My boyhood diary shows that Dad sold iron cords from door to
door, "worked a day in the hay," bought a horse to
break gardens (a disaster!), rented an extra lot for a garden
to be planted on the shares, picked peaches, raised and sold
sweet potatoes slips, traded an occasional dozen of eggs at
the grocery, and hung wallpaper.
also "painted Don Albright's house for $5," picked
up a day's work now and then at the Spillertown strip mines,
cut hair for boys in the neighborhood, and sold coal orders.When
he had to and could, he worked intermittently on WPA . . . or
picked up an occasional "relief" (welfare) order of
powdered milk, grapefruit, beans, meal, and flour.
being scarce, we learned to save back until we had the exact
amount for a purchase. That explains why Mom asked me to get
fifteen cents worth of lunch meat rather than a half pound or
so since we might not know exactly how much that would cost.
But fifteen cents worth of navy beans, a dime loaf of bread,
or twenty cents worth of bananas meant exactly what you said!…
did I feel self pity during the Depression. But one morning
on my way to school I broke the tenth Commandment "thou
shalt not covet . . ." I stopped at a friend's house, and
while he was getting dressed, I waited in the kitchen. Unwashed
dishes still sat on the table where he had eaten breakfast.
Big yellow bananas filled a bowl. A package of corn flakes stood
nearby. And in all its white, glistening beauty stood almost
a quart of fresh, cold milk from the dairy. For a fleeting minute
I questioned why there wasn't enough fresh milk for everyone.
It didn't seem fair for my friend to have a whole quart left
at his plate while that same morning I had gagged on condensed
milk and left it uneaten in my bowl….
improvised many toys in the thirties. We assembled our own kites
out of brown paper and paste made of flour and water. We played
street hockey with sticks and crushed tin cans and rode on homemade
scooters with wheels salvaged from old roller skates. When we
played marbles, we made sure no one shot with a "steelie,"
which in the hands of a sharpshooter could shatter and ruin
the glass marbles….
was free was our recreation. This may have included playing
records on our wind up victrola or listening to the Atwater
Kent radio.You might watch a parachute jump at the airport or
a free ball game at the city park, with perhaps a free band
concert afterwards and the side attraction of a watermelon eating
contest (with your hands tied behind you). The band concerts
survived only the first two years of the Depression.
you might go out to the airport hangar to watch the dance marathon,
cringe at the risks taken by the Dodge 'Em cars at the fairgrounds
on Labor Day, or attend a medicine show where the hawker peddled
a single elixir said to cure everything from arthritis to zymosis.
There were family dinners and picnics, and occasionally four
or five families would pile into the back of Ted Boles' coal
truck for an overnight camping fishing trip to the Ohio River
at Shawneetown or Metropolis.