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The Ohio Department of Aging

Ohio Department of Aging Story Projects

Great Depression Story Project - Volume 1

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Food, Cooking and Eating During the Great Depression

"We grew all our own vegetables. We had our own orchard. We had our own cows, had milk, made our own butter, did a lot of canning. My mother at one time had over 800 jars in the basement of jams, jellies, meat, fruits, vegetables, all these different things. We ate very comfortably because we ate from our own supplies. Many of my classmates did not have families that were well prepared for the difficulties of acquiring food as our family was. Many of them had small gardens or none at all. There were things that we could share, but there was not much more we could do for them."
- Dean Bailey, age 82, Lordstown

"Eating was different in those days, too. We didn't come to a table and complain because the food wasn't what we liked. There were not many choices. We ate or went without. Some days bread and gravy tasted very good."
- Maxine Bartelt, age 85, Columbus

"Popsicles would have 'free' stamped on some of the sticks and what a thrill is was to find one! I would hoard mine until I could not resist it. The free ones were always better somehow... Isaly's Klondikes came only in vanilla but some of them had pink centers and that meant a free one! One Saturday afternoon, I was given a dime, enough for two Klonidikes. Dad took my friend and me to Isaly's. The first one had a pink center, the second had a pink center, and this went on until we had enough for the whole family - we were so proud and HAPPY!"
- Minnie Blose, age 83, Niles

"One day in the 1930's, when I was about 6 or 7, I went with my father to the produce market where he purchased the fruits and vegetables that he sold door-to-door from his truck. While at market this day, one of the merchants approached and asked if I wanted to earn some money. My father nodded his approval, and I was taken by truck to a nearby railroad yard where fruits and vegetables were being unloaded from freight cars. I was lifted into one of the cars and a man in the car began handing me large watermelons. My small knees buckled as I turned and handed the melons to a man standing below, who put them into a nearby truck. In the distance, I noticed a group of about 25 people, standing patiently and watching, with baskets over their arms. Pretty soon, by accident, I dropped a watermelon and it split into numerous pieces. Four or five of the people rushed over and began to fill their baskets with the watermelon pieces. This happened three or four more times... I watched this and thought to myself, 'these people must be really be hungry.' When the unloading was done, I looked around and saw other freight cars holding various kinds of fresh produce, and groups of people near each one waiting for the 'accident' that would help them put food on their tables. 'Daddy, we're not poor," I said. 'Now I know what poor really is: all those people pushing to get to the spilled beans and watermelons.' 'Yes,' he replied, 'there are a lot of hungry people with no jobs who have to get food any way they can. We're in a Depression and times are hard.'"
- Stanley L. Blum, age 79, Dayton

"I lived through The Great Depression and can remember eating beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when I was four years old but at least we had something to eat. Others didn't. "
- Marty Bryan, age 82, Columbus

"When the Great Depression hit, like so many other families in our small town of East Palestine, Ohio, we had no food left in the house to feed our family. My mother told my father: 'Tomorrow, you must go to the relief office (welfare) and see if we can get some food to feed the family' (of nine children). Dad, with so much pride, said he could not go. So, the next morning my mother went and applied for food. With the last $2, my father started out early the next morning on foot to one of the surrounding farms. He found a farmer that sold him 10 bushels of potatoes. The farmer had an old truck. Dad said it was a deal, but the farmer would have to bring him and the potatoes home. He put them in the cellar and my mother would make potato soup. The welfare gave us corned beef in cans and corn meal, and sometimes oranges. My mother made polenta and put tomato sauce on the polenta. When she could, if we had a dime, we bought 10 cents worth of ground meat to put in the potato soup. We were lucky to have potato soup! A dish I have never made to this day."
- Eleanor Ungaro Carpenter, age 89, East Palestine

"Starting in the spring, a farmer came through the neighborhood in the afternoon of one day of each week with his horse drawn wagon. He had a scale on the back of the wagon with a tray in which he weighed the in-season produce from his farm. The price of his wares was much lower than the prices charged in the neighborhood stores. No super markets in those days. Housewives from all the houses would go out to his wagon when they heard the sound of his cowbell that he rang, as he entered the neighborhood. They would bring with them paper sacks, pots and pans to hold their purchases. They knew the produce was fresh because it had been picked the day before, or even the same morning. If a lady wished a large quantity to can, which most women did at that time, they would order a bushel basket of what they desired. This included all vegetables and fruit. At a later visit, He would bring them their order."
- Don Conrad, age 81, Lewis Center

"Grandma made her own bread and baked it in an open hearth oven that my Grandfather had built in their backyard. I have never tasted anything as good as that since. If there were any loaves left over by her next baking day, Grandma would make an Italian dish called 'minestra' - made with the cut up left over bread, beans, ham hocks and dandelion greens. This was a poor man's meal, but very nourishing. Mom and Grandma would walk to lnterlake field to pick the dandelions used in this dish."
- Mary Rose DeMaria, age 83, Oregon

"After working in the mill all day my dad came home to a supper of baked beans on toast - one Campbell's regular size can divided among the three of us; two slices of toast for dad, two for mom and one for me. My mother in later years said she never wanted to see another bean."
- Mildred Redman Dieter, age 81, Youngstown

"It was a great thing to be living on a farm, where we had most of our own food. Dad raised pigs, chickens and we always had a cow or two for our own milk, cream and butter. Mom sold our eggs to Mr. Leatherman who in exchange brought flour, sugar and other staples to the house in a black panel truck or a big car of some kind. He had a grocery store and Mom would have her list of groceries ready every week to exchange for the eggs. Sometimes she had to pay extra because the egg price would be down that week. She counted her pennies very carefully as money was very scarce. We ate a lot of pork and I still love it. Dad smoked the hams and bacon in the smokehouse."
- Donna Jean Donovan, age 83, Massillon

"One day Dad and I took the dime and walked several miles to the store; bought pancake mix and walked home. Dad showed me how to wind a clean cloth around the tines of a fork, wipe it in the almost-empty lard pail, then grease the skillet. We enjoyed the pancakes! Sometimes a dime bought a pound of bacon, flavor for several meals. We usually took corn muffins or biscuits for school lunches, maybe with peanut butter, but never with jelly, too."
- Margaret B. Edwards, age 89, Gibsonburg

"My grandmother bought day old bread and each night at dinnertime she would prompt us to 'eat bread, eat plenty bread.' I would need no coaching. I loved that bread... We loved it when our great-aunts and uncles (the ones who had money) came because they always brought wonderful food like salami, corned beef, roast beef, fresh rye bread and rolls, with all the trimmings."
- Adele Federman, Toledo

"We would have potatoes for one meal and beans for another. I remember eating so many potatoes and beans during those years that when I got married I told my wife to never cook potatoes again and she rarely did!"
- Earl Gorsuch, age 88, Lebanon

"One day when it was time for supper, Mom was worried about not having anything to eat up for supper. She was sitting in our apartment window upstairs over a barber shop. She told us we had nothing to eat but flour and water and lard. She said if we would go next door to our building and ask the lady who lives there if you could have some apples off her tree. We, my sister was almost 6 and I was 5 years old. We were so hungry we went with a cloth laundry bag and ask the lady. She said we could pick up the ones on the ground and if our bag wasn't full we could have the ladder to get some from the tree. When we got the bag full we drug it home to Mom, who was waiting at the bottom of the steps. She carried them upstairs. She had already made the dough and we helped her cut up the apples she peeled. She put tem in the dough that mom had rolled out on the table. She rolled up this long roll of dough with the apples and some Karo syrup. We all ate till we were full and Mom said to save some for breakfast and we would be able to eat 2 days."
- Lois Hayhurst-Walke, age 78, Whitehall

"Everyone who owned a home had a vegetable garden and canned vegetables. For rich chicken soup, we bought backs and necks of chickens. For rich stew, or stuffed cabbage, we used ham hocks. Everyone ate oatmeal - no cold cereals. Apples were desert. Potato pancakes too, were great. Grape jelly and peanut butter with soup, was our lunch at school very often."
- Mildred Kontz, age 80, Berea

"Food lines were long. Daddy bought day-old bread for 10 cents and gallon skim milk for 20 cents, and we made 'bread soup' for supper - sometimes not enough for everyone and we went to bed hungry. Many days, I begged bones for my dog at the grocery store, only to take them home for mother to make soup. Fallen apples made the most delicious sugarless applesauce."
- Dorothy Lauman, age 89, Wilmington

"One day while pushing me in the baby carriage from South Euclid to East Cleveland for a visit to my paternal Grandparents Lewis they passed a hot dog stand. Mother said, they could smell the aroma from a distance: 'The closer we got the more hungry we were!' She longed to try one or split one with my dad. They searched their pockets for the required 10 cents to no avail. Passing the stand they could only continue their walk with their baby hoping for a snack upon arrival at grandma's house. Many years later my mother recalled that day saying, 'Now I can eat in any restaurant I choose and order anything I wish for, but when the memories of that hot dog stand revisit my mind, I must say, I wish I could be as enthusiastic now as I was then.'
- Marilyn Markle, age 79, North Royalton

"Most of the food at home was canned or jelly made of fruits in season. The meat came from chickens, geese, ducks and rabbits caught by men in the fields. I discovered peanut butter at a friend's house. My mother never bought peanut butter. Seeing a jar on my friend's table, the parents were away - I asked what it was. I was offered a taste on a piece of bread, I loved. it."
- Olga Morrison, age 91, Youngstown

"Our parents always had a big garden and we all helped (mother) can jars and jars of fruit and vegetables. A pig was butchered in the fall and we had homemade sausage and smoked hams. Fat was rendered into lard in a big iron kettle over an open fire. Mother dried corn on a dryer on her coal cook stove. Old used fat was made into home-made soap."
- Helen Oliver, age 83, Poland

"We didn't have store bought bread, my mom baked bread once or twice a week and if we ran out she would stir up a batch of biscuits. We didn't buy cottage cheese. Mom made it with sour milk by putting it into cheesecloth and hanging it on the clothes line. "
- Evelyn Peloquin, age 89, Genoa

"Later, a friend I worked with said in the Depression he rode the rails and stopped to eat vegetables out of a garden. The owner said he would shoot him if he didn't stop. My friend said 'go ahead,' as he was that hungry. "
- James Randolph, Columbus

"Coffee and breakfast food just was real hard to have, so Mom cleaned wheat from the grindery and boiled it till it swelled and got tender. Then she drained it and put milk and sugar on it for breakfast. The coffee she would brown it till it got real dark and then grind it up and use it for coffee. Now and then we would have bread and coffee on a plate with sugar. It was good. Bread and gravy was great too. We always seemed to have just about enough to eat. "
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"One of the rental homes that Dad's family was in was in the back of a store in the Fleet Ave./Slavic Village area. He told of fiercely guarding their 'secret place' where they gathered cookies. At that time, breads and pastries were only on the shelf one, possibly two days. Maybe because they were made with the absence of preservatives or plaster as we have today. He said that National Biscuit would dump mounds of cookies somewhere off of Harvard Ave. by the car barns. They would gather as much as they could carry home. They knew the exact time that they were going to be dumped and waited. If you got there the next day or too late, the dew or the rats got at them. He never ate another gingersnap or vanilla wafer in his adult life."
- David Rizzo, age 66, Sagamore Hills

"My favorite Depression story concerns grits. They were cheap but my Mother hated them. I grew up in Miami, Florida and my father was a stone cutter and a carpenter, but was frequently out of work. My Mother had a bag of grits in the pantry and whenever he was out of work and things looked dim, my Mother would say, 'well I guess it's grits tonight.' Then my Father would always seem to come home with a job. The grits never got eaten and we never had to stand in food lines."
- Nell Rudolph, Elyria

"(Mother) would also scrimp and save so she'd have a dollar when the local farmers, desperate to get rid of their milk because people just weren't buying it as fast as their cows were producing it, would go door-to-door, offering five gallons for a buck... She also crafted a variety of cheeses, even aging some for grating. That was my favorite, because it reminded me of our native home in southern Italy, which we had just left the year before."
- Anna Marie Slezak, age 88, Middletown

"I was 94 on Jan. 8, 2009. My son took 11 of our family to a local restaurant for lunch. I told him what that lunch cost would have bought seven or eight months of groceries in the 1930s. Food was a serious item. Plain and filling. White navy soup beans was a favorite. We had a neighbor that liked to hunt, but he couldn't afford the shells for his gun. My mother paid for his shells and he gave her the rabbits and squirrels he got - sometimes a raccoon. There were no deer or wild turkeys then. Everyone planted a garden. Some public land was made into garden plots - the Victory gardens were born. Along the road were elderberry, black and red raspberries and walnut - paw-paw - chestnut trees. We gathered greens - dandelion, polk, water crest. We had a cookbook '100 Ways to Stretch One Pound of Hamburger.' Depression Cake - flour - sugar - cocoa - baking powder - water - 9 x 12 pan - a heavy chocolate cake. When you ate a piece, it stayed with you. Home-made root beer - It was all very hard work and time consuming. But not too many were overweight. Mostly very healthy."
- Margaret Smith, age 94, Barnesville

"We grew corn, popcorn, potatoes, tomatoes on one acre garden. We ate a lot of popcorn for dinner the first few years"
- Don Trietsch, age 89, Centerville

"Food, or lack of it, seemed to be the major problem. Mother baked all the bread, fixed vegetables, made meals with such staples as canned corned beef and canned salmon. One time we were given a pork roast and I thought I had never tasted anything so delicious but such occasions were rare. For years we had no fresh milk or butter and I remember being embarrassed at a friend's place when someone commented that I didn't butter my bread. I remember a period of about a week when there was no money for flour and we had no bread at all. Mother made mashed potatoes and flour gravy to fill us up. I might mention that there was never a hint of obesity in our family."
- Margaret Vail, age 86, Mansfield

