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The Ohio Department of Aging

Ohio Department of Aging Story Projects

Great Depression Story Project - Volume 4

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Holidays During the Great Depression

"We were so poor that, one particular Christmas, my younger brother, Bill, and I thought we would have no Christmas presents. However, our older sister, Dorothy, surprised us by bringing a beautiful big baby doll for me and a fire truck for my brother. The doll's head, hands and feet were made of a plaster-like material, and the rest was made from cloth and stuffed with straw. It had molded hair. We were thrilled with our gifts."
- Betty Banta, age 80, Columbus

"Christmas gifts were oranges and great yeast biscuits embedded with crispy cracklings from rendered pork fat. A Medina County cousin who raised pigs sent in football-size plumb and fatty parts, rendered over a hot stove fire into lard. The old White sewing machine was mother's best friend. For the holidays, we had new shirts, skirts, pants and jackets. This was a contrast to our cousins who had May Co. boxers under the tree because a cousin worked at May Co."
- Doris O'Donnel Beaufait, age 86, Hudson

"Our Christmas trees came from a nearby woods. It didn't matter if they were lop-sided. We thought they were beautiful. We had very few presents: one a piece, if any, through my married sister."
- Wilma Blasiman, age 88, Lake Milton

"At Christmas time, you didn't get toys. You had homemade stockings with fruit and hard candy... All family took trains to get to be with us for Christmas. It lasted a whole week."
- Margaret O. Brawley, age 86, Youngstown

"I was one of seven children: four girls and three boys. I was the youngest. My three older sisters and brother went to Michigan to work in the automobile plants and, at Christmas, they all put some of their earnings together to buy two scooters, a toy train, some small cars and a set of dishes (some of the cars and dishes I have to this day). My brother also bought my father our first radio (at Water Kent) so we could listen to the news and the comedy shows and also the Joe Louis fights."
- Irene Burkhart, age 83, Shadyside

"For Christmas, we always had a small tree with homemade paper streamers and popcorn; of course, no Christmas lights. To save on electric, we used candles. Our present was one doll, which we girls took turns playing with. Our biggest surprise on Christmas was that we would have chicken on the table and plenty of fruit."
- Margaret Byrum, age 83, Chillicothe

"At Christmas, we usually had a live Christmas tree that could be planted in the front yard afterwards. Mom thought it was unthinkable to cut a tree to be thrown out in a few days. We decorated our beautiful tree with red and green paper chains from school and strings of popcorn. For a Christmas treat, Mom would bake dozens of cookies for us and frost them in all different colors. We loved it!"
- Ruth Maloney Cowgill, Marion

"Several evenings before Christmas, Mom and Dad would take Mary Jane and me on the streetcar into downtown Toledo. We got off at the front entrance to the Lion Store on Summit Street, where there were two life-size statues of lions. There, Mom and Dad would set us loose to do our own Christmas shopping, with the explicit instructions that we were to be back at those lions by nine o'clock. So, Mary Jane and I set off. We each had fifty cents in our pockets with which we each were to buy a gift for Mom, Dad and our grandmother Meme, and of course, I would buy a gift for Mary Jane and she likewise for me - All with fifty cents each, mind you! We went from one five-and-ten store to another until, finally, as time was running out, we each purchased the gifts we were to give on Christmas day.

"On Christmas morning, we jumped out of bed to see the Christmas tree with all its pretty lights and decorations. Under the tree were the many gifts wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with red ribbons. As I remember it, we never tore open the tissue paper to get at the gifts. Very carefully, we folded up the tissue paper, knowing that in the not too distant future we would be using it in our bathroom. We opened our presents with great joy and excitement. For Mary Jane, it was usually a new hand-sewn dress made by Mom, plus stockings and undergarments and sometimes a new pair of shoes. For me, it was generally new pajamas or perhaps a shirt and a couple of pairs of stockings. Of course, there was usually for me a new toy and for Mary Jane a new doll. One year to my great surprise I opened my eyes on Christmas morning to discover a brand new tricycle beside my bed. Another year there was an electric train for me under the tree. My son, Skip, still has that train. All in all and despite the deep Depression Santa Claus was always good to us. It didn't take much to make us very happy."
- William Cox, age 85, Sylvania

"Our Christmases were so exciting! Christmas Eve, we would go down to the market after it closed, pick up a tree they had thrown away, and decorate it that night. What family fun for my brother, sister, me and my mom and dad! It always was beautiful in my childish eyes. We had no gifts under our tree until the day after. The morning after Christmas, we went down to Montgomery Ward on Main Street and Mother and Daddy purchased our gifts at sale price. In those days, the day after Christmas was really honestly marked down good merchandise before Jan. 1 inventory. I remember one year I wanted a certain doll so bad, but of course we couldn't afford it. The day after Christmas, we went down to Montgomery Ward and yes, there was one of my dolls still for sale, marked down. My mother grabbed her up and hugged her and actually cried. She had been marked down enough for us to buy her. My daughter has her in her treasures."
- Carolyn Davison, age 86, Columbus

"Christmas was a cotton sock with a little fruit and nuts. Halloween was canvassing the neighborhood. Few treats were available, so some windows were soaped and outhouses turned over (there were those that fell in)."
- Helen De Gifis, age 83, Warren

"In 1938, my Dad developed pneumonia and was unable to work for six months. We were put on relief, which is somewhat like welfare is today. All we got for Christmas that year was a bushel full of staples: potatoes, flour, sugar, etc., and one jigsaw puzzle. Dad was able to get out of bed for Christmas and he, my brother, Joe, and I worked that puzzle together on our living room floor. It was one of my most memorable, meager, beautiful Christmases."
- Mary Rose DeMaria, age 83, Oregon

"My dad always waited until Christmas morning to get our free tree, choosing from the scrape of trees left from the night before. If it was baldy on one side, we put the baldy side facing the corner, then decorated it. It looked great!"
- Mildred Redman Dieter, age 81, Youngstown

"One year, we three older kids decided to surprise the family. ln August, we secretly began to hoard every penny and nickel we earned. By December, we had $2.25 exactly. We shopped carefully, so everyone had a 25-cent gift on Christmas morning. I never saw Dad so surprised as he was with his: two cigars! He said we shouldn't have, with a smile! The favorite gift was a checkerboard and checkers. We had tournaments all winter."
- Margaret B. Edwards, age 89, Gibsonburg

"We never had turkey and oysters for Thanksgiving. We had roast chicken and salsify, a vegetable that tastes like oysters. We called it oyster plant."
- Mary Alice Foster, age 89, Reynoldsburg

"Holidays were special. We had foods that we didn't get during the year, like oranges and nuts and freshly made peanut butter from West Side Market. That was our treat at Christmas. We didn't have a tree or gifts."
- Theresa Giallombardo, age 80, Maple Heights

"On Christmas 1929, Armco was giving free toys to all the children (of its workers). 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 that morning, my mother started having labor pains. My dad took her to the hospital and she delivered twins: a girl and a boy - Jack and Jeanne. Dad made them a little nursery out of our little bathroom. So, we had a merry Christmas after all!"
- Mary Jane Grimes, age 87, Monroe

"I have always been told that our parents, Dorotha and Cloyd (preferring to be called 'Sport') got engaged on Christmas Eve in 1938, and married the next night. When quizzed about the short engagement, Mom always responded that they couldn't afford a ring until then... There wasn't any belling or wagon ride, as was the custom, because it was so cold. The wedding picture was taken in Findlay on the following Tuesday. Wedding gifts included: $100.00 from Grandma Hattie; a rooster and five hens from Dad's brother and sister-in law, Lawrence and Mildred; hand-embroidered pillowcases from Mom's Uncle Roy and Aunt Mabel; a bedspread from Mom's cousin Stella; and a milk stool and milk bucket from another relative."
- Mary Inbody about her mother, Dorotha Inbody, age 94, Findlay

"I recall when Christmas came along, my dad told us that he could not buy us much, but we were happy with what we got. Plus, when we wanted to light the tree, we had to go down to the milk house and start the generator. It was tough times, but we learned how to accept it."
- Carl Krob, age 82, Bridgeport

"Crita, Mom's sister, and Russell Foley brought us their Victrola. It was a modern record player - a modern convenience. She also sent us Christmas presents. It was a sack for each of us which contained an orange, three gum drops and a package of gum."
- Wendell Litt, New Concord

"We got very few toys, but our neighbors allowed us to play with theirs. One year, I received a macinaw, green and gray, a turtle neck sweater and corduroy pants. I wore them all on Christmas day to the movie because I was very proud of them. I wanted to show them off! It was 65 degrees. But I didn't care, I was proud of what I got !"
- Eli Mitchel, age 74, Delaware

"My sister and I learned to appreciate simple indulgences. On one Christmas, my only gift was a pair of rayon panty hose. I thought it was a wonderful gift because it was much nicer than the cotton I had always worn. And on another occasion, when I was a senior in high school, I had to make a choice between buying a winter coat and buying a high school class ring. I chose the coat."
- Evelyn Brewer Neff Mitrione, age 86, Pickerington

"My childhood was a very happy one. We did things together, helped each other with our lessons and chores, sat around and listened to Mother and Dad telling their tales of Italy and their childhood and loved to hear them sing in Italian. Our holidays were wonderful. The house was always full of relatives and friends partaking of the delicious food prepared by Mother and other delicasies we were allowed. Dancing and singing was a must; someone played either the accordian or the concertina and we loved to watch Mother and Dad dance the Italian dance, the Tarantella. They were terrific."
- Madelyn L. Naples, deceased, Youngstown

"We learned early on to amuse ourselves and not to have many wants. It's the wants, not the needs, that do people in. Having less wants creates contentment and one is satisfied with the simple pleasures in life. Holidays, we baked cookies and wrapped them up in tea towels to give to relatives and neighbors."
- Leona M. Osrin, Beachwood

"Sometimes, we girls got a length of material for a dress as a Christmas present. The boys got chambray for a shirt. I remember that we ordered a lot from the Montgomery Ward catalog. Dress print was 11 cents a yard and gingham was 14. Our other presents might be a yellow pencil, a rubber ball or a hair barrette. The boys got pop guns or yo-yos. Rims of wheels made nice hoops to roll. We made stilts from saplings we found in the woods. Pop made us hickory whistles, limber jim dolls and bows and arrows."
- Delcie Pound, age 92, Medina

"Christmas was a time of much activity as most gifts were handmade and took time to make. Women sewed clothing, embroidered hankies, pillow slips, dresser scarves and doilies, and knitted and crocheted caps, neck scarves, mittens, aprons, etc. Men made shop items such as toys. Books and magazine subscriptions were popular. People read a lot, as TV and electrical gadgets were not invented yet. There were many serial books for children and adults."
- Helen Cook Railer, age 95, Burlington, IN (formerly of Greenfield)

"Milk was delivered in a horse-drawn wagon. I remember we always had a nice Christmas with gifts. One gift was a large gorilla bow and arrow placed on the side of the house. When the car lights hit it, the drivers would be very scared. "
- James Randolph, Columbus

"When Christmas came, my mother told my older sister and me that there wasn't a Santa Claus, as we had believed, and we gave what we had to our little sister to make her think that Santa came."
- Rosemary Rausch, age 83, Plain City

"Christmas was special in the one-room school. We had a Christmas tree. All the students made the decorations for the tree. There were no lights on the tree, but there was a gas light in the ceiling of the room. As we left school that day, the teacher gave each of us a orange. My brothers had found a pine tree in the field at home. They cut it and we had a Christmas tree for our new home. We strung bittersweet berries and made decorations for the tree. There were no gifts to put under the tree. On Christmas Eve, Uncle Lloyd arrived with a gift for each of us. I got a doll. I still have her."
- Neva Rees, age 87, Marietta

"All I got for several Christmases was doll clothes made by my mother; nothing was made commercially like now. My clothes were often remade from hand-me-downs. Our Christmas was preparation of food and going to church, where we got a bag of hard candy and one orange."
- Marian Seilheimer, age 89, Tiffin

"For Christmas, I had a hand-me-down used doll with new clothes made by my mother at night while I was asleep. In our stockings were the usual orange and nuts. We were thrilled! When company came, our Sunday chicken had to go a little farther. Mom would always whip up her special spice cake. I wish I had that recipe today!"
- Mary Johnson Shank, age 77, Toledo

"We used to sit around the Christmas tree and play a guessing game. I see something red (or silver or whatever). Whoever guessed the ornament first and pointed it out got the next turn. Christmas time, we each received one present. One year, it was home-made embroidered velvet slippers with rabbit ears. I remember the totally impractical silk lining and how much we loved those slippers."
- Ann Shook, age 85, Akron

"We had very little money for celebrating birthdays and Christmas, but our Mom always baked a cake for each birthday child. And, for Christmas, our parents always provided each of us with an orange, a few nuts to crack and one present. Over the years, it became a tradition to have a Christmas coconut for the whole family. Dad would break it open with a hammer."
- Wanda Stubbart, age 78, Columbus, Vic Thomas, age 83, Middletown and Kathleen Lambert, age 80, Middletown

"Christmas always meant stockings filled with an orange, apple, tangerine, banana, nuts and a candy cane. We felt so lucky! We made gifts for each other at school and I always drew violets in the snow on my cards - no doubt a harbinger of 'a season of Spring' eventually rising from the 'winter' of our conditions then. "
- Joy Thomas, age 80, Canfield

"Christmas was wonderful. There were six of us. At Christmas, we each had one sock hung on the fire place. We got an apple, an orange two walnuts and a candy cane. My brother was old enough to work in a factory in Alliance and he would buy each of us girls a beautiful colored handkerchief and hang it on the tree."
- Maxine Vargo, age 80, Akron

"We had a round, oak table in the corner of the living room. Every year at Christmas, we would put a plate for each child around the table. We usually got an orange, pencil, gum and a few pieces of candy from Santa. One year, I wanted a harmonica. Santa brought one for me. My father could play a harmonica, so he started to play mine. I started crying. I still have the harmonica, like new and in the box. How I would love to hear Dad play it now."
- Marie Vaughan, age 85, Bucyrus

