Story from the Great Depression

This is not my story. It is my Grandfather’s. It has come to me via my father, in one of those “You think this is bad? I’ll tell you bad..” stories.

During the early 1930’s my grandfather was working as a truck driver for Coca Cola in central Kentucky. He was married with two infant children, my dad and my uncle. The depression was not only causing a tremendous loss of jobs, it was causing something we have not seen: deflation. Manufacturers were cutting the cost of their products in a vain attempt to stimulate demand. The only way they could do this was cut wages. My grandfather had his meager wagers cut in half, to a level that could not sustain his young family. There was no second job to look for – he was lucky to have anything, and grateful to Coke that he was not let go. The one consolation was that everyone else around him was in the same boat.

In a time before unemployment assistance and >25% unemployment, how did they survive? The money was just enough to pay the rent and for food for the children. My grandmother and grandfather survived for several years on a garden my grandmother grew in a small backyard plot. She had a green thumb that not only fed them but provided enough extra that they traded vegetables for other staples they needed. My father recalls a time playing in the garden that kept them alive.

Times eventually got better and my grandfather rose in the company and eventually retired as a VP. Still, until my grandmother moved into an assisted living center in her early 90’s, she always had a garden, always canned fruits and vegetables and always saved for a rainy day.

So when I think about how bad it is now, I guess my Dad is right, it could be worse.

We can survive this Great Recession.

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This post was submitted by Roger.


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