"I saw some of the kids (at school) eat banana rinds that other kids had thrown away. Mom would pack my lunch with bread and apple butter and sometimes I had a fried egg sandwich and that was better than a lot of them had. Thank God."
- Charles Warrick, age 81, Barnesville

"I never remember being hungry-grandma was a magical cook and could make a marvelous meal out of whatever was in the ice box. I used to watch her make cottage cheese by putting curdled milk in a cloth and hanging it over the sink to drain. We had a lot of beans and cornbread too. Grandma used to make huge kettles of vegetable or bean soup. We had a backyard garden that kept us in vegetables and we splurged and got the meat at the store. No matter how little we had, grandma used to feed people with this soup. They would come to the door begging and she would send them to the back porch and give them soup. She was a Saint!!"
- Dolores L. Younger, age 79, Westerville

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Schools and Education During the Great Depression

"Mother stressed education to all of us - when one of us received academic recognition, it made the rest work harder. I was the only one who won a scholarship and went to college straight from high school. The others worked one or two years, saved money, then went to college. Five of us attained degrees from The Ohio State University and one from Kent State. My older sister had her two-year teaching degree, taught in a one-room school - paid for plumbing into the kitchen (our teenage brother dug the ditch) and finished her four-year degree during the summers."
- Rita Anderson, age 87, Reynoldsburg

"What I remember most is my high school days 1932-1936. We never received new books issued to us. At the end of the school term, we would all get a book, scotch tape and eraser. It was our job to mend the book, erase any marks and make the book presentable so that the next class could use them without trouble."
- Pauline Bandzk, age 91, Hubbard

"Pencils were one cent and tablets 5 cents. Sometimes our teacher would hand out paper and pencils and when classes ended for the day, the teacher would collect the pencils for another day."
- Wilma Blasiman, age 88, Lake Milton

"I was 10 years old and I had to go with my parents to McKinley High School to help them learn for the test to be a citizen of the US. They never had an education in Italy. I was so proud of them. The teacher also had me help some of the others in the class. It was a full class and I also studied with them at home. We had a party for (my parents) when they received the privilege of becoming citizens of the United States of America."
- Rachel Clara Patrone Boyd, age 78, Niles

"We had a school bus for transportation. No matter what the weather was - we went to school. We may have been late but we got there. I cannot remember of ever missing school because of weather. We carried a lunch of a jelly sandwich, fruit and cookie - wrapped in yesterday's newspaper."
- Robert Brown, age 86, Youngstown

"When I started school there were no yellow school buses. We walked to a one room school for eight years. The teacher had about twenty-five pupils, and she taught all the subjects in all eight grade levels. She received eight hundred dollars for eight months of teaching plus five dollars a month for being her own janitor. We would go to a neighbor's house near the school and get a bucket of water each day. We all used a communal dipper for a drink."
- Mary Cole, age 91, Cadiz

"Times were such that families wishing to send their children to parochial schools were unable to do so because religious schools charged for the paper used by the students, which parents were unable to afford."
- Frances Daubert, age 80, Centerville

"I went to high school. Those days you had to buy your books. We bought used books, math books 10 cents, English book 20 cents, literature book 25 cents - no free books. School lunch soup was 5 cents, eight ounces of milk 4 cents, and sliced bread 1 cent, so, for about 10 cents you could buy lunch. But without the dime you would skip lunch and eat when you got home - no free lunch."
- Charles Green, age 87, Columbus

"In 1933, the heart of the Great Depression, my father, a Youngstown city fireman, was paid in scrip. I was the oldest of four children. My father had dropped out of elementary school. My mother, before marriage, had been a cashier at a local dry goods store. Against this backdrop, my mother was determined that her children would have a college education. I finished high school in January 1933 as the class valedictorian, and stayed in school taking typing as a postgraduate student. That spring I went to Cleveland on a bus to interview for a scholarship at Flora Stone Mather College, the women's school of Western Reserve University. I did not win a scholarship, but I was offered a way to earn my room and board. I could have gone to the local college, but I wanted a degree from a leading university.

"My freshman year, I worked for my room and board in a home in Cleveland Heights. The mother was a retired piano teacher, a tall, heavy-set woman, who wore eye glasses that magnified her eyes to the on-looker. The stepfather was a diminutive, retired Episcopal rector. The daughters were retired school teachers; one had been in music in charge of several elementary schools in Cleveland; the other, in history at Cleveland Heights High School. During my sophomore year I worked in the home of a Reserve professor, his wife and a very young daughter. His wife enjoyed entertaining, but was not a great housekeeper. On the days she had scheduled a dinner party, we bustled things into closets, ironed napkins, and later waited table. I served my own professor more than once. At Mather, I pioneered a minor in physical education. In keeping with that kind of minor, for my junior and senior years I ran a physical education program at a settlement house on 31St Street in the heart of Cleveland. What a range of experiences and people I encountered in that situation!"
- Dorothy Jones Honey, age 93, Poland

"School was very hard. We lacked clothing, school supplies, we used dip pens to do our school work and it was hard to be neat... For theme paper, I sometimes had to take paper out of a wastebasket and erase to use... Once I had to stay home because we did not have 25 cents for a workbook. I had to try out for the basketball team in stocking feet as I had no tennis shoes... An Uncle's old suit coat and my turtleneck shirt from an Aunt made up my basic wardrobe, making me look like Ichabod Crane. It was demoralizing and created a severe inferiority complex for me."
- Bernard L. Kasten, age 90, Lucas

"Going to the Temple on Ansel Road was a must, as it was very important to my parents that we get a religious education. We took three streetcars to get there; carfare for kids was two cents. But larger outlays of cash were hard to come by. I know it pained my father dreadfully to write to the secretary, Harry Levy, that he had absolutely no money to pay Temple dues. He never received another bill, and the day finally came (thanks to the New Deal) when my father was able to pay all the dues he owed. Meanwhile, sitting in that magnificent Temple building and hearing the inspiring words of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver gave us courage to live through the Depression."
- Mina Kulber, age 86, Lyndhurst

"In the third grade, I remember that just before lunch on Friday it was spelling test time. On Monday, there would be a new list of words on the black board, and we would practice them all week. Friday was test time. We would clean off our desks, and the teacher, Miss Montgomery, would pass everyone a sheet of tablet paper. She would then give out the words for us to write. This was panic time for those who did not even own a pencil. There would be out stretched hands to neighbors with a whispered plea, "Can I borrow your pencil?" If you loaned your pencil, there was a good chance it would keep on moving and never return in time for the next word. We would use a pencil until it was too small to go into the sharpeners."
- Donna Lehman, age 86, Eaton

"As a student nurse, I received a stipend of $10 a month. The medical interns earned $30 a month. After graduation, I married my husband who had his B.A. degree from Ohio Northern University and had completed his first year of dentistry at Western Reserve University. When the banks crashed, he lost money and could no longer attend classes. There were no student loans at that time that could be repaid after graduation. Things progressively got worse. We lived in a $14 rent on Aiken Ave., which abutted the "City Hospital" (now Metro General). My husband had gotten a job at JandL Steel, worked a day or two a week. My $2 a day at nursing wasn't sufficient for the household necessities after our baby was born.

"My husband's fraternity brother came one day looking for help. He thought that my husband could help him with some contacts. He was a baby milk salesman. When he saw what dire straits we were in, he left us with two cases of S.M.A. and Similac for our baby. My doctor provided us with baby food samples.

"My insurance agent was upset when I turned my books over to him because I couldn't pay the premiums. A half year later, he returned them fully paid by his father, whom I didn't know. He was Jewish, I was Catholic!"
- Mary Grace Lukacevic, age 98, Seven Hills

"After 8 years in a one-room school, I now faced high school as the Great Depression took over. Instead of Latin, I chose four years of Agriculture and enjoyed it. During my Senior year, the Kroger Company issued 20 scholarships to The Ohio State University College of Agriculture to winners of a written contest. Becoming a winner was the surprise of my life - but what about expenses? Although we observed that old saying, 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,' our monthly milk check didn't include college. Luckily, a neighbor boy was going to Ohio State, and with my small savings I found a cheap room with bed and cook stove - building my own great Depression!"
- Myron W. Martin, age 95, Orrville

"At age six I was enrolled in the kindergarten part of Nathan Hale Grade School. There were no school buses, so I had to walk. Depending on where we lived, we were assigned to walk out of one of four doors of the school. There was no one to guide us to go out the 'right' door for us. I, of course, got confused and went out the wrong door and GOT LOST! It was very late in the day when a nurse drove by and saw me crying sitting on top of a stones and flower display on Upton Avenue. She stopped and soon stopped a police car to take me home. I had been reported 'missing' to the police who were looking for me. The next several days my father walked me to school: and I never got 'lost' again."
- Doris E. Meek, age 82, Columbus

"Mom and her siblings, except for (her brother) Paul, only made it to sixth grade, and then it was only part-time. They had to share books and clothes, so each kid could go to school one day a week, maybe even two weeks. Only Paul went back years later and got his GED... Mom was an avid reader until she died at age 80. She read everything she could get her hands on. She even kept a small dictionary with her to look up words she didn't know or understand. Her two favorite books were her dictionary and her bible."
- Joyce M. Pack, age 69, Toldedo

"We always walked to school and home for lunch, then back to school. (We had) no umbrella, no raincoat, and shoes with holes that we tried to cover with a piece of cardboard. (We had) no Kleenex; we carried folded toilet paper to use for those nasty colds."
- Doris Portmann, age 76, Navarre

"In 1924, the elementary school building was torn down and a new one built. I was in the fourth grade that year. We went to school for only a half day, with country students going in the morning and city students in the afternoon. Classes were in the custodian's houses across the street from the school property. I graduated from McClain High School in 1932, with graduation the first week of May that year instead of the end of May because there was not enough money to operate the schools the usual 9 months. The graduation took place in the high school auditorium for 45 students. A few students dropped out of school before graduation to get jobs and help support their families. Few students were able to go on to college because their parents did not have money for it or they had lost what they had saved for it.

"In 1933 the school offered Post Graduate classes for anyone who wanted to continue their education. I recall that six or seven of the 1932 class chose to do that, including me. We took whatever classes we wanted and attended only when we had a class. Business classes were popular. I took typing, shorthand, business English, journalism and public speaking, subjects I was interested in but did not have time for earlier. I enjoyed all of it and received a post-graduate certificate. In the following years, these classes were helpful in many ways. I don't recall that this was ever repeated."
- Helen Cook Railer, age 95, Burlington, IN (formerly of Greenfield)

"My biggest challenge (as a teacher) was supervising a study hall with several seventh and senior students, trying to catch the culprits who were rolling BBs up and down the floor. Finally I had enough of their fun! I slapped one of the mischievous seventh graders. That brought order and respect back to the room and there was no lawsuit by the parents."
- Hazel Schroeder, age 97, Wauseon

"My school years began with grade one. Walking was the mode of getting there. We bundled up in winter-long underwear, scarves up to our eyes, plus boots. We had little homework as we completed our work at school. We weren't involved in so much other stuff. In Junior High School and part of High School, every morning they'd play the song "Happy Days Are Here Again" on the loudspeaker."
- Marian Seilheimer, age 89, Tiffin

"For us girls to attend High School, we were on our own transportation-wise. There were no yellow school buses picking up and delivering kids. After much female persuasion, my dad grudgingly permitted us the use of the family car, a 1922 Model T Sedan. My older sisters both had mastered the art of wheeling around the countryside. I recall that every Friday on our way to New Market and home, we pulled into a gas station and had $1.00 worth of fuel poured into the Sedan's tank. This amount would carry us to and fro for an entire week. Furthering our education had become just another sacrifice for our parents to bear. Money was very tight with no relief in sight, and there was always the farm loan payments hanging over our heads. Fortunately, we were all pretty healthy and all were reminded of that when we grumbled. We all four graduated from Hillsboro High School and, due to penny-pinching and doing without, the farm was not lost."
- Willa B. Stanforth, age 93, Hillsboro

"I had been accepted to go in Nurses training at the local hospital. We had all the articles such as uniforms etc., but not a watch. I could not go, we couldn't afford a watch. At last a relative came up with an Ingersol watch. I was accepted as a student nurse. Our hospital operated with 9 graduate nurses and a staff of student nurses. Students worked 12 hour shifts, with a 2 hour rest period. Our class was the last class to receive a stipend of $10.00 a month. We had room and board. I was very careful with my stipend, and well-dressed too."
- Mildred Swab, age 96, Saint Clairsville

"There were times we did not have shoes to wear to go to school. One time I did not have anything for lunch to take - the teacher shared her lunch with me."
- Opal Toneff, age 82, Toledo

"When I was in the first grade my school bus was horse driven. When I was a little older the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) replaced a bridge about a mile from our home, so the bus couldn't come to our house. We walked to the bridge to catch the bus."
- Marie Vaughan, age 85, Bucyrus

"We had no money to buy school notebook paper or pencils so I had to borrow. By the time we had the money, I bought a pack, but paid everybody back until the next month when it started all over again."
- Gladys Saba Wright, age 89, Richmond Heights

"As the Depression continued thru the 30s,I recall my 3rd grade teacher, ( Miss Andrews),Scottish by heritage, teaching those Scottish songs and poems. I vowed then that my wife would be Scottish and she is a beautiful Lassie yet, today, 59 years later. I also recall a terrible time in class, when they delivered 1/2 pints of milk for anyone who could afford 3 cents and I could not, but had to watch the other kids sip it up. that used to just about kill me."
- William L. Zurkey, age 84, Boardman