"Each holiday, the aluminum co. delivered a bushel-sized basket of food to each of its laid-off employees. My father was too proud to accept the donation and refused the basket."
- Sally K. Weil, age 89, Bartlett, IL (formerly of Cleveland)

"When Christmas Eve came, Grandma and I went out very late and found a tree to decorate for free, since the vendors had made their profits by then."
- Dolores L. Younger, age 79, Westerville

"That Christmas, Mother knew we wanted bicycles, so she saved money for one and charged the other one at Montgomery Ward. It was a good Christmas for us."
- Dorothy Zubovich, age 85, Columbus

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Food, Cooking and Eating During the Great Depression

"We flourished on lots of soups - navy bean, lima bean, noodle, potato, split pea, vegetable, tomato and anything else that would make soup. The only time my brother and I complained was that we had a lot of hot vegetable soup in the summer. We never heard of broccoli, asparagus or cauliflower, as they were too expensive. I never had a piece of steak, except round steak, until I was married. Mom made the round steak into 'Swiss steak' which was delicious to us."
- Pauline Bandzk, age 91, Hubbard

"My earliest memories of the Great Depression go back to people coming to our door, selling big red delicious apples for five cents each. My father was a minister and five cents was hard to come by. Once in a great while, there would be a spare five cents to purchase one of those delectable apples. It was carefully cut into five pieces and distributed. As a seven-year-old, I wondered if the time would come when I could have a whole apple to myself."
- Elinor M. Brown, age 85, Napoleon

"When my husband was about eight or nine years old, his mother sent him to the store to get some soup beans to cook for their supper. He had to walk down a hill that was a little over a mile long. On his way home, the bag in which the beans were broke and the beans spilled onto the ground. When he got home and told his mother what happened, she gave him another container and told him to go back and pick up the beans, so he went back and picked up every bean. Another time, he sat down at the table to eat breakfast and his mother said to him 'I don't know what you are going to eat because we only have some homemade bread and milk.' So she broke up some bread in a bowl with some milk, and that was his breakfast."
- Irene Burkhart, about her husband, Lawrence, age 86, Shadyside

"(My dad) always used to tell me that during the Depression, his family raised pigeons in their backyard to supplement the food that they did have. And when the time came, he would say, he would go out and break the pigeons' necks so they could eat them. He said they tasted pretty good. When he told me this, all I could think of was how could they do that? To me, that would be like eating a pet!"
- Marty Comes, about her father, Thomas J. Comes, deceased, Toledo

"Our meals consisted mostly of fresh vegetables, soups, bread and macaroni. Rarely was any meat served and cookies were Easter and Christmas treats."
- Frances Daubert, age 80, Centerville

"On a normal weekday, they would eat vegetable soup that included pretty much whatever they could scrounge up from the leftover food. They grew their own garden in their back yard, full of green beans, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. If they were lucky, they would eat chicken as a specialty on Sundays. Their family owned their own chickens and rabbits. The local grocery would call Grandma's house when the meat came in; that way they could get to the store before it was all gone. Everyone used stamps as the form of money, due to the fact that food and gas were rationed. These stamps bought most of their food for the month. They never went out to eat. Every night, when the boys arrived back home, they would eat with each other at the dinner table."
- Meg Denman, sophomore at Madison Comprehensive High School, about her grandmother, Marcella Denman, age 92, Mansfield

"I really don't recall feeling deprived, since we always had food and my mother canned fruits and vegetables, and sometimes corned beef and eggs in water glass. We had fudge making, popcorn and taffy pulls. My mother was an excellent baker, so we always had fresh bread, kuchen, cakes and cookies."
- E. Marie Dornbrook, age 87, Parma Heights

"Mom and my grandmother cooked everything from scratch. The piece of beef or chicken (bought sometimes on credit) was for Sunday dinner, then stretched to serve the next day as stew or over biscuits with lots of gravy. Vegetables and fruit were brought home (sometimes for free) by my grandfather who worked part time at the near-by farmers' market. My grandmother canned them and even made our own catsup. We never bought junk food. We did make popcorn. And, a slice of bread and butter sprinkled with brown sugar was a satisfying snack."
- Manila Fellows, age 84, Youngstown

"I was born in 1927 and I always wondered if I was a very welcome baby, since there were already three siblings, and it was about the start of the great Depression. One good thing, we lived on an 80 acre farm, so we always had milk, eggs and meat. Then, of course, Mom always had a big garden, so she canned lots of fruits and vegetables."
- Dorothy Orthwein Fundum, age 82, Malinta

"We could not have ice cream, except in the winter. My mom and dad made a special treat of ice cream made in a wooden hand-cranked ice cream maker. Ice and snow was packed around the metal part of the ice cream maker. Ice cream was made only on special occasions or when company came to visit. Then it was usually eaten up before the cold weather was gone."
- Ruth Hahn-Shrayer, age 78, Holland

"My Mom made what she called 'sweeting gravy.' She would fry bread in an iron skillet and we would put the sweet gravy on it. She would melt lard in the skillet and put sugar in that. It would brown and it tasted like butterscotch pudding,"
- Patarica LeMay Hauger, age 81, Meigs County

"In earlier days, Dad prepared studadina (pigs feet) in a jelly-like substance. He set bowls of it on the large, round table in the dining room - it was cooler there. Dad was upset because I wouldn't eat it. 'It's good for you,' he said. No way did I want to eat it."
- Eve Holden, age 84, Newton Falls

"Our Depression days involved the whole family planting a garden (my mother called it a truck patch). The garden provided food much of the summer. In the fall, we canned garden produce and a bushel of bought peaches. We made sauerkraut and root beer. My parents made home-made ice cream for get-togethers with other church families. Often, Dad and the other men would count the church money after dinner while the women cleaned up. Ice cream was made in the afternoon while we kids played. Yummy!"
- Ruth Marilyn Isaacson, age 83, Germantown Md (formerly of Bowling Green)

"We never had much meat, but lots of potatoes - usually mashed, sometimes with sauerkraut on top. I remember rutabaga, and disliked it so much that I have never eaten it as an adult. We NEVER had soft drinks or many expensive snacks, but I don't remember being hungry. We were filled up on potatoes and basic bread pudding made with meat juices (that's something else I never eat as an adult)."
- Ruth Mueller Jones, age 88, Cincinnati

"Besides living on a small farm, my father had the Home Service Bakery in Richmond, IN, with seven routes running every day. Selling baked goods door-to-door was only profitable if you could sell sweet rolls, cakes, donuts, etc., that were more profitable than bread. We sold 1½-pound loaves of bread, two for 15 cents. Omar Bakery, in Indianapolis, and White Bakery, in Dayton and Columbus, were doing this also and had used the idea of going to the door with a big basket of baked goods - and of course the most profitable goods were on top. But, as money got harder to get and more were out of work, people could only afford to buy bread, if that. So, it became harder to keep going."
- John Lamb, via e-mail

"Dad had built a Fruit Cellar in our basement and it was all concrete. This is where the jelly and canned goods were stored. There was always a large sack of flour and a bucket of lard, and my mother would make wonderful bread and rolls, and pies from the apple orchard and the berries we picked. Her pies would have won prizes. Because of my parents ingenuity I don't recall going hungry. Mother was a great cook, and what ever she made was delicious. Bacon was bought in a slab that you would slice off. Somehow, we always had real butter, but it was about 19 cents a pound. Mother made very good salad dressing with a bit of bacon grease, vinegar and a dash of sugar and salt in a skillet. This was poured over leaf lettuce from the garden or dandelions. Lots of people came to our home and ask for apples from our orchard. Mom would always give them some."
- Martha Rosella McCabe, age 88, Saint Clairsville

"Our food was the local livestock that we raised. We had pork from our little piggies, chicken from the chickens we raised, and eggs were plentiful. My father and brothers hunted, so we had wild turkey, rabbit, ground hog, squirrel, possum, turtle and, of course, frog legs. My father had been ill for several years suffering from TB, so they made ends meet by farming."
- Norma 'Beni' Nolen, age 77, Columbus

"My father turned half of our back yard into a vegetable garden. This, plus our fruit trees, gave us fresh food all summer and fall. Any excess was canned in Mason jars during the season and placed neatly on cupboard shelves in the cool basement for winter dinners. Eating in restaurants was reserved for very special occasions, probably not more than four times a year. We had three full meals at home every day, frequently left-overs, and considered ourselves very fortunate."
- Mary Lou Pollak, age 78, Fairview Park

"We had the privilege of using as much ground as we could cultivate for garden. We raised a large one and canned and preserved almost everything we grew. Blackberries were plentiful and apples grew all over the 'ore dumps.' Wild grapes and elderberries were free for the taking. We gathered firewood from the woods and mined coal from the abandoned mine. We always had a cow and some chickens, so we always had milk and eggs. We raised a couple hogs every year and butchered them in the fall for meat and lard. We made sausage and head cheese. We made sauerkraut and apple butter. We made our own bread and churned our own butter. We made our own soap.

"Our grocery order would consist of flour, salt, sugar and, once in a while, a box of raisins, some brown sugar or cocoa. We kept bees, so we used honey for most sweetening. We ate mush and milk or fried mush. We put noodles and dumplings in everything. We had pancakes often. We always ran trap lines in the winter and my father could sell the pelts from the skunks, possums or raccoons we caught. If rabbits or quails got in our traps, it meant more meat for the table. Pop hunted rabbits and squirrels in season, and turtles when the ore dump pools were getting dried up."
- Delcie Pound, age 92, Medina

"Our biggest blessings were fruit orchards and gardens. We could have a lot of our own food. The women would can food as it became available for use later. The house had a nice basement for storage of jars, potatoes and fruit. There was no heat and it stayed cool. The small home had some water flowing through the basement and had troughs to put containers of food in so they would keep a little longer."
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"Some people had cows, chickens and room for a vegetable garden. If they had these, they had it pretty good. Cows furnished milk and butter. Chickens laid eggs. When the hen got too old or sat on eggs to hatch the baby chicks, they made good chicken and dumplings with garden fresh vegetables in the summer and were canned to preserve for winter. Some people had hogs that were butchered in the fall of the year. Hams and shoulders were salted or cured. Sausage was ground, fried and canned. After chilling, the sausage and put in jars and the jars were turned upside down while the fat solidified to seal. Side meat was salted. Every part was used - head, feet. Lard was rendered from fat."
- Edith Ann Richardson, age 88, Middletown

"We bought skim milk for five cents a gallon at the little neighborhood store. We often asked the butcher for a 15-cent soup bone. He was always kind enough to include a little meat on the bone. My allowance was five cents a week and I always bought a whole jelly roll on Sunday afternoon with the whole five cents. We lived in the city, but our garden ran the length of the lot. Mom would bake bread and we would run out to the garden and pick huge sweet tomatoes to put on that warm bread. The bread was first slathered with a mix of half oleo and half butter. I believe there also was a little packet of yellow coloring that people added. Another treat: thick warm slices of crusty bread sprinkled with sugar and spritzed lightly with a little water. Heels of bread were wonderful in bean soup, soaking up the broth, with onion 'spoons' scooping up beans that had been splashed with olive oil."
- Ann Shook, age 85, Akron

"Although farm folk have been poked fun at, called hicks, et al, the farm blessed us all in many ways. We all had to pitch in. Thanks to our planting, sowing, weeding, cultivating (no tractor - horse power only), canning, drying, butchering, hens laying eggs, and cows giving milk and butter, our bellies were satisfied year-round. In summer, we picked and shelled and canned and made jellies and jams, preparing for the winter months. Our meat came from hogs raised. Game appeared on our table during hunting season. We may have looked 'hickish' at times, but there were no soup lines in our barnyard, no men and women waiting for pails to be filled."
- Willa B. Stanforth, age 93, Hillsboro

"Mom canned as many things as she could, such as tomatoes, green beans and fruits of various kinds. But the mainstay of our diet during the lean years was a combination of dried beans, cornbread, onions and potatoes of one kind or another. Mom would cut dandelion greens for some added nutrition and cook them in bacon fat with a little vinegar on them."
- Wanda Stubbart, age 78, Columbus, Vic Thomas, age 83, Middletown and Kathleen Lambert, age 80, Middletown

"To make certain that we never went hungry, our mom was constantly baking homemade bread, and working with (sister) Rita, during grape season. They made enough grape jelly to last throughout the winter and following spring. To make the jelly 'jell,' an ingredient called pectin had to be added to the jelly. The jelly was great until the following spring, when the vineyard began to blossom for the upcoming season. All of the grape jelly on the shelf started to crystallize. From then on, the grape jelly from the prior season tasted like ground glass. Some of us have not eaten grape jelly since."
- Larry Taddie, age 82, Parma

"My father was raised on a farm in Bay Township and had always hunted Bay marshes. During the dreadful Depression years, he and other hunters 'shot for the pot' - often out of season - simply to put meat on the table. My mother canned wild duck and, to this day, I do not relish wild duck. I ate too much of it - at times it was our only meat. My mother planted a big garden. Our house lot was 50x200 feet. We grew potatoes, lettuce, carrots, radishes, peas and string beans. We had two sour cherry trees, both red and black raspberries, elderberries and rhubarb. Peaches and pears and plums were purchased from the farmers who grew the fruit at Catowba. My mother canned fruit, made pickles, and also pickled pears and peaches."
- Thelma Thomas, age 87, Port Clinton

"Pa was an expert with gardens. He grew all the vegetables needed to make a meal, and also the meat, chickens, rabbits, goats and pigs. We made our own sausage. Every month, Ma would order a 100-pound sack of flour for making pizza, all kinds of pastas, calzones and elephant ears. She would can all the vegetables and shelve them in the cool cellar. Homemade jelly - elderberry, blackberry and raspberry also. She would make homemade macaroni, pasta and beans, greens, beans, wedding soup, stew without meat, homemade hot sausage and wild mushrooms, salad, garden fresh tomatoes and peppers, garlic in oil or vinegar, and dandelions with homemade bread. Ma said 'put on your plate what you can eat - no leftovers or you will have the same next meal.' We did not throw leftover food away."
- Joe Trolio, age 83, Hubbard

