Tuesday, March 03, 2009

“We had everything but money,” A Suggested Guidebook for the “Greater Depression”

By Jeffrey J. Brown

“We had everything but money” is a collection of first person accounts of the Great Depression in the United States. Although, it appears to be out of print, it is widely available online. I recommend it as a very good guidebook for our present circumstances, what many are calling the “Greater Depression.”

Here is a list of and a description of the chapters:

When the banks closed, our hearts opened
As tough times enveloped the nation, folks began to see their neighbors in a new, more loving light.

Braving the dirty 30's
Dust Bowl survivors recall how they overcame the worst drought in American history.

Looking for work
With more than 10 million people out of work, many families had to start over, move on or find a new way to make a living.

Beans, bacon and gravy
Simple meals were standard fare in most households, but the love with which they were prepared made them unforgettable.

Make it last, wear it out
Recycling isn't a new idea. In the 1930's it became a way of life, helping many to get by.

Cherished photos
Everyone treasures family photos, and none are more prized than these priceless snapshots from the Depression years.

How we got around
From the horse and buggy to the streetcar and trolley, "getting there" was half the fun--and usually an adventure.

Love and marriage
Whether couples met at school, through the mail or on a scavenger hunt, their stories prove that love really can conquer all.

How we had fun
Money may have been tight, but entertainment was never in short supply, from classic films to favorite radio shows to "homemade fun."

Christmases we remember
The best gifts are those that come from the heart. That's what makes these recollections of Depression holidays so special.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter One. It's a contemporaneous account written in the early Thirties. Sally Wall found it after her father died.

'I like the Depression'

No more prosperity for me. I have had more fun since the Depression started that ever had in my life. I had forgotten how to live, and what it meant to have real friends, and what it was like to eat, common, everyday food. Fact is, I was getting a little too high-hat.

It's great to drop into a store and feel that you can spend an hour, or 2, or 3, or even half a day just visiting not feel that you are wasting valuable time.

I am getting acquainted with my neighbours and following the biblical admonition to love them. Some of them had been living next door to me for three years; now we butcher hogs together.

I haven't been out to a party for months. My wife had dropped all of her clubs, and I believe we are falling in love all over again. I'm pretty well satisfied with my wife, and I think I will keep her.

I am feeling better since the Depression. I get more exercise because I walk to town and a lot of folks who used to drive Cadillacs are walking with me.

I am getting real, honest to goodness food now. Three years ago, we had filet of sole, crab Louie and Swiss steak with flour gravy. We had guinea hen and things called "gourmet" and "oriental." Now we eat sow bosom.

Three years ago, I never had time to go to church. I played checkers or baseball all day Sunday. Besides, there wasn't a preacher in Texas who could tell me anything. Now I'm going regularly and never miss a Sunday. If this Depression keeps on, I will be going to prayer meetings before too long.

Jeffrey J. Brown is an independent petroleum geologist in the Dallas, Texas area. His email address is westexas at aol.com.