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Self-Sufficiency, Resourcefulness and Frugality

"For a refrigerator we used an empty gallon can with a rope tied to it, which we lowered down a dug well to sit on the top of the water. That would cool a pound of bologna... For a while before we had electricity, we heated the irons that we used to do the ironing on the cook stove. We bathed in a large wash tub that was also used to wash our laundry... Naturally, this was before air conditioning. So, during a very hot summer in, I believe, 1936 or '37 we slept on the front lawn. It was just too uncomfortable to sleep upstairs... Also, when our car or truck tires got a hole in the tread, we inserted a 'boot' which consisted of a piece of an old tire to cover the hole. That was before tubeless tires."
- Lester Baiman, age 82, Colton, CA (formerly of Hamilton)

"In a family of five children, being the fourth girl, Mom remade a lot of my clothes. She would take a garment, rip out all the seams and make me some very pretty dresses. Mom was a miracle worker for many things. When I got old enough I did my own sewing."
- Minnie Blose, age 83, Niles

"My father had a shoe repair shop on Locust St. We didn't have electricity in the house, so they ran an electric line from the shoe shop into our kitchen. Then, my mother would have lights and could use the electric iron in that corner of the house. Another thing I remembered was that (my father) would fix shoes for some people who had less money than we did, and he did that for them without charging them. I guess he thought we were in better condition (money-wise) than they were."
- Eleanor Calkins, age 87, Lancaster

"Money was tight and we couldn't afford many things but it is surprising what you can do without. There were times when there was not enough money to even pay the shoe repair man to fix a hole in my shoes, but if you could find some heavy cardboard, you could stick that in the bottom of your shoes and that helped until your parents could afford to buy you another pair. Besides, it was fun to run around barefooted in the summer. My feet got so calloused in the summer that I could walk through the back parking lot of Albers Grocery on pea-sized gravel and not break the skin. The next-door neighbor taught me how to darn holes in socks so I could save some of my 25 cent allowance to buy comic books and ice cream."
- Doris V. Cumode, age 78, Columbus

"During the Depression we had many door-to-door salesman. One singer sewing machine salesman, after a negative response to his sales pitch, offered to leave the sewing machine for a trial period. My mother sewed from morning till night all that week, turning my dad's frayed shirt collars and cutting her cloths down to fit me. When the salesman came back, she said she hadn't changed her mind, she still didn't want the machine. Little did he know how much it had been used."
- Mildred Redman Dieter, age 81, Youngstown

"My dad and older brothers would set larger traps in the banks of the ditch that ran along the 1 acre of property in the fall and winter, every morning and evening. They would check the traps to see if they caught any muskrats or rabbits. They would bring any animals like that home and carefully skin the animals and turn the skins inside out and put them on wooden or metal stretchers to dry. Then, when they had 15-20 skins dried, they sold them to furriers, men who bought them to make fur collars or jackets to keep warmer. Back then, you'd be lucky to get from 50 cents to $1 each. Then, the meat was cleaned out and soaked in salt water and cooked, or there were people who would pay my dad 25¢ or 50¢ each for the meat."
- Ruth Hahn-Shrayer, age 78, Holland

"Father paid to get a tractor to plow a garden and the rest of the work was done by family. A chain with a six-foot limb through it on a garden plow was pulled by the three boys to make rows where crops were planted, and to cultivate between rows as crops grew. We picked tomatoes or dug two kinds of potatoes to go with corn and beans. We had two chicken houses for raising chickens. One for baby chicks and one for larger ones that we took to town live to sell among homes. These houses needed food and water for the animals and cleaning. Neighbors hired me to clean their chicken houses and mow their yard. I candled eggs for another person up the street. They collected eggs in the country and I checked them to be sure they were top grade for hotels. We raised a hog each year and fed it all the scraps and any garden items with ground feed in our dirty dish water to get them ready to butcher. Dad killed the animal and we scraped the hair off with hot water. Then Dad would cut it up and put it in the smoke house for smoking with corn cobs and hickory, before using morton salt (to cure it), as we had no refrigeration, just an ice box."
- Alvin Reece, age 83, Mansfield

"During the winter, we disconnected the refrigerator to save electricity and kept spoilable food in a window 'icebox.' You opened the window to put food in, and then closed the window to keep it cold. We didn't have freezers then yet."
- Thomas Rosmarin, age 85, Columbus

"In the thirties, Mom and Dad had their hands full financially raising us five children. Dad only worked two days a week at Goodyear - these days they call it rotating. Mom was an excellent seamstress, but was short on funds for buying sewing material. A friend of Dad's worked at an auto wrecking yard. He volunteered to cut the headliner out of quality cars, so Mom had all the material she could use, thanks to Packards and Cadillacs."
- Robert Schwalbach, age 82, Akron

"And, my mother made soap. The hard soap I remember had an unpleasant smell and was tan in color. The soft soap was a gelatin-like goo. These were used in the washing machine. We did have 'store bought' soap for our bathing."
- Thelma Thomas, age 87, Port Clinton

"We had no cellar to store our canned food in and my dad would make a place in the garden where he would pile up straw or hay. He would put vegetables in a pile then he would put more hay or straw on them. Then, he would put burlap sacks and old coats on top of that. He would cover it all with some soil and in the winter he could dig in it and get vegetables to eat and they kept very well."
- Charles Warrick, age 81, Barnesville

"An EVICTION notice! With a family of four boys and after nineteen years of backbreaking work, Mom and Dad had a huge new problem - EVICTION. Dad asked a friend who sold real estate, 'Any farms you can't sell?' 'Lots,' the realtor replied. "Let's look them over." After a selection was made, Dad asked the realtor what his commission would be. The realtor responded. "5percent." Dad had no money to pay either a down payment or a realtor's commission, but offered instead 'a note' as payment-in-full for the 5 percent. This was a 'first' for the realtor, but he knew that if Dad ever got the money, he'd be paid, and if Dad never paid it, they'd at least had a nice visit together.

"They went to a savings and loan where the realtor said that yes, he had been paid in full and that amount met the required 5 percent down payment. The loan was completed. We had a house to live in. Our family then moved to eighty-three acres that could barely grow thistles and with a shabby house that the wind blew through. All the household furnishings were moved on an open wagon along with what was left of the livestock, three weary horses and some heavily used farm machinery.

"Very quickly after settling in, Dad planned how to pay off his debts with no thought of declaring bankruptcy. First he went to the feed mill and asked how he could work off that bill. The owner was unsure; no one had ever made such an offer before. But, after months of Dad's hard work, we had a clean slate at the feed mill. Then, on to the lumber yard, where he received a definite 'no.' The owner didn't need help because he wasn't selling anything. Nonplussed, Dad asked, 'Do you have any paint you can't sell?' 'Sure,' the owner replied. 'Lots.' Then, Dad asked, "If I scrape and paint all your buildings, would you consider my bill paid in full?" They shook hands, and Dad started scraping and painting. He said he hadn't realized how many buildings were in a lumberyard, but finally another bill was paid and he had made another friend."
- George K. Weimer, Jr., age 77, Sebring

"My dear mother would cause us to laugh with tears when she would tell about the census taker who received a negative to every question: Do you have inside plumbing? Central heating? Running water? Refrigeration? Gas or electric stove? Telephone?" Finally, he asked 'well lady, what do you have?'"
- Clark Biddle, age 82, Hilliard

"My father worked for the Norfolk and Western Railroad. I remember his work days being cut to only three days per week. He was a carpenter by trade, so we were more fortunate than most. He found extra work in his trade whenever and wherever possible. We never experienced the 'soup and bread' lines. He farmed and tended to his large garden, raised chickens and pigeons. We always had food. My mother made bread and pasta, and canned fruits and vegetables, much of it for the winter months. She made our clothes from whatever fabric was available. My father would re-sole our shoes when necessary. We had home remedies for illnesses and made our own soap for washing. Every penny counted. Nothing was ever wasted."
- Madge Conti Browning, age 92, Columbus

"(My parents) unknowingly were being prepared for discovering what a dollar was worth, giving all of their wages to their families. They were taught gardening, skills in repairing anything because nothing was thrown away, cooking and baking skills... Of course, if nothing was ever thrown away, it all wound up in a shed or garage of some type. Gigantic gardens were dug and harvested. It was customary to give fresh vegetables and fruit when someone stopped by for a visit. Nothing was wasted, even the daily garbage that had accumulated in the kitchen sink was dug back into the garden the next day. Relatives and friends were asked to help with any project that became too big or difficult to complete."
- Joan Hovan, age 65, Brunswick

"We made our own lye soap, which we shaved to wash clothes in a wringer washer. We also used feed sacks to make clothes, sheets, pillowslips and even underwear. We would happily share hand-me-downs with other relatives. I accused my mother of purposely making my underwear three sizes too big just so they would last a long time. When I was in the third grade, I needed glasses. To pay for them, my father worked in a local grocery store and also worked for a 'threshing ring,' which was a small group of local farmers who would pay my father to help with his steam-powered thresher."
- Evelyn Brewer Neff Mitrione, age 86, Pickerington

"Our biggest blessings were fruit orchards and gardens... 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 we had troughs to put containers of food in so it would keep a little longer."
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"We raised chickens (lots of chicken and eggs were on the menu), canned our garden vegetables along with apples, pears, grapes, cherry and plums. Dandelions were our first spring greens and we welcomed them after the long winter. Mom made many casseroles, pancakes, cookies, fried donuts and fritters. Sometimes we had ice for the ice box, but we often cooled many foods in a special place in the basement."
- Marian Seilheimer, age 89, Tiffin

"We heated and cooked with wood that my dad and I kept in goodly supply. We churned our butter. With a large iron kettle, we made apple butter over a fire in the backyard - an all-day job. In the out-house we had a catalog for our needs - toilet paper was a luxury we could not afford."
- William Turner, age 89, Cleveland

"Our house was small - three bedrooms - with no central heating and no plumbing. We had two wells, one at the barn and another from which we carried water to the kitchen. We sold eggs and whatever we could that we grew. We had a large garden and sweet corn fields where we grew beans in with the corn. Manure from the barn was spread on the garden and corn fields every spring. We did not go hungry because we canned vegetables, fruit and meat. We killed the old chickens when they quit laying and butchered a couple of pigs in the fall. We had a large water-filled dryer for sweet corn on the large coal kitchen stove and dried peaches and apples on bed sheets in the attic in August. We made our own cottage cheese and butter."
- Rita Anderson, age 87, Reynoldsburg

"We raised chickens in the back yard. My mom got new chicks every spring. We kept them in a box in the dining room near the heater. When they grew a little and the weather was warmer they went to the coop out back. We also had a large garden. Mom grew and canned all she could. So with veggies, potatoes, eggs and chickens we had food. But our special Sunday meal was often HAMBURG, baked with elbow macaroni, tomatoes and onions. A one dish meal - a lot of our meals were one dish."
- Minnie Blose, age 83, Niles

"We learned to do so many things: wash, mend and sew our own clothes; grow and can food; plan ahead; stretch our money; keep warm; help each other. Other people helped us, too. Friends took us on errands when we needed to go where they were going (we usually had no car). Clothes were given to us, and sometimes food and garden surplus. And we tried to help others meet their needs, too."
- Margaret B. Edwards, age 89, Gibsonburg

"My mother had a treadle Singer sewing machine. She would transform hand-me-down clothes given to us into good, wearable garments. She was creative and never wasted anything. We were given a billy goat but we didn't have him very long. He broke through the screen door and chased my mother out of the kitchen. Shortly, Dad traded him for a wheelbarrow."
- Ruth Jacquillard, age 83, Millbury

"We lived on a farm, and were already in the habit of buying only the necessary staples, and clothing. My mother canned hundreds of cans of home grown vegetables. We butchered our own cattle, so had plenty to eat all through the depressed years. We were among the lucky ones, as there were seven of us kids, all good eaters. We all had our jobs. As teenagers we did a mans' work. That was the only way that we could exist."
- Harry G. Moll, age 92, Wauseon

"Perhaps 95 percent of citizens in the Township lived on farms and family members operated the farm. They raised grain crops, cattle, hogs, sheep. chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys and guineas. They raised a garden and milked cows. Grain went to the local mill to be ground into flour and oats ground for feed for livestock. Every farm had an orchard and many a berry patch. You could have a good variety of food if you were willing to work at it--most families did."
- Viola Reed, age 95, Barnesville

"We didn't have much money to spend, but on the other hand there wasn't much that we needed to spend our money on. Most every family had a garden. Fruit trees were plentiful, especially apples. Most were free for the picking. I remember an orchard on Libby Road where we picked apples that my grandma peeled for use in pies and sauces. Chickens provided meat for Sunday dinner and eggs for breakfast. When a piece of meat was purchased at the butcher shop, the butcher would throw in a free soup bone and a piece of liver. Add some homemade noodles and a delicious meal was almost free. Many of the expensive things we find so necessary today were either not available or not yet in such widespread use as to be considered a necessity."
- John W. Straka, Jr., age 91, Maple Heights

"We felt so lucky. We didn't know we were poor. We grew everything on the farm and butchered our own meat and smoked it or canned it. We made our own apple butter, churned our butter. We made cottage cheese and maple syrup, and bottled root beer. We had our underclothes made out of bleached feed sacks. We worked in the garden and shelled corn until our hands had blisters."
- Maxine Vargo, age 80, Akron

"One day my older sister, Louise, and I were walking to our grandfather's house when I looked down and discovered a piece of paper folded up with a quarter in it. That was a huge find. But I was frugal even when I was little. With this money, I bought a dozen eggs for 12 cents and a school tablet."
- Betty Banta, age 80, Columbus