"Starch, as in macaroni, was a main staple of our diet. Mom could not afford to buy meat. To flavor macaroni, she used to fry it in bacon grease. Mom said milk was about 10 cents a quart and bread was about 10 cents a loaf. 'But, no one had ten cents,'she would add."
- Mary Ann Wasserman, age 78, Toledo

"They would bring a big truck full of groceries once a week and pass them out to everyone in town: flour, sugar, potatoes and other produce. I would go the A&P every day and go to the back door and ask if they had any surplus produce. I could get all sorts of fruits and vegetables with marks on them. Every once in a while, I could get a soup bone. We had coffee soup for breakfast every day - Just take a slice of bread and break it up in a bowl, add coffee, milk and sugar, and, presto, coffee soup."
- Mildred Wilson, age 83, Niles

"Shopping at the Farmers market was always a lot of fun. My parents bought the fresh fruits that were canned for the winter months. The fruit cellar was a very busy place during the autumn months with the canning of fruits vegetables, meats, sour kraut and even a barrel of wine brewing for the winter and, yes, root beer for us kids. The only bad part was we had to pitch in and wash all the lids, and believe me they were well inspected by mom. Rabbit stew was not my favorite, as we kept rabbits to enhance our meat diets"
- William L. Zurkey, age 84, Boardman

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Depression Era Entertainment and Recreation

"We didn't have the entertainment the kids have today - no TVs, no computers - no electronic toys. We played jacks, running games and jumped rope. To have paper dolls, I would cut pictures of little girls from the Sears catalog. Then, I would look for pretty dresses they advertised and make them into outfits for my paper girls. Outside, we would pick clover flowers when they were in bloom and make them into necklaces and bracelets to wear while we were playing house. My brother played mumbly peg with his knife."
- Pauline Bandzk, age 91, Hubbard

"Although there was a lot of work being done, there was always room for fun. Grandpa always gets a big smile on his face when he tells me about his childhood entertainment. Ice skating, baseball, hockey, checkers, track, square dancing and free shows downtown are what he did for fun. While the kids played, the adults enjoyed playing cards, eating popcorn and drinking hard cider. These community activities brought everyone together."
- Nicole Boggs, 10th Grader at Madison Comprehensive H.S., about her grandfather, Linus Bishop, age 86, Mansfield

"During these years there was an amusement park, Olentangy Park, on High Street at the end of the trolley line in Columbus. Occasionally, we got to visit the park. A White Castle sat near the park entrance. At that time, hamburgers were five cents.. and much bigger! A half-pint carton of milk was another five cents. For 50 cents, our family of five had a 'meal.' Admission to the park was 10 cents for adults and children under twelve were free. Rides were five cents, except for the roller coaster, which was 10 cents. We children were allowed one ride, so we spent much of the time scouting out all the rides, then making our decision - which was usually the merry-go-round or the ferris wheel."
- Elinor M. Brown, age 85, Napoleon

"Despite a lack of money, Ms. Christian emphasized an abundance of creativity and imagination. Children never asked to go to the toy store; they instead made their own toys. One of her favorite toys was a makeshift scooter made out of orange crates and roller-skate wheels. They had paper airplane wars and spent hours dressing up and playing with paper dolls."
- Emma Polly, about Hallie Christian, age 87, Olmsted Falls

"For recreation in the winter we played card games and checkers, and people had parties in their homes. We would roll up the rug and square dance the night away. In the summer, we played softball in the roadway, or went swimming in the old swimming hole', which was a dammed up creek and sometimes muddy."
- Mary Cole, age 91, Cadiz

"Our complete wardrobe consisted of one pair of shoes per child and two home-sewn outfits. We didn't dare ask for money for the movies, even occasionally, as we knew the typical response would be to remind us of the essential item that money would buy. Good times were a picnic in the park with family and friends, carrying our food and drink."
- Frances Daubert, age 80, Centerville

"Our family entertainment consisted of happy family times listening to radio programs, such as 'The Lone Ranger,' 'The Green Hornet,' 'The Shadow Knows,' 'Fibber McGee and Molly' and 'Amos and Andy,' to name a few. Once in a while, Grandpa would take me to the Palm or Tivoli Theatre on Friday nights, when they had western movies. Grandpa loved cowboy movies featuring the Lone Ranger, Tom Mix, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry."
- Mary Rose DeMaria, age 83, Oregon

"We were lucky! Born in the United States of America, healthy, smart; our parents were proud of each other and of us. They taught us to use good English, to do well in school, to be polite and to behave ourselves. We enjoyed family walks in the woods or hearing our parents read good books aloud. Sometimes we sang or made up plays... we always had an audience! We had no dolls, but real babies to care for and love."
- Margaret B. Edwards, age 89, Gibsonburg

"The evenings were a delightful time for children of the Depression. The adults would turn every light off in the house and sit on the front porch. The children would play hide-and- seek with the other children. When it became too dark to play, we caught fire-flies in a glass jar."
- Josephine Fell, age 81, Columbus

"Minus having a telephone or a car, walking through lovely tree-lined Bratenahl was one source of recreation. There were 2 places during the summer we could swim for free. Five or six of us in the neighborhood would walk to one or the other of these. Being flexible in those days was a must. When we couldn't get the change to see a movie, we played card games or took long walks. Before thinking one time, I agreed to attend a prom at another school. A girlfriend graciously loaned me a formal. Hopefully, my date didn't notice the gown was a bit snug!"
- Florence Field, age 91, Willoughby

"In the summer from the time I was seven years old, our mother made us a bag lunch and sent my younger sister and me off to spend the day at Morningside swimming pool. We walked along the railroad tracks about a mile and stayed all day until suppertime. We got brown as a berry and learned to swim by ourselves - no instructors. When we wanted to play ball, first we found someone with a ball, and in the case of baseball, a bat. We agreed on a vacant lot to meet and then we played, usually 'monkey move-up,' which required a minimum of only 3 or 4 players. Everyone got to play every position. When the batter was out, he went to the outfield, the catcher became the batter and the pitcher became the catcher. No adults were involved. In the summer, under the streetlight, boys and girls played various games such as elephant steps, kick the can and others with no name. We would have played half the night, but mothers made us come in. In daylight hours, we played red rover and hide and seek, plus other made-up games. Again, no adults involved."
- Russell S. Fling, age 82, Columbus

"In the 1930s, bicycles were quite scarce in our neighborhood. But, an older sister became employed and purchased a bicycle that was available to my siblings and me while she was at work. We were restricted by our parents to ride the bicycle only on our street, traveling south to the first cross street or traveling north to the first cross street. Being a young teenager, I soon learned that this was quite an attraction to many other teenagers in the neighborhood, both male and female. After beginning the ride up and down our street, you would soon see about 14 teenagers at our yard and all quite enthusiastic about the bicycle. So I developed a plan. The boys were in one line and the girls in another line. One boy would ride the bicycle and one girl would ride on the handlebars. They would make one trip around our assigned area and then return. Then it was the turn for the next boy and girl in line; doing the same route and return. This would continue until every one had been on the bicycle at least once and continue another set of rounds until we were required to return to our homes."
- Dorothy Geiger, age 82, Dublin

"My brother and I would cut grass, shovel snow, sell bottles and do other odd jobs to make money to go the movies or skating rink. Other entertainment was cards and telling ghost stories. We played games like kick the can, red rover and more."
- Charles Green, age 87, Columbus

"When we were in the 30's, our kids games were marbles. Even at school, the girls even got down at recess and played take away marble games with the boys. Then we had jump ropes (a piece of clothesline) and jacks to play with or pick up sticks. My brothers and I played cards and we played with a ball."
- Ruth Hahn-Shrayer, age 78, Holland

"My brothers were busy collecting milk bottles, hauling ashes and doing odd jobs, and they sold Christmas trees. On Saturday afternoon, they would take me to the Lyric Theater on Broadway for 10 cents. We would see a full length movie, news reel, an ongoing serial, cartoon and coming attractions. It was the highlight of the week!"
- Ruth Jacquillard, age 83, Millbury

"I remember hearing Adolf Hitler's speeches to the German people. My uncle Edgar was a World War I veteran, and he said 'that is a man to keep your eye on' He was right! Folks in our community would gather at the Cadiz square to listen to radio broadcasts. I heard a heavyweight match between Joe Louis and Max Schmelling, which Joe Louis won in the first round by a knockout. My brother and I used to take wheels and put them on boards to make scooters; that was fun. Later, we took a job hoeing corn for fifty cents a day and bought a new bicycle. We were in seventh heaven."
- Russell G. King, age 83, Carrollton

"For entertainment in our early years and up through high school, we made our own: singing around my cousin's player piano, board and card games and the whole run of outside games including tennis (which was free), horse shoes and miniature golf (which we built ourselves). We saw free shows like the NCR School House Saturday morning free show and programs at Church - anything that was free and that we could walk to."
- Louis J. Leibold, age 93, Centerville

"In 1933 Peg Marburger and Ruth Ross planned a trip to Chicago. Peg often mentioned to me that I should go with them. I never took it seriously. One evening, after work, Peg said, 'We are leaving in the morning, at 4. Can't you go?' The wheels in my head began to turn. I went to the telephone office (where I worked) and asked Mrs. Thompson if I could leave for 10 days. She said, 'If your dad says so.' I went home and asked Mom and Dad, and he said, 'If you spend your own money.' By now it was 9 p.m. By 4 the next morning, I was on my way to Chicago... Ruth was driving the Marburgers' Exxco car. Every time we filled the gas tank, we put a quart of oil in the engine. Eight hours later we were in Chicago. Ruth meant to visit relatives, but spent some days with Peg and me at the Fair. Peg and I had a room near the fair area. Sally Ran, nude with her ostrich feather fan, was a big attraction. The Cab Calloway band was another. A trip I'll always remember."
- Verna Mauer, age 98, Bolivar

"Admission to the theater on Main Street was 10 cents and our families didn't have the money to give us. If we only earned a dime, we went to the dairy to buy one milkshake and two straws. There was a bakery on Main Street, and in the window was a tray of red skin peanuts. There were tiny paper bags and a small glass, and for five cents I could buy a glassful of my favorite snack to place in one of the bags. During high school, my friends and I would go home by way of Ritchey's, the teen hang out. For 10 cents I could buy the best hamburger I have every tasted. If I was fortunate enough to have an extra five cents, I could get a cherry coke. I worked at Ritchey's weekends and, for Friday evening and all day Saturday, I earned $2.50."
- Jeannette Mellot, age 78, Plymouth

"Toys were at a premium. We used to find a bushel basket, knock the bottom out of it, nail it up on some garage and that was our basketball net. To play football, we could not afford equipment, so we just played without it."
- Raymond J. Mock, age 85, Centerville

"We had no TV until I was about 18. We had a small radio to hear Red Skeleton, 'Fibber McGee and Molly,' 'The Lone Ranger,' 'Stop The Music' was time for all the family (including my grandparents, who lived with us) to listen. My grandparents used the two bedrooms upstairs for their bedroom and kitchen. My sister and I shared the other bedroom.

"A sled was a sheet of cardboard and McKinley Monument was the best hill. The park to play in was Water Works Park. In the summer, it was Myers Lake Park for the grocery store picnic. Ice cream from Islays was an extra treat once or twice a year in the summer - my Grandmother always bought. The ice man gave us all chunks of ice from his truck. We also had a milk man and a bread man, when we could afford them. We took rides in the car on Sunday afternoon and walked to church every Sunday morning. Watching movies a couple times a year at Dueber Theater was an extra special treat. We played, kick the can, hide and seek, tag, hop scotch, red rover, jump rope, etc. There were a lot of fun times, as everybody shared the same hard times. We kids really didn't know we were poor."
- Doris Portmann, age 76, Navarre

"Sundays were quiet days. We went to church in the morning and night. My mother baked a cake and dressed a chicken Saturday morning, which was ready for Sunday dinner. In the afternoon, we often took an automobile ride in our Ford or visited friends and relatives. Picnics and family reunions were popular. Movies and radio were about the only entertainment available. In Greenfield, the Wednesday afternoon nine-cent matinee was very popular. The women flocked to them while the men were working. Feature movies were shown at night. A few gifted men built their own radios and crystal sets. I remember the first one I ever saw; it was quite large. We made a lot of our own entertainment. In high school, I was part of a group of seven or eight that got together often with friends to have a party whenever one of us had a birthday or it was a holiday. We gathered at one of our homes, played games and had refreshments. Besides the parties, we had picnics in the summer, gathered nuts in the fall and went sledding in the winter. An occasional treat was a day at the Cincinnati Zoo with a picnic dinner. The monkeys, with their antics, were the favorite attraction."
- Helen Cook Railer, age 95, Burlington, IN (formerly of Greenfield)

"Dad made us some toys and we would spend time at night before bed time playing games. Mom would sit by the kerosene lamp and read letters or stories out of a book for us. They loved us so much. At bed time, she would get bricks out of the oven on cold nights and wrap them in towels and put them in our beds to warm up the bed and keep us warm. There was no heat in our bedroom or insulation in the ceiling, walls or floor, so it got very cold."
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"We made most of our play things, such as a wooden scooter out of 2x4s by separating a single roller skate. We rolled a metal hoop with a handmade, wooden, inverted T-stick. We played 'peggy' with an old broomstick. We cut off the bottom 12 inches for the peg, which we leaned against a brick, then we tapped the peg into the air and attempted to hit it with the stick. Few kids had a bicycle; My oldest brother had one to deliver Western Union Telegrams. Later, my older sister, next oldest brother and I shared the bicycle."
- Willis Ryan, age 90, Toledo

"For recreation, a man from Morenci sponsored roller skating parties in the Grange Hall near the school. Young and old joined in the fun, along with several eligible bachelors! A few years later, I married one of those bachelors. Never lacking for fun, we ice skated on the lake, enjoyed hay rides and bobsled parties, went to the movie theaters for a dime a ticket, played cards and went dancing at Devil's Lake. Some of the kids even went swimming in the Maumee River."
- Hazel Schroeder, age 97, Wauseon

