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Tag Archives: life during the great depression


Today, I made six jars of Plum Jelly Sauce from a batch of plums my grandchildren picked from their tree.
Yesterday, my four year old Prince William came and picked his first ripe tomato.  Then two small yellow squash, he bagged and took home for dinner.  His mom called last night and said he ate both for his dinner.  He got on the phone so excited about eating something for dinner that he had planted, watered and nutured from a seed.
I absolutely love canning, freezing and preserving food.  Theres a knack to doing it, and a lot of work involved.  When canning anything, one must be so careful to have everything sterilized.  Jars, lids, rings, and all utensils.  But making your own pickles, relish, jams and jellies is so rewarding and tasty.   I make watermelon rind pickles and green tomato pickles.  I have a neighbor who grows figs, and I buy them from her to make fig preserves.
Now that summer is here and many have gardens or access to a farmers market, it’s a good time to consider canning.  One can can most vegetables, but actually need a pressure cooker, to reach the degree of heat necessary to prevent botulism.  The one vegetable not necessary to cook in pressure canner is tomatoes. So long as everything is completely sterilized.
Aside from canning, one can prepare food for their freezer.  But keep in mind most everything must be precooked  and cooled before bagging for the freezer.  Just make sure you squeeze out all the air from your freezer bags.
The one drawback with freezing is, if the eletricity goes off for any length of time, you might lose your harvest.  I recall one year having my freezer on a screened-in porch, and there was an electrical shortage. I was unaware until everything had defrosted and ruined.
As most of my readers know, I grew up in the Great Depression, watching my mother can and preserve food.  Back then, she would use large sheets of tin, to place the slices of peaches and apples on to dry in the sun.  Once dried they were placed in cotton bags for storage.  No zip-lock bags back then.
I thought my mother could do any and everything.  She knew how to make some use from just about everything.  She took newspapers and cut out her own patterns for making clothes.  Then took old clothes and cut up to sew together for quilts.  The lining of the quilts were made from unbleached muslin, obtained from local cotton mills, and dyed with red clay or black walnut hulls.
Years later when I visited her she was as frugal and creative as ever.  She and my father had moved to a little town called Flowery Branch.  There was an old abandoned well in the rear of the property, she dumped garbage in along with lime on top.  Some things she burned in the rear property.  Never paid for garbage pick-up.
She was into her seventies working at a local hospital.  One day I visited her and saw this contraption rigged up in a shade tree in the back of the house. The tree was filled with hanging baskets of beautiful flowers.  I examined more closely and realized she had taken the disposable intravenous bags from the hospital, washed them and hung them in the shade tree, with the plastic tube inserted into the hanging baskets, so the water slowly dripped into the plants, keeping them moist and healthy.
I told her the University of Georgia should send their enviromental students to visit her to learn ways to preserve the enviroment, re-cycle, with little or no cost.
Many stories have been written about the ways and means of frugality, used by those living in the Great Depression.  Every nail, piece of string, newspaper, scrap metal, and wood was used for something.  Much I learned from those days was by observation and listening.  I was not allowed to cook, for fear I might waste something.  Not allowed to wash dishes for fear I might break something.  But I did have chores, like drawing water and bringing wood in for the fireplace, or gathering clothes from the clothes line.  I learned how to cook and can food simply from watching my mother.
I wanted to learn how to milk a cow and tried it once.  The cow swished her tail across my face and I ran to the house screaming and never tried it again.  It was later on during the sixties, after moving to the country, with a determination to learn how to be self-sufficient to survive, I learned how to garden, cook, can, freeze food, gather wood, make a living and survive.  It’s a trusim, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  In retrospect, I’m very grateful for the life and experiences growing up on a farm in the Great Depression.
Not to mention the added joy I experience today, showing these things to my grandchildren.  When Prince William called last night, so happy eating the squash and tomato he helped grow, I thought to myself,–It doesn’t get any better than this!
Living during a time when almost daily we hear stories on the news about young children beating each other up, on drugs, exposing their bodies on the internet, and stealing, one must ask how does this happen?  Obviously, much blame can be placed on latch-key lifestyles, where there’s little adult supervision.  Parents not providing things of interest to do, nor providing directional ideas of creativity to occupy young minds. Therefore many wind up in institutions for rehabilitation. To be taught self-responsibility and self-control.  I personally feel a great deal of empathy for this generation of children. Things can and should be so different for them.
Confucious says,  “If your plans are for one year, plant rice.  If your plans are for ten years, plant trees.  If your plans are for 100 years, educate.”  And what is education? Simply an acquisition of knowledge, no matter where you receive it.
Just ME
Posted in Anne's Journey, Freedom, history | Also tagged , , | 1 Comment