"We really didn't feel a lack of money in our young lives because we were raised to be satisfied with what we had. Recycling was a way of life for us. We could even make money by returning bottles to the store. My father used to sing, 'The Best Things in Life Are Free.' This was the philosophy that carried us through the Depression."
- Manila Fellows, age 84, Youngstown

"Nothing was wasted. The dishes were even washed in a dishpan in the sink and then the scant bit of water was dumped in a galvanized bucket on the floor along with potato peelings, scraps from the table, egg shells and soured milk. This bucket was emptied daily into a trough for the pigs. Everything raised had a use. What was not put on the table was canned and put in the basement for winter."
- Posey Deskey, age 82, Chillicothe

"There were no disposable diapers, no paper towels and no paid babysitters. Everything was used and re-used and repaired. Nothing was thrown away. You saved buttons, nails and screws in a Prince Albert tobacco can, 1# size. It was a great day when the feed company started to put feed in pretty, printed sacks. We'd tell the men to get 4 sacks alike. That would make a dress, curtains, shirts, tablecloths, etc."
- Margaret Smith, age 94, Barnesville

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The Comforts of Home

"In the winter, members of our family would huddle together in the evenings around the pot belly stove trying to keep warm. Fuel was hard to afford. My father and other men would watch for coal trains that might stop on some nearby tracks. If one stopped, the men would climb on the cars and throw off coal until the train started to move. This kept us warm for a while."
- Robert Bohyer, age 84, Lima

"We lived a short distance away from the railroad tracks. As the coal cars came past, men took turns throwing the coal down to the men on the ground, anxiously waiting with their gunny sacks. Many times my dad brought coal home for our 'pot belly' stove."
- Mildred Redman Dieter, age 81, Youngstown

"My dad was a dairy farmer. We lived on an 88-acre farm in a very old, seven-room farm house. We had no electricity or running water. My dad tilled the land with a two-horse team and a plow. The winters were brutal. My mother stuffed rags around the windows to keep the wind out. We had a cook stove that burned wood in the kitchen and a Heatrola that burned coal in the front room. All the rooms in between and the upstairs bedrooms were freezing cold. Our hot water was in the reservoir attached to the cook stove. We, of course, had no bath room and the runs outside, in the winter, to the outside toilet (yes, we used the Sears catalog for paper) were awful. We took sponge baths in back of the kitchen cook stove, and you had to be careful how you turned; the space was very limited. Our pumps would freeze up in the winter time and it took a tea kettle of water to thaw them out. We had oil lamps and we carried them from room to room. Mom kept the wicks trimmed and the chimneys clean. We finally got an Aladdin lamp. It had a mantle and it gave out much more light."
- Mary Alice Foster, age 89, Reynoldsburg

"During the winter months we would often wake up with snow on our beds from cracks in the windows. We could not afford to buy new windows so we covered them with oil cloth. To keep our feet warm at night we would heat a brick on our coal stove, cover it with a small blanket, and take it to bed with us."
- Violet Hardin, age 89, Wapakoneta

"Until my junior year at school, we - father, brother and I - shared two rooms in the cellar of a duplex. There I learned to cook on a four burner coal stove that was a glutton for coal all year long. And I did indeed scrub clothes in a zink tub on a scrub board. (My brother) Mel and I wrung out the clothes by hand. The water was pumped from a community pump, if not frozen in the winter. And, oh yes, the outhouse! It was never too far away in the summer, and never close enough in the winter! And kerosene lamps lit the way."
- Louis Mamula, age 88, Lowellville

"We didn't have a radio or TV and had very few books to read. A Sears and Roebuck catalog sometimes. I remember Mother ordering some toilet paper from Sears. She didn't have the stock number or anything to go by. She got the toilet paper all right, and a letter telling her to use the catalog number and price the next time. I remember her writing them a letter also, saying if 'I had your catalog I would not have ordered the toilet paper.' Many of the out houses had a Sears catalog nailed to the wall, some pages were awful slick I remember. But they sure did beat the rough corn cobs... I tell you one thing, in the cold winter it didn't take very long to do your business and get back in the house."
- Earl Miller, age 94, Chillicothe

"My parents moved to a cottage in the Irish Hills of Michigan, I don't know what year (about 1929). The cottage was good sized and at the end of a narrow road through a swamp on the southwest end of the lake and had five plots of ground. The house had no inside plumbing and was unfinished upstairs. It had just a hand pump inside the kitchen area, which had to be primed each morning and produced icy cold water from an underground spring. No hot or cold running water, no inside toilet, just a pot with a lid upstairs that night where we slept. No electricity or central heating."
- Marian O'Shea, age 84, Toledo

"The cold nights we snuggled up to the register (heat from the coal furnace) or played the player piano to keep warm (the harder you pumped, the warmer you got, and of course singing along with the piano roll was so much fun!). Then we all had a cup of cocoa made with canned milk, cocoa and lots of water, all steaming warm (sorry no marshmallows then!)."
- Doris Portmann, age 76, Navarre

"Fortitude was a key concept of the family. For years, we made do with kerosene lamps. Through the Rural Electrification Act, however, farm homes began to get electricity in the 1930s; our family got its first refrigerator in 1942. We started to benefit from indoor plumbing, no longer having to use the outhouse, in which the old Sears and Roebuck catalogs had become standard toilet paper."
- Wallace L. Pretzer, age 78, Bowling Green

"We heated and cooked with mainly wood and, now and then, some coal. Water came from a spring nearby, but had to be carried in for cooking, bathing, cleaning and laundry. Thankfully we had a drain for used water. Our restroom was an outhouse. It was a hard life. All of the jobs were labor intensive. Money was not to be had. There was no social income. No work, no money, no eat."
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"We lived in a couple rooms at a private residence and I remember the single light bulb hanging in the combination living room/bedroom. Mother cooked on a hot plate and washed dishes in the bathroom, which we shared. No refrigerator, only a window box to use in the winter. We never had a thought in our mind that maybe we weren't rich. Mom and Dad always had a job and everybody laughed all the time."
- Vane S. Scott, Jr., age 85, Newcomerstown

"Our house had eight rooms and was built in the 1880s. It was heated by three fireplaces and a coal burning cook stove. The bedrooms were upstairs and were not heated, except on very cold nights we might put a hot water bottle, a sad iron wrapped in a towel or a half gallon fruit jar filled with hot water between the sheets to remove some of the chill. The bedding consisted of a set of springs, a straw tick, a feather tick, sheets and as many quilts as needed. There was a chamber pot in those bedrooms in winter time, and it did freeze. The pot had to be taken downstairs in the morning and placed by the fireplace to thaw so it could be emptied. The water supply for the house was a pitcher pump in the kitchen, which drew water from a 2,000 gallon cistern. This was a rather advanced water supply of the time, as most people had to carry water from a spring or well located some distance from the house. Baths were taken and clothing was changed once a week in wintertime, more often in the summer. The bath tub was a large galvanized laundry tub which was placed in front of the fireplace in the living room. Water was heated on the cook stove in the kitchen and then carried to the tub."
- William M. Shaw, age 87, Sarahsville

"I remember taking a shower in a 'bath' room that had no hot and cold running water. It didn't even have a bath tub. It did, however, have a galvanized iron (circular) tub in which I stood, and poured heated water from a metal bucket (using a metal dipper) over my body to wash, and then to rinse. It was some time later in my young life that I became acquainted with a more luxurious showering method.

"I also remember how I got coal to heat the water in a bucket over a coal stove. Freight trains carrying coal would stop from time to time along railroad tracks about three blocks from where I lived. I, along with kids from the neighborhood, would board the freight trains and throw off small lumps of coal that we gathered up in bushel baskets and carted away. As we ran, two of us - one on each side of the bushel, hanging on to the wire handles and running as best we could - were being chased by railroad "dicks" (police) who never caught us, because they never intended to. I remember those compassionate pretenders with a warm heart."
- Frank C. Sohaiby, age 87, Youngstown

"Surviving the worst, we finally installed indoor plumbing and facilities. After showering, I descended the stairs exclaiming, 'Gee, I feel good!' My brother responded, 'Now, you know how I feel all the time.' And the same brother: 'We'll get along. The flowers, the birds, the trees; they get along. We'll get along!'"
- Richard Prescott Stearns, age 79, Cleveland

"Our home was very simple, no electricity or indoor bathroom. Water was piped into the kitchen with a pitcher pump to draw the water. Hot water was a small tank on the side of our wood and coal cooking stove. We did have a telephone with all the neighbors on the party line. Sometimes it took a while to get a call through, as that was the morning news among the ladies. Everyone listened in on one's conversations."
- Beva Stonebreaker, age 89, Cadiz

"We were always moving to a different house. Once, we rented a two-bedroom bungalow. Dad 'fixed it up' and the land lord raised the rent! I remember one house with a big kitchen and round, oak table for eight. We gathered 'round this table every morning before bus time to hear the weather and news on our little, red Bakelite radio. The news one morning sadly told of the kidnapping and murder of the little Lindbergh baby. We all cried our hearts out at the round oak table and I cried all the way to school in my little red snow suit and black knee boots. We cared!"
- Joy Thomas, age 80, Canfield

"My father cut logs and built a 'temporary' cabin where we lived for nearly ten years. It was 14 feet by 28 feet, and by the time my youngest sister was born there, it contained two adults and eight children. Dad built hanging bunks from the four corners; the center great room was the cooking, eating, living and entertaining space. We managed. I remember the day we moved in, torrents of rain pointed out the unfinished holes in the roof. the windows were still only grain sacks, and Mother and I scrambled for all the pots and kettles to catch the dripping water. Things improved, of course, as we all pitched in, kids gathering moss to stuff in the cracks and Dad continuing to finish things. We all have wonderful memories of the cozy family times there."
- Margaret Vail, age 86, Mansfield

"My father harvested wood to use in the heating stove in the living room and the cook stove in the kitchen. The kitchen stove had a reservoir to heat the soft water from the outside cistern. We used the soft warm water for washing clothes, dishes, hands and hair. On Saturdays, we had our weekly baths in a big galvanized tub (in the kitchen). My mother would make home-made soap, one of the ingredients was lye. I can't remember ever boughten (sic) soap. We also had well water from a pump that contained hard water. We used the hard water for drinking and cooking vegetables. We had a large water tank in the barnyard. One of us children would pump water to fill the tank so the cows could drink the cool water."
- Marie Vaughan, age 85, Bucyrus

"We lived in old farmhouses, with no indoor plumbing, electricity or central heating. We had a well and a pump outside the back door where we got water to drink. All of us drank out of the water pail, using the same dipper. We took baths every Saturday in a large round galvanized tub behind the living room stove. Upstairs was always unheated, and freezing in the winter. We ate supper and did our homework by the light of a kerosene lamp that gave out very poor light. When I was in high school, we got an Alladin lamp that gave out a bright white light. We had a battery radio that my father charged with a gasoline engine, which also pumped water for the animals."
- Carol Vincent, age 86, Centerville

"Running water was me running to a pump. Electricity hadn't yet come to our road. (We had) no plugged-up toilet because we had an outhouse, so in the winter, you were either quick or constipated. But even with a lack of what we now call essentials, we didn't miss them much because we didn't know what they were. Well, at least we didn't know any neighbors who had them."
- George K. Weimer, Jr., age 77, Sebring

"The great drought and heat wave in the Midwest affected all of us. No one owned a home air-conditioner. We endured the dry hot days and sweltering nights. The local undertaker furnished our churches with hand-held cardboard fans, which we could take home. Night time, we dragged our sheets from the upstairs beds, placing them on the living room floor in order to catch the night air. Sleep came slowly, if at all, on hot nights and the hard floors... Saturdays were 'a hot time in the old town tonight.' It was a day to light the side-arm gas water heater. We could have a whole tub of warm water for our bath and to wash our hair. Other days we bathed by boiling our water in a large tea-kettle and carrying upstairs to the bathroom. We were always washed and cleaned. We had to work at it. Heating water was expensive. You saved where you could. You could tell by the body odor given off in study hall that others couldn't afford such luxuries."
- June A Young, age 84, Worthington

"Coal for the furnace, it was used very sparingly together with wood that we gathered for the winter months. This was another fall activity: sawing and collecting wood for the winter. We did not have refrigerators, but almost everyone had a homemade window one where most of the perishable things were kept. (The arrival of) the coal man and ice man were special moments, watching the coal slide down the coal shoot (every home had one) and putting a sign out for the iceman (25-50-75 pounds). And, running after the ice wagon to get that special piece of fallen ice was part of life as we lived it."
- William L. Zurkey, age 84, Boardman

"At five or six o'clock, every morning, milk was delivered to the front porch of the customers. White, chocolate, buttermilk and even butter (by some dairies), were delivered by a horse-drawn wagon. The glass bottles were capped with a paper disk pressed in to the top of the bottle. These bottles were washed when empty and placed on the porch for the milkman to pick up when he deliver the next day. The milkman had a wire basket that held eight one-quart glass bottles of milk. After filling the basket with eight bottles of milk, he would hop off the wagon and carry the milk to one house after another, until he had no bottles of milk left in the case, only empty bottles. He then went to the wagon, removed the empty bottles, refilled the case with milk and went back delivering the milk. Occasionally, the resident of a house needed something different. They would place a note in one of the empty bottles. If he did not have the item in his case, he walked back to the wagon to get the item. During this whole process, the horse, pulling the wagon, would move along the street, with no controls, keeping even with the milkman. If the milkman stopped, the horse would wait, patiently until the milkman moved on."
- Don Conrad, age 81, Lewis Center