"We entertained ourselves, playing board games, outdoor hide-and-seek type of games, roller skating as fast as we could around the block or listening to radio serials such as 'Don Winslow of the Navy' or 'Jack Armstrong.' We read a lot of books from the library. We learned about the outside world from LIFE magazine, a large glossy format that was a veritable history of memorable photographs. The swimming pool season ticket was $2. Going to a movie cost a dime. There was no air conditioning, but the Ohio Theater was comfortably 'air cooled' with fans blowing across blocks of ice. Broughton's Ice Cream had sodas and sundaes for 12 cents, while an ice cream cone was a nickel. S. S. Kresge was full of wondrous items you could buy for a nickel or dime, many of them now collector's items."
- Esther G. Schwartz, age 77, Columbus

"There was an ice house on the corner of Nevada and Parker, and we kids would go there to get free chunks of ice. Sometimes in the summer, we went there and got chips of ice to make our own ice cream. We all took turns grinding it until done, but what a treat it was for us! Our toys were mostly handmade. My brothers made their scooters out of orange crates and wheels, when they could find them. We girls made our own dancing dolls out of hollyhocks. What imaginations! For adult entertainment, Friday nights was usually Pinochle night with the neighbors, at their house or ours. We never had a sitter, so when it was at the neighbors, my brothers watched me. We played games such as hide and seek with a candle lit to find each other - it's a wonder we never started any fires! Also, my brothers made a basketball net over their bedroom door from a box and, having no ball, they used my favorite muff - I hated that!"
- Mary Johnson Shank, age 77, Toledo

"Entertainment came from imagination and the Sears catalog. Children played all sorts of outdoor games, such as tag, and indoor parlor games, such as 'I spy with my little eye' and 'upset the fruit basket,' which is a game in which one child tries to claim a seat in a circle (there is one less chair than children) by giving every child a fruit name and commanding certain fruits to get up and change places, thus setting off a scramble for a chair. The catalog was the source for paper dolls, which my mother and her older sister, Marie, cut out and glued on saved cardboard. If the doll wanted to change outfits, the one doll merely went into the 'closet area' and then came out as another doll, cut out from a different page, with a 'new' outfit on."
- Amy Adler, about her mother, Ferne Smith, age 89, Elyria

"I went to the library during these days - we weren't bored. We made up games: jacks, marbles, jump the rope, hopscotch. We Learned to use our imaginations. We sang and had fun. Fun was walking to the library or art museum and 10-cent movies, where it was a double feature and even gave you a dish. There was lots of walking, but we didn't mind. Our fun was riding the trolleys from end to end on a hot day."
- Mildred Sterberg, Tiffin

"Most of the commercial radios those days were large floor models. I remember 'watching' the Cincinnati Reds on such a radio, back when Bucky Walters was a pitcher for the Reds. The whole family would gather in front of that radio to listen to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Fireside Chats. We were never bored and we could always find something to do. We played with other children in the neighborhood, playing such outside games as kick the can, hide and seek, red rover and golf (using a tin can in the ground for the hole, discarded golf balls from the golf course and an old golf club Curtis found). For indoor entertainment, we played jacks, checkers, and Chinese checkers. During 'checker time,' we often enjoyed some of the popcorn that was grown in our small garden. Our Dad played the fiddle, banjo and mandolin. His friends, Pete LeMay and George Goforth, played guitar and bass fiddle. They would often gather at our house and enjoy a night of music. Ours was a home full of love, fun and music."
- Wanda Stubbart, age 78, Columbus, Vic Thomas, age 83, Middletown and Kathleen Lambert, age 80, Middletown

"In the 30's there was radio (no TV), which brought good stories to your home. Joe Lewis prize fights were big deals. For amusement, neighbors would get together with their musical instruments, play monopoly or penny-ante poker. I remember great euchre games at my grandma's farm house. My dad and mom decided I should take guitar lessons at the Calbourne School at Town and High St. The lessons were $1.25 per week, which also guaranteed a paid-for guitar after awhile. It turned out to be a tremendous task to try to get $1.25 per week. We made a lot of our toys, such as rubber inner tube guns and orange crate racers, and I even made a kayak out of orange crates and canvas. We went fishing a lot. We would gather soft crawls in the rivers and could find good night crawlers in our lawns (before insecticides killed most of them). Fishing and hunting back then was better than now."
- William Thompson, age 80, Columbus

"I was about 4 or 5 years old when the Beacon Journal came out with a cardboard cutout doll. Every Sunday, they would print outfits to fit her. I believe her name was Betsy. I lived for Sundays just to get new clothes for her and my sister, and I would play for hours with her. We never knew about toys."
- Maxine Vargo, age 80, Akron

"As children, we created our own toys. With hollyhocks, we made colorful dolls using discarded Campfire marshmallow boxes and round cardboard lids from quart milk bottles. We constructed a wagon for our hollyhock dolls. These were all for free. We invented other pasttime activities. Our imaginations went wild. We rode bikes for transportation, or just walked. We got exercise and didn't know it was healthy. No TV, no computers or cell phones; we played outdoors and got our vitamin C and D. In winter, we froze, had chapped hands and legs, red noses and wet and soggy clothes, but we still grabbed a sled. The snow fell and we headed for the nearest hill. We took ice skates and tested the ice on the city park pond. We gathered around a pot-belly stove to dry and had hot chocolate to warm us. "
- June A. Young, age 84, Worthington

"I remember that, every Saturday morning, we went up to market and mother bought food and Dad took us to the 10-cent store to look around while mom shopped. When Mom was through, we put the food in the car and dad took us to Coonsie's on High St. for baked beans and hot dogs. Then, we went to the Southern Theater to see a movie. This was the extent of our wonderful weekend. Sunday, we went to Sunday School at our church, Thurman Avenue Methodist Church, where I still attend when I am able."
- Dorothy Zubovich, age 85, Columbus

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Rural v. City Life

"Living on a farm had its advantages during the Depression. They always had food. In the city during the Depression, businesses were closed, factories were closed. In some cases the only clothes people had were on their backs. I guess that is the difference between being poor and being in a Depression."
- Lila Baer, age 89, Dayton

"Grandpa grew up on a farm in New Washington, Ohio. During the Depression, the farm was all he had. In order to save their farm, his father became a bootlegger. 'We had no money at all,' Grandpa told me. 'I only had two pairs of shoes and one pair of pants. I didn't even realize I was poor because everyone else was, too.' Along with no money, they had no electricity, toilets or running water. Although they didn't have any of those things, they did have plenty of food. The farmers were better off than the people who lived in town because they hunted and had their own food right there on their land."
- Nicole Boggs, 10th Grader at Madison Comprehensive H.S., about her grandfather, Linus Bishop, age 86, Mansfield

"Dad worked doubles to save for the privilege to build his four-room, red brick home across the street from where he worked. It was a two-story house across the street from the Niles Firebrick Company. There were two bedrooms, one large (it housed my six brothers), the other for the five girls (we climbed twenty steps to get there), a large bedroom for Mom and Dad and a small living room. The basement was the kitchen, and had one bathroom with a shower, furnace, stove and a fruit, vegetable and wine cellar."
- Rachel Clara Patrone Boyd, age 78, Niles

"Mom and others who lived through the Great Depression will confirm that those who lived on farms probably had life a little easier, since they could grow much of their own food. But folks living in town found ways to make do as well. Mom went to live with (and help out) a British couple, the husband of which was her father's boss at the paper company. Mom's sister went to live with and help out another couple. Mom writes that she still remembers how homesick she was, even though the British couple were kind to her."
- Stephanie A. Burke, about her mother, Mildred Burk, age 88, Middletown

"As I talk with same-age friends, many of them who had an easier financial time than our family seem to regard that era as more 'fun' than I did. I've also heard stories of whole neighborhoods in rural areas or towns that banded together to survive. That did not happen in the city. There, each family was a unit by itself, sometimes helped by kind-hearted friends."
- Margaret B. Carver, age 91, Cortland

"Dad and Mom had a truck garden, which means you plant more than what you need and sell the rest. We all worked like horses, planting, weeding, cultivating, picking, cleaning, and putting everything into boxes or baskets to take to the market. Dad went to the farmers' market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. Sometimes, I went along and helped make change and tend our booth. Some of those women still are fresh in my minds: they were so picky and would try to talk Dad into selling for less than the price we had posted on each item. With all the work involved to get those vegetables from the seed to the market, that is when I decided I would never live on a farm when I grew up, and I never have. No one appreciates it unless you have done it."
- Donna Jean Donovan, age 83, Massillon

"During this time, my mom and dad took in her brother, his wife and three kids, which they later regretted. Her brother's wife would sleep in while my mom fed all of us breakfast and got us ready for the day. She made three big hot meals a day, as farmers' wives did then. When my aunt finally got up, she dressed all up in her black dress, big black hat and high heeled shoes. They would go to downtown Columbus on the street car and spend the work day while mom took care of their kids. Their kids fought with us and pushed us off the porch swing. My mom told us not to fight with them. One day, my aunt and uncle came home from downtown. She brought her kids a big red delicious apple for each one, none for us. Another day, the boy started to fight me and I hauled off and gave him one big fist on the mouth; the blood spurted and he never bothered us again. They finally left. She inherited thousands of dollars from a relative. They moved to the richest neighborhood in Columbus. She completely furnished the house with the best and had a maid. He took a job at the Statehouse in Columbus as a bookkeeper. They never once offered to repay us for our caring about them. At one time, my mother wanted to put them out, but my dad said they had no place to go. I guess this really taught them a lesson."
- Evelyn Eckert, age 90, Crestline

"I lived on a farm and we hardly knew there was a depression. We weren't rich, but my father was a good provider. We butchered beef and hogs in the wintertime. We had 11 people living in our house. We had chickens, so we had our own eggs. We milked cows, so we had our own milk. We sold the cream because we separated the milk for the cream."
- Helen Haney, age 83, Fostoria

"Jo and Helen were two of 11 siblings, born in Liberty Center, Ohio. Their family had an 80-acre farm. They raised all kinds of vegetables and had a variety of animals on the farm, ranging from cows, pigs, geese, ducks, pigeons, rabbits and about 1,000 chickens that were bought as chicks every year. They remember getting the baby chicks by mail."
- Rick Prentice about Jo Herr, age 90, and her sister, Helen, Grand Rapids

"My maternal grandparents' 60-acre farm just outside Painesville city limits was in jeopardy of foreclosure. My parents and grandparents pooled their resources to pay that mortgage bill, and we moved to the farm. The farm had no electricity at that time, my grandparents lit their house with kerosene lamps. There was no city water; several wells and a cistern supplied water, but no running water. That also necessitated having an outhouse. The farmhouse was heated by a wood-burning, potbelly stove in the living room. Cooking was done over a wood-burning kitchen range. We formerly city folks had the feeling of pioneering on grandpa's farm. We learned that farm work is rewarding and belly-filling, but also hard work. Electricity was connected in 1931, and city water was piped in 1950. Survival and thriving, fruitful, loving, giving lives proved that the Depression years made us stronger and more compassionate toward others."
- Marjorie Hurst, age 85, Painesville

"Living on a farm provided advantages that other families did not have because we could provide for ourselves. We raised cows and pigs for butchering, and we made our own butter in a wooden churn. We also had horses to work the fields, where we raised a variety of crops. Although we raised alfalfa, corn and wheat, we learned that we could earn the best profit by raising tobacco. We had a sufficient supply of fruits and vegetables that we raised and harvested, including strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, melons and every vegetable imaginable. In order to have an abundant supply of food yearlong, we canned potatoes, apples, pears, cabbage and some meats, which we stored in the dirt cellar. We also prepared and canned sauerkraut, applesauce and pickles. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, were kept in the bedroom under layers of newspapers."
- Evelyn Brewer Neff Mitrione, age 86, Pikerington

"Mother taught me to quilt. We made quilts from scraps of material left over from dresses. Mother would convert an old dress into an apron, which she wore for her everyday chores. Once every summer, I would spend some time with my aunt and uncle who lived in the city. Aunt Mary let me use her electric sewing machine - a real treat since Mom had a treadle machine."
- Helen Oliver, age 83, Poland

"Life on a farm during Depression days was like living on an island today: no close neighbors, town five miles away and the only social times were Friday nights when everyone went to town to buy groceries, or Sundays, church day. The rest of the time was spent tending crops, the chickens, hogs, cows, horses and housekeeping."
- Deskey Posey, age 82, Chillicothe

"I always felt so sorry for the people who lived in town. They didn't have access to the opportunities to care for themselves like we did. We could either provide for most any need or decide it wasn't a real need."
- Delcie Pound, age 92, Medina

"We lived as the Amish do today. Very basic and simple and as a community. Our neighbors helped each other in times of trouble or need. All would pitch in to thresh, fill silo, butcher or help in emergencies. The people had gardens behind most of their homes, which needed plowed up and worked down for planting. We would load the horse plow and harrow and marking out plow in a box wagon and plow many each spring. Gardens were everywhere in our nearby town. All farmers had them too. There also were potato patches, corn patches, etc."
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"The effects of the stock market crash in 1929 reached rural areas soon: poor markets, general decline in factories, fewer markets, people without jobs and with no income. Some families in cities lost a job but went to the home of relatives in the country. They had food and shelter, and worked on the farm without pay. This made a strain on family living, but as soon as any kind of work became available, they moved out to available living quarters in the community."
- Viola Reed, age 95, Barnesville

"The Depression broke more than banks. It broke ambition and spirit and destroyed hope. I believe the affluent believed themselves hardest hit. They had money in the bank and it suddenly disappeared. They were reduced to living like the poor were already accustomed to. They were not prepared to face poverty. The small farmer was probably better off than most. Though devastated by falling prices for farm goods, many were still able to put food on the table."
- Harold Russell, age 85, Gratiot

