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In 1927 my family - Mom, Dad, sister Alice and I - moved to a smaller house in Mayfield, a suburb of Middletown. We had four rooms - kitchen, living room and two bedrooms - and a little bathroom with no fixtures. We had an outside toilet, which was pretty uncomfortable in the winter. My dad worked at Armco Steel. Work was getting slack and we had to rent a smaller house. The Hein Brothers built these little houses and rented them out to people that needed cheaper rent.
My dad worked less and less, and things got so bad that we had to start charging everything, even groceries. We always traded with Lloyd Yocum, the manager at the IGA store on Queen St. in Middletown. Mr. Yocum was a lifesaver. He let us charge groceries and let my dad pay so much when he got paid. When he did pay, Mr. Yocum would treat Alice and me to a big sack of candy! That was great. We called him our hero! Later on we called the IGA the "I Get it All" store.
One day I asked my dad if we could take a ride. He said he had to save the gas to go to work. I said why not put a pan under the car and save the gas. He said it didn't work that way and explained that the gas burned up when the motor ran. I learned something new that day. My Aunt Maude had a beauty shop on Central Ave. She gave Alice and me free hair cuts and gave Mom free perms. All we had to do was keep her in clean towels, and I went to the grocery to get her vinegar because that's what she used for a rinse.
On Christmas, 1929, Armco was giving free toys to all the children. I had asked Santa for a cowboy suit. Christmas morning, there were two big boxes for Alice and me. When we opened them, I was so sad: two big dolls. I cried all morning. I never did get my cowboy suit. Later Christmas morning, my mother started having labor pains. My dad took her to the hospital and she delivered twins, a girl and a boy named Jack and Jeanne. So we had a merry Christmas after all!
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.)