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The Ohio Department of Aging

Ohio Department of Aging Story Projects

Great Depression Story Project - Volume 2

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Food, Cooking and Eating During the Great Depression

"Mom could make everything taste good - or maybe we were hungry. Our meals were mostly cornmeal mush, dandelions, sybutcel (another weed), puff balls, wheat from the grainery (with permission), wild rabbit, groundhog and turtle. Vegetables, if we had a garden, were cooked in salt water - no flavorings. We used a lot of tallow in place of lard."
- Wilma Blasiman, age 88, Lake Milton

"Our menu for the week was always the same: pasta, vegetables, beans and on occasion some fish. Sundays were always homemade spaghetti and meatballs. So, when we had 'Wonder' bread and bologna, it was a real treat. That did not happen very often."
- Madge Contin Browning, age 92, Columbus

"My mother and my husband's mother both canned a lot of vegetables and we would pick berries in the summer to can and make jelly. My father used to raise his own vegetable plants in a large hot bed, and after he planted all he wanted he gave away the rest of the plants to our neighbors. We also raised chickens (mostly for eggs) and rabbits. Once in a while, my mother would roast one of the chickens for a Sunday dinner. We had homemade beef noodle soup and vegetables nearly every day for our supper. If we didn't like what was put on the table, we just had to do without."
- Irene Burkhart, age 83, Shadyside

"Almost all of the food we ate came from Mom's huge garden. We also had plenty of fresh milk and eggs. Mom would exchange eggs for a few items from the peddler wagon twice a week. On rare occasions, there would be a few pennies left over and the peddler would bring down the little box of penny candy from the top shelf... In the fall, to provide for her five sons and two daughters, Mom would begin canning. She would fill mason jars with vegetables, meat or fruit, then store the pretty glass jars on the shelves in the dirt cellar underneath our home. There was also two large bins, one for potatoes we had dug and one filled with apples from our orchard. In the city, men formed long lines waiting to buy what they called day-old bread. We grew up with homemade bread and the aroma of freshly baked bread would drift up the open stairway at night."
- Ruth Maloney Cowgill, Marion

"(Mom) became friendly with the grocery store owner, so she would go to the store when he closed and bought any meat that would not keep - there was no freezer. Unsold vegetables that would not keep, he gave to her. So, we had lots of vegetable soup. She would can what she could for later."
- Carolyn Davison, age 86, Columbus

"My husband and I, with our baby daughter, Ruthie, worked for a family in Gustavus. It was a three-generation farm owned by the Waters family. There was a grandfather, son and grandson living in the household. I was the family housekeeper doing all the cleaning, laundry, cooking, baking and canning. I baked bread twice a week. We had no freezer, so everything had to be canned. All veggies and fruits were canned. Meats that were not smoked in the smokehouse were canned also. Meals were always ready at 7 a.m., noon and 6 p.m."
- Josephine DiBell, age 103, Cortland

"My father and several other friends made maple syrup back in the woods by the creek in the sugar bush shed that housed the special equipment needed to keep a fire going under the vats holding the sap collected from the maple trees. We kids were runners with food, etc. for the maple workers. The men put metal tubes in the trees and hung a bucket from them. When they were quite full, they dumped the sap into a large tub on a large sled pulled by the horses. They took the sap to the sugar bush and placed it in vats over the fire to be cooked down several hours before it became wonderful maple syrup. My mother made large fry-pan sized pancakes for us with yummy maple syrup for breakfasts."
- E. Marie Dornbrook, age 87, Parma Heights

"Everyone farmed and raised vegetables to can and eat. If your garden was in a sunny spot and you harvested early, your family shared with others who planted in a cooler spot and harvested later in the season (when they shared with you). Potatoes were buried. Meats were smoked for the winter. We didn't have a freezer and had to preserve food for leaner times."
- Laverne Hillyer Fifer, age 92, Northwood

"No matter where we lived, my father had a huge garden. He also had rabbits and goats. We became vegetarians long before it was in fashion. My brothers worked the garden with my dad."
- Theresa Giallombardo, age 80, Maple Heights

"Food was always a problem, or should I say the lack of food. The kids were always looking for a bit of something. If one kid had an apple to eat, they would surround that one child yelling 'core, core!' Then, one person would get the core of the apple to suck out the final bits of apple and juices that were left. The rest of us just stared and hoped that someday we could have an apple or a core to eat."
- Edna Hanson, age 76, Toledo

"My contribution to the family table was turtle. Coming home from school when I was quite small, I would look for turtle tails along the river or creek bank. I would pull the turtles out of the bank, being very careful not to get my fingers snapped off. I'd take the turtles home and turn them over to my father, and the next night we'd have a delicious supper of turtle meat. Later on, we'd have turtle soup."
- Elizabeth Helber, age 87, Logan

"Our Victory Diner customers varied from young to old. But one woman's plight and desperation stayed with me for life. This little old woman came daily into our diner for months, sat in what we called one of our small (2-seater) front booths, ordered only a cup of hot water. Then she drew out a single tea bag from her satchel-purse, put it into the cup. Finally she emptied our sugar bowl into the cup. She drank that. I suspect that's all she had to eat or drink for most of the day. Her plight and desperation haunts me to this day."
- Alice J. Hornbaker, age 82, Cincinnati

"Mom would walk to the East Market on Mt. Vernon Ave., basket in hand, to seek the best bargains at the vegetable and meat counters within. As she approached the meat counter, she would eye the row of calf heads very critically. These were the cheapest items at the butchers' stand. The way she would prepare it was to embed it in a shallow pan of rice and pop it in the oven. (In leaner times, we had our share of lard sandwiches.) Other meals she cooked were pots of sauerkraut and wieners, lima beans and neck bones, and hamburger patties smothered in a deep pan of thick brown gravy."
- Alex James, age 91, Columbus

"We never bought bread. My mother and grandmother always baked homemade rye bread, so we always had food on the table and extra to help feed our help, and they truly appreciated it in that time and era. We also made our own butter. I recall how many times I had to turn the churn. We also made ice cream in the old fashioned hand-turned ice cream maker."
- Carl Krob, age 82, Bridgeport

"The owner of our farm was Bob Pickens, who had a grocery retail store in Mt. Vernon. From the store, Bob gave us a fifty-pound sack of corn flakes that had gone stale. Mom put them in the oven and warmed them up. This was a good, cheap mix with the acre of soup beans we had planted."
- Wendell Litt, New Concord

"When I look back, I'm sure the big vegetable garden Dad planted (and we all weeded) kept us from ever being hungry and allowed us to share with friends and relatives. We had many meatless meals, but never went hungry. I helped my mom 'put up' several hundred quart jars of beans, beets and corn. We did three or four kinds of pickles and usually a five-gallon crock of sauerkraut every year. These we also shared with others. Potatoes, cabbage and winter squash were stored in a 'cold cellar' and lasted just about all winter. A cold cellar was a sort of cave made of earth in the side of a hill with a heavy wood door. Vegetables stayed cold, but did not freeze. Believe me, nothing was wasted."
- Martha McMahon, age 85, Medina

"Fortunately for us, we lived in the country and had cows for milk and butter, chickens for eggs and meat, a large garden and small orchard. So produce was eaten fresh in the summer and canned for winter. Game was plentiful and the men hunted rabbit and pheasants. My father helped with butchering beef or hogs, taking meat for pay. Since our area had few wealthy people, we survived simply because we had lived without so much, we just carried on. We were made stronger by adversity, and knew if we survived that we could survive anything."
- Margaret Obenour, age 91, Marion

"I could have easily been a vegetarian, as we could only afford meat on Sunday. Wonderful meals of cooked cabbage, boiled Brussels sprouts, potato soup, noodle soup (with only salt and pepper and margarine for seasoning, rice soup, bean soup, etc. Our Sunday dinner was meat loaf that was mostly made with bread soaked in water and added to the small amount of meat so that it was a loaf of speckled meat and a lot of bread. As I recall, it was good. No chicken, except maybe on Christmas. Pnly a ham slice, fried, for Easter. Pork pieces scattered in the sauerkraut for New Year's Day. Homemade fudge was our only candy (my Grandmother's treat). Syrup made from white sugar and water. Sugar pie (just pie crust coated with sugar and water and baked)."
- Doris Portmann, age 76, Navarre

"There was no mechanized farming; we plowed with horses, milked cows by hand, gathered eggs, and raised pigs. There was always food on the table, helped by the periodic butchering of pigs. My home-packed lunch for school often consisted of sandwiches with lard or head cheese (that is, as the dictionary says, 'meat from a pig's or calf's head that is cooked and pressed into a loaf, usually with aspic'). My mother told my sister and me to clean our plates; to this day, when I eat, I normally clean my plate, even though, at times (only recently) I ask for a doggie box at restaurants. The little money spent and the food eaten was based on frugal living, which included consideration of others. For example, I recall my mother preparing food for an itinerant to eat on the porch."
- Wallace L. Pretzer, age 78, Bowling Green

"There were many fruit trees on the property. We had many kinds of fruit. We ate many coblers and canned many jars of fruit. We planted a large garden and raised all our vegetables. Because of all the fruit, many ground hogs came also. Now, we had meat for the table."
- Neva Rees, age 87, Marietta

"Most of our food came from the farm. Pork and poultry were the main meat supply. We butchered one 250-pound hog for each member of the family. The hams, shoulders and bacon were salt cured and smoked. They were then placed in a large paper bag, along with a little borax to keep the bugs out. The sack was then tied tightly and hung from a nail in the outbuilding. The cured pork supply usually lasted till late summer and we had very little spoilage. Sausage and garden products were canned in quart jars. Corn meal was a part of our diet - it was used as mush and milk, fried mush, corn pone and corn cakes. My Dad also used corn meal to make dog feed. He would build an outside fire and use a kettle ring and a 20 gallon kettle. When the water in the kettle started to boil, he would add the corn meal and all the leftover parts from the butchering. It was great dog feed. The milk cows provided us with milk, cream, butter, cottage cheese and some cream to sell to the cream station."
- William M. Shaw, age 87, Sarahsville

"My mother speaks fondly of her two favorite sandwiches, which she still eats today: radish sandwiches and onion sandwiches. These were, of course, made with bread, butter and sliced vegetables. She also speaks fondly of her mother's peach desserts. The family protein usually consisted of liver, which butchers gave away for free, and wild game, such as muskrat and squirrel. Ugh! Naturally, mother is still a big fan of liver and onions today."
- Amy Adler, about her mother, Ferne Smith, age 89, Elyria

"Among the memories I have is that everyone had a vegetable garden. Mom canned everything she could. She and Dad needed to provide for themselves and their three children. In the cellar, there was a large vegetable bin filled with potatoes and rutabagas. Mom's aim was to provide enough food to last us through the harsh New York winters. Mrs. McManus, next door, was a big help to the whole neighborhood. Her contribution was homemade bread - and it was delicious!"
- Gladys Case Stent, age 84, Columbus