"My mom was a school teacher and my dad was a WWI veteran and a farmer. Our family included my parents, my younger brother, me and my grandfather. We lived on a 285 acre farm and grew corn, wheat, hay and pasture. Our livestock included beef cattle, sheep, swine, poultry and a few milk cows. Our power was horses. My chores in wintertime included taking care of the horses. We usually had three or four head, and they had to be fed and watered each morning and evening. The well we used to water the horses was located near their barn and was also the source of our drinking water so I had to bring a three-gallon bucket of water to the house when I fed the horses."
- William M. Shaw, age 87, Sarahsville

"My father, a 1926 graduate of Heidelberg College in Tiffin Ohio, having had his job as chemist ended at Universal Oil in Chicago, had decided to relocate his family to the area of Ohio where he had grown to adulthood. To me, looking back, it seems a very risky undertaking. My mother, who had lived her entire life in Chicago with no knowledge of farm life, was leaving her mother and siblings behind heading to an unknown 17-acre chicken and fruit farm with four small children ages 10 months to seven years. My dad, having no occupation other than attempting to begin a small truck farm, had purchased the farm with no indoor plumbing and only a limited amount of Delco-generated electricity. Unfortunately I will never know if my parents were in complete agreement concerning that decision to move to Ohio."
- Doris C. Stahl, age 77, Sebring

"The Great Depression and me; I confess it took a while to realize and to feel the impact. From one's perspective as a farm person, it was just more of the same. Money had always been a scarce commodity. Stock to us farm folk meant four-legged bovines, not paper certificates denoting ownership in companies. Owning one's land was a goal feverishly sought after and, once gained, would be its own reward. I married my high school sweetheart in 1935. We were naïve, but eager to try our wings. Walter was employed by his uncle at Cappel Furniture in Springfield, where we sat up housekeeping. This industry-based town was deep in the throes of hard times. We were not prepared for the difference in lifestyle. In the heat of summer, I longed for the cool shade provided by the maples around our house, and missed the goodies that came from the country garden. We managed to keep our heads above water; we were accustomed to living frugally. Stretching our meager income ($15.00 per week) required ingenuity many times, but we hung in there. Fortunately, no health problems existed and we never tired of cornbread and beans and fried mush - good ole country fare."
- Willa B. Stanforth, age 93, Hillsboro

"After school had ended, we were all assigned farm chores, starting in May with strawberries, then early cherries, raspberries, blackberries and huckleberries. If we were not picking the various fruits, it was time to finish planting the huge garden - planting enough potatoes to keep us over winter and spring. After the planting was done, it was time to start putting up hay. After the haying was done, then it was time to help with wheat and oats. Dad had a binder pulled by the team of horses, but we had to stack the sheaves that the binder made. When the grain had dried well, there was a threshing. Neighbors came and helped. We girls and mother had to fix a huge meal for the men."
- Beva Stonebreaker, age 89, Cadiz

"Growing up on a farm during a Depression had some advantages. We had lots of exercise and we ate. We ate because we grew it. In fact, if we didn't grow it, we didn't eat it. Somehow, Mom fed us, clothed us and kept us moderately clean. Canning and drying fruits and vegetables went on all summer and turned into a frenzy in the fall."
- George K. Weimer, Jr., age 77, Sebring

"I remember how scared my sister and I were when our Daddy drove down the lane to the farm in Millersport, Ohio, 1929, the beginning of the 'Depression years.' Being city kids, we were afraid of everything on the farm: the dogs running and barking, the chickens scattering wildly on long, skinny legs, horses, cows, pigs, everything. We were supposed to stay with our Aunt Ida Mae Bright and her family for three weeks. Little did we know it would be for three years."
- Ada Goss Weygandt, age 86, Grove City

"I knew we were far better off than those who lived in the cities. Many people there had to depend on the bread lines for survival. Although food was never a problem with us, finding money to pay for doctor bills, utilities and clothing was a never-ending quest. With seven kids, it was accept hand me downs or go bareback."
- Leon White, age 89, Columbiana

"Saturday was the one day stores stayed open late (after 6 p.m). The country folks could come to town to shop and visit. Just about the whole town turned out. Those who had a car or horse and buggy would arrive after an early supper. They claimed a parking spot for the whole evening (no parking meters). The best spot was as close to the center of the businesses. The farmers would make their purchases, store them in the car and then visit with other parked near by. They usually were the first to leave; they had chores to do and early Sunday rising. Others would sit all evening gossiping with friends and watching the people walk by. The gals walked arm-in-arm, passing the boys sitting on car fenders watching the girls. The boys made remarks and the girls giggled. Sometimes, they paired off on their way home. When the local theater let out, the crowd started to thin out and the movement of traffic up and down the street dwindled. By midnight, the town was put to bed."
- June A. Young, age 84, Worthington

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Public Assistance and Government Relief

"When my brother, Earl, was about 16 years old, he participated in the C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps), a government-sponsored, make-work program for young men during the Depression. He and a friend went to Idaho to work; tasks involved building roads, bridges and fire towers, doing erosion control work and planting trees. They were fed by the C.C.C. and paid approximately $30 per month for their services."
- Betty Banta, age 80, Columbus

"I remember the soup lines. No work or money was available in those days. We grew all our vegetables and killed our chickens and beef. When we went to the soup lines, we got a pail of broth, came home and put our fresh vegetables in the pot. We had stamps to get sugar and flour. We also got cheese and butter."
- Margaret O. Brawley, age 86, Youngstown

"Yes, we went to school many times hungry. Dad would never accept charity. My brother went to White Cross Hospital one day asking for food. When they got ready to fix him a plate, he said 'It's not for me. It's for my family.' When they investigated, they saw no food or coal and sent bags of groceries and loads of coal to the house. Dad was boiling mad when he got home and saw this. About that time, the Salvation Army sergeant drove up and gave Dad some money. He said 'I don't take charity.' The sergeant replied 'This is not charity. It's a gift.' Dad accepted, and we were in church every Sunday. Later, he saved enough money to give the church a station wagon for their use."
- Sally Carrico-Baum, age 75, Columbus

"I remember Franklin D. Roosevelt being elected president. Around that time, the government started several work programs. One of them was called P.W.A., meaning Public Works Administration. My husband took this work and traveled from home, painting buildings with a crew of men. There were other crews of men who traveled buildings and bridges."
- Josephine DiBell, age 103, Cortland

"Finally, (Dad) was hired as a carpenter by the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) at $70 a month in 1937. Shortly afterward, the bank informed us that our house would be repossessed because of non-payment of the mortgage. Dad found a suitable duplex for sale in the neighborhood, and my aunt sent us a thousand dollars for a down-payment. When he approached the HOLC (Home Owners' Loan Corporation) for a mortgage, however, Dad was denied a loan because his house had been foreclosed. So we were in a catch-22: we needed a house because our house was being foreclosed, but we couldn't get a house because our house was foreclosed. So I, aged 17 at that time, wrote a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt, the President's wife, explaining our dilemma. We were pleasantly surprised when the HOLC wrote us (we couldn't afford a telephone) asking my father to come in to apply for a loan."
- Jean Elsner, age 89, South Euclid

"I had several friends whose families were on welfare. That department was operated by two people. Their assistance amounted to a bag of potatoes, flour, corn meal, eggs, bread, etc. They were happy for that. "
- Millie Gavitt, age 91, Fremont

"My brother graduated in 1931, when jobs were impossible to find. We heard about C.C.C. for young men. You had to be a welfare recipient to go there. My parents had always supported their family by hard work and making every penny count. However, my dad applied for welfare, and my brother was accepted. I think he got the great sum of $30 a month, most of which was sent home to his family. He learned to type and was able to get a job in Washington, D.C."
- Mary Elizabeth Stillwagon Glass, age 88, Cambridge

"Around that time, the government formed the W.P.A., putting people to work building outhouses, roads and bridges, mowing yards, and doing anything that was needed. The C.C.C. camp for younger men was formed, teaching them a career. But you did need to work to receive payment - no work no pay. In retrospect, people helped people. Government did not pay grandparents for babysitting, nor family for nursing care, nor stimulus, nor food banks. Families relied on families."
- Louis Hughes, age 85, Marion

"Dad said our worst time was when he had to apply for relief assistance. We had moved to Cresceus Heights on Navarre Ave., in east Toledo. We raised chicken and made a garden. We were supplied with such necessities as flour, corn meal, dried fruit, sugar, canned milk and other things. Mom baked bread, made jelly and prepared food for winter. At times, some folks would hop the slow-moving coal trains nearby and throw off coal. People would fill their sacks to fuel the potbelly stoves that heated our homes."
- Ruth Jacquillard, age 83, Millbury

"There were some that used the government programs such as C.C.C., W.P.A. and P.W.A., but my father was not in favor of that. We traded produce with some stores for clothing and sometimes for shoes, but my father was able to make shoes from the leather from hides that he processed himself."
- Myron Johnson, Barnesville

"My Dad was a skilled tradesman and a builder, and was out of work starting in the fall of 1929. There was no unemployment insurance or other aid available. All savings, including my $34 college fund, were used completely. Even the furniture was disassembled searching for long-lost coins. Excellent character and good credit reputation provided coal and food until spring of 1930. Finally, city relief (a bitter experience for proud parents) gave us basic food. A two-week supply included four pounds of navy beans and three pounds of green peas. With these ingredients, we had soup made without meat five nights a week, every week. We were given enough corn meal and oatmeal, which we had for breakfast. Our brown bag lunches were peanut butter sandwiches. We had plenty of bread and milk for a healthy, yet boring diet."
- Bernard L. Kasten, age 90, Lucas

"I was determined I would never be so poor that I had to make a sale to buy lunch, so I started saving a few dollars a week. Many people had lost trust in banks, so a savings account program, called Postal Savings, was started through the post office. As people began to learn more about FDIC, and no bank had closed for a couple of years, money started to return to the bank and eventually Postal Savings was dropped in the 1940s."
- John Lamb, via e-mail

"In 1932, FDR was elected President and, even though he wasn't inaugurated until March of 1933, he and his Cabinet were hard at work devising plans for the Recovery that he had promised. When he took office, they were ready to start immediately. My dad had been meeting his mortgage payments but was worried about the banking situations, and when FDR closed the banks, he immediately began to investigate how best to save our home. President Roosevelt had a list of plans ready and we were bombarded with Initials for each of them: F.H.A., W.P.A., P.W.A., C.C.C., etc. Dad was able to arrange for a new mortgage with F.H.A. and all was well."
- Mildred Malare, age 91, Toledo

"The W.P.A. worked on the road. They also helped to build the new school that I graduated from in 1938. Some people looked down on the W.P.A. workers and derided them by saying they leaned on their shovels and that W.P.A. stood for 'We Piddle Away.' The W.P.A. families were 'on relief.' The government gave commodities to them. Once a week, a truck delivered the foodstuff to the town and the country people walked there and got it. It was just one thing; sometimes it was cheese, sometimes it was oranges. Once, it was grapefruit; those poor people had never seen a grapefruit before. I heard that one woman said she tried cooking it every way she knew how and it never was fit to eat."
- Beulah Milbern, age 88, Monroe

"My Father worked for H.I. Spicker Company when he was laid off as a Traffic Manager. There was little construction at the time and he was forced to 'go on relief.' My Father walked from home and rode the street car to get food on Dorr St., near Detroit Ave. My sister, Virginia, and I would meet him at Lawnview and Dorr with our wagon. The three of us would walk back home. One time, my father borrowed my Grandfather's old Ford to get the groceries. The people handing out the food, questioned him regarding him having a car. There were five children at that time, plus Mother and Father. My mother made delicious meals from the food given to us. Believe me, we had little meat, no shrimp or fancy food. We didn't get to buy with stamps, we ate what we were given."
- Margaret Brazzil Perkins, age 95, Toledo

"Living in a small town during the Great Depression meant we had no bread lines and no soup kitchens that were to be found in larger metropolitan areas. But there was an effect, nonetheless. The most important word at the time was PRIDE. People did not want their neighbors to know that they were in need, they wanted to continue to be self sufficient. They did not want to be seen going to the commissary to collect a few cans of white label meats or fruits. All they wanted was a job and an opportunity to make a living and support their families."
- Bob Reichard, age 86, Willoughby

"Through the W.P.A., aid from veterans organizations and community gardens provided by the city, we survived. No one griped, other than an occasional 'that S.O.B. Hoover' from my mother. I do remember my father coming home from his W.P.A. job one wintry morning, his ears twice their normal size from frost bite."
- Tony Rugare, age 83, Highland Heights

"My father lined up for the free food line on Wednesday, and it was a three-pound can of beef, butter and dry beans, and cheese. Our grocery store (Shafts), where you put the bill 'on the book' until you had enough to pay, is still here."
- Blossom Schmoll, age 98, Berea

"I recall the fireside chats in which President Roosevelt talked to the American people and offered reassurance during those difficult times. In order to put men back to work, much was accomplished in our town through the federal W.P.A. - a list of the projects that I can see today yet: two new concrete bridges, two state routes in the city, a new modern sports stadium and a new combined city hall, police and fire station. Another example of the works projects was the 'turning of the bricks' on a few of our residential brick streets. Over many years prior, the bricks became somewhat rounded, similar to the appearance of cobblestoned streets, as a result of years of wear from horse-drawn buggies, wagons, etc. Large numbers of jobless men would be hired to turn the bricks 180 degrees, which would then reveal the reverse, flat side of the brick Another works project that was created during FDR's first and second terms in office: young men joined the C.C.C., a works project that my brother-in-law entered. His unit was involved in forestry and the work made men of them."
- Richard J. Steinmetz, age 78, Tiffin

"You must also remember we had no viable social programs in place back then, as we do today. My father died at age 76. He was in the hospital for about two weeks before he died. He worked all his life, six days a week, and kept his books and sent out bills on Sunday. Evenings often were spent bidding on jobs. He never applied for Social Security, which was then in place, neither did my mother, who died later. They were both Republicans and felt the government was on the wrong track... I did have one uncle who did not share my dad's view. He was called 'Red.' Was it his hair or his party affiliation?"
- Ferd Thoma, age 82, Newton Falls

