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Posts Tagged ‘Great Depression’

You just can’t make this stuff up. Thanks Ana Navarro-Cardenas for reminding me of last week’s highlights cause you know, I didn’t watch the RNC rally at the White House this week.

  • “Bannon indicted for swindling Trump’s base
  • Trump ordered to pay Stormy’s legal fees
  • Trump’s niece recorded the sister saying he’s a cruel, phony, liar
  • Conway Family saga (see previous post)
  • Now, Jerry Falwell says his wife had an affair w/the pool boy (while he watched)”

And just to cap this wonderful week off, I managed to lift a very heavy box of paint – don’t ask – and now even my elbows are hurting. Lest I forget, yesterday was yet another Tornado Warning complete with sirens. If this pandemic/political/hurricane season isn’t depressing enough, I thought you’d like to hear the rest of the Flapper’s essay on the Great Depression!

To recap – It was 1935, my Mother put yellow food coloring in Crisco and called it butter. My Father was making $7 a week!

“Clothes were hard to come by, and each of my children had only two pairs of shoes, one for the wintertime and one for the summertime (and that was during a good year). I made a schedule of household chores for me to do all day. First, I would feed my children, and send Shirley and Brian off to school.

Then on Mondays, I would do the laundry (by hand on a washboard, since we had no washing machine). and hang it out to dry on the line. On Tuesdays I would iron the clothes. Wednesdays I’d clean the upstairs of the house, and Thursdays the downstairs. Fridays, I would bake for the weekend and do any shopping that needed to be done. Saturdays were my only free days, and Sundays we’d all go to church and our relatives would come over for dinner and a good game of cards.

On March 4, 1933 Franklin D Roosevelt became President! He was the answer to the prayers of the people, and the best president this country has ever had. Even to this day, there is a picture of him hanging in my kitchen, right next to the picture of Jesus Christ. I do not like to imagine what would have happened had it not been for President Roosevelt.

In 1935 Bob finally got a better paying job – $25 a week!! However it was in Jamestown, New York, so he had to move out there.It cost him $10 to rent a room and buy food etc. Back home in Scranton, we received $15 a week. A BIG improvement from the $7 we had been getting. In April, when I had my son Michael, Bob was not able to come home to see him. Soon after his birth however, my husband luckily found an even better paying job… and it was at home in Scranton! We were overjoyed to have him living with us, and to have $35 a week.

It sounds funny now, but we thought we were rich!

Life during the Great Depression was hard. I’m not quite sure how we were able to do it, but we did. We were lucky not to have lost everything, like some of my friends did. I think that our society to day has made it all too easy and normal to throw things away. Why throw away socks with holes when you can mend them? Why throw away food when you can save it for another time? People today are too wasteful. 

If anything good did come out of the Depression, it taught me not to waste things, because you never know when you could lose it all.”

We all know what we’ve got to lose in the next election.

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“More mama.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard Kellyanne Conway’s voice. It’s like chalk on a chalkboard. Ever since she coined the phrase, “alternative facts,” closely followed by saying Mr T isn’t lying because he truly believes what he says, I just figured it’s a wash. I’m actually ashamed she’s  Jersey girl. Thank goodness CNN stopped interviewing her.

She’ll be leaving the White House to focus on her teenagers who are now in the throes of distance learning. But it’s her 15 year old daughter who took to Twitter to cry for help; she wanted to become an emancipated minor, and suggested that AOC would be a much better mom.

I remember when the 13 year old Bride interviewed the Flapper for a history project in 1995, asking detailed questions about life during the Great Depression. Since it looks as if we may be entering another great global economic recession due to this pandemic, I thought you might like to see how my Mother coped with her life in Scranton, PA.

“My first husband died of peritonitis in 1931, because there was no penicillin at that time. He left me alone, at the age of 21, with two children, Shirley and Brian, ages four and two. In 1933 I was lucky enough to marry Robert. He was a pharmacist I’d seen every day on my way to catch the trolley. He raced after that trolley one day to propose to me, and we were promptly married. We lived together in Scranton, and had a baby girl the next year, Kathryn.  

Although it seems ridiculous now, in 1933 the $25 a week that my husband made was good money. By 1935 however our situation had gotten worse. I was pregnant with my fourth child, and my husband had been reduced to making only $7 a week. The owner of his pharmacy had taken it over, and had begun working six days a week by himself. My husband filled in only one day a week, and we had to support our family of five on $7.

We survived, although I’m not quite sure how we did it. Even though food was cheap (two pounds of butter cost 25 cents), we had no money to buy it with. We ate mostly bread, peanut butter, pea soup, and potato soup. I made the bread myself because it was much cheaper to buy the flour than the already-made bread. Instead of using butter, we used Crisco with yellow food coloring (it looked like real butter and seeing is believing).

Today, two pounds of Land O Lakes butter will cost you about six dollars! I’ll transcribe more of the Flapper’s life in the coming days. But I was thinking as I read the Conway Twitterstorm last night, that I was born an emancipated minor. After my Father’s death, my 15 year old sister took care of me while the Flapper went to work. Then after the car accident, just a few months later, I found myself with a new set of foster parents in NJ.

I was never adopted, they promised the Flapper they would care for me with, “no strings attached.” And so they did, showering me with unconditional love, until the day at age 12, I decided to move out. I emancipated myself from my tiny Sacred Heart School life, smothered with too much care and tending, to live with my Mother and my messy, blended biological family. Half Jewish, a quarter Catholic and the rest who knows!

I always had two mothers: one a first generation, religious immigrant from Czechoslovakia who didn’t drive and stayed at home because her husband wanted it that way; and another, a free-spirited, areligious, working, creative woman who looked just like me.

Today is Farmer Bob’s birthday! We first met at our public high school so many years ago, when he was Nathan Detroit and I was Adelaide in the musical Guys and Dolls. I guess what my young self was craving was more drama, more brothers and sisters, more excitement. Not every child can choose their parents! But we had no social media to amplify our teenage angst.

I truly wish the Conways all the best. This is a picture of Bob’s “come as you were in the 1960s” 40th birthday party! I wrote him a nuanced, sexy poem.

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Growing up, I’d never heard of Dorothea Lange. There were no Women’s Studies courses in the 1960s. We knew about Doris Day and Eleanor Roosevelt and sometimes I’d dream about marrying a prince like Grace Kelly – hey, she was born in Pennsylvania like me. And there was always Brigette Bardot and Marilyn Monroe just in case I aspired to be a sex symbol? On second thought, I really wanted to be a comedienne like Carol Burnett.

But Bob and I wanted to see the Frist exhibit of Dorothea Lange before she left the building – the museum is the actual/original Art Deco Nashville Post Office and always amazes me. The exhibit is scheduled to close this weekend so we boogied downtown the other afternoon; I’d admired Lange from the moment I heard about her, a photographer who documented the real human toil of the Great Depression. https://fristartmuseum.org/calendar/detail/dorothea-lange

I wasn’t expecting to cry. I was so moved by her images of families displaced by the economy and dust bowls. Lange is famous for her portraits of migrant women, both white and black which was unusual in itself, but when we got to the pictures of Japanese families sitting, patiently waiting to be deported to internment camps, surrounded by their bags, I wept.

The children had government ID tags on them.

I was touched because I knew that feeling, displacement. It was in my bones and it has never left me.

 

 

 

 

 

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