"We were lucky because my father always had a job, but there was little money for extras. We considered going to a restaurant once or twice a year a real treat. I can remember eating beef heart and beef tongue often and liking it. We made our own root beer with yeast, sugar and root beer extract."
- Julia K. Swan, age 76, Cambridge

"Her mother was a single working mom supporting 3 daughters. One winter, a neighbor gave the family a bushel of turnips, which the mother cooked almost daily in one fashion or another. After a winter of turnips, my mother couldn't stand them and never ate them again."
- Karen G. Thimmes, age 64, Columbus, about her mother, Louise Von Endt

"We always had food because Daddy (a Methodist minister) and Mother always planted a garden. Parishioners shared their garden produce, as well as chickens for the eggs and cooking. Mother and Daddy would always can produce from our garden, or any that was given us, so we'd have food during the winter months. I remember when we lived in Washington Court House, Ohio (1936 to 1939), Daddy had bee hives, so we had honey to eat. When we lived in Johnston (1946-1951), we had a small pig pen behind our garage. Daddy got the garbage from the school cafeteria down the road from the parsonage. The garbage from the school helped feed the pig. When it got the right size, we'd have it butchered and we'd rent space in a freezer locker to keep the frozen meat in."
- Urith Ellen Linard Thompson, age 74, Middletown

"My folks had a big old four- or five-bedroom house and plenty of food that they raised: -- potatoes, chickens, fruit and vegetables, so we didn't go hungry. The fellows planted a lot of potatoes, even borrowed a neighbors small unused field to plant them. 'At least we would have potatoes to eat.' Interestingly they planted a lot of cucumbers and sold the little cukes to the pickle factory in Norwalk to make jerkins. That was a hard job, but there were several of us to do it."
- Ernestine Van Asdale, age 86, Columbus

"There was no money for the necessities of life. We had a garden and some chickens, and butchered our own meant. The sandwiches that we carried in our lunches to school did not have lard on them, but mustard, and that was it! It's a wonder I like mustard now, but I do."
- Margaret Willford, age 87, Plymouth

"Eggs were 10 cents a dozen. No one ever charged to babysit - unheard of - that's what neighbors did for nothing. Mom and dad made our own bread. I never tasted store-bought bread until I was 16; I never tasted bacon until I was 18. My mother never tasted bacon at all."
- Gladys Saba Wright, age 89, Richmond Heights

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Depression Era Entertainment and Recreation

"On the whole street, we only had one radio - our house - and all the kids (14 of them) loved to come over and listen to Superman, the Shadow, Jack Benny, etc. But you know we all enjoyed playing together, boys and girls, outdoors from after school to 9 p.m. (curfew) and bedtime. We all played in the street - football, baseball, hockey, etc. On Sundays, we all went to Brookside Park (one mile away) to watch the AAA Sandlot teams play. It was great. During the summer vacations, my friend, John Sidor, my best buddy and I would collect all the free tickets for Euclid Beach Park, hop on the ol' trolley and away we'd go to spend all day."
- Joseph Banas, age 85, Broadview Heights

"When my brother Bill and I were little, toys were scarce, so we improvised. We made pretend cars out of match boxes or blocks of wood. We dug and carved roads out of the hillsides and ran our cars over the roads we made. We also had 'rooster fights' using violets from the yard. Each of us would grab a violet, hook our bloom around the other's bloom and jerk. The one who pulled the bloom from the other's stem was the winner. We learned to hold a blade of grass between the thumbs of both hands and blow through it to create the perfect whistle or noisemaker."
- Betty Banta, age 80, Columbus

"We played games and cards for entertainment, and in the summer we went on picnics close to home. When we went to the movies, we spent 10 cents for children and 25 cents for adults. These movie houses were in the neighborhoods where we lived. All the grocery and drug stores were close. If we wanted to shop downtown, we took the street car. No malls then."
- Rita and Jack Brenner, Thornville

"Brother Dave and I were given 10 cents each every Saturday. The neighborhood theater charged 5 cents if one got there before a certain hour, and we blew the rest on candy. Nothing more until next Saturday. For our five cents at the theater, we saw the main feature, a second feature, a newsreel, a cartoon, coming attractions and a 'chapter show.' The latter was a series of about 13 or so films that would end each week with the main characters facing almost certain death and one had wait until next week to see how they avoided it."
- James T. Canning, age 82, Mansfield

"I don't know where our living expenses came from nor how much money my father made. What I do recall is that I had a very happy childhood and don't recall being deprived of food or clothing. I do recall that my grandfather took my sister and me to the movies frequently and bought us an ice cream on Sunday and some candy for the movie. "
- Jim Clayton, New Mexico (formerly of Ohio)

"When our chores were done, we played countless games of croquet or soccer, rode our pony, shared a bike and walked on stilts. We made a treehouse (almost), dug to China (sort of) and made sling-shots to shoot at birds, but they were too quick for us."
- Ruth Maloney Cowgill, Marion

"Air conditioning was a blanket laid out on the grass in the heat of summer. Our recreation was marbles, jacks, climbing trees, sled riding, a long bike ride to a creek for swimming and fishing, football and baseball in the neighborhood fields."
- Helen De Gifis, age 83, Warren

"There were very few cars and many kids in our neighborhood. People walked to most places in town, visited on the front porch or over the backyard fence. We knew everybody. The lack of cars gave the streets to us for playgrounds. We learned to create the things we played with, such as rubber guns, push go-carts, kites and rag footballs. I never heard a kid say that he was bored. It was a learning experience that has been taken away."
- Ralph W. Dennings, age 87, Saint Marys

"We listened to 'Myrt and Marge,' 'Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy,' 'Little Orphan Annie,' 'Fibber McGee and Molly' and others on the radio, which stood on four legs. All the kids sat on the floor around it."
- Adele Federman, Toledo

"As for entertainment, there were no TVs, video games, computers, cell phones or any other electronic devices. And nothing we had required batteries. We did have a radio. We listened to Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Lux Radio Theater and Major Bowes Amateur Hour (our version of American Idol). We could see a double feature, serial and news reel for 10 cents at the neighborhood movie theater. There was a neighborhood full of boys and girls to play games with. We lived on a hill, which was great for sled riding or roller skating. There was free swimming in the mornings at South Side Park. A picnic at Mill Creek Park was a wonderful time for the whole family to enjoy nature - for free. Adults were very sociable - visiting each other's homes to play cards or gossip on the front porch. For me the best entertainment of all was also free - the books my mother and I brought home by the armful from the public library."
- Manila Fellows, age 84, Youngstown

"We always had lots of snow. One time we had so much snow that the holler, which was about fifteen feet deep, was level hill-to-hill. With no public snow removal, we were stuck until it melted. But one of the benefits of the snow was snow ice cream. We took sugar, mixed with cream and vanilla extract until smooth, then added fresh, clean snow. What a treat!! Today, my kids and grandkids love this treat. We entertained ourselves in many simple and joyous ways. Families invited neighbors in, having music and dancing in their homes. My dad played fiddle for these dances. We went fishing for fun and food. Children played many different card games, had taffy pulls and popped corn."
- Laverne Hillyer Fifer, age 92, Northwood

"We had a White treadle sewing machine and we made our own clothes. Calico was 10 cents a yard and rick-rack was the new trim. I had two dresses when I was a sophomore in high school. Dad patched and re-soled my shoes. He also patched his tires and innertubes. Mom made us stuffed toys from Dad's old work socks. Dad made us toys of skill from wood, nails and Mason jar lids. He also made us stilts from broom handles. We made our own sunglasses (to watch the eclipse of the sun) by cutting up the X-rays from my father's broken arm. We went barefooted from early spring until late fall. The soles of our feet looked like elephant hide."
- Mary Alice Foster, age 89, Reynoldsburg

"Silent movies were held at the high school every Saturday night, for which we had to pay 15 cents. A young boy played a violin all during the movie."
- Alfred M. Glass, Cambridge

"I had 11 brothers and sisters and we had only one bicycle to share. But, being that we worked from dawn to dusk. we were always too busy to play. Our gardens were tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, radishes. Our orchards were Bartlett pears, Elberta peaches, Jonathan apples, Damsel plums and Queens Cherries. Our crops were corn, oats, and wheat. Our animals were horses, cows, chickens and pigs. Having all my brothers and sisters, we had very few friends. For our entertainment, we play canasta, pinochle and euchre. We played ball after the cornfields were cut. We would play cards on a rainy day after the chicken pens were cleaned."
- Charlotte Oesch Greene, Chagrin Falls

"With all the hardships we still managed to have fun. We cut our own Christmas trees, decorated with homemade decorations, pulled taffy and made maple candies. In winter months, we had snow ball fights, built igloos and played fox and goose. During the summer, we played ball, jumped rope, caught fireflies and put them in jars, and had family reunions."
- Violet Hardin, age 89, Wapakoneta

"We always attended church. That was the order from both mother and father. We went as a family, walking across the field together. We walked home after church and Mother always had fried chicken for lunch. My sister, Pauline, would entertain us with her stories that she had read. 'The Pit and the Pendulum' and the 'Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner' were her favorites. She would tell us stories from the bible and, many times, we would end the afternoon with a game of softball with our father playing along."
- Phyllis Spohn Johnson, age 81, Butler

"With the neighborhood kids plus four or five of us, we always had enough to play kick-the-can, run-sheepy-run, baseball or football. We had one leather football helmet and whoever carried the ball wore the helmet. In winter, we made snow forts, sledded down hills on cardboard and used flat curtain rods for skis."
- Frederick M. Kovacic, age 82, Akron

"We spent many hours at Bridge Shop Field playing baseball. There were four or five baseball fields there and Timken had a softball league of their own. We played baseball for many hours. We were hoping some day to play in Cleveland. How did we get our equipment? We went to watch the big boys play. Whenever they broke a bat, we ran and got it. We took it home and nailed it together. Same way with the baseballs, when they hit hem in the creek at City Field, we jumped in the creek and got the ball. It was ours."
- Edward Machuga, age 86, Canton

"There sure wasn't much money available to be spent on entertainment, but the whole family gathered around the Philco radio to listen to Amos and Andy. Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa all belonged to card clubs that met every two weeks at each other's houses to play pinochle. The women all pitched in to furnish the refreshments. If you didn't have a baby sitter, the kids went along and usually fell asleep on a spare sofa or the floor. Nobody worried about personal space. If you weren't hungry, you were happy."
- Martha McMahon, age 85, Medina

"For entertainment, mom played the organ and we would sing. We played a lot of checkers and dominos. I played the six-string guitar, one of my brothers played the jug (he blew into the opening and made it sound like a big bass fiddle) and another brother played a four-string guitar in the summer evenings on our porch. The neighbors would come over to listen, join in with their instruments or sing to what was being played. We boys would take an empty thread spool and put a rubber band through it. Then, we'd take a round piece of soap with a little hole through the center and run the the rubber band through it. (We would) wet the soap a little bit, put a small stick, about 4 inches long, through the rubber band, wind it up, set it down and watch it go. It was fun to watch it spin."
- Thomas J. Miller, age 90, Elmore