"When things got really severe, Dad applied to the county for some allowance for food and for a short time, we were allowed $1 each per month for food necessities. When I was 15 years old, I dropped out of school for a year to work in a small grocery store. My earnings for a 60 hour week were $3, and my father saved it till, after three months, he could take it and buy a cow. At last we had milk for our porridge, cream for the wild strawberries we picked and butter on our hot homemade bread."
- Margaret Vail, age 86, Mansfield

"Since there were no other safety nets in those days (such as unemployment benefits, workmen's compensation, Social Security, etc.), we were 'on relief' for a time. It was sort of like food stamps: we could get bulk flour and some other staples. However, to receive relief, my father was told he was not allowed to drive his car. He agreed to this, but told the authorities that if his sons become sick, he would drive them to the doctor. (Can you imagine this happening today?)"
- Elmer Viertel, age 78, Canton

"The C.C.C. camp and W.P.A. were introduced then. Men and young boys were able to work through these programs. The W.P.A. men built our new High School football bleachers and the city park rest rooms. Many a boy just out of school joined the Navy not to see the world, but to relieve the family of feeding them."
- June A. Young, age 84, Worthington

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Transportation During the Depression

"I recall the love of the autos in 1932: Ford Model A with six cylinders, 1933, 1934 and 1936, V-8 Fords. Chryslers had trouble with their ignition. Ford was notorious for being hard to work on by mechanics. Chevrolet was very popular, competing with Ford in the 1930s. I never saw a tool made in any country but the U.S.A., except, once in a while, Germany or Sweden."
- Frank Chihocky, age 77, Amsterdam

"When you went to high school, you either rode the train or, later, we got a Model-T Ford to drive. It had to be cranked to start it. When we got to school, we had to drain out the water so it wouldn't freeze, and when we were ready to go home, we filled it with water again, cranked it and we were on our way home. Gasoline was eleven cents a gallon. If you were low on gas and you came to a big hill, you turned the car around and backed up the hill so that the gas would run forward and keep the motor running."
- Mary Cole, age 91, Cadiz

"My father, a carpenter, drove a team of horses, pulling a wagon to work. Before the Depression, he bought a new, crank model-T for $400.00. While very young, I learned to drive it in the fields. We took a trip to St. Louis, MO. Heated bricks around our feet kept us warm. My first year in high school, I was lucky. I was allowed to drive Dad's Model-T Ford into town, where school was located. In cold weather, the boys at school would crank the car for me. The second year, Dad couldn't afford the gas, so my niece drove her family's horse and buggy the 4 3/4 miles into town. After that year, I walked the 1 3/4 miles to Highway 50. If someone I knew drove by, I could ride with them. If not, I walked the remaining three miles, and did the same thing home going each day."
- Laverne Hillyer Fifer, age 92, Northwood

"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, The gas burned up when the motor ran. I learned something new that day."
- Mary Jane Grimes, age 87, Monroe

"I started first grade in a one-room school south of Bangs. We walked about a mile to camp school. Also here, Pop bought a 1931 Hudson limousine. It had wheel wells on the front fenders, jump seat in back of the front seat, and a luggage carrier on back. He paid $135 for it during the depth of the Depression. It got nine miles to a gallon. He planned and did haul feed from town."
- Wendell Litt, New Concord

"There was a two-car garage that went with this house, and each weekend my father and the man that lived upstairs from us would take the whole engine and everything under the hood of the car apart, just for something to do. They would take turns with each other's car and be covered with grease. If there was a problem with either of the cars, they would be fixed at home by these self-made mechanics."
- Marilyn Markle, age 79, North Royalton

"Many of our relatives, friends and neighbors didn't have a radio and they came to our house to hear the war news, prize fights or comedy shows. My dad was the only one for miles around who owned a car. People came and asked him to take them to the doctor, the train station, or wherever they needed to go. The road was just dirt. When it rained, cars got stuck in the mud. My dad got his tractor with cleats on the wheels and pulled them out."
- Beulah Milbern, age 88, Monroe

"Almost all of the field work was done by horses, such as plowing, planting, cultivation, harvest, etc. The only tractor was used just for belt work, such as buzz saws to cut firewood to length and a buzz folder to cut corn into short pieces for food and bedding. The tractor was also used for threshing and grinding chop for cows. If it got too hard for horses to plow in the fall, we would occasionally use the tractor. We had a buggy and sleigh to go to town, etc. Later, we got a Model-A Ford (1929) for some trips: going to the county seat to pay taxes, legal work and some shopping a couple times a year. Many times a year, we walked to town (1 1/4 miles) and carried home the groceries. The trips to town were far and few between, as it took money to buy our needs."
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"The railroad that served our community was narrow gage: only three feet between the rails compared to four foot eight and a half inches for a standard gage track. It was a small train, but it looked big to me. I remember riding the train very few times, but it was exciting. It was our link to the far away places. Service began in 1883 and continued until the late 1920s. The train system was known as the OR&W (Ohio River and Western) but it was better known as the BZ&C (bent, zigzagged and crooked). The train track ran from Bellaire on the Ohio River to Woodsfield, then Caldwell and on to Zanesville, a distance of 112 miles. My family only used the train in wintertime, when the roads were too muddy to travel in my dad's 1921 model-T Ford. My principal use of the railroad was to use the roadbed as a mud-free path to school in the wintertime. The train was a very slow method of transportation, not because it was not capable of high speed, but because it stopped at a station in every small community along the route. There also were flag stations located about a mile apart in the open country where you could flag the train to stop and pick you up."
- William M. Shaw, age 87, Sarahsville

"Our next-door neighbor (nice guy) had a 1933 Chevy that he would sell us for $35. I had just gotten a part-time job at the Royal Ridge Dairy, which was about six miles from where we lived - too far to walk. Mom couldn't take me after school, but I didn't have a driver's license. I had heard that Chief Akins would 'look the other way' if the 15-year-old drivers would keep their noses clean. Dad was a reasonable and understanding man, so he let me buy the car. Brother Joe and I went to work on it immediately, after all, he was going to be riding with me, even in the rumble seat, if he wanted to. We sanded and brush-painted the car black and the spoke wheels red. The running boards were a little weak, but somewhere we found some stainless steel panels, cleaned them up, cut them to size and glued and bolted them to the running boards. Did we have a 'spiffy' car! We used this car for work and for trips to 'Spike's' roller skating rink at State and Wallings Roads. Sister Rita rode with me inside the car. I never remembered who brother Joe had with him in the rumble seat - It was always that way: I had the car and its expenses and Joe had the girls... One afternoon, on the way up to the school in the truck, I was stopped by Chief Akins, Royalton's one-man police force. He just wanted to let me know that he knew that I did not have a driver's license. He said that this was all right as long as he never caught me speeding or screwing up with a car. I never broke his trust."
- Larry Taddie, age 82, Parma

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Finances, Money and Making Ends Meet

"Groceries were cheap, if you had money. Stamps were three cents. No food stamps, no government aid, no McDonald's, etc. And thank God, no credit cards."
- Wilma Blasiman, age 88, Lake Milton

"One other memory of that time was the money I had in the bank - and lost! At school, every Tuesday was 'bank day.' An arrangement with a neighboring bank provided a savings account for each participating student. With pennies and nickels and an occasional dime, I had accumulated a dollar or two - a fortune to me! When the bank closed, there went my fortune!"
- Elinor M. Brown, age 85, Napoleon

"We were all hard workers. When I was nine years old, Dad bought a grocery store, Smith's Family Market, at Goodale and Harrison. I would walk to school with my brother, Dick, then walk to the store to work bagging groceries or walking people home carrying their groceries. My brother and I would walk to houses asking people for pop bottles and newspapers. We would get a penny deposit for the bottles, then take the newspapers to the junk yard to sell. I saved all my money and opened a savings account at the bank. By the time I was 12 years old I had saved $108.00. Mom had nine children by then, and with times being hard, I had to buy my own clothes."
- Sally Carrico-Baum, age 75, Columbus

"The folks had just sold the annual crop of lambs and had received just enough money to pay the year's real estate tax. My mother and I went to West Mansfield to deposit that check in the Farmer's bank. We noticed in the lobby there were several well-dressed people transacting business. They took my mother's check as a deposit. The next day, President Roosevelt declared the 'bank holiday.' It was a long time in the future before the folks received their money. Those well dressed people of which I spoke were the fore-warned stockholders making a 'run' on the bank. The Farmers Bank never re-opened."
- George Clapsaddle, ag 85, East Liberty

"In the years just prior to the Depression, our school, Jones Elementary, had a program urging students to open a savings account at a local bank through the school. Both (my sister) Mary Jane and I opened accounts, with our grandmother giving each of us a quarter every other week to make a deposit. Then bang! The Depression hit and the bank closed its door - no money for us. Then, shortly after the Depression lifted, the bank reopened, and there was our money waiting for us."
- William Cox, age 85, Sylvania

"A good friend at our church owned a small grocery and he let us charge food. I thought every one had a $300 grocery tab. When he received any money, he gave Mother five or six peppermint sticks. She would break one in half and surprise my sister and me once a week when we finished with washing dishes."
- Evelyn Donohue, age 85, Columbus

"An average, good pay for those who worked was $1 a day. That was luxurious! Since we had income, we had an occasional treat: a bottle of Coke or Pepsi at five cents, a double dip ice cream cone for for five cents or a single dip for three... My family's biggest extravagance was buying a Sunday church dress for me in he late l93Os - a Shirley Temple dress for fifty cents. I surely was a little Wippersnapper and the talk of the neighborhood. Can you imagine the luxury of a new fifty-cent dress? We really never bought much else; we did without and we followed the policy of most people: If you didn't have cash to pay for it, you did without! And, we never complained, as we were so thankful for what we had."
- Audrey Dvorak, age 75, Gates Mills

"Eventually, my family got its own apartment. We moved very often, though, because landlords would give three months free rent. After the three months were up, we would stay a bit longer (probably without paying rent) until we had to move again to another apartment, where we would get free rent. We made a lot of friends that way."
- Adele Federman, Toledo

"We had no phone and no radio until I was 9 or 10 years old. My father was lucky to have a job in the guard unit of the Federal Reserve Bank, where he earned, I think, $8 a week. After rent, electricity and coal to heat our second floor apartment, there was little money left for food to feed himself, my mother, me and a steady stream of uncles, aunts and cousins who came from Pennsylvania to find work. It was a good thing I had so many older cousins, though, because 'Second-Hand Rose,' of the Fannie Brice song, had nothing on me. From crib to clothes, to shoes and toys, things were handed down to me, including squeaky corduroy knickers, which I hated."
- Lawrence Forbes, age 78, Cleveland

"My family moved from Pennsylvania to Newton Falls, Ohio, when a steel mill was opened there, and my father got a job (1924, I think). Things were going well and we bought a house with an acre of ground. Two more children were added to the family, making a total of seven children. When Wall Street collapsed, banks were closed, and the mill closed down. We were able to stay in our house because nobody had money to buy houses. As long as we paid the interest, we could live there... One time we had a chance to rent our house out for $15, and rent a vacant church parsonage for ourselves for $10. That gave the family $5 extra, which bought a lot of groceries. We lived there for two years and enjoyed it."
- Mary Elizabeth Stillwagon Glass, age 88, Cambridge

"The street car fare was 10 cents, movies 25 cents and stamps 2 cents. Wages were around $20 per week, tops."
- Era Harper, age 93, Bedford

"My parents and Grandparents had money in the Butler bank and, overnight, the banker closed the bank, packed his bags and left town. All of their money was gone, but they still owed all their bills. My mother had just used the cash that they had to buy a new $100 coat and a photo of her to hang on the wall. I remember her sitting and crying and holding her new coat and wishing for her money back."
- Phyllis Spohn Johnson, age 81, Butler

"My lovely young mother was made a widow on Christmas morning with two little girls. Our businessman father had left my mother well provided for with his life insurance. After his death, we moved to a large city where my mother deposited her insurance money and opened up safe deposit boxes in a bank. Months later came the stock market crash. Our bank closed their doors. They kept my mother's money and our safe deposit boxes, which contained our $20 gold pieces. They kept it all."
- Leonora Joyce, age 86, Powell

"My father held his job, although with several pay cuts, during those Depression years. We moved in 1930 from a four-room apartment to a five-room house that rented for $35 a month because the building association that held the mortgage could not find a buyer. In 1937, the house, in Covington, KY, was heavily damaged in the historic Ohio River flood and we were forced out for several months while repairs were made. After its refurbishing, the rent was raised to $37.50 Imagine fifty cents making a difference! We elected to show our disdain for the raise in rent, so we moved to a more favorable suburb and payed $42.50 in rent, this time for a six-room house. My parents were elated when their meager Christmas savings account was restored after the bank holiday President Roosevelt imposed. They were able to retrieve their $12.50 Christmas Savings account that many banks offered at 25 cents a week, but with little or no interest accumulating. The money quickly went to pay for a vacuum sweeper that was being bought 'on time,' also at 25 cents a week."
- Jack Klumpe, age 88, Monroe

"By late 1931, we began to see the Depression was real. Men were being laid off or only working a few days a month. People were unable to pay their rent or mortgage payment, which soon put the banks in trouble and, in 1932, the banks started to fail. Most of the small country banks and some of the larger banks went out of business, causing runs on the banks as people tried to get their money out - which, of course, made it worse. One Saturday in March, we had a nice warm afternoon and Dad sent me with the day's receipts in a night deposit bag to walk it up to the bank; I remember I was tired and loafed along the river bank before making the deposit. I might as well have thrown the money in the river because the bank - I believe it was the American Trust Company - never opened again. As I remember, they appointed a receiver to cash out the assets of the bank but they had so many loans on farms that were no longer worth the amount of the loan. Anyway, after a couple of years as receiver, the man spent two years in the Indiana State Prison. About this time, Dad had a $5,000 note that the interest and a small payment were to be made each year and the farm was the security on the note. I remember going to the bank receiver with Dad; he had saved the money for the payment, but it was in the closed bank. I heard the receiver tell Dad that he could not use the money in the bank as they had lost it. And he had to make the payment or they would take the farm on April 1. This was, of course, impossible as all the money they had was in the closed bank. So there was no longer a business or a home."
- John Lamb, via e-mail

