The Phaserl


10 Facts About The Great Depression

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.

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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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3 comments to 10 Facts About The Great Depression

  • Craig Escaped Detroit

    Just like today, more than 25% real unemployment, and people are getting more poor every week.

    Just like in “Great Depression” people entertained themselves, and today, in the Ghetto-urban areas, they invented a game called “The knockout game” and Polar bear hunting.

    Some of the trouble makers are known as BLM (Burn-Loot & Mumble).

    Instead of raising “livestock” for food, they raise “chillen” for more EBT harvesting.

    Just like in the old days, “BiRF Control” is unheard of.

    But, instead of SKINNY poor people, we have a bunch of Walmart Hippos that are SO over weight, they need motorized Lard-Haulers to get around. A lot of those really big ones, will not be starving for at least a year. (but the “value” of fried chicken will become worth its weight in “gold TeeF”.)

    If the agricultural sector suffers an outbreak of Bird-Flu that kills all the chickens and makes them go EXTINCT, then you can expect that CATFISH will also become EXTINCT.

    Huh? Why???? WTF???

    Because when there aint’ NO Fried Chicken left to eat, what will be their 2nd choice? Yep, CATFISH. It will be fished-to-extinction.

  • Ed_B

    I know exactly what Alice and James experience was like because my grandparents were young adults and my parents were children in the 1930s. Both told me many stories about how hard times were in those days, both from the viewpoint of children and adults.

    My family had very different perspectives on those times because my father’s family were farmers while my mother’s family were city folk. Times were hard down on the farm but they never went hungry. Folks in the cities very often did, much of the time so that their children could eat something.

    The stores were filled with things to buy but people had no money with which to buy them.

    Many people made their own clothes because cloth was a lot cheaper than store-bought clothes. My grand mother was an excellent self-trained seamstress, so sewed clothes for her family and also for other families for a little spending money. She also churned butter and gathered eggs from her hens to earn a little money.

    Grandpa worked the farm and when that didn’t pay enough, he turned to making “moon”. He was always amazed at how many people who “had no money” to buy a suckling pig for $2, always found those same $2 to buy a pint bottle of his moon.

    He also hunted and fished whenever he needed to and had no license for either. The local game wardens knew all about this but also knew that times were too hard to come down on people just trying to live. One even came to their house for dinner a few times and was fed “the best beef I ever ate”, knowing full well that it was not beef at all but elk.

    Sometimes my grand parents would take wooden boxes filled with fresh garden produce to some of the people they knew in their small town, as well as to the local pastor and sheriff. Leaving them with some apples, cabbage, carrots, and other things they grew went a long way at knitting their community tightly together. They did it because it was “the Christian thing to do” and while it did not pay them anything in money, it very often paid them benefits in less tangible things.

    Grandpa wasn’t a church-going man but Grandma was a very devout Southern Baptist. She was a very mild mannered woman who took no guff while raising 2 headstrong boys. She didn’t hold with smokin’, drinkin’, or cussin’. But she sure loved to go to church and hear the Baptist minister pound the pulpit while hollering a few “hell fire”s and “damnation”s in every sermon.

    Church was a very important part of life back then and not just for the religious aspects it has but also for the social aspects. People got to know their neighbors and church meetings, box lunch socials, and dances were all part of it. Parents looked over possible mates for their sons and daughters and knew which were good kids and which were on the wild side. This still exists in many American small towns but is sadly lacking in the larger towns and cities today. That’s too bad because we will soon be in some unimaginably hard times where every ounce of strength we can muster will be sorely needed to get through them and on to better times.

    Prep and stack, friends. Time grows short.

    • Craig Escaped Detroit

      My own dad was born in 1922 & mom in 1924. They both grew up during the depths of the depression. (deepest year was supposed to be about 1933, but persisted into the “war years”.)

      They were from Newark NJ. I heard how sometimes the daily meals may have only been a few slices of bread with pig’s lard for spread. Food was scarce. Grandma was friends with some bootlegger and that helped to bring some food (she probably was giving out some sex, but nobody ever confirmed it.)

      Grandpa was a cop on the beat, and would bring home the overflow from the parking meters. That was mom’s side.

      Dad’s side, his mom died when he was a little kid. The father was an angry, selfish deadbeat. My dad joined the CCC’s and the pay was diverted home to the “parents”. Dad loved those years in the “Civilian Conservation Core” in Northernmost areas of Michigan’s UP, planting forests, bulldozing roads, and doing wildlife studies of deer & moose.

      I still have the old photo albums of my teenage father hand feeding wild MOOSE and deer that were kept in the corral pens for study. He was the guy who had to keep them fed, and they followed him around like a puppy dog. Winter shots of snow 6ft deep, summer shots of him and a few young men sitting on the grass with an 8 point LIVE buck resting in the middle of them like a family dog.

      Yes, there was the “hard” stories too, how the deadbeat father kicked out his 4 sons before they each were 16yrs old, and about that time, the war broke out and each joined the services (and 2 were promptly kicked out because one worked a critical job building PT boat engines (Packard V-12’s), and the other was a heavy machine repairman fixing factory machines. Those 2 were barred from service.

      One of my uncles made an army career of it and eventually retired as a Lt. Col. Dad put in 4 yrs in the Marines, and almost starved to death on Iwo Jima.

      My dad was calm tempered (and very powerful), bit of a jokester. But he never really talked about his time in the military (on those Japanese islands was always the smell of rotting flesh, rats, flies, bugs, odor or burned explosives, gunpowder and the sight of dead and dying men.).

      But it hit me one day (knowing his happy-go-lucky viewpoint on most things), I asked, “Hey dad, I see how you like to laugh, joke, etc, (but never get into trouble), but during your service years, did you ever end up in the BRIG?

      That brought out the story of “shore time” in New Zealand (Christchurch), he was hanging out with the motor-pool repair guys, and they took a light TANK out for a “test run” into town.
      Buzzing down the main street, a government LIMO with flags flying coming to the intersection but of course, a TANK cannot stop on a dime, and the tank driver trying to panic stop (ain’t gonna happen), the government LIMO convoy hit their brakes at the last moment sending all the occupants tumbling inside the cars.

      Dad said that they finally got the tank stopped (all happening in mere seconds), they narrowly avoided CRUSHING the government LIMO, (the riders now were standing in the street dazed and upset), and EVERY MARINE on the tank RECOGNIZED ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (who was doing one of those foreign goodwill visits).

      Dad said the marines got the hell back to base, parked the tank and denied being the ones who almost squashed Mrs Roosevelt (probably to avoid a long time in the brig or even a discharge.)

      Mom showed me a newspaper clipping she later found (saved from the incident) and I’ll be damned. (My dad says the OTHER guys were driving.) Hahaha.

      There were OTHER fun stories, (and some gruesome war experiences he shared with me because I asked, even though he never told mom about the gore he shared with me.)… those fun stories were pretty darn good, but nothing tops almost squishing the president’s wife.

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