"My first job for pay was a three-day affair digging out a sewer. I got 25 cents an hour. I saved the pay. And went to Chicago to The World's Fair for 3 days. We camped on the beach at 75th St. I got home flat broke, but it was a great experience at a time when entertainment was so sparse."
- Harry G. Moll, age 92, Wauseon

"Entertainment during those times consisted of playing card and board games (including Chinese checkers) at home; visiting and, occasionally, eating with neighbors; going to church and school socials and, infrequently, going to a movie in a nearby larger town. Admission was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. The first movie that I remember seeing was 'Kentucky,' starring Loretta Young, Richard Greene and Walter Brennan. (My) favorite movies featured Shirley Temple, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Deanna Durbin, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and George 'Gabby' Hayes. There also were school plays at the township hall and outdoor movies (usually, cowboy westerns) in town on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Listening to the radio meant FDR's fireside chats, Amos 'n Andy, The Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee, Burns and Allen, and Charley McCarthy. Even grocery shopping in town, especially on Saturdays, became socialization with others. Rural friendliness was evident when nearby farmers helped one another whenever crops were harvested. Threshing grain was, in particular, similar to a social event with friendly chatter. Talk among the threshers consisted of their views on which farm wives cooked the best and, especially, which ones served the best pies! My mother's cooking was a favorite!"
- Wallace L. Pretzer, ag 78, Bowling Green

"We sometimes would take a bust trip vacation. (We) saw pandas at the Chicago Zoo and went to a restaurant there where they served various separate items each on its own tray. Friends paid $5.00 each! (We) also went to Detroit and saw Bob Hope in person from the seventh balcony. (We) visited the Ford Co. complex and Greenfield Museum."
- James Randolph, Columbus

"Families made their own entertainment with games, popping corn, making fudge, and 'taffy pulls.' The fellowship was great. I never heard kids say they were bored. We all worked together to put food on the table, milk cows to bring in income to pay taxes, insurance, make needed home repairs, paint buildings or whatever was needed. There was not an activity scheduled for each night of the week - you looked forward to weekends. The Church had many activities scheduled for us and we looked forward to that. Camp was the highlight when we learned around the campfire there was a higher power than man alive and at work in the world and in our individual hearts."
- Viola Reed, age 95, Barnesville

"People got together with parties and dancing and singing with the player piano. Parks like Puritan Springs, Euclid Beach and Chippewas did not charge admission. We had a volunteer band at the Triangle."
- Blossom Schmoll, age 98, Berea

"Show your family ways to entertain themselves and that to do creative things, you don't need to buy a kit. We sorted buttons by color and made things from scrap. Whittling is a lost art, as is tatting. Things like this have a calming effect and we don't have to take a pill to relax."
- Grace M. Schuler, age 83, Napoleon

"Cards were the entertainment and we enjoyed playing them often. There was laughter and talking and enjoyment. Politics were talked about, as were religion and local news (maybe called gossip!). People helped each other a lot. For children's' games, we made up our own along with hide and seek, tag, jump rope and dolls. I had no bike or roller skates. We even played with the chickens and made pets out of a few of them."
- Marian Seilheimer, age 89, Tiffin

"The swimming hole was an important part of our summer activities. The best place to swim was located under and below the bridge located near the country store. Our attire would be called 'skinny dipping' today. We would always post a lookout to warn us when anyone was approaching the bridge so we could get under the bridge or muddy the water."
- William M. Shaw, age 87, Sarahsville

"There was no radio to connect us with the outside world. Not always a paper. News came second-hand from Walker's General Store. The owners kindly allowed us to use their wall phone for local calls. During these bleak years, we depended upon our own creativities often. We did not have allowances or spending money. Church, school and 4-H made up most of our social life. Through 4-H arrangement, we saw a picture show infrequently. There were taffy pulls, card games and play parties. In the summer, croquet; in winter, sled riding on our hills and infrequently traveled roads. We made do. We were resourceful. In our parlor, a handsome piano furnished music a la my two sisters."
- Willa B. Stanforth, age 93, Hillsboro

"People have asked me what we did for entertainment. Dad played musical instruments: violin, banjo and harmonica. We played checkers, dominos and old maid. (We) made homemade candy and popped corn."
- Beva Stonebreaker, age 89, Cadiz

"We thrived on jacks, a jump rope, a bag of marbles and a Shirley Temple book. Movies at the Roxy were 10 cents. We could barely feed six kids, but we always had a dog. Specky had 12 puppies in my brother's bed! Once we dug a swimming hole and filled it with buckets of water, then jumped in from atop the step ladder. We must have been a sight of 'mud frogs' as people craned their necks in disbelief as they passed by. 'It was hot in Depression summers!'"
- Joy Thomas, age 80, Canfield

"We have several gangs in our neighborhood. We played softball, football and basketball, keeping out of trouble. Swimming in the Mahoning River - (We) couldn't afford the city pool. As we got older, we found ways to sneak into pools and theaters."
- Joe Trolio, age 83, Hubbard

"My Cousin lived next door. She and a friend were going to a movie and invited me. We were around 11 years of age. I ran back home for permission and 10 cents. Mother said absolutely not. I was devastated and cried. My tears were real and soon mother handed me 10 cents."
- Mary Jane Willis, age 89, Wadsworth

"I had two girlfriends across the street who had a small hill in their front yard. We used to slide down that hill in the winter snow by sitting in a coal shovel and holding onto the handle. What fun that was. On warm summer evenings, for fun, the family of one of the girls had me over and we sat around the kitchen table and sang harmony. I guess that's where I acquired my great love of vocal music that has followed me all of my 'alto' life. What fun!!"
- Dolores L. Younger, age 79, Westerville

"Entertainment consisted of putting puzzles together, playing cards, singing songs and, listening to the radio. Movies were 10 cents and consisted of serials, so you would return the next week to make sure your hero didn't fall of the cliff. Tarzan, Tom Mix and several others were the call of the day. Ice cream skyscrapers - five cents - were popular, as we had to stand in long lines waiting for that treat. Sunday bus and street car rides also were popular, as Sunday passes for 25 cents gave you the opportunity to ride all day. You would hand the pass out the rear window to your buddie, so he could ride as well."
- William L. Zurkey, age 84, Boardman

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Self-Sufficiency, Resourcefulness and Frugality

"My folks always paid cash for anything they bought. There were no credit cards or layaway back then. They saved up until they had enough to purchase what they needed. I remember riding the trolley to downtown Youngstown with my mother. She would purchase soiled percale sheets that were on sale in the basement of McKelvey's Department Store. Up until a few years ago, I still had some of those sheets."
- Elizabeth A. Bartholow, age 85, Columbiana

"My brother and sister went to school and were instructed by mother to pick up any stick or piece of wood they saw, or any lumps of coal that fell from the trains on the tracks. It was vital for cooking and keeping warm. They were especially ordered to use any influence they had to get newspapers. This was a vital necessity - it was torn into strips to relight the fire when it went out for lack of fuel. And, it was used to wrap lunches for school and carefully refolded to come home and be used again. When it was too tattered, it was torn into squares and placed on a nail in the outside toilet for obvious reasons."
- Edward R. Brienz, age 85, Farmdale

"After the 1929 crash, the family savings account was empty. My parents were unable to pay the rent. I was sent to the store with the last dime in the house to buy a pound of ground meat. My mother was at home waiting for the insurance man to bring a check that borrowed the insurance savings. With the insurance money, my mother started to bake bread three days a week to sell to her friends. Saturday, she made delicious pecan rolls and currant tea rings and also the bread. I washed all the sticky, gooey pans. My brother made the deliveries. Also, I took care of a little neighbor girl, Gail, who my mother cared for during the week."
- Margaret B. Carver, age 91, Cortland

"We lived near the Nickel Plate Railroad at Front and Wheeling Streets, so Grandma would take off some mornings and head for the railroad tracks carrying a bushel basket. When there, she would pick up coal and fill her bushel. Then, when it was full, she would raise it to her head, hands on hips, and carry the coal home. She used this coal to stoke her kitchen stove so she could prepare meals for her family. One day, she came rushing to our house because she was being chased by a railroad detective who warned her this was illegal and she should not do it anymore. She was very frightened!"
- Mary Rose DeMaria, age 83, Oregon

"We moved to a big Victorian house because the rent was cheap. The tall windows were bare. A serious Depression was occurring and there was no money for curtains. One day, my mother had saved enough pennies to have curtains. She bought unbleached muslin for five cents a yard. At her treadle machine she made enough curtains for the windows to be draped and tied back in a classic, stately manner. One day there was a knock on the door. A woman stood there and wanted to know where my mother had acquired her most beautiful and unusual curtains."
- Josephine Fell, age 81, Columbus

"I know that every time I smell vanilla extract, it makes me think of my great grandfather Louis Forschner. He would walk from the bus stop down our long street and we could all smell him as he approached our home. You see, he would use the vanilla as cologne and really covered his long graybeard with a handful of this liquid."
- Marilyn Markle, age 79, North Royalton

"(Dad) would take a small piece of wood, carve a two-blade propeller and mount this on another movable piece of wood on a long stick. This whirrlygig would move in the wind and tell directions. They were painted red or blue, and he sold them for 25 cents to the neighborhood women to put in their gardens. He raised rabbits in small hutches, gathering clover and alfalfa for food for them early before school. He sold the rabbits to the immigrants. During the summer months, he walked several miles to Brooklyn, to the vast acres of greenhouses, to cut celery and lettuce for 45 cents a day."
- David Rizzo, age 66, Sagamore Hills

"My husband's favorite story is that he and his brother had one pair of clamp-on skates between them, which they used to go to school, each wearing one skate. Their mother made sure they switched the skates from one foot to the other every day so they wore out their shoes evenly."
- Nell Rudolph, Elyria

"Dad was able to do almost anything he set his mind to. If something broke, he had it fixed as fast as he could get to it. He even repaired instruments for people from time to time. If he didn't know how to do something, he would study the situation until he figured out what to do. The older boys were inventive as well. They made their own toys when they were young. When Vic grew up a little, he made his own crystal sets so that he could have a radio by his bed."
- Wanda Stubbart, age 78, Columbus, Vic Thomas, age 83, Middletown and Kathleen Lambert, age 80, Middletown

"In the 1930's there were still a lot of coal furnaces (bring coal in and take out ashes). Dad bought an old dump truck and he and I would go to Southern Ohio and buy coal at the mine and sell it in Columbus. On one trip, I walked back into the hills and gathered a lot of bittersweet vines. Back in Columbus I sold the bittersweet door to door for 35 cents a bunch and cleared more money than my dad did on 7 tons of coal."
- William Thompson, age 80, Columbus

