Friday, 30 May 2014

The Great Depression

Soon after the stock market crash in 1929, came the Great Depression.

There won’t be links to records for this article, but it is not a time to be skipped over. It was not just something that happened in Canada and the US, it rocked the World! Those in the know thought it would be over in a trice, but it lasted a decade….. 1929-1940. Three generations of my family lived during this trying time….. my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. It formed how they thought and lived.

When I was a teenager I got a run in one of my stockings.  My grandmother offered to darn it. What?? No way was I going to a dance or party wearing a mended stocking, thank you very much!  Now I am older and hopefully wiser, I can appreciate why she offered and wanted to teach me to not waste a perfectly wearable stocking.

My father had a habit of always leaving a small mouthful of food on his plate after every meal.  One day I asked him why he did this, especially since we kids had to eat every scrap before leaving the table.  He said his mother taught him that, for when he was invited to eat at someone’s house. If he left just that much it showed that it was a very tasty meal (after all, he ate most of it) but that he had had enough and just couldn’t possibly eat the last bite.  I was very moved.

In North America itself the depression era sent many people down the road to poverty. Families lost their homes and moved in with other relatives. Anyone who could get a few days’ work, worked – even children.  My grandfather headed west after hearing a tip that there was work to be had, leaving his wife and children living with her mother. There was no work when he got there, and he came home more dejected. It must have been hard on a man whose duty it was to provide for and protect his family. I’m sure we all heard stories of the depression, how inventive and scrappy the people had to be just to survive. Work and food were both scarce. People formed long lines for what little there was of both. Heirlooms and art were sold for the next family meal.   

Your local library or Historical Society may have records pertaining to people and events of this era.  I have listed below a few sites of interest.

Relevant Links

Great Depression in Canada (PDF to download)

The Dust Bowl (trailer of film – check out rest of the site too)

Route 66 (Click on the state Rte sign for that area)

Dirty Thirties Desperadoes: Forgotten Victims of the Great Depression (free ebook)

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