Beverly Cleary

Mother came into the living room. "Daddy has lost his job," she said softly. "The bank is dismissing the employees it took over from the West Coast National and has given them two weeks' notice."

The Depression had come to us. Mother cleared the table and washed the dishes alone. I sensed she preferred solitude to help. I sat filled with anguish, unable to read, unable to do anything. When Dad finally emerged from the bedroom, I felt so awkward I did not know what to say or even how to look at him. To pretend nothing had happened seemed wrong, but seeing him so defeated and ashamed of defeat, even though he was not to blame, was so painful that I could not speak. How could anyone do such a thing to my father, who was so good, kind, reliable, and honest?

A neighbor gave Mother an old pink woolen dress, which she successfully made over into a jumper for me. She contrived a cream colored blouse from something found in a trunk in the attic. One of her friends, now married to an eastern Oregon wheat rancher, had a daughter older than I who passed on two nice dresses. In our neighborhood, no girl would dream of entering high school in half socks. I used hoarded nickels and dimes to buy silk stockings. Five dollars from my Arizona uncle bought a raincoat ....

We began admiring one another's clothes by saying, "Is it new, or new to you?"

Beverly Cleary, A Girl fromYamhill, 173, 174, 181, 182

Copyright Digital History 2021