"I remember the ice man coming to fill the icebox, the paper rex man on horse and buggy and vegetables being sold by a produce man coming down the street in a truck. I remember the knife sharpening man coming down the street with his stone wheel to sharpen neighbors' kitchen knives. These were the good times in my life."
- Daniel P. Gentile, Sr., age 70, Parma

"We cooled our food with ice that was delivered. We would chase after the ice man so we could get the ice chips to suck on. The ice box had a pan underneath to catch the melting ice."
- Edna Hanson, age 76, Toledo

"My parents had a general store in Palestine, Ohio in the late 1920s. When I was 12 and 13, my job was to sort eggs in the crates in a back room of the store. Saturday was the big day for farmers to come to town. They brought a basket or pail of eggs and a container of cream to trade for groceries. I crated the eggs and mother weighed and tested the cream. We put a slip in their containers for how much money they had coming and for many of them that was how many groceries they could buy for the week. If they had picked out more groceries than they had money coming from the eggs and cream, I've seen many have to put something back as they had no extra money to pay for it. "
- John Lamb, via e-mail

"We were able to get a few baby chicks and raise them, now we had eggs. Sometimes, if we had no money, we would walk the five mile to the store carring a live chicken, tied by the feet, and trade for the few basic items. We sometimes sold the eggs. I remember we got eight cents a dozen for them. I remember walking with my sister, each of us carrying a live chicken. We finally were able to get a mule and my father made a cart for him. Now we did not have to walk the five miles."
- Neva Rees, age 87, Marietta

"My mother and I also had our share of itinerant peddlers coming to our home, ranging from the Fuller brush man, to encyclopedia salesmen to nomadic photographers. Milk was delivered by horse-drawn wagon, bread from a van, and our refrigerator was an ice box. A sign placed in the window notified the ice man of the amount of ice we desired."
- Stan Shriver, age 79, Columbus

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Jobs, Schemes and Other Ways to Make Money

"I had an aunt younger than me, and one time when I was at their house, we went to the orchard and gathered a bushel of apples. We brought them to the house, washed them and polished them. She and I walked down the road and sold them to the W.P.A. guys that were working along the road. They enjoyed them very much and were glad to get them for a few cents each... I guess selling apples was my first job, but we didn't consider it work. We had fun doing it."
- Marjorie Angst, age 84, Hamilton

"My father had been a legit theater musician - he played piccolo and flute in theater orchestras for Ziegfeld and various shows that came to town. It was the era of the live, beautiful, romantic music of V. Herbert, Rudolf Friml and Sigmund Romberg, etc. My dad went from a tuxedo to overalls, as to change from music to printing. He retired from the Dispatch as a sterotyper. But as the Depression worsened, his work became scarce to none."
- Clark Biddle, age 82, Hilliard

"As the country started to get back on its feet, my father and two brothers were offered jobs on the W.P.A. working, fixing roads. I worked for the N.Y.A. (National Youth Administration). I worked at the Junior High School for one year. I graded papers for the teachers and sold school supplies in the principal's office. I took care of the library. I believe I was paid $33 a month. The job lasted one year."
- Eleanor Ungaro Carpenter, age 89, East Palestine

"When my father came home from having served with the US Army in Europe during World War I, he met and married my mom and found a job working as a clerk for the Wabash Railroad. It was not a great paying job, but during those Depression years, when so many men lost their jobs in factories and industries, my father never missed a day of work unless it was on the two weeks of paid vacation each year. The government apparently realized that the railroads must keep operating."
- William Cox, age 85, Sylvania

"Grandma has lived in Piqua, Ohio, her whole life. During the Great Depression, she lived with her parents, her husband (my great grandfather), her two children (my grandfather and great aunt) and her younger brother. Her husband worked in the W.P.A., which was a government-sponsored organization. He worked there his whole life and was paid $12 a month during the time of the Depression. She stayed home and took care of her two young children and her parents. Her brother sold newspapers downtown every day. He would stay out from 6 a.m. until around dark. Her family lived off what her brother and husband brought home in the form of money."
- Meg Denman, sophomore at Madison Comprehensive High School, about her grandmother, Marcella Denman, age 92, Mansfield

"While I was still in school, I worked on Saturdays. It's not that I didn't get enough, but I wanted some things that we couldn't buy. I did housework. I was getting 75 cents for half a day. I could make a down payment on a pair of shoes - $1.95 for the shoes - and they were good shoes, too! For a lot of women, the only job was to do housework. They lived in people's homes and did the housework, cooking, everything. I graduated from junior high school in 1934 and went to work at Queen City Laundry. I was a sorter... I worked at Fairdale Handbag Company for 17 years. There was no decent minimum wage in those days."
- Magnolia Fielder, age 93, Cincinnati

"As I grew up, I had a variety of jobs. My father had three jobs at times, in a steel mill, a screw factory and did side work, concrete sidewalks and driveways and other things. My mother, while we were small, was a housewife. I worked in a shoe shop, washed cars and worked in a bakery. I shined shoes on Madison Ave., from west 73rd St. to west 110th St. I would go to public square on weekends and shine shoes in front of the terminal tower. As I got older, I delivered all three newspapers (Plain Dealer, News, Press) at old St. John Hospital before and after school. On Saturday and Sunday, I would shave old men patients at the hospital."
- Daniel P. Gentile, Sr., age 70, Parma

"Dad talked to a farmer who had a large field of strawberries. In the winter, he went to Florida where he had another strawberry farm. We were able to live in his house rent free and be caretakers in the winter when he was away (he kept one room for himself to live in.) We enjoyed the farm very much. Also, he paid us the great sum of one or two cents a quart. We had to pile the baskets as high as we could, and then he took berries off the top to make extra baskets. He then sold them for 10 cents a quart."
- Mary Elizabeth Stillwagon Glass, age 88, Cambridge

"We were a family of eight and my father was a carpenter. During the Depression there was almost no building going on. Because of this, my father had very little work. When he did work, the owner of the company was often unable to pay him. and my mother would go to him and have to beg for a couple dollars to buy necessities, like flour, to help her feed the family. My sister and I peddled papers in Zoar. We also had to clean the two-room school every day after school. My oldest brother had to go to school early every day and build a fire in the downstairs and upstairs stoves so the school was warm when it started. In the summer, we would sell bouquets of wild violets for a nickel to people visiting Zoar. Around 1930, the Zoar Dance Hall was built. At 15 and 16 years old, my sister and I got jobs working there selling tickets and making sandwiches. We would walk home alone at 2 or 3 in the morning. As with all our jobs, the money went to our parents. If we found a penny, we thought we really had something."
- Irene Class Haueter, age 94, Bolivar

"During the winter months, George remembers his dad leaving for Detroit for work. He was an auto metal finisher. His dad would get on a train and ride to Detroit, only to come home on the weekends. He still remembers his mom 'de-lousing' his dad every time he returned. He guesses the living conditions where his dad stayed were bad."
- Rick Prentice about Geoge Hibbs, age 75, Grand Rapids

"When I was 7 years old - my mother and dad opened a grocery store and ice cream parlor. My father was the first taxidermist on the west side of Cleveland. Mom and Dad were in the business for years. The best thing was that they were generous to people who were poor. Mom put their names in a book and how much they bought. Some moved and never paid her back. Dad gave away deer meat, fish, rabbit and squirrel meat to anyone who came in his store and needed food."
- Marcella Huber, age 85, Medina

"Our father drove a city bus for $35 a week and, fortunately, had a job all through the bad times. Our mother took in washings, getting $3 from someone for a big basket of clean and pressed clothing, something that took about four hours to finish. She cleaned peoples' homes for minimum amounts of money. Every Sunday, we each got a nickel to contribute to the collection at Sunday School."
- Ruth Mueller Jones, age 88, Cincinnati

"We delivered milk to customers in the valley and many of them could not pay their bills, but we still delivered the milk to them because they had children that needed it. The W.P.A. had many people working on this county road. Where they cut the banks down and cleaned ditches all by hand with mattocks, picks and shovels, and loaded the dirt in trucks by hand with a shovel. I recollect carrying milk to them in carriers where I sold them for five cents a pint, 10 cents a quart. It was hard work, but we had to do it. We also had people come up to the farm looking for work, we hired what we needed and paid them 75 cents to $1.50 a day, plus meals, and they were very happy. They would walk 2 1/2 miles from Lansing to the farm. They hoed corn, harvested vegetables, picked fruit and hand-cut field corn, shocked it till harvest. The elder people would help in heavier work like loose hay shocking, oats and wheat, cutting down field corn for ensilage use and loading on a wagon to be taken to the silage cutter and blown into the silo. They also helped at threshing time, when the help and neighbors would converge. On the day of threshing, we always had a great meal for them. Then we would move to the next farm and did the same."
- Carl Krob, age 82, Bridgeport

"At about age 12, I obtained a Dayton Daily News paper route with about 40 customers, earning about two dollars a week. The price of the daily paper was two cents and seven cents for the Sunday edition. At 19 cents per week for the paper, it was often difficult to collect from some of the customers, making it necessary to go back two or three times to collect. Some of them would run the bill up for three or four weeks before they paid. I had to pay for the papers each week, resulting in holding the bag when one of them moved away. In my junior year I was hired by the owner of the neighborhood grocery store to work all day Saturday for $2, and after a few weeks he asked me to come in after school for two hours at 25 cents per hour. I was now earning about $4.50 per week and I quit my paper route. I spent most of my money buying my clothes, such as $2.99 for a pair of shoes at Thom McCann's, or trousers from the Metropolitan."
- Richard E. Lee, age 90, Centerville

"When President Roosevelt started the W.P.A. to give work to the poor it was a blessing. My Mother got a job cleaning the walls at City Hall. She made $3.45 a day, which was a fortune to us. I recently found the original weekly time book my Mother filled out for hours worked cleaning walls. She was put in charge of the crew that worked with her."
- Louise Norling Maccioli, age 83, Louisville

"The economy of all these events forced us to share homes for nearly 40 years for (my parents and grandparents) and 21 years for me. Grandma Eva became my surrogate mother because her job was that of "homemaker". My mother went back to her teenage job at Halle Brothers Department Store in downtown Cleveland. This time, she would learn the switchboard in the telephone office. My dad laid bricks when there was a job maybe two hopefully three days a week he was considered one of the lucky ones for this place in time. Eventually, he joined the W.P.A., (government backed jobs) initiated by F.D. Roosevelt. Dad supervised new roads built as well as road repair. This would lead him into his own business when times got better. Lewis Industrial Floors put asphalt floors into all the breweries in Cleveland, waterproofed bridges and provided us a good life."
- Marilyn Markle, age 79, North Royalton

"Dad was on the school board and when there wasn't enough money to pay the teachers, they were offered a small stipend plus room and board. The room and board was provided by the board members. I can remember being very proud about having a teacher stay at 'our house.'"
- Martha McMahon, age 85, Medina

"We raised about ten acres of tobacco every year. We set all of it by hand until 1932. It was a tough job to set out a row of two hundred plants without stopping. My dad dropped the plants spaced just right, my brother used a dibble to make a hole for the plants, my mother poured water in the hole and I put the plant in the wet hole and raked the dirt around very firm. We hardly ever had a plant die. We burnt the big tobacco bed until we had all the weeds killed out, then sowed tobacco seed in it. It was usually about nine feet wide and 75 feet long. You had to put thin muslin cloth over all of it to keep the tender plants from burning by the hot sun. About the first of May and June, the plants would be big enough to set out. In August, we would split the stalks with a tobacco knife and cut it off. Then we would put five or six stalks on a four foot tobacco stick and hang it in the big tin barn to cure. That was my job to do in the big barn. At the highest point in the barn in August I know the temperature was at 125 degrees or more. I stripped down to my shorts, yet the sweat still poured off me."
- Earl Miller, age 94, Chillicothe

"My next job was on a farm, where I worked six days a week and did chores on Sunday for $3 a week and board and room. That was about the time I decided to go back to school and graduate. The local situation was a dead end, so I went to Florida. There I got work that paid a bit better. I came home when the job finished and got a better one here. The Depression was fading, probably due to wartime production, even though we weren't in it yet. It ended for me when I was drafted in 1941, and WW2 solved it for the whole country."
- Harry G. Moll, age 92, Wauseon

"When I was a lad, my father lived in Newton Falls, Ohio, and got a job at Newton Steel Mill. He was laid off from there and I had to quit school to help with the family. I would take produce from the garden and walk up and down streets in Newton Falls to sell my items. I would carry two baskets of berries or other produce and the money made from their sales helped keep my family together."
- Ed Persino, Niles

"When I was in fourth grade, I was in girl scouts and a neighbor fixed me up with a business of selling vegetables out of his garden, and he would grind horseradish and put in jars. After I would sell all that he put in baskets, I got a percentage, and this was how I would buy my girl scout things like a winter jacket, a hat, socks and other items. Once in a while, my mother would bake home made bread and buns and sell it to people in the neighborhood."
- Rosemary Rausch, age 83, Plain City

"We were probably poor - but didn't realize it. We always had plenty of food and enough clothes. My father was a funeral director and the nature of the business is Depression-proof. However, I remember people couldn't pay him, so he was paid in baskets of fruit, vegetables, etc., or some one would offer to do work for him. One woman did our laundry and ironing for a year to pay off her debt. It must have been for more than one funeral!"
- Pauline Robinson, age 84, Minerva