"Because there was no work for my father, my parents moved back to Defiance to his parents' farm. He helped my grandfather with a gas station. Gas was cheap, about $.05 or $.10 a gallon. Mom and Dad lived in the gas station. Dad made the place more liveable by installing a metal wash basin as a kitchen sink, He made other improvements by improvising. Electricity was cheaper than stove gas at that time. He saved cooking gas or cooking oil by wiring up several tomato cans, lined with salt water, to heat my bottle, One time, my Dad pulled a dime from his pocket, the only money he had, and told my mom, 'I never want to be this broke again.'"
- Mary Ann Wasserman, age 78, Toledo

"We butchered a hog nearly every November and that meat would last until late spring. We had vegetables from the garden and ate and sold potatoes. Usually, we raised a couple of hundred bushels of the potatoes. We also raised hogs, chickens and milk cows. The money from selling the milk kept the wolf from the door, so to speak, because it helped put the food on the table that wasn't raised on the farm."
- Lester Baiman, age 82, Colton, CA (formerly from Hamilton)

"Our fathers took the street car to work. Our mothers stayed home and took care of things there. They mended our clothes and socks and soled our shoes to last longer. Food was canned from our gardens, jelly was made and even pickles were canned from cucumbers bought at the Farmers Market. Many of our toys were hand-made and we didn't have too many of those. Our fathers' hours at work were sometimes shortened, which meant less pay. We had no radio and sometimes no phone as we couldn't afford it. We would go to the neighbors to use their phone."
- Rita and Jack Brenner, Thornville

"We moved into a larger farm house as the family grew larger. We raised all our own fruits and vegetables. We raised chickens, cows and hogs. We butchered many for our own use, but had extra eggs and milk to sell. From the lard of the hogs, my mother made lye soap. We made our own butter. When friends from the city would visit they always went home with some type of food. My parents always were generous, knowing everyone was having a hard time. We cured maple sugar in our woods to sell by the pint or quart. We cut blocks of ice from our pond to use in the icebox. The ice was stored in the ice house with sawdust made from cutting wood."
- Violet Hardin, age 89, Wapakoneta

"To get off relief, my Dad took a job at $40 dollars a month as a janitor. We had no improvement in diet, but there were some perks. He could bring home used motor oil for heat and he found five pairs of discarded old shoes. With stick-on soles and heels, that was footwear for my Dad and me - although my feet were too big and I broke out the tops of the shoes and suffered ingrown toenails."
- Bernard L. Kasten, age 90, Lucas

"I was about twelve years old when the stock market crashed. We lived in the country on a farm. We always had food to eat because we always had a big garden, raised our own animals and chickens and eggs, had our own well, had our own fruit trees (plums, apples, pears, grapes and prune plums), our own milk and sold milk every day. I had to milk a cow every A.M. before I walked two miles one way to school every day (1/2 mile mud road). When it was too bad for us to get down, my father would hitch the horses up and the mud boat and take us as far as the stone road, then we would walk the rest of the way. There were no buses. On Wednesdays, Mr. Lowe from Williston would pick us up and take us home because my mom sold eggs to him and bought the necessities from him. He had a store on wheels and sold groceries. He would always give us a sucker of bubble gum, so we looked forward to Wednesdays."
- Evelyn Peoloquin, age 89, Genoa

"Toothpaste was baking soda; soap made by his mom from spent lard. Small kitchen utensils came from box top premiums from General Mills, Pillsbury, etc. Wooden floors were scrubbed every Saturday with newspaper laid on top to keep them clean for a day or two. Dishtowels were from bleached muslin flour sacks. Tea was Linden tree blossoms. Coffee was dried and ground roots of the chickery weed pulled from roadsides lots and fields. Thirty-five cents bought you a small birdhouse made from cigar boxes, begged from the corner druggist."
- David Rizzo, age 66, Sagamore Hills

"When the house was to be painted, walls to be washed or papered or any other work inside and out, my dad always had it done. He felt very strongly 'everyone has a job to do, and if you do it, you are taking a job away from someone else.'"
- Ferd Thoma, age 82, Newton Falls

"I was born the day the Stock Market crashed, October 29, 1929. Things got very dire soon after and a lot of People were jobless, penniless and hungry. Food lines dotted our street corners. My family was most fortunate as our father had a job and we were almost self sustaining from the land we lived on. We had very little money but life was good. We bought our little acre in Perrysburg Township on land contract. It had an orchard, a grape vineyard and room for a large garden. Behind the watershed was a well-constructed chicken coop. Dad tended to the land and mom canned all of our vegetables, fruits and made the most delicious jams and jellies. Her homemade bread and pies and cakes graced our table. Fresh eggs direct from the coop and chicken on Sunday were a regular mainstay. A bike trip down to a nearby farm provided us with fresh milk. We could count on a grape jelly sandwich in our school lunch boxes."
- Bill Williams, age 79, Perrysburg

"My dear mother would cause us to laugh with tears when she would tell about the census taker who would receive a negative to every question… 'Do you have?..inside plumbing, central heating, running water, refrigeration, gas or electric Stove, or perhaps a telephone?' He said: '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 3 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, 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

"Our family was self sufficient in other ways. We made our own lye soap, which we shaved to wash clothes in a ringer washer. We also used feed sacks to make clothes, sheets, pillowslips and even underwear. And 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 was fruit orchards and gardens. We could have a lot of our own food. The women would can food as it became available for use later. The house had a nice basement for storage of jars, potatoes and fruit. There was no heat and it stayed cool. The small home had some water flowing through the basement and had troughs to put containers of food in to cool so it would keep a little longer."
- Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"In our way of life, we and our neighbors and family were self-sustaining. I gathered eggs daily - and got pecked regularly too. We did everything: raised chickens (lots of chicken and eggs were on the menu) and 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, which 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 back yard - an all day job. In the outhouse, we had a catalog for our needs - toilet paper was a luxury we could ill afford."
- William Turner, age 89, Cleveland

"We only used electricity and the telephone when absolutely necessary. Grandmother used to say, 'Turn off the light, I'd rather buy a blouse.'"
- Paula Deatrick Ashton, age 69, Toledo

"My Grandmother Rose idolized me, I was her first grandchild. We lived nearby, so I stayed with her quite often. Since she couldn't speak English, when I was approximately six or seven years old, I would accompany her on shopping trips. Money was very scarce, so she would want to go downtown on the Front Street bus to the Kurtz Meat Market (which was a Butcher training school). There, she was able to get free soup bones and scraps of meat at very affordable prices. She needed to scrimp and save all that she could in order to feed their family of seven plus a live-in boarder. Grandma would also like to shop at Tiedtke's Department Store on Summit Street. She had never seen anything like this in her native Italy - this store sold everything from groceries to clothes, furniture, etc."
- Mary Rose DeMaria, age 83, Oregon

"An older brother and I worked every Saturday during winter months, sifting the ashes removed from our coal burning furnace during the preceding week. We used a hand-propelled rotary sifter. This device would pass all the ash and retain partially burned and unburned coal. All reusable coal was placed in a large container near the coal bin."
- William McDonald, age 86, Centerville

"Like most American families during the Depression years, ours survived by making the most of what little we had. Often times, it took ingenuity and creativity to stretch things beyond their intended purpose. Today's 'green' people call it 'repurposing.' We called it survival. A prime example is the 100-pound bags of flour that my parents purchased on a regular basis. Yes. 100-pound bags. That's a lot of flour; but believe me, it went a long way for our family of four living in Middletown, Ohio. From my perspective of a 10-year-old, it seemed that Mom worked miracles with that flour, turning it into a variety of breads, pastas, noodles, dumplings, cakes, sweet rolls, donuts."
- Anna Marie Slezak, age 88, Middletown

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Public Assistance and Government Relief

"There was no unemployment compensation, no social security, no Medicare, no health or any groups that would help. You lost it (a job) and when you lost it there was no place to go. There are a lot of people today perfectly willing for the government to take care of them and that is the bulk of the problem. They are getting the checks, of course. Now remember, we never got that, that never was there. But we also had situations where we knew how to take care of ourselves. I'm not sure that a lot of young people figure they can. They are learning and they are learning pretty fast."
- Dean Bailey age 82, Lordstown

"We had to go on welfare. I hated to wear the welfare clothes because everyone could spot them and would make fun of us. I could not afford school books so the school board loaned them to me, and at the end of the term I had to pay for any damages. I remember I was taking industrial art class and could not pay for the wood. The teacher gave me scraps of wood to use, and this was very demeaning. I could not play any sports because the equipment cost too much. I became very envious of the few who could afford these things. In approximately 1936, F.D.R. started the W.P.A.. This was run by the government, and men were hired and paid to do construction and public works. Dad was hired and this made things a little better. The wages were small, but it put food on the table. I remember sitting on the front yard watching my Dad and other men laying bricks for our street. I must have been about 10 years old."
- Robert Bohyer, age 84, Lima

"Recently, I've heard commentators refer disparingly to the W.P.A. and the P.W.A. I saw lots of evidence that it provided jobs at the time, and facilities that are still around today. The Akron Rubber Bowl was built by them. People did kid about them, good naturedly. The W.P.A. was often said to mean 'We Poke Along,' rather than the Works Progress Administration. And, P.W.A. supposedly meant 'Poppa Works Again,' rather than Public Works Administration."
- James T. Canning, age 82, Mansfield

"They didn't have any money to buy the things in the stores downtown, so she rarely went into the stores. If they needed anything, they went to the local thrift stores or to welfare. One time, her shoes broke and she didn't have money to buy any new shoes, so she went to welfare. She had to sign a bunch of papers and, in her words, 'sign her life away,' just to get a pair of shoes. When she finally received the shoes, they were four sizes too big, but she didn't care. She said, 'Even though they fell off my feet if I didn't tie them real tight, they were something between my skin and the ground below me so I was happy.' She said that things like this happened on a normal basis, so she learned many things, including how to appreciate what you have and not want more than you need."
- Meg Denman, sophomore at Madison Comprehensive High School, about her grandmother, Marcella Denman, age 92, Mansfield

"Our neighbor teenage boy worked for the C.C.C., one of the many successful programs of F.D.R. He was sent to a work camp in California and worked in a forest, and the government sent the pay each month home to the parents. My grandpa got a job on the W.P.A., cleaning up and beautifying the roadsides with grass and bushes. We were so lucky to have his income."
- Audrey Dvorak, age 75, Gates Mills

"The government had to help, too. For a number of years, the county paid my father one-fourth of the previously charged rent for the tenants who were unemployed. An agricultural agent taught and helped students at an old brooklyn school how to plant, care for and harvest a garden. These, near the school, produced lettuce, peas, beans, beets, kohlrabi, swiss chard, etc. My unemployed uncle was amazed and grateful for the produce my cousin brought home. This cousin's eldest sister willingly became the 'breadwinner' for that family of five children with two parents."
- Florence Field, age 91, Willoughby

"Times were difficult, people were starving, and there was a lot of stealing. My father joined a program of tattooing farm animals. We did this for two years, and as I remember some farmers did not participate, and the practice failed. However, I still have the unit that was used to tattoo the animals. Also at this time, a farmer shot at a father and 9-year-old son stealing potatoes. The father shot at them and killed the young boy. When this news hit the newspapers, we began to see churches and other groups starting soup kitchens and other events to help people out."
- Alfred M. Glass, Cambridge

