigarettes for what he needed and so barter was the only way most people could get anything if it was not a hand out.

Because of the depression, even afterward he had the pack rat mentality. He saved everything from old money, (like solid silver coins and silver certificates...I still have some of them) to discarded items that looked remotely usable. He picked up every rusted nail, screw, bolt, nut or washer that he saw laying on the ground and saved them. He used old jam jars to keep them in once he had treated them for rust and sorted them. He bought everything in bulk, so he always had more than enough, 'just in case'. He was a sort of prepper without knowing that he was. I guess it affected me, because I do some of the same things. I have so much stuff in my EDC that one of the doctors who trained under me a few years ago commented one day that if he was ever ship wrecked, she hoped that I would be there because she knew she would survive. I wish I was better prepared but at least I am better off than most of the population I suppose.
My roots and experiences have many similarities. I was born in 1950 to parents who were about 40 years old before they started having children. Dad was born in 1910, mom in 1912, and so they were old enough to apprehend the events from 1929 onward. The Great Depression made permanent marks upon them. Both were preppers without having ever heard the word. They raised a garden every year, canning and freezing. They were penny-pinchers. We have mom's treadle sewing machine and some of dad's hand tools. If this country ever has to go through something like a Great Depression again, it will be the people who internalized the lessons of The Greatest Generation who survive it best.
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:27 PM
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I remember my grandfather talking about how he and his brothers would hear about jobs in (say) Ca. and they'd hop a train and hope to get there and find work, they traveled all over the country. I once found a 'thing' that was the size of a mans wallet but metal and very heavy, turned out it was pieces of real TIN FOIL that had been used and used until it tore and then washed and wrapped up to be recycled.
On my dads side they ran a trap line that the 9 sons were responsible for they skinned everything even skunks, any job was welcome no matter what even outhouse work.
Not quite the correct time frame but I have my mothers ration book from WWII.
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by benson56 View Post
Can you imagine cooking with a woodburning cookstove when it was 100* outside????

Stoves were generally put on the porch for the summer or they had a summer kitchen. The old saying "pa stove up his back" came from moving the stove in and out the house
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:07 PM
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My dad was born in 1928. West Texas was in bad shape when he was 5-7 years old. His father, my granddad, was looking for work everywhere. The story goes this way.....

My grandmother would hand my dad, at 5 years of age, five .22 rounds per day (3 days a week) and dad would hunt rabbits early in the morning and in the evening. Dad said, in the beginning, he would only harvest 1-2 rabbits a day. When he was 7, he would have to hike 2-3 miles from the country house, but learned to be patient, slow, quiet and accurate. 4-5 Rabbits harvested were not uncommon on Saturdays, because as a 7th grader he was in school.

He vividly remembers the hunt, harvest and bringing home a 'yearling' Javelina the first time. Shot the pig in the left eye. He remembers his father smoking the pig on Mesquite wood.... and that nearly ended his days of looking for rabbit.

Later that year, my grandfather died of pneumonia and at 9 years of age, his mother died. He and his little sister were orphaned. His grandparents raised them after that..... When he was 11, wildcatters hit oil on their property and they never ate rabbit again.

By the way, in the late '20's..... the only work my granddad could find was out in Arizona, leading the Mule Trains down the trail of the grand canyon. They use to say.... there wasn't horse that could throw my granddad.
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:11 PM
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Both sets of my grandparents were married with younger children during those times. My mother's family had a dairy, large garden and large acreage which included 3 good tanks (ponds). One pond held minnows for fishing, one crawdads for fishing and the largest was full of fish which was, well, for fishing. They had plenty of chickens, male calves for meat (heifers kept for dairy herd), even a Percheron to pull the hand plow for the large garden. They were really self-sufficient and had milk, cream and butter to sell. They and their children were up at 4:00 am to do the milking (no milking machinery back then) and then kids would walk to school and back home in the afternoon to work the garden and milk again. Clothing was mostly feed sack material from the cow feed to be sewn into undies, dresses, etc. on Grandmother's treadle machine. Paternal grandparents didn't fare as well. They were dirt farmers and if not sufficient rain, no crop. They had 2 milk cows and a smaller garden and 5 hungry children - 4 boys and one girl. They lost 2 farms during the Depression but finally settled permanently in East Texas. The 3 older boys (8, 7, 7 old to start) were "rented out" to other farms to chop cotton and other mans' work until they were ready to marry and leave home. When they weren't working for others, they worked their own crops. It was a hard life for little ones. I asked my dad about his childhood and what good things he remembered about it. He had a sad look on his face and said there was no time for "fun" because they had to work. Also, they did miss some meals when times were worse. Really hope we don't go through those times in the future!
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:26 PM
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Both my parents lived through the depression too.