"The Great Depression certainly had an impact on me and my family. I was a teenager during the Depression, and even at that young age, given the bad economic situation, I felt I needed to get a job to help my family financially. I was just finishing high school and the courses I took in college were dictated by the depressed conditions at the time. My parents had dreamed of their son, Ted, becoming a doctor. In my own way, I responded to their dream by getting a degree in chemistry at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). However, upon graduation from college, instead of going on to medical school, I felt that the best way to help my family was to get a job right away. What kinds of jobs were available during that time when so many people were out of work? Social workers were needed and so I applied for and received a job offer from the county welfare department in Cook County Illinois. My job gave me the opportunity to help unemployed people obtain the help they needed from the local government, including receiving welfare. So I got a job helping those who could not find work! I must say that the economic situation forced me to make a choice of jobs I never would have made otherwise."
- Theodore Ruhig, age 92, Boston Heights

"After graduation, I had a truck driving job, which paid $12.00 a week. I worked long hours with no extra pay, no overtime. I was lucky to have this job. President Roosevelt was elected president and passed the Social Security Act. My pay was cut 12 cents to $11.88. It doesn't sound like a big pay cut, but I missed that 12 cents in my paycheck."
- Matthew Sabatina, age 94, Akron

"My clearest memories are from the latter years of the Great Depression, around 1938, when my first cousin, Taylor-Floyd, after high school graduation, moved from his rural farm to stay with us in the city and seek his fortune. Among the vocations that he tried, was going door to door trying to convince families to purchase a Hawaiian guitar. Every evening when he returned, I asked him what success he had. I do not believe that he ever actually made a sale, but he always stated that he had 'prospects.'"
- Stan Shriver, age 79, Columbus

"There were not many jobs available. Factory work paid less than 50 cents per hour and sometimes as little as 15 cents. If one could get a job, it might be far enough from home to make getting there difficult. After graduation from Maple Heights High school in 1935, my first job paid 28 3/4 cents per hour. Some of my classmates who were earning as much as 40 cents an hour were only working part time."
- John W. Straka, Jr., age 91, Maple Heights

"My Dad was chief inspector at a Ford Motor tool factory. It stayed in operation with a few men, but the pay was next to nothing. He worked anywhere he could. The shirt factory by where my two Aunts lived and worked closed and they came to live with us. Soon, an Uncle came. We had a small house, three bedrooms, no bathroom. My Mom was a good cook, she got a job at the hotel, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., six days a week, and was paid $5 a week. She brought leftovers for us home."
- Mildred Swab, age 96, Saint Clairsville

"I remember our fourth grade teacher and her husband both worked. Many people thought this was terrible that two people would be working in one family, where others had no job. At one time, a married woman in Youngstown could not teach because of this. I talked to a man who worked in the steel mills in Warren and he said he worked one day every other week."
- Ferd Thoma, age 82, Newton Falls

"To make a buck, we would sell newspapers for the Telegram News. We would sell old rags and scrap iron, bottles and aluminum to the scrap man. We would caddie for doctors, attorneys and their wives. In early spring, we would rake the leaves and trim the hedges, and in the winter, we would shovel snow. They would feed us and give us out-grown toys, such as bikes, skates, wagons and sleighs. They were good to us. Farmers would have work for some of us. They were cheap payers and we walked five miles to the farms. The little money we made, we gave to our parents to help out."
- Joe Trolio, age 83, Hubbard

"My father was a painter and paper hanger, so much of his pay when he worked for farmers came in the form of livestock. He always butchered in November and all the meat from pigs, except the backbone, went into sausage, which he sold three pounds for 25 cents. What didn't sell my mother canned. There were three small towns within a 15-mile radius, where we lived with oil refineries. Thank goodness there were no unions and little greed, so the owners divided up the work. Married men were allotted three days per month. Sometimes they were lucky and got called in a few more days depending on business. My dad was notified by postal card as we couldn't afford a telephone."
- Robert Vensel, age 92, Canton

"When the President declared a bank holiday, it affected the small local banks, and made it nearly impossible to get any kind of a loan. We were in the natural ice business and my dad always had to borrow money to pay for the harvest. I recall for several years during that period when he was unable to get a loan, although his credit had always been excellent, He found the men he needed from the many unemployed in the area. They agreed to work and be paid the following summer, and they always got paid. My Dad found a way to adapt to a situation that appeared to be hopeless."
- Leon White, age 89, Columbiana

"This was a summer of hard work for the whole family. Any garden produce we had left over was sold. We kids were the ones who went house to house selling garden produce. One of our big setters was green beans. A strawberry basket piled high was one pound and this sold for 10 cents. I remember one lady produced scales to check my weight estimate. To her surprise the strawberry basket held a little over one pound, so I removed the overage. Everyone at our house thought that was pretty funny.

"We Lived in Zanesville, Ohio at this time. There was a small dairy on one of the side streets, just off Brighton Boulevard. They made ice cream bars. They would make up boxes with dry ice and ice cream. We kids would take off then hollering "Ice Cream Bars, five cents!" We made 1½ cents on each ice cream bar. On a good hot day we could make about 25 cents. NOT REALLY BAD! In 1936, I was about nine years old and my sister about six at the time. Well sir, we found out that if we were all dressed up and she had a ribbon in her hair we could go where the W.P.A. was working and our sales would pick up. Some days, we could make 50 cents or so! You had to look sharp and take advantage of opportunity."
- N. D. Zimmerman, age 82, Cambridge

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Family, Community and Kindness Toward Strangers

"My mother and father had a son and three daughters. We lived off of the land and everyone had to work. I was the youngest and even had chores to do. We were very poor, but always had plenty to eat and we played well together, making our own fun. We had lots of relatives who lived in the big cities with good jobs and had everything they wanted. Now, they were losing their jobs and were desperate with no money coming in. There was no road for about a half mile from our house. Now we would see heads popping up over the hill. These rich people needed help and were coming to our house. They pretended to be coming for a visit, but they forgot to go home."
- Mary Ammons, age 81, Cleveland

"We lived in a very close-knit Italian neighborhood and shared what we had. Others did the same. Often times 'trades' were made for needed goods and food. Meat was a big source for trading. Milk was a luxury - one quart per week was what we could afford. Desserts were non-existent. We were lucky to have an orange or an apple as a treat."
- Madge Conti Browning, age 92, Columbus

"A neighborhood was more like one family than just a collection of families living on the same street. No one locked their doors and children were permitted to come and go as they pleased. In addition, this sense of 'family' also limited any sentiments of competition. Ms. Weber contested the old saying of 'keeping up with the Joneses' and said, 'The Joneses didn't have anything to keep up with. If you needed a cup of milk, you went next door and got it.'"
- Emma Polly, about Julia Weber, age 87, Olmsted Falls

"My Dad raised corn, wheat and oats, and each year there was a time for threshing. He made a reservation with a man who had the machinery to do the job, and our neighbors all pitched in to help. The women came and worked in the kitchen to make meals for the workers. It was truly a big threshing party - an event for every farmer and a day of hard work."
- E. Marie Dornbrook, age 87, Parma Heights

"Just like today, grown children found they couldn't make it on their own and moved back to their parent's homes, bringing their families, too."
- Laverne Hillyer Fifer, age 92, Northwood

"We helped our neighbors and they in turn helped you. We went to church, I walked about three miles to go and my Mom and I would chat with our neighbors. Back then, everyone helped each other."
- Patarica LeMay Hauger, age 81, Meigs County

"In fact, together (our parents) raised nine children, who may have lacked occasionally from material things. But, there was always food on the table, plenty of playmates and a piece of pie for anyone who stopped by. Mom and Dad worked hard to make ends meet and strove to instill the values of hard work, honesty, and morality into their brood. To this day, Mom stubbornly refuses still to pick a favorite child, saying instead, 'I love them all.' And when a son or daughter might try to point out an occasional character flaw in Dad, her instant defense, with a twinkle in her eye, would always be, 'I coulda done worse!'"
- Mary Inbody about her mother, Dorotha Inbody, age 94, Findlay

"Telephone was the only source of news. A dear friend, Lucy Pritchard, would always keep mother informed and we would also hear stories at church. We had wonderful neighbors who were like family. We gave to each other what we could. We cried, worried and laughed together. That was true friendship, and we are still close friends to those who are still living."
- Phyllis Spohn Johnson, age 81, Butler

"My dad had a Victory Garden on Detroit Rd. during the Depression. From that, he loaded the tables for all our neighbors, and he loved it. It was quite a bit of work for his garden, as we had to haul large bottles of water out there to keep the plants alive. I was a slim girl in those days, and the bottles of water were heavy... but when I knew that this garden meant so much to him, I gladly did it. I am now 88 years old, and still happy I did that."
- Jean Lee, age 88, via e-mail

"As the wall of Wall St. crashed and the world went into a world-wide economic down spin, I was eight years old in 1929. For the next eleven years, each day brought stress and strain upon my family until circumstances, added to the nature of the Depression, we became a dysfunctional family. Grandfather, father, mother sister, aunts and uncles, shattered and scattered all over the country, each seeking their own survival."
- Louis Mamula, age 88, Lowellville

"I was raised during the worst years of the Great Depression. In 1927, when my family returned to Ohio from Florida, my birthplace, we were destitute. My widowed Grandpa expected us and took us in. He lived in a big modern (for that day) home on a farm. There were three children, soon to be four, and now three adults in our family to feed. My Dad was to sharecrop Grandpa's land for our rent. He tried everywhere to find extra work to no avail. Grandpa helped us as much as he could. He also had nine other children, and he tried to help them all."
- Ouida Peacock, no age or location given

"We had so much company. Now we were not rich, not at all. But, because my dad had a job, they came so often and we didn't know they were coming. But they knew if we ate they were not going to leave until they ate... When these relatives, and sometimes their friends, came all the time, this had to make us low on funds. I don't ever remember any of us children ever having winter over boots. So I couldn't play in the cold weather and in the snow. I don't remember having gloves either. It was like my dad was trying to feed (other) families when it was hard feeding his own. My mother said in later years that she sometimes had to cook twice to get everyone fed."
- Louine Smith, age 85, Lima

"Over the hill about a half mile through the woods, was a row of coal company houses where people lived who had worked in the mines before they closed. Some had found jobs but most were unemployed. These houses were a faded red and we called the street 'Red Row,' and the kids who came up through the woods to go to school with us, we called 'Red Rowers.' They had strange names: Peter Galice and Peter Valinski are two I remember. They were poor and a little different. One day after lunch, Peter Galice smelled so strong, it made me gag. He must have eaten a raw garlic sandwich for lunch. We never cooked with garlic at my house, and the smell was strange and repugnant to me. I remember complaining to the teacher. My brother recalls eating an orange on the way to school. Oranges were a treat we received on Christmas or special occasions. One of the Red Rowers was walking to school behind us and asked if he could pick up the orange peels and eat them. That was as close to an orange as he would have for a few years. It was 1940 and times were rough for most people."
- Julia K. Swan, age 76, Cambridge

"Our wash lady (we had no washer or iron) and her family of 12 kids were evicted from their home when they no longer could afford to pay the rent. We found them with the 12 kids - heads shaven to discourage lice - living in a tent in the woods, fishing in the creek and picking wild blackberries for food. All were barefoot and shirtless and hollow-eyed, hiding behind trees when we approached them with a box of sparse food and clothing. They were so grateful they all cried and we rode all the way home quietly in silence, wondering why we were so lucky!"
- Joy Thomas, age 80, Canfield

"My favorite time each summer was threshing day. The owner of a big old cumbersome threshing machine took it from farm to farm and all the neighbors would congregate at the respective farms to help. Mom baked pies and bread all week, and on threshing day, some of my aunts came early in the morning to help. The women cooked a huge meal for as many as thirty men on our coal stove. When noon came, the men came in and ate, while we women and girls served. Then, we sat down to talk and laugh and eat the rest of the food."
- Carol Vincent, age 86, Centerville

"Caring and sharing was top priority. Relatives who lived in town and had hardly any income were welcomed to come help and take home produce from the gardens and from butchering, meat. Two neighbors out of work were hired to shock wheat and ooooh SOOO grateful for that little bit of income. I was sent with prepared food down the country road to an elderly lady without family. I was sent to care for four little boys when a traveling bread man found a mother down with a heart attack... We did lots of things in the community without pay."
- Gladys A. Wilhelm, age 87, Sebring

"We saw destitution almost daily when passing homeless males called at our door for food to keep them on the road - always looking for food and work. Many slept in our barn overnight after my mother, as always, provided food from our garden or table with a peanut butter sandwich to go."
- Roger Barrick, age 84, Canton

"During the Depression, many men left their families and walked miles from state to state in search of work. Our farm was about a mile from the railroad tracks and some of these men would follow the tracks and then go from farm to farm to do whatever work they could for a meal or a night's sleep in the barn. Dad was always soft-hearted and would have some chores for them to do, and Mom would fix extra of whatever we were having for supper. She always made me stay in the house when one of these men was around, because she was not as trusting as Dad was. One man who came was selling or trading some fancy scarves and rugs with fringe on the ends and I think Dad bought four or five of them, which we sure couldn't afford, but we had them on the library table and piano stool, etc., for a long long time."
- Donna Jean Donovan, age 83, Massillon

"We had a small vegetable garden but we could not afford to buy fruit. I also remember bums (that's what they were called at that time) knocking at our door for something to eat. My Mother would fix them a sandwich; she knew what it was like to be hungry. The bum would mark an 'X' on our step so that other bums would know they would be fed by us."
- Louise Norling Maccioli, age 83, Louisville

"My parents and I lived across the street from the 'hobo camp.' The neighborhood kids and I would go there and eat with them and listen to the stories they had to tell. They were family men looking for work wherever they could find it. They would come to our door asking for a potato or whatever food we could spare - Always offering to do work for it. We didn't have much, but my mother always gave them a little something."
- Jeannette Mellott, age 78, Plymouth

