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I was four years old and living in Pennsylvania when the depression started. My dad lost his job and we moved to Ohio, where my uncle had gotten him a job at the rubber works. That job did not last long and he was unemployed for a year. He did maintenance work for our landlady to pay for the rent. My oldest sister left school and worked as a housekeeper for our doctor to help the family out. After that, Dad started night turn at the A & P Warehouse.
We raised chickens in the back yard. My mom got new chicks every spring. We kept them in a box in the dining room near the heater. When they grew a little and the weather was warmer they went to the coop out back.
We also had a large garden. Mom grew and canned all she could. So with veggies, potatoes, eggs and chickens we had food. Our special Sunday meal often was "hamburg," baked with elbow macaroni, tomatoes and onions. A lot of our meals were one-dish.
Our food was kept cool in the ice box by a cube of ice brought by the "iceman" in a truck. We had a card that we hung on the front porch that told him the size of ice we needed. The ice drained into a basin under the chest. If not emptied in time someone would yell "Get the mop!" At least the floor got clean.
All the children in the neighborhood would chase the ice truck in hopes of getting a sliver of ice to eat. Popsicles would have "free" stamped on some of the sticks and what a thrill is was to find one! I would hoard mine until I could not resist it. The free ones were always better somehow.
Isaly's Klondikes came only in vanilla but some of them had pink centers and that meant a free one! One Saturday afternoon, I was given a dime, enough for two Klonidikes. Dad took my friend and me to Isaly's. The first one had a pink center, the second had a pink center, and this went on until we had enough for the whole family- we were so proud and HAPPY!
We would play baseball in the empty field by the house, roller skate on the sidewalk, and go on picnics at Mill Creek Park. Saturday afternoon was a family ride through the countryside with a stop on the way home for a 5-cent Isaly's skyscraper ice cream cone.
Everyone walked to school. The boys had their door at one end of the school and the girls on the other side. Sometimes we would play jacks waiting for the bell to ring. We could buy a half pint of milk at school for 4 cents which lasted us one week. Sometimes I would have the money and sometimes I did not.
In a family of five children, being the fourth girl, Mom remade a lot of my clothes. She would take a garment, rip out all the seams and make me some very pretty dresses. Mom was a miracle worker for many things. When I got old enough I did my own sewing.
As a family we would sit around the radio and listen to the news and of course to the 30's Soap Opera "One Man's Family". Books were also great and I read a lot. Books took me places I could only dream of.
Our car was a Model T. When it did not work quite right Dad parked it in the driveway and tore it down then put it back together again. My mother could do that also. We were happy- we made do with what we had. We were thankful and we survived the Great Depression.
Story collected for the Ohio Department of Aging Great Depression Stories Project 2009. (Picture from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.)