"My Dad worked every day, and even though his wages were low, we managed to live within whatever he brought home and were not allowed to incur any indebtedness. Nothing was ever charged. If there wasn't cash to pay for something, we just lived without it. My Dad hated debt worse than anything else in life. His mortgage on the new house was about $4,000, and to him that was astronomical."
- Mildred Malare, age 91, Toledo

"I can show you the very spot where it happened - that breezy summer evening was different. We were eating supper and my father said, 'I think it's going to rain, we better go back to the field and try to get in one more load of hay.' Mama said, 'We'll stack the dishes.' After that she grabbed her hoe and went to the garden to weed around the tomato plants. A perfect night for me, I thought. I can play my favorite game; all I needed was my ball and an empty Mother's Oats Box. I liked to run, throw the ball up in the air and try to catch it in the container - and of course, YELL! It seemed like I was in a world all my own - just running and yelling in the breeze. After about three times going around the house, my mother yelled, 'Emily, you have to stop just playing and do something worthwhile. You don't realize it, but between sunrise and sunset we must earn $1 just to pay taxes.' She was crying and working at the same time. I thought: What happened? What did I do wrong? I didn't know why, but I do know I never enjoyed playing my game in the same way again. Doing nothing made me feel guilty. I was seven, and it was in 1932."
- Emily Marks, age 83, Ross County

"I was 10 years old and remember when the banks were closed. My mother did not receive a pay check for the rest of that year. However, the one grocery store let us have what we needed for food. We lived in an upstairs two-room apartment in an older couple's house. It was on the edge of town. He had several cows and a garden, and they gave us milk, vegetables and fruit. We lived there three years and probably paid little or no rent most of that time. I had started piano lessons previously and was able to practice in their cold living room, which was kept closed off so they didn't have to heat it. The fourth year we lived in this small town, we moved closer to the school but had nearly the same arrangement: two upstairs rooms and a small kitchen next to the owner's kitchen. That year I dusted the furniture in payment for piano lessons."
- Ruth L. McGinnis, age 86, Hilliard

"My dad was never out of work. He was an automobile mechanic in the small town two miles from where we lived. Sometimes he walked to work to save on gasoline. After the stock market crashed, he was leery of banks. He either carried his money on his person or left it at home. A young man who had served time in a reformatory and had been released was overheard to say he had seen a roll of bills on my dad. Dad was walking to and from work at that time, but when he heard what that boy said he started driving to work."
- Beulah Milbern, age 88, Monroe

"We had a fruit orchard and my mother had a large vegetable garden in back of the house. My older brothers would put fruit and vegetables in a pick-up truck and go into the city to sell them. However, when the Depression hit, you couldn't give it away. Also, noboby was buying the milk. My dad missed two house payments and lost everything he owned."
- Walterine Mize, age 85, Lorain

"A lot of farmers were losing their farms, as they bought when the price was high, and the payments were too much to make from the prices of produce. With the price of cattle and hogs around three or four cents per pound, there was little left after living out of their income. Banks were auctioning off the chattels of the foreclosed farms. A group got together and organized the area farmers to hold 'penny auctions.' They attended the auctions and would bid one or two cents for a tool, and everybody went along with it. It was frustrating for the banks, but they seemed to be the only ones who cared."
- Harry G. Moll, age 92, Wauseon

"One early evening in the heart of winter, my mother sent me to the corner grocery store with a one dollar bill to buy a loaf of bread and a quart of milk. With the dollar tucked inside my mitten I trudged through five to six inches of snow to the store, about a half-block away. The change probably amounted to 65 cents (I seem to remember that bread cost 14 cents and milk 20 cents). I clasped the change in my mitten, but not inside the mitten, as I had the dollar bill. At home, I set the bread and milk on the kitchen table, and plopped my mittened hand on the table to release the change--but nothing was there. You may infer the anguish of my mother from the fact that she and I spent at least the next hour on our hands and knees, sifting through the snow in a fruitless search for the change. I have no doubt that this experience established a fearful sense of frugality in me to the effect that I must never be in significant debt. More philosophically, that one must not live beyond one's means."
- William E. Norris, age 74, Columbus

"When I was 14 years old, our farm had to be sold. Dad went all over trying to borrow money to buy it, but no one had any to lend. If they had any, they lost it in the banks. We tried to rent, but could find nothing, so he had to sell all of his farm animals and machinery for a little of nothing and we moved to Genoa and rented a house. Dad only knew farming, so he couldn't get a job. He went to boilermakers school and took a course in that and finally got a job as boilermaker at United States Gypsum in Genoa."
- Evelyn Peloquin, age 89, Genoa

"My father lost his savings when President Roosevelt closed the banks for a week in 1933. My grandfather, who was either smart or lucky, bought Liberty Bonds during WWI and never lost a penny. He was a retired school teacher with a pension of $30 a month. He and my grandmother could live very well on that amount of money. We rented an 11-room house for $10 a month, so when people try to tell me that we are in a Depression, I tell them 'you don't know what the hell a Depression really is.'"
- Irmin Pfalzgraf, age 85, Massillon

"I was born in 1923 and was made aware that something was terribly wrong economically when I was at the tender age of 10. My very first recollection occurred in the fall of that year. I was on our front porch of our home, which was downtown in the little village where I grew up. It was raining and the street was crowded with men - men who were obviously worried, men who were terribly concerned. Included among those gathered on the street was my own father. There was a possible run on the bank; everybody was anxious to withdraw their monies while there was some still available. The result was a failure of the bank to open and a sizeable amount of money was lost by each depositor."
- Bob Reichard, age 86, Willoughby

"During the 30's, a penny was a small fortune. Whenever I was lucky enough to beg a penny from my mother, Barth's Confectionary had many choices. B-B Bats were two for a penny. Dum-Dum lollipops were two for a penny. Licorice cigarettes in a domino printed box were a penny. Wax lips or wax teeth were a penny. Very rarely did I have a nickel for a Clark Bar or O'Henry. There was no high-fashion branded clothing. We had one pair of shoes, worn until they were outgrown. Watches and toys were not 'collectibles.'"
- Esther G. Schwartz, age 77, Columbus

"My dad worked part time at Price Lumber. Mom raised chickens. As long as we paid the interest on our house, we could keep it. We had a Ford (1923?) for my dad to get to work in, but it was used only when really necessary. My father lost $500 when the Liberty Bank folded up. If he needed something as far as tools and such, he usually made it himself, often with help from a neighbor."
- Marian Seilheimer, age 89, Tiffin

"When there was no money for house payments, my mother went to the man they had purchased the house from. We had no telephone. He told her that he was 'carrying' other families and would carry ours. The grocery next door allowed us to charge what we needed, and any coins we found were put on the bill. One year, we did without a car until the price of the car license came down later in the year."
- Ann Shilling, age 80, Canton

"There was no sales tax, no payroll tax, no income tax and not even a Social Security deduction. The necessities of daily life were purchased at local 'Mom and Pop' stores (no supermarkets) and many of them would sell to their good customers on credit. If a customer did not pay, it was the store owner who had to absorb the loss... When funds ran out, government agencies resorted to issuing scrip. Scrip was a promise to pay issued by an agency like a school board to its employees and which would be accepted by some businesses in the hope that in some future time it would be redeemed for U. S. currency. In the meantime it would circulate like real cash. Not every business would accept it. Many businesses had to choose between accepting scrip or losing a sale."
- John W. Straka, Jr., age 91, Maple Heights

"My father owned quite a few rental properties. One of our tenants was a barber. Since he could not pay his rent, my dad would take us there and he would cut our hair in partial payment of his rent. Once, I remember, he came home very angry because the barber had offered rent money to my dad, and when my dad asked about back rent, the barber grabbed the money from his hand and said, 'Oh, you don't want the money.' It made my dad so mad he had them evicted - the only time I ever remember that happening, because he was quite generous in waiting for his money."
- Ferd Thoma, age 82, Newton Falls

"My grandpa, a stationary fireman, was crippled after a cinder in his shoe made its way into his foot and caused osteomylitis of the hip bone, leading to six major surgeries. He received $100 per month in workman's compensation. The State of Ohio paid grandma $25 per month for giving him in-home nursing care. That usually paid our rent. We lived on the west side in Franklinton and moved frequently. When grandma heard of a house in the area with cheaper rent, we were thankful for the opportunity and moved."
- Dolores L. Younger, age 79, Westerville

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Depression Era Clothing and Laundry

"I remember wearing ill-fitting shoes and putting cardboard in them to cover the holes in the soles. I also remember the beautiful clothes that my mom made by hand from feed sacks and odds and ends of material that my aunts gave us - we wore each piece proudly. Then, there was the weekly bath. We all bathed in the same water, youngest to oldest, in a large galvanized tub."
- Bonnie Brunner, age 75, Lorain

"Dad gave my sister and me our first store-bought coats when we were in high school. When it was time to purchase new shoes for school, Mom would have us stand on a piece of paper and draw around our foot before sending it off to the catalog's address. The shoes always fit."
- Ruth Maloney Cowgill, Marion

"I think my mother was the inventor of open-toed shoes. When I outgrew my Sunday black patent leather shoes, my mother cut the toes out. I can still remember the wet feet from the dew on the grass or the rain. A good supply of newspapers or lightweight cardboard cut to fit inside my shoes and a pair of dry socks took care of the problems. I knew I was lucky when dad bought new soles for fifty cents at Grant's 5- and 10-cent store and resoled my shoes on the metal shoe last. If the stitching came loose on the sole, a rubber band took care of the problem - we put it around the toe, stopping it from flapping as I walked."
- Mildred Redman Dieter, age 81, Youngstown

"My mother was a good seamstress and received hand-me-down clothes from relatives, which she took apart and made dresses for us girls and some item for my brother, but not much for herself... One of the big items that embarrassed me was getting holes in the soles of my shoes. When I played on the playground at school and my schoolmates saw the holes, they would razz me about them. It was bad enough to have high-top shoes you had to use a button hook to button them up. We had Mary Janes for Sunday, but we better not wear them to school! I had an Aunt that always gave us long, black, heavy stockings for Christmas. Oh, how I hated those stockings. Plus, we had to wear them with high top shoes. Mercy!"
- E. Marie Dornbrook, age 87, Parma Heights

"My grandmother made our clothes from remnants of fabric bought on sale or remodeled garments bought at the Salvation Army store. I had a new pair of shoes at the beginning of the school year and cheap sandals to play in. Who needed more for one pair of feet?"
- Manila Fellows, age 84, Youngstown

"We had a White treadle sewing machine and we made our own clothes. Calico was 10 cents a yard and rick-rack was the new trim. I had two dresses when I was a sophomore in high school. Dad patched and re-soled my shoes."
- Mary Alice Foster, age 89, Reynoldsburg

"We had a friend who worked in an office and handed down clothing, which mother made over for me. She was a good seamstress, so I was quite well dressed. I never had a store-bought dress until I was out of high school in 1935. I had a knit skirt, which I wore very frequently - and you know how those skirts got out of shape from sitting (rump sprung). Each morning, I would put the skirt on the ironing board with a damp cloth, and press it back into shape. Our transportation was mostly by foot. It was not unusual to have a hole in the sole of our shoes. You did not discard worn out shoes. You had them repaired with new soles and heels at the shoe repair store. Repair shops were popular and did a good business."
- Millie Gavitt, age 91, Fremont

"I remember my father coming in and saying the stock market crashed, but I had no idea what it meant. We didn't have much anyway. My shoes had holes in them and I remember getting some leather and nails and repairing them. My grandmother used to sell cream for 10 cents a quart and, when she saw my shoes, she saved enough from her cream sales to give me, so I went into Franklin and bought a pair of shoes for $1.00."
- Earl Gorsuch, age 88, Lebanon

"We walked to school 8-10 blocks, and wore long stockings in the winter. Our eyelashes would freeze, as would Mom's laundry which she hung on the clothesline. She had to heat water on the stove for laundry, and made soap out of fat and lye, but I never heard her complain about her work. However, she really appreciated her washer and dryer later in her life. Back when my mother graduated from high school, at age 16, she left her boyfriend, Kenneth, behind farming on the family farm and moved from Convoy, Ohio, to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to work in the knitting mills. While working, she bought herself a nice wardrobe. During the Depression she re-made that wardrobe into dresses, coats, jackets and hats for us three kids."
- Ruth Marilyn Isaacson, age 83, Germantown MD (formerly of Bowling Green)

"One winter, the soles of my shoes were worn through, and my feet were touching the snow. Swallowing his pride, my father went to a neighbor, Mr. Feldman, for advice. The two men walked to Woolworth's on Kinsman Road where, for a dime, they bought two pieces of leather that looked like shoe soles. Back at his house, Mr. Feldman taught my father how to fit the inner heel of the shoe over a chair post. Then he glued one piece of leather to each shoe, nailed it down around the edges and, with a sharp knife, cut the leather to fit the shoe. That's how I got (dryly) through the winter walking to and from Robert Fulton Elementary School."
- Mina Kulber, age 86, Lyndhurst

"I remember my sisters and I had one dress for school and one dress for Sunday School. My Mother washed and ironed those dresses all the time so we would always have a clean dress to wear. Our shoes had cardboard in them when the soles wore out. I always admired my Mother for toughing it out during those rough years. Her love and devotion of my sisters and me will never be forgotten."
- Louise Norling Maccioli, age 83, Louisville

"Our clothes were patched and our shoes half-soled. There were two pairs: one for every day and one for school and Sunday. Saturday night, we polished the better pair to wear to church. Today we would feel deprived, then we were privileged."
- Harry G. Moll, age 92, Wauseon

"In the Depression year of 1930, I was ten years old. A girl's coat came on the market under the name of 'Timmy Tuff.' A new coat for me that year was out of the question! On a visit to Aunt Phoebe, my mother noticed the dog sleeping on a discarded tan wool coat. She asked if she might have the coat and proceeded to take it apart, lining and all, and launder it. She made a 'Timmy Tuff' look-a-like coat for me. I proudly wore the coat. When someone complimented me on new coat, to my mother's chagrin, I innocently remarked, 'Yes, and Aunt Phoebe's dog used to sleep on it.' I am now 89 years old and still remember the coat!'"
- Doris L. Page, age 89, Trenton

