I just finished paging through an old cookbook titled “Stories n Recipes From the great depression of the 30’s”. At the very least a sobering revelation to the current day issues. But also a accurate tribute to the Ingenuity and resourcefulness of young families of that time.
We are so very spoiled. And yes, we have come so far. But much has been lost as we moved forward in search of more comfort and an easier lifestyle.
My mother used to tell us how she and her brothers pulled a wagon down the Railroad tracks picking up coal for heat. Because the alternate was huddling together under a feather tick throughout the night to sleep. In my own childhood I have vivid memories of quickly running downstairs to huddle in front of the fuel oil stove in order to dress without freezing. And the kids of today would have all been “In style” , as everything we owned was patched upon patches. One of my favorite digs to my youngest Daughter was “ you’d better hope that Betty Crocker lives a long life because with out her little boxes you can’t cook. “ It was always done in fun, but my point was made. And I’m happy to say that she has become a very impressive little homemaker in her own Right. But the issue is a tragedy. Betty sells us a box of flour, to which we add most of the primary ingredients anyway and we bake. But in the process we’ve lost the ability to do things on our own.
80 years ago, The bottom dropped. Jobs were scarce at best and money hard to come by. and Life, or survival became the everyday challenge for everyone.
The present Generations can’t begin to understand the strange changes this country went through at that time. And the structure of our American Society had disintegrated. Banks became worthless, businesses closed, and factories followed.
The role of mothers became a challenge to provide meals out of the most basic of ingredients. This book tells of moms canning Weeds for food as gardens were not able to furnish enough for the winter. And work if you were very lucky paid a dollar a day. Gas was .19 cents a gallon, to expensive to waste so walking became the acceptable mode of travel. Shoes were worn to nothing, and then you replaced the cardboard everyday that covered the holes in your sole. Soda pop was 5 cents a bottle but there was never any extra money for unnecessary sweets.
Cooked oatmeal was a godsend. Mom served it for breakfast, then pressed it in a pan to fry for burgers on the evening meal, meat was for the rich folks. Old clothes were recycled of not usable. Feed sacks turned into school dresses. Seams were carefully ripped apart and the cloth re-used to make new garments. Grandma’s old shredded nightgown became baby clothes and lining for mittens, Grandpa’s old worn socks became the cuffs for those mittens.
Often we see the frugality in older folks, and we snicker, but we were spared that struggle. And we have no rights except those given to us freely by a people who survived things that would challenge our very being.
We need to re-visit those days and take account of what we have and what we deem important.
A recent summer storm knocked out our power requiring that we grill out for a few days. I saw with my own eyes Actual Panic at the local quick stop because folks were unable to buy a little ice. I saw both anger and fear, and this was just three or four days. My God!! What will happen if we are required to re-live the 30’s?
We don’t need to dwell on what might happen, but we should consider where we are and what we can do if we are called on to function without all our comforts.
It’s called the 30’s because this was not just a day in our History, It spans years of struggle as those hard working folks brought this Country back from the hardest times on record. We need to be responsible with what we’ve been given.