"Men out of work could work for the W.P.A. during the 30's. They came in the coldest days of winter to clean the trees and brush out of the ditch (creek) that ran along my parent's home. My parents felt sorry for the men and asked them into their house to warm up by the wood stove fire over their lunch hour and gave them the hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate to drink."
- Ruth Hahn-Shrayer, age 78, Holland

"In a strange way, the Great Depression actually improved our lives. Upon graduation from high school, I couldn't find a job, so I joined the National Youth Administration in 1937. For the work we did, each of us received a check for $25 dollars! It was so much money in those days. I remember proudly handing over each check to my mother. The entire amount more than met our needs. I am so appreciative because the N.Y.A. enabled me to continue my violin lessons and gave me a place to play with other young aspiring musicians."
- Mildred M. Jacobs, age 89, Columbus

"When President Roosevelt began the C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps) in March of 1933, I was among the first group of young guys to join. The age limit was 17 to 30. I was just 15. I was so desperate to join, I lied about my age. Over a three-year period, I was in four various C.C.C. camps throughout the country. Two in Ohio, one in Idaho and one in Yellowstone Park, WY."
- Alex James, age 91, Columbus

"My oldest brother worked under W.P.A. as a timekeeper on a highway. Now Highway #10 passed our home. Another brother was in a C.C.C. camp in the state of Washington felling trees. A sister had business training and got a secretarial job under National Youth Administration at our Court House."
- Wilda Jones, Obetz

"Money was scarce and I remember walking downtown with my brother Joe to get free food from the surplus store. We would never know what we would get - sometimes grapefruit juice or prunes or canned stew meat that could contain horse meat."
- Frederick M. Kovacic, age 82, Akron

"I was born in 1926 and was seven years old when the Depression had a severe affect on my family. My Father left my Mother without child support when I was three years old. I had an invalid sister three years older and a younger sister one year old. My Mother cleaned houses and beauty parlors to put food on the table. We had to go on relief in order to survive. I still remember going two miles, pulling a little red wagon and the wheels were ready to fall off, to City Hall to get our monthly ration of old potatoes and canned mutton."
- Loise Norling Maccioli, age 83, Louisville

"It seemed impossible, to these adults during this time, to believe that they would ever prosper again. My dad would stand for hours in what was called a 'soup line' where he would get a free bowl of broth for lunch and hopefully a slice of bread. People begged on the street corners and sold pencils for a penny."
- Marilyn Markle, age 79, North Royalton

"(I remember) the presidential campaign and landslide victory of Franklin D. Roosevelt over Alf Landon in 1933. Roosevelt helped start the recovery after the Great Depression by setting up the New Deal with Civilian Conservation Corps, National Recovery Act, National Industrial Recovery Act, Civil Works Administration, Public Works Administration and the Committee for Industrial Organization, with John L. Lewis, with the bush eyebrows. The CIO president was known for saying 'President Roosevelt wants you to join the union.'"
- Olda Morrison, age 91, Youngstown

"I decided to go to a Civilian Conservation Corp camp in order to help support the family. This camp was run by the government to have young boys work to help support the family. I made $30.00 a month; $22.00 went to my family and I only got $8.00 a month. I had to leave school in the middle of the 12th grade to go to the C.C.C. Camp. Several years later, I took a course and completed my schooling, getting my diploma."
- Ed Persino, Niles

"(Dad) wore out many of the shoes that were given out to the people on relief. He said if they got wet, they fell apart. They were pressed cardboard. Tennis shoes were a little rubber and canvas soaked in paint."
- David Rizzo, age 66, Sagamore Hills

"I remember the soup kitchens. Every two weeks you would be eligible to receive 1/2 gal milk, flour, rice, potatoes and bread. Our family was fortunate that we did not have to use this hand out. I remember the W.P.A. They were responsible for putting men to work. They poured cement for all the streets in Shadyside, Ohio. My younger brother worked for Belmont Tumbler Glass Factory. His pay check consisted of half cash and half script (certificate that took the place of money). The problem with script was that many of the merchants would not accept this as a form of payment. This created a hardship for many families."
- Matthew Sabatina, age 94, Akron

"We were poor when I was a child. But just about everyone was. When things were real bad, we pulled our little wagon to the Relief Agency for food and often wore clothes they provided."
- Evelyn Skala, age 80, Cleveland

"My father worked in a steel mill in Newton Falls. It shut down. There was no income. (Then,) he worked with the W.P.A. I remember playing out at recess and saw my daddy with a shovel. I ran to hug him and he said 'Go back, pretend you don't know me.' How sad! He was eligible for free food - canned beef, flour, sugar, rice, etc. There was no $$ for gas so he had to walk 10 miles to get the food. I remember him walking on the ice in the Mahoning River, which ran back of our farm house."
- Rita Suter, age 85, Canton

"Clothing, we got help from the Welfare Department. The good clothes we wore to church and school. Most of the time we wore patched clothes and tennis shoes and no socks. Ma made clothes for the girls - dresses and skirts."
- Joe Trolio, age 83, Hubbard

"After graduation I did nothing as there was just no work for single men. In August, a friend of mine whose family was on relief (now known as welfare) had received a notice about joining the C.C.C. This was a single male program for ages 18 and over whose family was on relief. My family was not on relief and I was told there was little chance of me being accepted but did take my application. Shortly after, I received a notice to report to an armory. Upon reporting, I was told my application had been approved as each county had been allotted a certain number of enrollees and my county was below its quota. I spent over 2 years in this program. We were paid $30.00 per month - $25.00 was sent directly to our parents. Each enrollee was paid $5.00, but we had a roof over our heads, three meals per day and either too large or too small excess army clothing. It was rough, but I enjoyed most of it and it made a man out of me, prepared me for army service and, most of all, it helped my parents. Sorry to say, but I lied about my age. I was only 17 - 25 days short of the required age of 18."
- Robert Vensel, age 92, Canton

"Well, the W.P.A. came about and people were given work. My mom, being a seamstress, worked making clothing for men, women and children, even inmates. She soon worked up as supervisor and made more money. I even worked after school and while in high school in the office. It helped me get my year book. They had a program I worked at called N.Y.A., and I worked making street signs, and soon became timekeeper. I am thankful for those hard times. It teaches you to be a careful spender and live within your means."
- Mary Williams, age 87, Toledo

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Jobs, Schemes and Other Ways to Make Money

"My older brother, Earl, and I gathered blackberries and raspberries for our mother and she made jelly from them. We also sold some of the berries to make money. The blackberries were sold for 20 cents a gallon and the less-plentiful raspberries were sold for 30 cents a gallon. Earl and I split the money. We also made money by selling garden seeds, Cloverine Salve and Redbud Salve door-to-door. Earl also sold GRIT newspapers and I tagged along with him. We tried to save the money we made, but I was a little thriftier than my brother, who spent a lot of his money on cigarettes and Brilliantine to keep his hair looking good for the girls."
- Betty Banta, age 80, Columbus

"We were always a 'poor' family. My father, an insurance salesman, with a secure job, earned a base salary that was too low to support his family of six children. He was a good salesman and harder worker, so he earned enough commissions, before 1929, to house and feed his family. After the crash of 1929, most people stopped buying additional insurance. A lot of people found it necessary to cancel, cash-in or borrow funds on their policies. The resulting loss of commissions caused us to 'tighten our belts,' so tight that it hurt. We were able to buy nothing except the basic essentials and, in many cases, find ways to get along without things that most people think are essential."
- Emmet Bongar, age 89, Niles

"There were no jobs in Indiana, so dad drove us to Ohio seeking work. He only had a seventh grade education, but was very smart. My mother would clean houses and dad would take on anything people would need done, such as putting in concrete steps and driveways, building porches, etc. He later got a job driving for a bakery, and had such a good reputation for honesty and good working, the owner permitted him to borrow the truck to go to Indiana to bring Mom's family to Ohio. "
- Sally Carrico-Baum, age 75, Columbus

"I peddled newspapers first for the News Bee and then for the Toledo Blade. Walking each day to deliver those papers was quite a chore. Then one day a customer called me in and offered to sell me for twenty dollars an almost new bicycle that had belonged to her recently deceased son. With Mom and Dad's permission I purchased the bike with a dollar down and a dollar a week until the bike was mine. All mine! Hallelujah!"
- William Cox, age 85, Sylvania

"My father wasn't making any money farming so he got a job as a truck driver for General Electric Company on Woodland Avenue. This was rather sad because my dad had to leave early and come home late because of the distance. It also meant my mom had a lot of responsibilities. A really big one was milking the cow. She never did it before and had to ask our neighbor to help her out."
- E. Marie Dornbrook, age 87, Parma Heights

"Everyone worked in some way to earn money. I picked bittersweet and took eggs to sell in town. With the money, I could buy books. My dad did carpentry, sharpened knives and did odd jobs."
- Laverne Hillyer Fifer, age 92, Northwood

"The kids in the neighborhood got picked up by Henry Rosbaugh, bean king, who had beans planted all over the west side: Stamp Rd., Smith Cellar over to the airport. I was 12. My two older brothers also worked. We got picked up at 7:30. Our pay was according to how many hampers we picked. Thirty pounds in each hamper. We worked all day. Everything we earned went to our parents. We got a small allowance."
- Theresa Giallombardo, age 80, Maple Heights

"My first job during these lean years was digging out apple tree stumps for a quarter a stump. But others had better jobs. My neighbor made $4.00 a day working at Armco and those working at the Franklin paper mills made $16.75 per week. These people could live like kings on that income until they lost their jobs. Then, many children who had been working and lost their jobs, went back to live with their parents. The population of some of the towns and farms around actually went up because so many children moved home with their children. "
- Earl Gorsuch, age 88, Lebanon

"My Grandparents passed away a few months apart. They lived in Meigs Co. Ohio. My Grandmother left the 80+ acres to my Mother. We arrived in November and my Grandmother had what was left of a five-gallon jar of pickled Green beans and a small kettle of lard they had rendered from a pig. That was all there was to eat. My Dad walked to the store to see if he could get some flour and sugar. He asked if there was any work to be had. A man, who later became our best friend, said he needed someone to shovel gravel from his truck bed onto the road. He told my Dad that it paid $5.00 a week. My Dad took the job and asked the man if he could get enough money to pay for flour and sugar."
- Patarica LeMay Hauger, age 81, Meigs County

"During the Depression many men tried to make a living as traveling salesmen. They offered products of all types, from farm supplies to patent medicines to insurance. For the most part, their intended customers considered them pests because they had little or no money to spend on anything but essentials. To illustrate this point, my father, Charles Jefferson Davis Johnson, used to tell this story:

"'One day,' he said, 'I was cutting corn with a long corn knife. It looked like a pretty wicked machete. I was wearing rubber boots and I had slid the knife down into my boot. About that time, a salesman walked up to me in the field and started off on a long sales spiel. I told him, 'You just stop right there and tell me what you're sellin'.' That took him a-back for a minute, and he blurted, 'Fire extinguishers.' Then he started on another sales pitch. Well, I figured I could cut corn while he talked, so I reached down and pulled out my corn knife. When he saw it he thought I was going to attack him. He took off like a flash. I never saw anyone run so fast in my life! Why, I wouldn't have hurt him! But I wouldn't have bought any fire extinguishers, either!'"
- Frances Johnson Hinshaw, age 80, Glouster

"Dad was working with the W.P.A., clearing the land which was to be Pearson Park on Navarre Avenue. Sometimes Mom and I would take his lunch to him. I enjoyed it. I would run around in the thicket chasing rabbits and swinging on the vines. The W.P.A. was working on projects all around Toledo, especially the Toledo Zoo. They are still standing. For a while, Dad was carrying and delivering huge blocks of ice to customers of the Citizens Ice Company. I have a picture of him with a very large block on his shoulders."
- Ruth Jacquillard, age 83, Millbury

"In college, a friend and I started the East Lansing Fleating Company to clean and repair coal furnaces. Sears Roebuck representatives liked my entrepreneurship and hired me as a management trainee upon graduation. I started my career with Sears in Cleveland, Ohio, in June of 1940. Including the time out for military service, I worked thirty-four years for Sears, retiring in 1974 with twenty five years as a store manager. My last store was in North Olmsted, Ohio."
- Bernard L. Kasten, age 90, Lucas

"The only time I ever heard my parents argue was when Mother said she'd been hired by the Cuyahoga County Relief Association as a social worker (one of her degrees from Flora Stone Mather College). 'No wife of mine works,' insisted my father. But Mother was concerned about (my sister's) health, and those were the days before medical insurance, so she took the job. Often, when Mother got off the bus after an exhausting day tramping the streets in the E. 55th St. and Broadway neighborhood to document which families were receiving government funds, she would see me waiting at the bus stop. I'd walk behind her all the way home with my face buried in her old, patched fur coat, so grateful that she was OK."
- Mina Kulber, age 86, Lindhurst

"My father was a self-employed auto mechanic; that was all he knew. When the times started getting tough, people still brought their cars in to be repaired, but they would say 'thank you' and leave promising to come back on Saturday to pay their bill. Of course, they never did. My mother had to go to work in the local mitten factory, sewing work gloves - not mittens. She would bring home about $10 a week. That kept food on the table and bought an occasional pair of shoes. Sometimes she would get tired, and run her thumb into the sewing machine needle, and then she would come home with her hand wrapped in a bloody rag. She was always last on the shoe list."
- Donna Lehman, age 86, Eaton

"While I was in grade school (in the 30's) I had a paper route and I had 100 customers. I made $5.00 per week. I thought I was in heaven. I could buy my lunch, ride the bus to school and even bought my 'Western Flyer' bicycle. I had insurance on it, good thing because it was stolen at McKinley High School. The cops found it in a field in the southeast section of Canton."
- Edward Machuga, age 86, Canton

"In the 1920s, the family moved from the Pandora-Bluffton Swiss community to Dover, where my father worked as a carpenter during the building boom of that decade. When the crash came in 1929, my father was out of work. He sold the nice new house he had built - much of it with his own hands - and bought into a Pandora business with one of his brothers. That business, as many others, failed too. Finally, he got work at our church college in Bluffton, earning $1,000 a year as a maintenance supervisor. Father had some education beyond eighth grade and was qualified to teach country school. Mother finished eighth grade, but, as the oldest child in a large family, was expected to stay at home and help with the work."
- Alma Mast, age 94, Walnut Creek

"My parents lost their 'new' brick house over near Willys Park because my father had lost his job as a tool and die maker. In desperation, they answered an ad in the Toledo News Bee 'Seeking a man able to do handyman's work, drive a car, lawn maintenance and with a wife able to clean and cook.' I, an only child, was five years old. My parents were quickly hired and paid $10 per week. And where did we live in this upscale home? Up in the attic with just one window that opened, no insulation, and on two lumpy mattresses on floors with only a few layers of blankets. There was no bathroom for us, so we ended up in the basement to take a shower. etc. Although my parents were assured 'they were doing a wonderful job'. father decided to look for another job and found one working at the Lion Store in the Glass Wares Dept. He was to be paid $10 per week."
- Doris E. Meek, age 82, Columbus

"My brothers and I used to go to Ashes Lot and take unused wood, break it up, place it in bushels and deliver it to the people in the lower districts of Cincinnati. The older boys did the chopping; we younger ones found out where the people lived, placed the wood and their baskets in a wagon, delivered it and collected the money. And we did that all day! We worked from early morning to night! But we worked!"
- Eli Mitchel, age 74, Delaware

"I walked two miles to high school. My younger brother, four years older than I, quit school in the 10th grade. My sister, two years older than I, quit school to go to work at the Republic Steel Mill, sorting tin. My father and six year older brother worked at Republic Steel. during the steel strike of 1937, my father received a cut on the forehead from clubs or stones on the picket line. He lost his job. My brother swam across the Mahoning River to get in the plant to work. Supplies were dropped for the men in the mill by helicopter."
- Olga Morrison, age 91, Youngstown

"I grew up in southeastern Ohio, which at one time had been very prosperous with many iron ore furnaces and coal mines. But it was getting depressed even before the Great Depression hit. When I was about 12, the Workman's Compensation law was passed and the company my father worked for would not pay the insurance. So, Pop was not called back to work after the summer shutdown. He never held a job again."
- Delcie Pound, age 92, Medina

"We were living on a dairy farm in Marian county, West Virginia, my parents and nine children. My parents were hard working farm people. We had many cows, I helped to milk the cows, by hand twice a day. We cooled our milk - so much stirring - and bottled it. My father had a Model-T ford truck. We loaded the cases of quart bottles in the truck. My father left early for the milk route. I went with him many times to place a quart bottle on the porch. The customers on the milk route ran up large bills and paid when they could. My father had many bills: buying feed for the animals and food for the family, plus equipment for the farm. When the Depression hit, no one had any money. The milk customers could not pay their bills, so my father could not pay his. There was a sale, all animals, equipment and a lot of personal items were sold. We had no place to go. Uncle Loyd had bought a farm in Vinton county, Ohio, but he was not ready to move into it. Uncle Jesse had a nursery in Ohio and a large truck he used in the nursery business, he also had a family car. They came to our rescue."
- Neva Rees, age 87, Marietta

"In 1931, I was eight years old and I decided I wanted to make some money by doing something after school. But there were no jobs - you had to make your own job. So, my Dad got me some magazines from a wholesaler (in those days, nobody could afford yearly subscriptions), so I went door-to-door to sell them. I still remember my spiel: 'Do you want to buy a Literary Digest, Radio Dial, Liberty, True Story, Woman's Home Companion, Collins or American?' I'd go every week to the same places and eventually I had a magazine route built up. Most of them cost only 5 cents, so I made half a cent on them. But, I saved my money and I was able to buy most of my clothes since I was 8."
- Thomas Rosmarin, age 85, Columbus

"My dad became embittered with a broken spirit; there were no jobs for men. Momma worked for a fleabag hotel as a chambermaid (now called housekeeping) and supplied our only income to support a family. Later, momma baked bread to sell to anyone who could spare a dime for a big, round, two-pound loaf of homemade. Momma did this three days a week for 12 or 14 hours a day. She had a crippled left hand from birth. She learned and practiced an economy that goes far beyond a present day college economics course. She lived it and she made it work. I was too young to understand her pain when occasionally I would see her quietly weeping."
- Russell Harold, age 85, Gratiot

"In 1934, I graduated from Bowling Green State College, earning a BS degree in education. For four years, my father struggled financially to pay my tuition, which was $50.00 a semester. Upon graduation, I discovered there were few jobs. After sending out many applications, I was hired to teach at Chesterfield Centralized School in Fulton county. Mr. Abbott, board president, said he thought I'd make a good teacher since my application was so neatly underscored in red ink. My salary was $800.00 per year. I roomed and boarded at George and Wilma Holman's farm home near the school. Mrs. Holman served delicious meals and fixed box lunches for noon. I paid her $5.00 a week."
- Hazel Schroeder, age 97, Wauseon

"I worked at a store after school and Saturdays and vacations for $6 a week - 57 hours. Roosevelt was elected and put the N.R.A. symbol with the Blue Eagle in the window, and then I made $13 a week for 40 hours. I was in heaven and rich. Before long, he started the W.P.A. and my Dad went to work at night on West Main Street. It was a cold winter, but he worked 30 hours a week for 47 cents an hour."
- Margaret Smith, age 94, Barnesville

"Dad (Oscar) had lost his job at a laundry in Louisville because the owner could no longer afford to pay him. He had worked at Armco Steel several years before he married our Mom (Cora), and so he decided to go back to Armco and see if he could get a job there. He was hired on and he worked as many hours as the company would let him, but he had to find other ways to make enough to support the family. To supplement his meager income, he cut hair for people in the neighborhood for whatever they could afford to pay. He also played the fiddle in contests to win groceries, and he played for dances, etc., being paid sometimes with money and sometimes with food. Armco Steel provided garden plots for families of the workers, and the family grew beans, sweet corn, tomatoes and other vegetables, as well as popcorn."
- Wanda Stubbart, age 78, Columbus, Vic Thomas, age 83, Middletown and Kathleen Lambert, age 80, Middletown

"In North Royalton, at a relatively young age, (brother) Joe and I were always looking for some kind of work that could generate some income. We both managed to latch onto paper routes. Mine was a Press route, with 18 customers on a four-mile walking route (initially). Deliveries were made six days a week, paying six cents per customer, for a total income of $1.08 per week. This proved to be a time-consuming, long walk each day. I needed a bike! Twenty weeks later, with the approval of mom and dad, I purchased a new bicycle through the Sears catalog for $20. This put a completely new perspective on the 4-mile route."
- Larry Taddie, age 82, Parma

"My family lived in Port Clinton. My little brother and I had a dew-worm business, selling to Lake Erie fishermen. Ten cents a dozen, three dozen for 25 cents. This was our spending money and many a time, it helped out with the grocery bills."
- Thelma Thomas, age 87, Port Clinton

"My older brother worked as a handyman/mechanic at a department store. The boss told him he would have more in his pay envelope the coming week. My brother thought 'Oh boy, maybe $15.00 a week.' The 'more' in his pay was 50 cents a week raise."
- William Turner, age 89, Cleveland

"I was hired by Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. as a teletype operator due to previous employment in the Telegraph Office. My intended 'marriage partner' was Carl Waters, also a 1933 graduate who worked at Firestone. Men were 'selling apples' on street corners for food, and due to a company policy, married couples were unable to work at Firestone simultaneously. To avoid publication of our names applying for marriage licenses in Akron, we drove to Huntington, WV, on Feb. 14, and were married on the same day by a Minister who was presiding at his church's children's St. Valentine's Day party. To complete the day, we 'fibbed' and said we were movie actors from Hollywood, Calif. That made the day!!!"
- Lehla Cox Waters, age 94, Florida (formerly of Akron)