"Mom made our pajamas or gowns from flannel and our underpants, bras and underslips from Sateen. My aunt worked in an office and she would give Mom her old clothes. Mom would make us dresses out of the good parts. I do not think my folks ever spent more than $2 for a pair of shoes, and sometimes we would have holes in the soles. Of course in the winter we had to wear galoshes. I remember wearing a coat for two years. Mom crocheted us hats and mittens."
- Evelyn Peloquin, age 89, Genoa

"Our family had a mantra, which was: 'Use it up, wear it out; Make it do, or do without.' We did this with everything. My mother and grandmother were seamstresses, and my mother made nearly all of my clothes, including suits and coats, throughout my college years. My after-school play clothes were frequently made from feed sacks, the patterned, cotton bags that contained the chicken feed my grandparents fed to their chickens. The cloth was durable, quite colorful and survived many washings. I never had to worry that I would find someone else wearing the same clothes I had! My grandmother went a bit farther. Ladies' clothes in those days had long, full skirts (no such things as slacks or pants for women). Once a dress was worn out, the still-good material would be made into a blouse. When the blouse was no longer wearable, it became an apron. When the apron finally was not useable, what was left became a dust rag. My great aunt and many of the women in the small town where they all lived were quilters, and every scrap of material left from the original garment was hand sewed into beautiful patchwork quilts, then quilted during the evening hours when the work of the day had been finished. These, of course, were our winter blankets."
- Mary Lou Pollak, age 78, Fairview Park

"Lye soap was made from leftover grease and lye. Some was shaved up and put in a copper wash boiler containing hot water and white clothes. A wooden stick was used to stir the clothes. The bleached clothes were then rinsed and hung on the clothesline. The clothesline was wound around a pulley at the top of a pole and then around a pulley on the back porch. The clothes were pinned on the bottom line and rolled out over the barnyard. Only in extreme circumstances did I get a pair of shoes. We went barefoot in the summer. When there was a hole in the bottom of the leather sole, I found a piece of cardboard to put in the shoe. When that wore through, I found another cardboard. From jumping rope at school, the sole came loose from the front of one pair. At every step the sole would fold back under, so I learned to step out and then down fast hoping to swing it to the toe of the shoe. Dad saw it and fixed it! 'Go get me the hog ringers!' So I went to school the next day with three hog rings in the toe of my shoe!"
- Deskey Posey, age 82, Chillicothe

"Mom used a wash tub and wash board to clean our clothes. We'd carry water and heat it on the stove. Later, she got a washer that turned a crank and an agitator stack down in the clothes and swished them back and forth. She got a wringer you turned to squeeze out soap and water. All clothes were dried with solar and wind power (clothesline)"
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"I remember when I got my first formal: it cost $25; it was beautiful, I thought. My mother and I were afraid to go home and tell Dad because it was unheard of to spend that much on a party dress or any dress."
- Pauline Robinson, age 84, Minerva

"When I was six or seven years old I saw a picture of a pair of red-topped knee boots in a magazine and fell in love with them. I am sure I told my parents I wanted those boots more than anything in the world. I got the boots and liked them very much and wore them in the house and outside for several days. Then the trouble began. Whenever it was wet and muddy outside, I was always the one who was asked to do the chores, such as bringing the milk cows from the pasture to the milking barn or to go to the well for a fresh bucket of drinking water. This was my first experience of 'be careful what you wish for, you may get it.'"
- William M. Shaw, age 87, Sarahsville

"We kids knew money was scarce, so we never asked. We just made do without complaint. The oldest got a new home sewn-dress or trousers, and then it was hand-me-downs on down the line. Once, my mother sewed me a new dress. I remember feeling like a new person as I set out for school. I still remember how crisp it felt and how new it smelled."
- Ann Shook, age 85, Akron

"Clothing ourselves was a different matter, especially for us girls. The men folk wore bib overalls, patched and re-patched. Socks were darned. Rips and tears mended. Shoes re-soled. We girls' underwear was made from bleached feed sacks; hose were ribbed cotton or lisle - later, rayon if it was affordable. Our dear Grandmother Lewis gave, on special days, lengths of material, which Sister, Marmo, an excellent seamstress, stitched into fashionable apparel. Also occasionally, a cousin who held a postal position in Norwood cleaned out her closet and sent outmoded dresses, etc., our way. These, Marmo re-styled and re-sized into very nice dresses and blouses."
- Willa B. Stanforth, age 93, Hillsboro

"I remember that my mother took down the white cotton curtains from the back windows of our house in order to make blouses for our school uniforms. She did not have enough spare cash to spend on either the blouses or the material to make them."
- Geraldine Stevens, age 85, Worthington

"Many girls wore panties and slips made from flour sacks. Some were lucky that theirs had a flower print on them. We wore our silk hose untill they were in tatters."
- Esther R. Sukosd, age 91, Carrollton

"Mom made our underwear, aprons, pinafores and dish towels out of flour sacks - all by hand, no sewing machine. I made my own sewing kit in 4-H and managed to create a pot holder, apron and blouse that I wore in our style show."
- Joy Thomas, age 80, Canfield

"I remember that we had many 'hand me down' clothes. One winter, I wore a boy's sheep-skin coat to school. Kids made fun about it, but it was nice and warm."
- Marie Vaughan, age 85, Bucyrus

"I was in the third grade when the Depression came. I remember it well. There were nine of us. I had no shoes, so my dad made a pair out of cardboard and glued it together. When we ran out of glue and had no money to buy more, we used rubber bands and a paste made with flour and water. When it rained, I was soaked. I had no umbrella, no rubbers and no raincoat, and stayed in school the whole day in wet clothes until I went home."
- Gladys Saba Wright, age 89, Richmond Heights

"Once grandma was given someone's old mouton coat, and she took it apart and made me a winter coat. Most or all of my clothes were made from friends' older children's clothes they had outgrown. If they were skirts, I just pinned up the waistbands or did whatever I had to to make them somewhat presentable."
- Dolores L. Younger, age 79, Westerville

"Being the middle daughter, during the Depression years especially, was not easy. I complained to Mother that Ruth got new clothes because she was the eldest. I had to wear her hand-me-downs, and Mimi got new clothes because mine were worn out. In her usual diplomatic way, Mother explained, 'Mina, dear, think of yourself and your sisters as a sandwich. They are only the crusts of bread, but you are all the good stuff in the middle!'"
- Mina Kulber, age 86, Lyndhurst

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Other Thoughts

"Everybody was stealing. If you were on the street car, the man sitting next to you had a gun and would stick you up, and nobody on the streetcar would know you were robbed. Our house was robbed when we went visiting. The neighbor never helped, everybody was for themselves. If they worked, they were blessed. The butcher picked your pocket and padded the bill. Lots of bathtub Gin was being made by neighbors."
- Walter Bednarz, Garfield Heights

"I was born Feb. 12, 1935, and, yes, I remember how tough it was then for me and my mom. Mom and Dad divorced in 1938. We lived in Edgewater Park slept under a tree. Police would bring us coffee and doughnuts. In 1943, I went to live with my dad; my mom could not support me any more."
- George Campbell, age 74, Cleveland

"Reliance upon our faith gave us hope and put into perspective what was happening. Our priorities had to be adjusted. No longer did my parents require me to take two street cars each Sunday to the church my grandfather had helped to found. I could now go to a nearby church, where many of my school friends attended and where there was an active program for the young people. The president of that group one time called us all together to ask what we could send to southern Ohio, where many suffered from a flood. Our treasury was meager, but our empathy was large!"
- Florence Field, age 91, Willoughby

"Dad planted a very large garden as well as beautiful flowers and lawn. He did this without any modern machinery, just a cultivator pushed by hand. I remember one year we all pitched in and planted a big field of potatoes, which became a staple food. As a reward, dad took us to Milton Lake for the rest of the day."
- Mary Elizabeth Stillwagon Glass, age 88, Cambridge

"Orders: 'Don't go past the pig sty.' Oh no? Don't tell a four year old adventurer, 'not,' because the first thing she'll do is find out why not. So, off she went when Grandma wasn't looking. She came upon a shack way out in the back acreage, where she saw a 'black' face for the first time! Girlie ran as fast as her legs would carry her! She couldn't scream and couldn't tell because she did what she was forbidden to do. Years later, now grown and investigating the sighting, as segregation died and integration was on the upsurge, she learned her precious Great Grandfather, 33 percent Mason and flag bearer for his group, had adopted the black boy, just as he had adopted her own father so long ago. It was the best-kept family secret when relatives came down from Cleveland, Ohio, or up from Cincinnati Ohio (on the 3-C highway)."
- Jan Heaton, age 73, Mansfield

"My parents were charter members of the Lutheran church in Bowling Green. They had hearts after God and they started tithing when my Dad made $90 a month. Our lives were always church-centered, and we served in many ways: church council, women of the church, choir, organist, choir director, Sunday school teacher and treasurer. My dad helped build a garage for the pastor's family and helped dig out a basement under the church."
- Ruth Marilyn Isaacson, age 83, Germantown MD (formerly of Bowling Green.

"And all through the night, and during the day, the shriek of train whistles was constantly heard. The belching stacks would spew dark smoke over the nearby neighborhoods as the trains passed through Columbus. It was smelly and, at times, so thick it hurt our eyes and made us choke. Housewives hurriedly gathered their clothes off the lines, lest they be spotted by the soot."
- Alex James, age 91, Columbus

"We didn't really feel the Depression for a few years, except the price of farm products we had to sell kept going down. Herbert Hoover, then president, was saying we would soon have a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, but somehow it got mixed up and many people ended up with a chicken in the garage."
- John Lamb, via e-mail

"The Depression lasted at our house from the time I was in the first grade until after high school. The start of school in September was a time of joy for me because it meant getting out of our house, where it seemed we never did anything but work. The Great Depression robbed me of my childhood. However, I learned work skills, which have maintained me through many lean times since. I can still come up with a meal from a sparse cupboard. I only ask please don't make me can pears, make grape jelly or eat spam."
- Donna Lehman, age 86, Eaton

"We didn't realize that not everyone lived as we did, and were happy children. But our mother must have had many bad days. One of the things I will never forget is when my mother was carrying a rope clothesline. I asked her what she was going to do with it. She answered, 'I'm going to hang myself.' I didn't sleep well that night. It was a horrible thing to say to a child, but I'm sure many adults felt that way much of the time."
- Ruth L. McGinnis, age 86, Hilliard

"Weddings always were held in the bride's home or church parsonage. No one could afford a church wedding. Funerals were held in the home of the deceased. A large, black wreath was hung by the front door."
- Helen Cook Railer, age 95, Burlington, IN (formerly of Greenfield)

"Living in an ethnic ghetto as a young boy, I really did not know how green the grass was on the other side of the fence. During the Depression, my diet did not change, my threadbare clothes did not change. I did not go hungry and all my basic needs were provided. Yes, my parents lost the house and my father lost his job. One thing he didn't lose was his spirit."
- Tony Rugare, age 83, Highland Heights

"Spelling contests were sometimes conducted to add a bit of variety to the learning process. Participants would line up across the front of the room and words would be presented to each student. If the word was spelled correctly, the student would hold their place in the line. If incorrect, the student would go to the bottom of the line. On one occasion, a seventh grade boy had been at the top of the line for several days and along came the word 'sugar.' The boy spelled it 'sugEr' and had to take his place at the bottom of the line. When the students returned to their desks, the boy who spelled the word correctly was sitting at the desk in front of the boy who had missed it. The failed speller must have felt very frustrated and embarrassed and did a very irrational act by pulling the hair of the boy who beat him. I earned and received my first and only whipping of my school career for this unthinkable act."
- William M. Shaw, age 87, Sarahsville

"Many banks were closing; people lost all their money. People would walk around with their pockets turned inside out, waving them and calling them the 'Hoover Flag,' as they blamed President Hoover for their ills."
- Esther R. Sukosd, age 91, Carrollton

"Each Sunday, my father would drive to Bellville to visit my aunt (his sister). I remember once seeing people out by the side of the road with all their household belongings. I asked my dad where they were going and he said they probably didn't know. These were people who were evicted."
- Ferd Thoma, age 82, Newton Falls

"I sing of the Great Depression: 'You made me what I am today...' and, I laughed while the tear drops fell. What a kaleidoscopic time to have been a kid! Days and nights were colored by events that shaped my life in spite of myself, as I hop-scotched through them, unaware that our family was the poorest, yet the richest we would ever be!"
- Joy Thomas, age 80, Canfield

"I can remember when we went to church one Sunday and my mom had about 300 young chickens about ready to lay eggs. When we came home, all of her chickens were gone and my mom cried for days. People would steal anything that they could. It was terrible in those days. My dad would get up at night and go out and shoot his 12-gauge shotgun to scare people away. We had a dog, but he barked all the time and we couldn't tell what he was barking at. My dad farmed with horses and he had to keep the barn locked at night. People would kill your cows and butcher them in the field if you didn't watch them carefully."
- Charles Warrick, age 81, Barnesville

"(My parents) waited three years to have me. When I was only months old, their home caught fire. Dad was working when the fire broke out. My mom and I were safe, outside. She was watching the conflagration, knowing her wedding dress and unpaid furnishings were literally going up in smoke. She could not stand any more and ran back into the house to retrieve my baby picture that was on the wall in the stairwell. Dad finally found us. He went back days later to search out silverware he had purchased for my mom as a wedding gift. The pieces were in ashes. He put them on a glass tray and returned to our temporary home."
- Mary Ann Wasserman, age 78, Toledo

"One time when I was in fourth grade, or maybe fifth, I was chosen 'May Queen' to preside over May Day at Avondale Elementary School (it's still there). I knew there was no way mom and grandma could afford a costume and flower crown, so I DIDN'T TELL THEM. Somehow mother found out and stayed up all night sewing a simple dress with a cardboard bodice covered with fabric and laced up the front. Bless her for that!"
- Dolores L. Younger, age 79, Westerville

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