If you were a southern tenant farmer during the Depression, you were born at home and the doctor or midwife wasn’t paid in cash. Your diapers were made of rags. Your jack rocks were calks from mule shoes. Paper dolls and their clothes were cut from mail order catalogs. You could see chickens under the house through cracks in the floor. There were no screens on the windows or doors. Splinters were lit from the fireplace to save matches. You had no shoes in summer. School shoes were bought too big to allow for growing feet. Your overall patches had patches on them.
Many yards were scraped bare and swept with a brush broom. You paid no taxes of any kind. The only kind of insurance (if any) was burial.
Dentist only pulled teeth. Airplanes were only for thrill rides. Saucers were for cooling coffee. Children often slept on quilts pallets on the floor. There were no bedrooms, just rooms that also had beds in them.
Except for washdays and Saturdays, families used less than 10 gallons of water a day. Dresses were made of flour and fertilizer sacks, overalls were patches and socks were darned. Most of the food was either grown or raised, supplemented by wild game and fish.
Jobs were “by the day,” not continuing. Dirty clothes were boiled, scrubbed, rinsed, hand wrung and dried on a clothesline. Nearly everything was ironed with irons heated on the wood stove. Schools had no electricity or plumbing.
This is not a complaint. We never thought of ourselves as being poor. I am very grateful for the experiences. The poor of yesterday never dreamed they would ever be as well off as today’s welfare recipients.
Written by Ray Cunningham
Millie’s thoughts: A loyal reader of the Advocate said he related to the memories expressed in this writing and thought our readers would also.
My quote for today: “Life is a test and this world a place of trial. Always the problems or it may be the same problem will be presented to every generation in different forms.” –Unknown