"Pops worked as the manager of a delicatessen at Tiedtkes Department store. We bought our clothes there on discount, and he would bring home unsold food like potato salad and baked beans. He got Mom's sisters jobs there. We kids had chores to do and even went from door to door selling grapes. At an early age, we picked berries, mowed lawns, etc., to contribute to the family income. We had little money, but Dad created job projects for our relatives less fortunate. Their remuneration was in hefty dinners for their families, and take-home produce. Grandpa did the carpentry, Uncle Bill the electrical and cousin Jim repaired our Model-A Ford. The door was always open and extra plates ready for visiting relatives and their families."
- Bill Williams, age 79, Perrysburg

"At 4:30 a.m., in the winter of 1930, I was awakened by my mother, who was preparaing to go to work (housecleaning), and getting me ready to stay at the Christ Mission Day Care Center. We walked one block in the middle of the street in 8 inches of snow to get the streetcar into town where she left me and went on her way. I was there for the rest of the day. My father was employed by the Republic Steel Corp., in the engineering shop, Blacksmith by trade. During this period, everything was in limbo and there was little call for steel. If he was lucky, he might be called to work, one day a week and sometimes only one day a month, and he had to call in everyday, regardless. The Superintendent was the only one that had a telephone and he lived five blocks away. My father used to walk across town to the wealthy section, during the summer months to cut and take of the yards, and walk back home after a long days work."
- William L. Zurkey, age 84, Boardman

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Family, Community and Kindness Toward Strangers

"Things were rough, but I never heard them complain. They worked together, and I don't know how my mother managed because she was always caring for someone in our home. Her mother was a diabetic and stayed with us until she died. Grandma got the best of care, since my mother had been a registered nurse before she married. Poor thing gave her savings to a brother in Cleveland, who invested it in the stock market and lost it all"
- Elizabeth A. Bartholow, age 85, Columbiana

"Mrs. Cunningham had a garage in her yard. So, some men fixed a place for the women to cook soup in big kettles and everyone came and ate. They worked two at a time. I was 12 years old I had to help Mary Deualt. The farmers would donate meat for the soup. Everyone who had a garden brought potatoes and vegetables. Once in a while, Nickel's Bakery would give us some day old bread, it wasn't sliced yet then."
- Lucy Burris, age 90, Barnsesville

"On occasion, street-level apartments would be converted into a family-run butcher shop, candy/cigar/cigarette store or a miniature restaurant whose owner would prepare all homemade soups, entrees and breads (desserts were not part of the menu as this was considered a luxury). These small entrepreneurs would also rent the apartment above the store in order to open their business very early and close late. To meet this end, every member of the family shared in the work, with school-age children doing their chores before and after school. Parents would make their purchases from these neighborhood stores. The owners were our friends as well as neighbors and, after closing their shops and on Sundays/holidays, the men would play cards or chess while children played together - boys playing bat ball in the street and the girls jumping rope or playing jacks and tick-tack-toe."
- Frances, Daubert, age 80, Centerville

"Next door to our house lived 2 sisters who were concerned about a family who were members of their church. They enlisted my help. Despite my father being able to give us only $5 each week for food, Mom allowed me to take a loaf of homemade bread each Saturday evening. Alice and Emma Lou brought a jar of pickles, some margarine and some board games. We descended upon the family - an unemployed husband and a discouraged wife with three little ones not yet in school. After the children were tucked in, we sat with our games around the dining room table, and then feasted on pickle sandwiches and tea! One time, I was able to help the husband with some math as he studied from a booklet prior to hopefully passing a test to be hired on one of Lake Erie's boats."
- Florence Field, age 91, Willoughby

"If your parents, grandparents or members of your family became ill or needed assistance, you moved them into your home. There was no available help in rest homes or assisted living facilities. "
- Millie Gavitt, age 91, Fremont

"I was born and raised in Point Place. Dad was killed in an auto accident and Mom had tuberculosis. So, at 3 years old, Grandma Stader, who was 76 years old, took me. My sister was 8 month old and raised by my aunt and uncle. I thought we were rich. Grandma got $19 a month old age pension - so I was told - three uncles chipped in 50 cents a week toward my keep. We had a garden (small with a peach tree) and in the middle was a strawberry patch, grape vine and rhubarb, so Grandma canned a lot. I had a wagon loaded up with her canned food and my toys and gave them to a poor family living in a garage around the corner. Grandma was mortified when she found out."
- Dorothy Heibeck, Toledo

"We five moved to our home on South College Drive. The house had to be readied for the move, so my parents would make a blanket bed where we kids slept while they worked. We moved into the house when it was cleaned, but still in need of repairs. Neighbor kids had broken windows, and, the first few days, birds would fly in one window and out the next. Dad installed new windows quickly. Some of the kids who had broken the windows helped us move from the rental home to 'our home.' My dad had developed sciatic rheumatism and was in a lot of pain. The neighborhood kids used carts and wagons and pulled, pushed and carried our things the block between the two houses. They were a big help to us, and probably felt better after atoning for their window-breaking misdeeds."
- Ruth marilyn Isaacson, age 83, Germantown MD (formerly of Bowling Green)

"This little town was like a large family. People would share their food: potatoes they had grown, a pan of fresh meat from hog killing. People also shared their cars. Many people hitch-hiked to the nearest town to work. Children walked miles to school. There were no buses."
- Leonora Joyce, age 86, Powell

"In most neighborhoods, people bonded regardless of race, religion or ethnic background. They shared whatever they had, whether it was food, shelter or clothing. For example, two of my neighbors each contributed a dime so that we were able to purchase three pounds of ground meat that Fisher Foods had for 29 cents. We split the pack and three families enjoyed some meat. There were no food stamps at that time."
- Mary Grace Lukacevic, age 98, Seven Hills

"Family and church were great stabilizers during that period. Activities outside of family were largely centered in church and school. We took our family for granted; it would always be there. Uncles and aunts, grandparents and cousins were all part of our extended family. A year's supply of apple butter came at the end of a day of apple butter stirring at Grandma's. So did the supply of pork from butchering day. An aunt came to help when mother had a couple of bushels of peaches to can. Another aunt who had enough money to buy nice clothes, periodically sent a box of things. Mother, who was an excellent seamstress, would make them over for us."
- Alma Mast, age 94, Walnut Creek

"I came from a Catholic Background and this was what held us together as a family. Prayer was very important and helped us through. We did as we should and what we could. We were a happy family. Dad did not think much of President Hoover, and when Roosvelt was elected, it gave us much hope and gave jobs back to the people. We made it and, to this day, I feel it was a good learning experience."
- Leo Seasly, age 85, Bloomville

"Barbershops and beauty parlors were set up in the basements of private homes. Shoe repair men set up shop in garages. It was not at all difficult to find some neighbor willing to bake and decorate a special birthday cake or even a wedding cake. Lots of kids took piano lessons from someone just down the street or in the next block. You could get private in-home violin, accordion or guitar lessons for maybe 10 to 25 cents an hour."
- John W. Straka, Jr., age 91, Maple Heights

"In our first attempt at growing food crops, dad, my siblings and I had to dig the earth by hand. The only mechanical help we had was a push-type tiller. Even dad was thinking that there had to be a better way. With people power only, our first garden plot covered about 1/4 acre. Relief came to us the second year, in the form of our World War I, partially disabled neighbor. He had bought a little Farmall tractor and plowed and tilled about one acre of land for our expanding garden. All that it cost my dad was a bottle of homemade grape wine. What a deal! What a garden we had then! We grew tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, radishes and more. The greatest thrill was not only picking beautiful red-ripe tomatoes throughout the summer, but also digging-up the hills of potatoes in the fall and finding from 4 to 6 nice potatoes in each hill. What a thrill. To us, it was like finding gold. Several years later, our parents purchased fruit trees through the Montgomery Ward catalog (not all at once, but over a period of time). Once again, our neighbor came to our rescue with his little Farmall. This time, however, our parents could afford to pay him in addition to the bottle of wine. The trees were planted on the hillside about 1,000 feet behind our house. We planted and grew peach, cherry, plum and pear trees. We did not plant apple trees, because we had seven of them in our front yard, which were left over from the original farm."
- Larry Taddie, age 82, Parma

"I was a young teenager during the 'Great Depression.' I remember my brother, Vic and brother-in-law, Gardner, were out of work. Their company had shut down. So Vic, Gardner, and my sister, Mary, came home to my parents' big farm house to live. I thought it was wonderful, as I had never had brothers and sister at home before. I had someone to teach me board games, checkers, Parchesi, anagrams, etc. They also put up a tire swing for me to use. They weren't at all happy, though, at being out of work through no fault of their own."
- Ernestine Van Asdale, age 86, Columbus

"Dad lost his job. They moved around town to various houses. Landlords were allowing people to live in some houses for free, just to keep the residence occupied. To make money, people were stealing sinks, copper and major parts of houses that were not lived in. To pool resources, my aunt and uncle lived with my parents. Each week, they went back to the farm and brought back canned fruit. Items from my grandparents' farm were stored under a bed because the shadowed area was cooler."
- Mary Ann Wasserman, age 78, Toledo

"People back then were kind and helped everyone. No one was a stranger. Mom found a meager job. We lived during the era of 'Thatcher' (slogan was Thatcher's beans). People were issued a card and, on certain days, used them to get groceries like beans, rice, potatoes, even some canned goods. Neighbors shared these items with each other. Men went fishing and sold and gave away fish to their neighbors."
- Mary Williams, age 87, Toledo

"The men in the neighborhood kicked coal off the train as it went by about a block from our house. They got chased by a railroad dick and the next day he was guarding it as I went to school. I was crying because I was hungry (I was in first grade, 1929). The guard asked me why I was crying. When I told him I was hungry, he asked where I lived, I told him and pointed so he took me back home and asked my mother if we had coal. This was in the winter and she showed him the one lump of coal we had left. Dad was at the grocery store nearby trying to get a loaf of bread and paying for it the next day when a relief check was due. They wouldn't do it, but when he came back, the railroad dick told him to come get as much coal as he wanted. We still didn't have any brea,d but our neighbor loaned Mom enough bread to go with the beans she cooked with no seasonings."
- Virginia Beeman, age 86, Walbridge

"There was always listening to adult conversation. That is where I learned about the men who came to our back door. They were beggars and they wanted a meal and a pair of socks. They told each other which house fed them. So, if you didn't want a string of beggars or were low on your husband's socks, don't feed them."
- Josephine Fell, age 81, Columbus