Royalty And Movie Stars In The Great Depression (Issue 7)

Growing up in the Depression years, money was scarce as hens’ teeth.
There was a little store in the school building. My parents would give me a bag of eggs to take to school to swap for candy from the little school store. The problem was that I had to walk almost a mile to catch the bus and many times, I would fall down and break the eggs. I caught the bus at my grandparents’ house, and would go to my grandmother crying after breaking the eggs and she would replace them.
As I approached my senior year, my father realized I would need money for graduation to pay for things like invitations, my cap and gown, and my senior trip. He came up with the idea of giving me a white faced calf to raise which I could then sell for graduation expenses. Despite the fact I grew up on a farm, I was not really an animal person. I never learned how to milk a cow or ride a horse, and would usually only go around the animals when they were behind the barn gates. However, I knew I needed to take care of that calf if I expected to graduate.  I fed it with a bottle at first, then learned how to take care of it, giving it water and food as it grew. I sold that calf to my father 3 times before graduation.
The one thing I loved was butterflies. I had a history teacher that told the most interesting stories about his fetish for catching butterflies. In the summer, he would travel to the Rocky Mountains to look for rare specimens of butterflies, then relate his stories in class. As a result, I chased butterflies and would search for the cocoons before they hatched.
We lived in a farm house with a long hallway that separated the rooms. One of the rooms across the hall was rarely used and it had a chest of drawers in it that my mother seldom opened. I would sneak in that room and store my cocoons in the drawers. The room was not heated and around Christmas time, she would bake cakes and store them in the cold room in the chest of drawers for a few days. Once she opened a drawer and a covey of butterflies came flying out and I heard her scream.
I would mount the butterflies in a collection and every time I hear any reference to the metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly, I think of that drawer full of cocoons.
In the backyard was a very large walnut tree. My mother would speak of walnut as being the aristocrat of wood. She even said that one day we’d plan on selling it for the walnut lumber, that way, we’d have lots of money. It never happened of course, but as a child, I thought that walnut tree was our ticket to wealth and riches.
I read everything I could get my hands on, especially newspapers, and dreamed of one day leaving the farm. Reading about the lives of movie stars and the royal family and their lifestyle held such fascination for me. I recall reading about Edward abdicating the throne and about his romance with Wally Simpson. We all gathered around the radio to hear his abdication speech. I thought about that ‘other’ great and wonderful world out there I looked forward to exploring one day. Everything about royalty held such a fascination for me.
Later on, after marrying and moving to Florida, I went to a dentist in West Palm Beach. When I walked out of the dentist into the parking lot , there was Wally Simpson, the wife of the Prince of Wales, getting into a car. It was a highlight of my life to lay eyes on royalty.
Little did I realize one day I would be living in Japan and playing bridge at the Tokyo Press club, with a member of royalty as my partner in the Prince Takamatsu Cup Tournament. It had only been about 5 years before that, as I understood it, that any of the royal family there ventured out from the mote walls. I still have the news clipping with pictures of me playing in the tournament.
I also then wound up doing some part-time work in the movies with stars like Robert Stack and George Sanders. Little did I know dreaming as a child about royalty and movie stars that I would ultimately wind up in contact with them.

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