My mom grew up in the depression and was ten years old when it ended. She was a depression kid. I have said these words many times while exchanging stories at parties, but it was just recently that I really understood the meaning of these words.
My mother lived with her grandparents, my great-grandparents. My grandmother, was divorced, from an alcoholic husband and, because of the economy, was forced to live with her parents. My mom’s mother worked at the local match company to bring in money for the family. My mother’s uncles spent many days and nights under that one roof where they would all combine their earnings and have one great meal. As time passed, the uncles married and started their own families, but the gatherings didn’t stop, the people grew in numbers.
While my mother was growing up, an only child, she was particularly close with her first cousin, Roger known as Butch, another only child. They spent many days and nights together, growing up close enough to be siblings. My mom loved telling the story of Butch coming home from school, to Nanny and Elt’s, short for Elton, ravished. He would drink a half gallon of milk and eat an entire loaf of toasted bread. The average income was $1,800.00, a loaf of bread $.08 and a gallon of milk was $.23.
Mom explained that two hours later Butch would eat a complete dinner, all the while keeping a great physique. That might be because he had chores, no television, no video games, and no computer. His metabolism probably ran high from playing outside with his friends. Roller skates cost $2.00, balsa wood air planes cost $.59, Texas Ranger cowboy suit cost $4.49, and Pedal Cars cost somewhere between $3.89 and $13.95. I doubt he owned the top of the line, in fact, most of his toys were probably hand-me-downs from relatives. That was common place between families.
By today’s standards, my ancestors were very poor and yet story after story never depicted such a thing. When I was very young I remember sitting on the porch swing with my great grandfather and listening to him whistle to the red birds. This peaceful experience could go on for hours. My great grandparents, grandparents and parents were avid card players. They went to sewing circles, tractor pulls, picnics and lots of family gatherings. The stories that came from past years were pleasant and often funny. It might have been poor times but good times as well.