My Dad's family just got here from Ireland. Bamm - Depression. Talk about back luck...
8 kids his family, half dead before 20 (bad nutrition & medical care).
My dad and his brother were youngest. They were so poor his mom put them in a orphanage because they were starving.
Made them crazy.
That brother killed himself after he got back from WW2. I'm named after him.

My moms dad was a cop, steady job. She never knew how bad it was as a kid.
When she found out it made her crazy. Survivors Guilt.

Nice, uplifting story ?
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:45 PM
randolphrowzeebragg randolphrowzeebragg is offline
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My great grandparents lived though it and said that the worst part they remember was learning that kids in families that didn't have farms or hogs to kill would die of diseases that weren't a problem when people are well fed. Kids died of pneumonia, whooping cough and diseases that weren't around when people had food and could afford coal to heat their homes. They said that when times really got bad in the early thirties people tended not to socialize because they were worried that someone they might have been friends with for decades would ask them for food that they didn't have. Farms were foreclosed on by banks and people were just put out into the streets. There was a huge movement in the US that wanted a communist government, which seems impossible now. My GGPs lived in a house they built, slept under quilts they made on mattresses they made and lived off of chickens, hogs and crops they raised. Still plowed with a mule and used a well and outhouse until the sixties. When they passed away withing a month of each other their kids found that they had rat holed almost fifty grand and probably never spent more than a dollar at one time.
They had pictures of Jesus and FDR on the kitchen wall and said they loved FDR because at least he tried to help people. Say what you want but FDR might have prevented the US from becoming another Russia.

I read "Little Heathens" by Mildred Kalish and got some idea of how life was back then. The PBS series "Dust Bowl" also showed how desperate some people were. I don't think I'm capable of even imagining how bad things got in the US back then.
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:58 PM
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Both my parents had it rough (Dad born in 27 &Mom born in 32, both still alive).
Dad grew up in southeastern Missouri and said it was already depression there before the depression. Mom talks about eating ketchup sandwiches.
His dad ended up working for the WPA building an earthen dam (lake wappepelo) and thought himself lucky as he had a truck to haul rock with and didn't have to work as hard as some of the laborers.
Eventually they moved to California in hopes of a better life and were able to achieve middle class status. Dad joined the navy at 16 and served in the pacific and was glad they dropped the A bombs to end the war.
Growing up I think the only thing my parents borrowed money for was the house they had built ( paid it off in 10 yrs) and 1 car that I recall. Everything else they saved for ( including new cars).
Ha ...Dad worked at a manufacturing company for 50 years. He wanted to retire after 49 years as he was 76 years old at the time. They talked him into doing 50 as they had a big party planned for him.
Such a strong work ethic from those born in the depression era.
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Old 08-17-2018, 10:22 PM
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Mom's parents were Michigan onion farmers. After the harvest was cashed in they settled their debts and spent the profits paying cash for a six pack of beer for grandpa and a pound of hot dogs for grandma. They didn't get ahead but were getting by and raising a family. Grandpa was a WWI Army vet that made it back from France.

Mom said having chickens, the grain sacks were recycled into skirts for the girls. Mom was teased about this while in school. My dad was a hunter, but mom hated eating wild game as being the youngest she was sent into the brush pile to flush out the rabbit, squirrel, or bird so her older brothers could shoot and harvest the game animal. Owning a dog was too expensive as they needed meat every day and meat was considered a luxury. That was my mother's childhood.