"After a few days there, my father was very concerned about our survival. One cold winter morning, he got up very early, dressed as warmly as he could and left walking. He said: 'I will not be back until I find a job.' My mother was very worried about him; she thought he may not make it back. He stopped at a farm house four miles away. A man (there) had a trucking business. My Dad told the man: 'We have just moved in. I have no job. I have a wife and nine children. I need work. We have no coal for heat and very little food.' The man said: 'Go with me today and help me, we will get coal and groceries on the way home.' There was no phone; we did not know where he was. At 10 p.m., we saw a vehicle coming up the lane. It was the man with the trucking business. I will never forget the tears in my Mother's eyes, as she hugged my Dad. My Dad worked for the man for $1 a day, until spring. He then got a job working on the road, pounding up rocks. He got $1 a day."
- Neva Rees, age 87, Marietta

"The Depression, with many men out of work, forced some of them to 'ride the rails' in search of work. Some called some of these men bums and just plain beggars who went about asking for free meals. The ones who came to our door, my mother would feed if they would take on a small job on the property. Often as not, they would offer to do work first. We called them hoboes; bums never got a free handout. It seemed as though every county had it's 'poor house' or county home. Many, through no fault of their own, came on hard times and spent the rest of their lives in these poor houses. I am glad to see they have closed down over the years."
- Richard J. Steinmetz, age 78, Tiffin

"The B&O Railroad ran through town, so my mother was always feeding what we called bums - what a misconception! These were men traveling from town to town in search of work. This railroad was very crooked and the train sometimes stalled on a short curve outside of town until they could get up enough steam to continue. This was a favorite place for these transients to cook up what they called 'railroad stew.' I have no idea what the ingredients were but, as I remember, it smelled pretty good. We could see the curve and train from our house, so a number of times, when the train was stalled, a couple of my friends and I would venture out to the curve, and most of the time there was cooking taking place. Most of these men were friendly and we enjoyed hearing their stories. Some were from out of state and had families, and had some really sad tales. I did not fully realize until later on in life the sad plight of these men."
- Robert Vensel, age 92, Canton

"The neighborhood of yore was a wonderful place to live in. We knew all of our neighbors up and down the road and we helped each other out in time of need or crisis. The railroad ran directly behind our property and many poor souls rode the rails. Hardly a day would pass when there was a knock on our door by someone seeking food. Mom would provide them with a grape jelly sandwich, a glass of cold well water and a place to sit and rest in the shade while they ate."
- Bill Williams, age 79, Perrysburg

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Lessons, Values and Advice from the Great Depression

"Am I glad to have lived through the Great Depression? Yes. I learned to appreciate the simple life and to have compassion for those truly in need."
- June M. Baden, age 79, Westerville

"I wouldn't change any of these experiences even if I could. It was more enjoyable than you can ever imagine. I have come to appreciate what a wonderful opportunity my family had to grow up poor in the back woods of West Virginia deprived of nothing that was truly important, and blessed with everything we really needed."
- Betty Banta, age 80, Columbus

"I learned from my father that I should pay myself first and save a portion of everything I earn; to save not just for what I want, but for what I might need; to not spend what I don't have - but to wait until I can afford it whatever it is. I learned that before agreeing to work, I should know what I will be paid, to determine if my time and labor will be best spent in this endeavor. Finally, I learned that there are times when anyone, including me, might need help, and, recognizing this, when others need help, I must step forward, if I am able, and be the helper."
- Stanley L. Blum, age 79, Dayton

"From these humble beginnings, each of us children survived and grew up to have families of our own. In my case, I helped raise three generations of children. Early lessons of the importance of family helped me maintain my perspective during these times. I am grateful for the love and support of my family during our current economic downturn. The lessons of my life have taught me that things can always be worse and can always be better than they are today."
- Marty Bryan, age 82, Columbus

"Yes times were tough and hard, but you know what? Between yesteryears and today, I would go back to that again because you learned how to survive."
- George Campbell, age 74, Cleveland

"Never throw anything away if you can make some use of it. Clean your plate (think of the starving Armenian children and be grateful for what you have). Don't waste anything! Those were lessons for a lifetime of thrift. Buy remainder sale-priced fabrics to repair clothes and to patch badly-worn furniture. Don't throw out food if it's still edible. Don't discard household items, no matter how shabby or out of style, as long as they still work... To build savings, you must discipline yourself. Think very hard about every purchase you make. Always ask yourself: 'Do I really need this, or can I get along without it?' If you can, put it back on the shelf and move on. (When I hear children or adults exclaim, 'I've GOT to have this!' I want to yell: 'No, you DON'T; you won't have to starve or wear threadbare and patched clothing or be forced to live in the dark without that object. You may DESIRE it, but you really don't NEED it!')... If a possession malfunctions or frays, fix it up. If it falls apart, get along without it, just as millions did, because they had no choice. In the Great Depression, few families could afford to buy replacements - and forget buying NEW stuff!"
- Juanita Coulson, age 76, London

"Let us look at these times not as a time of disruption, but as a purposeful step to avoid the greed and over abundance that may have ingrained our way of life in the past. Find ways to give to the less fortunate, for it is in giving that we receive!"
- Frances Daubert, age 80, Centerville

"One day, while at Grandma's, I was sent to the corner grocery store (Patterson's), and I spied a large candy display. To have any candy was a real treat! My favorite, at that time, was the Mary Jane yellow-wrapped caramel peanut butter chew. Well, I stole one (a penny candy). When I returned to Grandma's house and Mom saw what I had done, she made me take the candy back to Patterson's and apologize to Mr. Patterson. I never forgot that, and never did anything like that again."
- Mary Rose DeMaria, age 83, Oregon

"There's always something to enjoy, a bird's song or the bright face of a dandelion. We learned to be cooperative, resourceful, responsible and creative, and to appreciate our blessings. It turned out all right, and this time, it will, too."
- Margaret B. Edwards, age 89, Gibsonburg

"Even though times were tough and uncertain, we accepted what people today would call hardships and made the most of them. Because our lives were simpler, we didn't miss the luxuries people are used to today. We were happy for what we did have and were creative with what we had."
- Laverne Hiller Fifer, age 92, Northwood

"So, I learned frugality, especially since mostly every kid in my neighborhood was in the same situation, or worse off and I was not alone. That forged an optimistic bond I have not forgotten to this day.

"Caution - When I was 6 or 7 years old, I saw a man get scalped. Sitting in the window seat of a streetcar as it pulled up to one of the raised concrete islands where passengers got on, I looked down and saw a man stumble and fall between the edge of the island and the wheels of the streetcar. The whole bloody top of his head flopped back as he fell. Several people tried to help him. The police came and he was finally taken away to a hospital, and we were allowed to proceed. I never did find out how he was, but someone said he would probably survive. Being a somewhat awkward kid, this instilled in me a sense of caution, not to rush willy-nilly into situations, but to take my time.

"Crime - My one big caper as a child came when I was 3 or 4 years old. My father (a bank security guard) usually brought home his handcuffs, pistol and blackjacks. They would go onto the top shelf of his closet. On this occasion, though, he seemed to be very tired and only succeeded in putting away his pistol before getting on his slippers and flopping down in a chair. I then hatched my perfect crime. First, I would incapacitate him and then make my getaway while he slept. With cunning, I very carefully, carefully, snuck up and handcuffed him to the arm of the chair. And, then, I (literally) had a stroke of genius. I hit him on top of the head with the blackjack to ensure enough time to get away. Unfortunately, he caught me halfway down the street and burned my backside with the one slipper that hadn't fallen off as he ran. Another lesson: crime does not seem to pay!

"Religion - About 1938, my parents and I got a ride with one of my uncles to Pennsylvania for my maternal grandmother's funeral. Wakes were usually held in one's home in those days, and it happened I was sitting in front of the coffin while all the others were elsewhere in the house. Naturally, being curious about death, I was closely watching Grandma, whom I hadn't known too long, but who had turned out to be a real pal to me. Suddenly, I thought I saw one of her eyes open and close, giving me a wink in a sea of grinning wrinkles, just as she had in life. It was a daydream or a hallucination of some sort, of course, but as I mulled this over later, I began to think seriously about an afterlife the priests and nuns had been trying to drum into us. Maybe there was something to that after all.

"Mortality - On another trip to Pennsylvania, also for a funeral, my parents and I stopped at an uncle's house. He and his boys were great hunters, and there in the corner of the living room was a pile of rifles and shotguns. Being a kid who played cops and robbers in the streets back home, I immediately rushed over and grabbed shotgun from the stack before anyone could stop me. Pointing it at a man passing by, it went off inches from him, blowing a head-sized hole in the wall where he had been a second before I fired. The recoil blew me across the room, but I think I learned in one look at that man's stricken face what the difference was between living and dying. Then, hysterics hit me, saving my parents the need to hit me themselves. Another lesson in living. Not only did I almost kill someone, but I broke my own rule about rushing into something."
- Lawrence Forbes, age 78, Cleveland

"As I face unemployment and financial challenges, the lessons learned from my folks provides me the reassurance I need when I feel like things are way too tough. We must remain hopeful. We must remain determined. We must remain spiritual. And, in a pinch, a ketchup sandwich makes a great snack!"
- Karen Gaebelein, via e-mail

"When I was old enough to understand a little about life as it was, I found out soon the words 'we can't afford it.' We learned to do without and to appreciate what we had... I still live the way I grew up. When our eldest son was going to graduate, he said some of his friends were getting a car. I told him: 'You're getting a wallet to put the money in that you earn. Save enough until you can buy your car.' He did just that, and found out how hard and long he had to work in order to afford that pleasure. Maybe a depression is what we needed to teach people to live within their means. If more parents pay more attention to what their children are doing, we wouldn't have so many problem children running loose on the streets. Put them to work at home!"
- Theresa Giallombardo, age 80, Maple Heights

"People have it easy today. They need to cut back and do without and change their lifestyle to use what they've got and learn how to live on less money. Children can go without all their toys, and parents, too, can do without all the conveniences of Pampers, paper towels, etc., and all the shopping. Everyone should think about the future and try to be prepared in all ways they can. I believe the best thing to do is for people to stay where they are if at all possible. Moving takes you away from your families and good friends, who help each other out."
- Charlotte Walters Grant, age 88, Jacobsburg

"Those years of the Depression and war molded most youngsters that lived then. Our strength came from a deep sense of what was right and what was not. We knew the difference and lived our lives according to our sense of what is right and what was wrong. To this day, most of us follow those lessons learned in a difficult time of our lives: Help each other. Don't hurt each other. Share what you have. Pull together. If you follow that advice from another time, your life will be better."
- Edna Hanson, age 76, Toledo

"Your word was your bond. Children respected their parents and obeyed them, not the opposite. We shared with others less fortunate. We were taught to tell the truth, and spanked our children for their misdeeds at their bottom so their message would go to their brains."
- Era Harper, age 93, Bedford

"I'm pretty healthy today at eighty-seven years of age, and I think a lot of it was the way we lived at that time. Plenty of exercise and healthy food and a good family working together made a good life."
- Elizabeth Helber, age 87, Logan

"My advice to young people now that have families is first, watch your grocery shopping and shop at nice slightly-used clothing stores for school clothes. And consider a wood burner for next winter."
- Iona Hervey, age 77, Spencer

"For me, the lesson from the Great Depression is that people today still need to live within their means and plan for the future. We somehow made it back then with just a few things to hold on to. I know there's more temptation today to buy things. But do people really need a big new TV set, when they should have other priorities, such as going to school? I didn't get a college degree until later in life, in my late forties. My life would have been much different if I could have gone to college when I was younger. People today need to think carefully before they spend so easily."
- Mildred M. Jacobs, age 89, Columbus

"Our parents were strict, holding us accountable for certain tasks. But, in looking at this part of my life, I can see that we were taught by example to be frugal and responsible, and grew up as a close family - all things that I hope I have passed along to my children. I think I have done this for we all had children, none of them ever got into drugs or crime of any kind, and all of them have families of their own with the same attributes."
- Ruth Mueller Jones, age 88, Cincinnati

"Probably the best advice for today's generation is to cooperate with your employer, buy sensibly, sticking to necessities, and give up some of the luxuries until the recession is over. It will be rough on the kids with their cell phones and high priced toys, but it is one way to get by in hard times. Ignore the word "only" when it appears in an ad with a price."
- Harry G. Moll, age 92, Wauseon

"I believe working hard, sticking together, and watching our pennies helped us through those difficult times. 'Waste not, want not' - important even today. Keep a positive attitude. Remember 'Above the clouds the sun still shines.'"
- Helen Oliver, age 83, Poland

"We didn't have much but made do with what we had. We didn't know we were poor. Perhaps we were better off than other people. We had food, clothing, shelter, each other and love. I'm sure we were happy from within, as material things and money just doesn't do it. I feel when our possessions get too big, they own us instead of us owning them. Also a friend in need is a friend in deed. Hard times teach us values. We should not live off the labor of others."
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"My father had a store and an old truck and wholesale grocery route. I remember Dad and Mother arguing over giving credit to people. Living in a small community, everyone knew each other. Dad would not cut off credit to families who would go hungry if he did. This finally forced them to close the door. Some folks had chickens, and eggs were used as money. You could take eggs to the store and get your needs, or part of them, according to how many eggs you had. The pleasure of an egg for breakfast was rare. If Mom had an extra egg to spare, she'd give it to my two younger sisters and me and we'd get a bag full of candy."
- Edith Ann Richardson, age 88, Middletown

"We were always taught if you're last out of a room, turn out all the lights. Also, don't drive over the speed limits - it saves gas and prevents tickets. We also learned how to budget our money by putting it in several jars each month. Consequently, we never had to use a soup kitchen."
- Thomas Rosmarin, age 85, Columbus

