by Gaye Levy, The Sleuth Journal:
There is a poem by Margaret Jang that begins “To know your future, you must know your past”. And such it is with the events of today and the Great Depression.
The more I learn, the more I want to know because after all, while the PTB and the main stream media report that the economy is once again growing and things are looking just swell, a walk down Main Street paints a very different picture. In communities across the country, people are still unemployed (or underemployed), they are still being forced out of their homes, and they are still going hungry.
Books, films, newspaper accounts and personal journals all contribute to our knowledge of the events that caused the market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. I find myself devouring them all so that I can learn and prepare for the hard times ahead. My favorites, however, are the personal stories from those who lived through it.
To that end, I recently was given permission from Backwoods Home Magazine to share a a first hand recollection of times during the Great Depression. Before I do that, however, I want to share with you 10 facts about the Great Depression that we should keep front and center as we move deeper into this next era of economic woes.
10 Facts About the Great Depression
1. The Great Depression did not happen overnight.
2. The media created panic and chaos with their sensationalized reports.
3. Being poor was so common that being poor was considered “normal”.
4. Hard work and an enterprising attitude made a bad situation tolerable.
5. Investing time and energy in gardening and the raising of livestock (chickens and cows) had a huge payback in self-reliance.
6. Canning and preserving food was important if you wanted food to eat year-round.
7. The price of everything escalated on an almost daily basis.
8. Lawlessness was rampant. In addition to ruthless outlaws, neighbors stole from neighbors everything from food items to livestock to valuables such as jewelry and tools.
9. In spite of everything, “Robin Hoods” emerged from unexpected places to help feed the people.
10. Families learned to make do and to enjoy themselves with amusements and hobbies that took little or no money.
Recalling the Great Depression
The follow excerpt is from Alice B. Yeager and speaks to a time when things were both tough and good at the same time.
The Great Depression: A Reminiscence
By Alice B. Yeager and James O. Yeager
I was a girl of 8 when the stock market crashed in 1929. It was the Great Depression, and unless you were living during the Depression years, you can’t really understand how tough they were. Our parents knew, however, as they went about trying to raise families under the worst of economic circumstances.
The Great Depression didn’t happen overnight. There is no way you can select a certain day and say that’s when it began. It started coming on sometime during the late 1920s and lasted well into the 1930s. At its peak, approximately 25 percent of American workers were without jobs. Chaos reigned as banks and insurance companies failed. Worst of all, with no bank deposits federally insured, many people lost their savings unless they were among the first to draw their money out of the banks before they closed their doors.
Newspaper headlines didn’t help matters. In New York City and other hard-hit cities, some moneyed and distraught people were jumping from tall buildings and there was an endless list of businesses closing day by day putting more and more people out of work.
Even though my husband, James, and I were children, we were old enough to be aware of The Great Depression and the effect it had on our families and everyone around us. However, let me say from the outset that being in the same boat with many other Americans made it bearable.
We didn’t realize that we were poor as we were all trying to make ends meet and somehow survive.
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