My childhood was far different being much easier. However; that is another story.
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:05 AM
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Both sets of GPs (..and GGPs..) lived thru it, but I have far more details from Mom's side GPs.. GGPs were the ones that bore the brunt, since the GPs were (relatively..) young, I think the Oldest - of 12 kids - (!) was maybe 14-15, when it got really bad..

..but the GGPs came 'straight off the boat', from Italy, and already well-knew how to 'make it thru tough times'.. I recall many stories, but the one thing that stuck out More in my mind, than anything from my GP's stories, was One word.. Soup. I guess that was (..and still is..) the best way to 'stretch' what little they could grow / hunt (rabbits, mostly.. and Lots of tomatoes, heh..)

...I also was fond to hear that GGPa was, like others, a 'scavenger' / repurposer of near-everything, and how in later years, as an adult, my GP on my Father's side, was pretty much known as a mechanical-genius, Always 'scratchbuilding' repairs / items to help make things 'better', around the house, vs 'buying' - since he'd Learned much of that mentality, from His parents, during that whole time period..

..Truly, one's GPs, and the Legacy of things you Learn from them / their experiences/ how they Handled things, is a Gift, for those of us that Have-such.. Such a shame to see So many kids, today, who's Grandparents.. Aren't really all that 'Grand' anymore.. Hard to imagine that, in 50 yrs from now, So, so many kids 'legacy' from their GPs, today.. will be like 'that one time they hit someone over the head with a bike lock'..

*sigh* RIP, Gram and Gramp... Thanks for All you taught us..

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Old 08-18-2018, 08:12 AM
Revmgt Revmgt is offline
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i never met my father, he died before I was a year old in a car accident. My grandfather stepped in and raised my brother and I, he was a good guy.
He had a large family, four sisters and six sisters, he was the second oldest.
His father died when he was young also, just a couple of years before the depression started, when he was 6.
My grandfather never said a bad word about his oldest brother, even though his brothers and sisters said he never tried to help his family when things bad. They tell me if it wasn't for my grandfather their family never would have survived the depression, not intact anyway.

The story I was told by his brothers and sisters was my grandfather learned early that you can make money even in a depression like that one if you never stop trying. He did any job he could all over the county for whatever they would pay and that started when he was 9 or 10 years old. He gave almost all of his money to his mother to feed the family, and saved what he didn't give her.
When he was 12 he bought a second hand model a Ford and figured out a way to make a lot more money. He told me he knocked on doors all day asking if anyone needed the services of a man with a truck (mind you, he was 12...) and he said there was always someone who needed something done. He said he would take whatever price they gave because he was afraid if he said no once they would say no next time.
He cleaned out someone's basement one time just for the price of whatever their scrap was worth and He took the trash to the dump, he sold the scrap at the scrap yard and he took anything he thought he could fix home and he fixed it and sold it to some of the second hand stores. He said he made so much money doing that that became his primary business.

That led him to home repairs and that led him to becoming a contractor and he became one of the biggest contractors in the area at the time.

He told me the engine that was in his model a had problems and more than once he had to stop on the side of the road, unbolt the oil pan without draining the oil, and cut a piece of his belt to repair a rod bearing that had gone bad. Back then some of the engine bearings were made of leather, blows my mind to this day.

When he was old and retired he kept a station wagon, always a ford country squire, with tools in the back. He was most proud of being a brick layer, something he did until a few
Years before he died. His work ethic was passed on to me, I learned it without knowing it and was watching when I didn't know i was. His work ethic helped his family through the depression, they didn't thrive but they weren't just survivors either, and they never lost their family home. It was owned by our family from 1906 until 2015 when the last of his siblings died and her kids sold it off.

When I was 18 I had a hard time finding work, and his story popped into my head. I went to a commercial area by where I lived and knocked on every door there and asked if they needed any help with anything at all, and someone payed me to do something almost every day until I found a regular job.
That's why I have zero sympathy for people who claim they can't find work. If you treat it like your life depends on it you will always, always find work. May not be your dream job, but you'll find something.
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