"The Depression taught me many things I might never have learned in a more affluent life: sharing, compassion, responsibility and thrift, perhaps mostly thrift. I learned it early and still have not adjusted to a throw-away economy. I abhor waste, perhaps to a ridiculous degree. Some even today believe me to be a 'cheap skate.' Although I am generous to others, extravagance is not a part of my makeup and I believe most people my age feel the same. At this late date, we're not likely to change."
- Harold Russell, age 85, Gratiot

"The 30s were years when we didn't know we were poor. The quality of life was not about material things, and was still rich and fulfilling. Parents provided a normal as possible life for children. We had few store-bought toys and used our imaginations."
- Esther G. Schwartz, age 77, Columbus

"Having grown up with these hardships, I appreciate having the nice things I have. We had to get our lessons before we went to bed. We sat around a table with an oil lamp with our dad. He made sure we knew our spelling and arithmetic. It was instilled in us as well as honesty and helping our neighbors, along with responsibility."
- Betty Shay, age 83, Delaware

"Those of us who lived during the old Depression learned much about living - 'bitter or better' - when my mom learned to save our home: took in boards, cut down on food, no credit cards, layaways to pay your bills, then it was yours."
- Mildred Sternberg, Toledo

"We came from very humble surroundings, but My Father made us believe that we could do anything if, number one, we listened, learned by study and experience and never do anything to destroy you good name - it can't be bought back. My Mother always added that God came first. In fact, we didn't have a car to get to the Catholic church, we went to the Methodist on Sunday to give thanks. They knew our faith, but just like Holloway people, we all were one."
- Geraldine Vincenzo Szymialis, age 81, Flushing

"Even though we were very poor, as children, we were taught the social graces and rules of etiquette. I learned how to set a table and write a thank-you letter and what clothes were appropriate for various occasions. We were expected to use good grammar and do well in school. I took piano lessons, we went to Sunday School, but there were no extras: One birthday gift, one Christmas present, no movies, no vacations, only necessities."
- Betty Curtice Taylor, age 85, Akron

"What's wrong with packing your lunch? Do you have to get breakfast, lunch and dinner out at a restaurant? A week's groceries could be purchased for the cost of a dinner out. How about saving up for things you 'got to have,' instead of putting them on a credit card? How about mixing and socializing with the neighbors instead of spending money elsewhere? During the Depression years, nothing was wasted. Leftovers were not thrown out and the last amount in the box or tube was squeezed out. People entertained at home. A nickle was something cherished. We can do the same now, and will emerge a better people for it."
- Carl R. Trompeter, age 85, Toledo

"The 'Tithe' was still given. Faith was a guiding force in making right decisions. 'Integrity' was joined by its twin, 'honesty,' as our foundations for hope - we would make it through... and, we did."
- Gladys A. Wilhelm, age 87, Sebring

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Then v. Now

"Today we live in a disposable society: Use it and throw it out, buy more. Most foods are prepackaged. Immediate gratification prevails. We no longer know how to do very basic things for ourselves. We depend on money and others to make our lives fulfilling and happy. Financially, old times were tough, and I'm sure my parents worried, but basically I think we were much happier and healthier in that lifestyle."
- Paula Deatrick Ashton, age 69, Toledo

"I had a brother about five years older than me. We both helped with chores around the house. Some of the children today don't know how to do much of anything. Some are out on the street at night destroying property, even in our small city of Columbiana. We had one cop on duty when I was little... no drug problems... a few town drunks and minor robberies."
- Elizabeth A. Bartholow, age 85, Columbiana

"Great-grandma Crain, during the Depression in Indiana, opened her big house to boarders and thereby helped our own family and others... One revealing piece of writing today might be how through legislation and laws, we have closed ourselves off from many of the very ideas that saved people in the past. How many people are allowed to live together in certain apartments and houses, under one roof? Doubling up isn't as possible as it used to be, so the lesson there might not be as simple as it was for our great-grandparents and great-greats. We have been well-intentioned by government out of some of the possibilities. For example, boarding houses are pretty much illegal now and have been for decades. A few were grandfathered in and ignored into withstanding. The situation would be less likely now. They saved our lives once and then became illegal. To protect us, right? Because everyone didn't have their own bathroom. Because the kitchen wasn't licensed, etc."
- Jenniver Bosveld, Columbus

"In spite of the hardships, which we were unaware of, we survived and thrived without public assistance. There was no social security or Medicare... There were very few beauty parlors, restaurants, motels. We never ate out, as it cost twice as much to eat out as to cook your own meals... Automobiles were scarce and a new one could be bought in 1939 for $810. Today, people have two or three sitting in their driveways. There are many millionaires today, but during the Depression one could scarcely be found. Today, tour agencies can take you to far-flung places that we never dreamed of seeing. We were lucky to get to go to the county fair. There, everyone got all dressed up in the best. Now, fairs are smaller and geared mostly to 4H exhibits. During the Depression, people were lucky to have two outfits to wear. Often, they were hand-me-downs or made from feed sacks. Everything was put to use. Today, most people have closets packed with clothes. Each season they go out and buy more... People today take exercise classes for fitness. We got our exercise from the sweat of the brow. We got our tanning from picking berries or making hay. Children were brought up more strictly. There was a great deal of discipline. Today many children are allowed free reign. Back in those days, neighbor helped neighbor, borrowed machinery and the like. Today, people would rather buy prepared foods or eat out at restaurants, where many of the patrons are overweight, and it is quite costly. Sports events are big time now. Coaches and players alike are paid millions of dollars, and thousands of fans seem to be able to afford seats to the events. During the Depression, baseball games were held in farmers' fields or on school playgrounds, with little money involved. You just had the price of the ball and bat."
- Mary Cole, age 91, Cadiz

"A great gift of the era was to be able to lie on the grass under a tree, day or evening, with a clear mind and imagination - an experience unlike today's technologies."
- Helen De Gifis, age 83, Warren

"What we didn't have was electricity. So, there was no TV, cable, radio, washers and dryers, computers, air conditioning or electric lights at night. We had no furnace, heating (instead) with the wood-burning stove. We did have a phone, but not a private line. We shared with eight to ten other families. Ours was four short rings. But you never said anything you didn't want the entire neighborhood to know. People listened to others' calls because it was the way we got news. There were no newspapers."
- Laverne Hillyer Fifer, age 92, Northwood

"We did have a lot of company. People did visit more then. We didn't have TV, and very few had radio. We also didn't have a phone. We learned to save for things we needed. No charge cards. We had a grocer on the corner of the street where we had a bill. If we couldn't pay for food, it was put on our bill and was paid whenever we had a few extra dollars. Thanks to parents who taught us the value of hard work and saving what we can. We respected our parents and elders, which is lacking today."
- Theresa Giallombardo, age 80, Maple Heights

"I grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. We lived in a very poor tenement house. But in all of my memories, the one that sticks out the most was not the poverty, but the importance of honesty and trust. Locks on doors were not needed. No one stole from another. We helped, not harmed, other people. The whole neighborhood was suffering together. We would not harm each other. Our family and our good name was what mattered."
- Edna Hanson, age 76, Toledo

"I feel sorry for the younger generation, as they don't know how to make do with nothing. My Mom taught me how to cook and I have taught my daughter and son to cook and do it without much. Thank God they have jobs, and I pray they will always have them until this awful mess is cleared up. Too bad most people now day don't even know their next-door neighbors. We are spoiled rotten and our Grandchildren are, also. I can hear them say: 'I want my kids to have more than I did.' That's natural, I guess, but I was 10 years old before I had a doll for Christmas; we always got a pair of socks or stockings which came up above your knee. I hated them and I would roll them down around my ankles."
- Patarica LeMay Hauger, age 81, Meigs County

"I feel sorry for our kids of today. I wonder if they will have happy memories of growing up other than computers and TV boob tube watching and sex. Sex? I didn't learn about that till I went into nurses training at Women's and Children's Hospital on Summit Street."
- Dorothy Heibeck, Toledo

"Parents today think of themselves first and children last. They want to rely on the government to help them out when they can help themselves. They are the ones that got themselves in the mess they are in today, by getting the bigger house and car and all the stuff they buy. Also, they buy too much for their children. They don't teach them to work."
- Leola Kearney, age 81, Lima

"The current generation of young people is so much different from ours. Where I think many of those in my era were saved from having the Depression coming at them from all angles, from TV and all the many other means available for communication. Having a pack of gum or an ice cream cone does not hold much appeal when compared with cell phones and other electronic gadgets of this generation. But I am sure they will survive it successfully as we did."
- Dawn Knopp, age 87, Centerville

"Of course, we had some advantages over the present day, we didn't have to go a long distance for shopping, the grocery store was a block away, the bakery a couple of blocks and downtown just a streetcar ride away. Walking and public transportation were the norm in those days."
- Louis J. Leibold, age 93, Centerville

"Today, your money is guaranteed by FDIC. When banks failed back then, and finally re-opened, depositors received 10 cents on the dollar. There were no unemployment insurance, food stamps, food banks or federal and state agencies to help find employment, housing, care for children, etc. We were on our own, period."
- Magaret Obenour, age 91, Marion

"It was a time when four-term President Roosevelt gained much support from Americans because they felt that economic improvements occurred despite the recession setbacks. The W.P.A. and the C.C.C. helped many people get through the hard times and created for the nation benefits that lasted long after those programs ended. World War II became economically significant because of the need for military weapons; industries experienced growth as the wartime economy developed. It was unfortunate that a war - a necessary war to combat the evil thrust upon nations because of arrogant, defiant, ruthless rulers - helped bring about an improved economy, especially after the war. A parallel may be seen between programs of the 30s and plans of the current Obama administration. Stimulus packages or bills to improve domestic problems related to infrastructure, education, jobs, health care, etc., were developed then, as now, to gear the economy up once again. Core values based on frugality, friendly cooperation and fortitude remain as valid now as they were back then."
- Wallace L. Pretzer, age 78, Bowling Green

"In 1932 my grandfather, who lived in Louisville, Kentucky, died. He never adjusted to city living and his one wish was to be buried in Russell County in Kentucky, his old home place. There wasn't money to hire a hearse to transport his body. My Dad brought his casket home on the back of his truck. That wouldn't be heard of today. It may even be against the law. Then, it was a way of life, people struggled to survive."
- Edith Ann Richardson, age 88, Middletown

"This was a rough time for us, but we survived it. We can also survive the depression that is approaching us today, because we have the facilities to help us, such as electricity, gas and electric stove, running water and indoor toilets. Also, we have free programs to help us get food and clothing. We didn't have any of those things. Our light came from kerosene lamps, We washed our clothes by hand on a scrub board, cooked our meals on wood stove, kept warm with fireplaces and gathered our wood to burn in the stove and fire places."
- Elizabeth Rollins, age 72, Columbus

"Remember how things have improved just since you were born. How would your ancestors react if they saw you hit the thermostat and get instant heat or air conditioning? Let alone, you don't boil your clothes on wash day?"
- Grace M. Schuler, age 83, Napoleon

"It was a time of simplicity. A time of stay-at-home mothers who were always there when you came home from school. Families only had one car, and the father used it for work. There were fewer brands of shampoo, soap, canned goods and food staples to purchase. Advertising was done largely by catchy jingles, which most of my generation still remember and can intone: 'Pepsi Cola hits the spot, 12 full ounces that's a lot.' or 'Won't you buy Wheaties, the best breakfast food in the land?' or 'Brylcreem, a little dab'll do ya' or 'Poor Miriam... neglected using Irium... Pepsodent toothpaste.' We didn't have store-bought glue. When we needed paste, my mother would mix a small batch of flour and water, which worked perfectly fine. A bandage was a strip of cloth from a clean, but worn-out sheet or pillowcase. A scratch or scrape was treated with iodine (ouch!) or merthiolate (pink and much preferred)."
- Esther G. Schwartz, age 77, Toledo

"Technology, engineering and the inventive human mind combined to provide most of us, even the poor, with conveniences that even the rich did not, at one time, have access to. Furthermore, the number of conveniences continues to grow. This advanced technology is both good and bad. The good is self-evident. The bad: Television has replaced good books; video games keep children indoors when they should be outside playing, getting healthy exercise that wards off obesity; noise pollution has replaced music and pornography has replaced art. I remember when all the people I knew grew their own vegetables and many had fruit-bearing trees in their yards. I remember when people had a greater trust of one another - all a contract required was a hand shake and one's word. There was less fear, thus more freedom. No city street was too dangerous to walk, at any hour. There was very little fear of picking up a hitch-hiker. Terrorism did not exist until after World War II. Many left their doors unlocked. I remember a strong middle class - the productive back bone of our country. I remember strong family unity and the resulting high values."
- Frank C. Sohaiby, age 87, Youngstown

"Today the daily paper comes by car, two in the home are working, fast foods pass for homemade food. Start out where parents are leaving off, driving bigger and better cars. Who has the biggest diamond? Kids' shoes cost more than our house payments were."
- Geraldine Vincenzo Szymialis, age 81, Flushing

"The generation of the 1930s was more self-sufficient than now. There was more of an agrarian culture, with many small farms. These farms supplied lots of produce at a very reasonable cost. There were not the support systems, as now. The main source of help was you. There was no entitlement, as now; no food stamps, subsidized housing, heating assistance, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or unemployment insurance, etc. This made a generation of self-determined people. They made do with what they had. They worked, when it was available, shared when they saw a need, and communicated with each other. There was no two or three hours each day watching T.V. or computers (because they did not exist!)."
- N. D. Zimmerman, age 82, Cambridge

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