Here's a story from from a man who lived through the Great Depression. I wish I could sit for a few days and talk with him.
From the pinnacles of power by Fortune editor at large Patricia Sellers
Read the full story at...Guest Post: The Great Depression, as I remember
By Walter Stoiber
The Great Depression began on Thursday, Oct. 24th, 1929. It would become known as “Black Thursday,” and rightfully so. The stock market crashed, and a record 13 million shares were traded that day. Some of the larger banks tried to help by buying shares at above the quoted prices. It didn’t work. Several corporations suffering today — General Motors (GM), General Electric (GE), Sears (SHLD) — were in dire straits. Some companies’ stocks dropped 50%. After five days, banks began to close. Most depositors were left “holding the bag,” and an empty one at that!
We were an average blue-collar family in Altoona, Pa. My father worked at the silk mill, as a shipping clerk and later as a supervisor. As businesses in Altoona cut back and then closed entirely, the silk mill did too. My father had a backup career, giving piano lessons and playing in a five-piece band for weddings and other events. As the Depression got worse, though, those things were no longer affordable. He took a job as an insurance agent. But people didn’t have the money to buy more insurance.
I was in the sixth grade in 1929. I got a job at our grocery store, stocking shelves for 25 or 50 cents a day, plus a bag of penny candy. My sister, Charlotte, who was in the third grade, helped Mother with chores and meals and made her own doll clothes out of odds and ends. We “patched” holes in our shoes by lining the insides of the soles with the cardboard separators from old Shredded Wheat boxes. Mother was a great cook. She got vegetables from other families in our neighborhood and made soup. Our butcher would give us soup bones (leaving a little meat on it), free of charge. He remembered that we were good customers in good times.