Depression Days

For those who remember the 1930s.

 (reading time 9 min.)

If we never knew any better, depression days weren’t so bad.

Getting work of some kind was a blessing, especially for your dad.

The things we did those days could have no cost, or we had to do without.

Very Few kids had an allowance, earning our way was what it was about.


If we didn’t know what depression was, then we couldn’t tell it.

Certainly we wouldn’t know what affluence was, or even be able to spell it.

Those who lived during the ‘30s and who are now still alive,

Will recognize the things I will mention here, and what we did to survive.


I wonder how much ice the iceman lost, when he stopped to deliver?

The city kids would run to his wagon and chip off a sliver.

A piece of ice was a special treat, on a hot day way back then.

We’d grab a chunk and suck it up, time and time again.


There were things we did and I recall as good play times.

If we wanted to jump rope, we used old clotheslines.

To make a swing we picked a tree, and tied on an old rubber tire.

A far cry from what today’s playgrounds require.


I still recall the clothes tree that Mom had to dry clothes.

In the winter days, corduroy pants and overalls got stiff and froze.

My mom used a washboard, and scrubbed the clothes by hand.

Then came barrel type washing machines, with a hand-cranked ringer on a stand.


Young folks won’t believe the things we did when we were young.

They only know about the 1930s from movies, and songs that were sung.

If we’d suggest that the kids today, wear hand me downs like we all did,

They would probably run away from home, God forbid.


It was short pants for boys first, then came the hand me down knickers,

From brothers of cousins, the oldest among us could be first pickers.

Girls in the 30’s had to make do too, especially with undies rarely new.

If there were no hand me downs, old sheets and potato sacks would have to do.


Socks were easy, cut off the toe from dad’s, fold over and sew a new toe.

I don’t know what ladies did for stockings, except they painted their legs for show.

My mom wouldn’t wear hand me downs, so she got a job at a department store.

The deal there was a discount for employees, she could buy what she wore.


We just didn’t know things were bad, if a meal was stale bread and bullion cube soup.

Grand mom would throw in some onions and noodles to feed a larger group.

I just didn’t know what the depression talk was about, when in Jr. High classes.

I sure did enjoy the times, when we had bread and sorghum molasses.


We couldn’t afford hospitals in those days, we just had to make due.

Doctors made house calls, three bucks is what he charged, sometimes just two.

One thing comes to mind, the little girl next door had a tonsils bout.

Doctor put her on the kitchen table, gave her some ether, and took ‘em out.


Some personal things are still in my mind from those days, like holes.

When my feet got bigger my shoes got smaller, and holes were in my soles.

Buying new shoes was out of the question, had to wait for a hand me down.

I put cardboard in the soles daily, till it was my turn for new shoes to come around.


Then there was the old coal furnace, that had to be stoked and banked,

First up had to get it going again, those days even the cars had to be cranked.

We stood over the floor vent to warm up, even shoveled tunnels out the front door.

We had a side arm water heater, used bottled gas from the general store.


I’ll list some things I bet you saw, if we lived during the same times as kid.

I can’t remember them all, but you can add some more things you did.

How about the stocking caps Grandma made, from old sweater arms?

She made mittens from the rest, we used them out on the farms.


The girls in the family, cut out paper dolls to play.

We also made books covers from paper bags, and they worked OK.

Bags were handy on Halloween, we painted on faces and cut holes for eyes.

Almost every kid went door to door, for a trick or treat surprise.


There are some things not all will remember, but I surely do,

That was grand dad’s homemade beer, and grand mom made root-beer too.

She had an old German recipe for soft pretzels, and she liked to bake.

She also made dumplings, just like Cracker Barrel restaurants these days make.


On the way home from school, we picked berries along the road.

Mom made homemade pies and ice cream, sometimes alamode.

Chewing gum cost money, but I remember chewing on tar, it was free.

When the county repaired the roads, there was fresh tar plain to see.


We made balls from anything round, some pro-players started with the same.

We either made our toys or did without, that was the name of the game.

Tree limbs made hockey sticks, and a broom handle for a baseball bat,

In the streets is where city kids played, that was where most games were at.


Did your grand mom make homemade candy, or molasses popsicles?

My grand mom made great candy sea foam she called it, and saved our nickels.

Cats liked licking frozen cream from milk bottles on the stoop, remember that?

We make a milk box for the milkman by the front door, to keep away the cat.


If we wanted amusement as kids growing up, whatever it took we had to make it.

Skate boxes were a big thing then, orange crates 2 x 4 and an old roller skate.

Cowboys and Indians was a number one game, but to do it we needed a gun.

Old inner tubes had many uses, and making a rubber band gun was part of the fun.


In the country, boys could do things even though dangerous and shouldn’t.

We had lakes and streams for rafts and boats we made, that city kids couldn’t.

A buddy and I made a raft like Huckleberry Finn, sailed about a half mile and got stuck.

It was cold, we were wet, and if dinner was done when we got home, we were out of luck.


We made Hi-Li bats from old plywood wood, and toboggan sleds from cardboard.

Girls did other things, sewing, card games or maybe hopscotch, that they could afford.

As a boy we dared not play with the girls, they always found a reason cry.

When they ran home to Momma, we’d have to scatter or know the reason why.


It was bad alright, but not like in the movie Grapes of Wrath.

My folks had regular houses, 2 or 3 bedrooms with an in-house bath.

Farm people used cold drafty out houses, and some traveling families lived in tents.

It took a war to get us all working again, women worked side by side with gents.


You may have noticed that money was the thing in short supply.

Survival was the objective, jobs were scarce, it was make-due or die.

Our children can’t know what we did, even we didn’t understand how bad.

The bottom line is what we learned, depression is hell, but that’s what we had.


If given a choice between the ‘30s and ‘40s war torn years,

I’ll take depression to war any time, and tough it out with lesser fears.

If your daddy were hurt in the war or didn’t come home, you hurt big time.

Yes, I’ll take the good old depression, the worst is better than war, anytime.