"There was a railroad track right behind our house, I would sit on the window seat in our dining room and watch the trains, counting the number of 'bums' on the roofs of the train cars. Men were going all over this country to try and find work and, since they could not afford to buy a ticket, they would sneak a ride on top of the box cars. Many were killed and the trains would stop now and then to clear the roofs of the bums so, they would not fall off. Sometimes if the train would stop near our house, the bums would jump off before they were caught, and soon they would appear at our back door and ask for a handout - hence trick or treat on Halloween when the children turn into the beggars or bums. My grandma always fed those men soup, a sandwich and a cup of coffee, but the beggars had to sit down on the porch steps and wash their hands under the hose. If they wanted drinking water, they could help themselves from the hose, also. She would boil the plates and cups they used so we would not catch any germs. Paper plates were too expensive."
- Marilyn Markle, age 79, North Royalton

"Lots of men hopped freight trains, going from place to place, trying to find work. My aunt lived near the railroad and a water tower where the steam locomotives stopped to take on water. Hoboes got off the trains and came to her house begging for food. Some of them offered to do chores to repay her."
- Beulah Milbern, age 88, Monroe

"Bums used to come around for hand outs. Mom and most neighbors would share the little they had. They were half afraid of the homeless men, but they could not - and would not - let them go away hungry."
- Ann Shook, age 85, Akron

"I remember the half-starved dogs that ran about and my brother and I crying just to see them, ribs showing so plainly. My mother baked a bread using the saved meat drippings - and this we fed to the strays."
- Thelma Thomas, age 87, Port Clinton

"There was a train track across the road from the farm, and Aunt Ida would feed the hoboes who 'rode the rails' and stopped at the back screen door to ask for something to eat in exchange for work. She always found work for them such as chopping wood or other small chores. In those days when men were begging, 'Brother, can you spare a dime,' my Aunt had a lot of faith, and I remember her saying, 'The Lord will provide,' and he usually did."
- Ada Goss Weygandth, age 86, Grove City

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Finances, Money and Making Ends Meet

"Well, we did not have credit cards or direct deposit so our Parents (both of whom worked) were paid in cash, and then at home we had envelopes for rent, gas, electric, phone, groceries, insurance and, finally, savings. That lasted through the war years. The rule was 'you don't need it unless you can pay cash for it.'"
- John Batista, Dayton

"We had a grocery store. We owned three houses aside from our store, and those days, you did not have Social Security. You bought rentals. The bank took all three of our homes. They were rented and were paying, but they took the homes and closed the banks. The sign on the bank said 'closed.' Those are some of my thoughts along the way. The interesting part was the poor people had integrity. That was terrific. My Granddad ran a book, and when payday came, the poor people would come and pay him. Granddad had a stack of them."
- Robert Brenner, age 92, Toledo

"A year or two before the 'crash' (my parents) bought a newly built house in a nice neighborhood for $5,000. Dad, a Scot, was proud to become an American Citizen and the future looked bright. In 1933, that all changed and we lost the house (No bailouts!). Years later, Mom told me that if they thought the Depression would be short lived, they might have been able to make house payments out of savings, but there was no way to predict that. So, they found a rental in a decent neighborhood and struggled to survive."
- James T. Canning, age 82, Mansfield

"After several years, my father was employed as a delivery man for an office machine company. Following some time of not making enough money to keep up with the debts incurred during unemployment, my parents declared bankruptcy. Their pride had held them back from doing this, since it was considered a shameful thing to do. Clearing this debt, though, enabled them to move forward financially. In the meantime, the landlord, who was a bachelor, decided to move in and take advantage of some good home cooking in order to cancel the rent debt. He was a very obnoxious person to have at dinner. Then he went to his special locked-door room for the evening."
- Margaret B. Carver, age 91, Cortland

"During World War II, many parents worked double and triple overtime in Defense Plants and had money to spend - but there were very few domestic products being produced, so there was nothing to spend that money on (except War Bonds). And ration stamps limited your choices for those products that WERE available"
- Juanita Coulson, age 76, London

"'Quick, Doris Ann! Get over here and hide behind the icebox!' That is my most lasting impression of the Depression. I was born in 1931, two years after the stock market crash. Hiding behind the icebox in the kitchen became a weekly task to avoid the bill collector who made his rounds of the many homes occupied by people unable to pay their bills on time."
- Doris V. Curmode, age 78, Columbus

"The worst year for us was when Dad had to start selling trees from the woods to the lumber company for money to carry us through the winter, until the vegetables and apples came in again the next summer. Near spring, we had one huge tree which Dad had saved, hoping he would not have to cut it down to sell. It stood at the end of the lane at the edge of the peach orchard. Money was still short, so the tree had to go. It was like losing one of the family. But after that year, things started gradually improving and work began to pick up."
- Donna Jean Donovan, age 83, Massillon

"Even now, I close my eyes and see my parents seated at the kitchen table, my mother sobbing convulsively. It was 1933 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had just declared a 'bank holiday.' The Union Trust Bank had closed and we had lost our lifetime savings - all 400 dollars!"
- Jean Elsner, age 89, South Euclid

"You'd make $30 for a week's work. But my husband and I both worked and we did just fine. We bought a house and paid it off in half the time. And we always had a decent car. We put our money to good use. If you know how to manage it, you can make it."
- Magnolia Fielder, age 93, Cincinnati

"Dad made a truck - we called it Ajax - from a Model-T car. We heated our irons on the cook stove and ran them across newspaper to test them for scorching. We had a milk and egg route. Milk was eight cents a quart, and dressed chickens were 10 cents each, or 15 cents if mom cut them up. We tithed 50 cents a week to our church. The minister made $15.00 a week and all the chicken and eggs we could give him."
- Mary Alice Foster, age 89, Reynoldsburg

"My father was buying a home, there was not enough money for everything. So he went to the bank and made a deal to pay only the interest on his home: $10 a month. "
- Charles Green, age 87, Columbus

"One of my first memories was walking with my father when I was ten years old in 1929 to the Pennsylvania Bank and Trust on Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh. We heard that the bank was closing, so he was anxious to withdraw his $12 balance. I remember that a crowd had already formed in front of the bank and that people were pushing on the locked doors in desperation. The bank was closed. My father never, ever, forgot that he lost the princely sum of $12 on that day."
- Mildred M. Jacobs, age 89, Columbus

"My mom baked bread to sell. One day, the bread was mixed, in pans covered with dishcloths to raise. A knock on the door saw a man from the gas company. He said he was to turn off the gas because of delinquency of the bill. My mother begged him to let her bake her bread and then she could pay the bill. He refused, so mom took the bread to a neighbor who let her bake the bread. It was a rude awakening for me."
- Dorothy Harriet Lyons Jones, age 85, Youngstown

"They wasn't money anyway, so you couldn't buy a thing. No credit card, food stamp. Credit cards are the down fall of this nation. People think thing they are going to bring them happiness, but they don't."
- Leola Kearney, age 81, Lima

"Mother got paid every other week. Mr. Volsky had 'the book' at his store. People who didn't have money to pay for their groceries on any given week had a page in The Book. Purchases were entered and erased when the bills were paid. Then, Mr. Volsky would start a new page for the family. This was a necessary but very embarrassing situation for my parents and our neighbors, but it was a viable solution for trying times."
- Mina Kulber, age 86, Lyndhurst

"In 1929 the Union Trust Bank closed. This was the bank my dad used for his business and where I had my school savings account. I suppose there might have been a few weeks he didn't get paid. He had to borrow against an insurance policy to meet the payroll. I never knew if he missed a rent payment and, if so, our landlord, who lived next door, would have been patient, as they were like grandparents to us kids. After the Depression had progressed for a few years, our rent was reduced from $25.00 to $20.00. The first act in the liquidation of the bank was in paying off the school savings accounts. We always had food on the table and mother could always come up with something if a person came to the door asking for something to eat. There was always a nickel for Sunday school and a nickel for the weekly deposit to the school savings account. My dad had to give up our car in 1932 because he couldn't afford to pay rent for the garage and the other related expenses in operating a car. He walked back and forth to work which must have been two miles. He didn't buy another car until 1937 after I was out of high school.."
- Richard E. Lee, age 90, Centerville

"My grandparents that lived with us would receive a notice occasionally, and Grandma Eva would get on a bus and transfer several times to go to a bank called 'The Guardian Trust.' She would take a very old, beat-up bank book with a $0.00 balance showing. All of their money had been lost in the crash, but they said that the bank made a promise to pay everyone back, over time, therefore a few dollars that was accumulated brought the customers back to the 'Teller's Window'. They were trying to right the wrong. "
- Marilyn Markle, age 79, North Royalton

"I first became aware that our family was experiencing financial difficulty when I heard my mother tearfully explaining to her mother, via the telephone, that my father received a $1,500 pay cut. By best estimates, I believe that it amounted to a 50 percent reduction in pay per year. This sent a signal to the older children that they had to contribute financially to assure our family's survival. My oldest sister acquired an office position with Fairchild Aviation, and dutifully paid for her room and board. This amount was set at ten dollars per week. An older brother had to work hard for many long hours for a 40 cents per hour wage. He, too, paid for weekly room and board. Two other sisters, upon entering high school, worked every Sunday afternoon at a large florist and garden center for a single dollar of pay. Once, on a weekday evening, we were without electrical power. My mother paid the bill that same day, but it was not in time to notify the line crew whose job it was to disconnect the power of those delinquent in payment. The fact that we were without power for a day irritated my father. Soon he was quick to find fault with everything that displeased him."
- William McDonald, age 86, Centerville

"When the word came out about the banks failing, one of our neighbors had a heart attack. His life savings was gone in the blink of an eye. We had no money in the bank, so didn't lose any in that manner. I remember the next time we drove by the bank, I was surprised to see it still standing. As a little kid, I thought failing meant falling down."
- Martha McMahon, age 85, Medina

"Although the Depression started in 1929, the effects lasted during most of my school years. In our community, bartering played a very large role in everyday life. While we were self-sufficient in many ways, we could barter to get things we did not have. Every week, the local 'huckster' stopped at our house in a wooden-bodied truck. My father would trade eggs to the man in exchange for flour, sugar and other staples. The truck had an icebox. For an occasional treat, my father would trade for cheese or cold cuts. We also bartered with our school. My parents traded items to the school so my sister and I could purchase lunch tickets. In junior high and high school, I also helped cook and serve the school lunches in return for lunch tickets and various other school expenditures."
- Evelyn Brewer Neff Mitrione, age 86, Pickerington

"I remember soda pop was $0.05 a bottle. My sister and I would get a bottle about once a month. Milk was 10 cents a quart and that was our drink other than water. The local picture show was five cents. There was a park called Lakeside on the extreme west side of Dayton. This park had a three-cent day on Wednesday during the summer months. The Dayton Street car charged three cents on Wednesdays; normally, the fare was five cents. Newspapers were 18 cents Monday through Saturday. Sunday papers were 10 cents. Haircuts were 35 cents, but very few children went to the barbers; someone in the family usually did this. Gasoline was twelve cents a gallon and that included wiping of the windshield and checking the oil."
- Raymond J. Mock, age 85, Centerville

"I married in 1937, when a three-bedroom home cost $1,400 and the average income was $1,898. I found work after high school graduation at Kresge Five and Ten for $12.50 a week. I worked from 9 to 6 on weekdays and 9 to 9 on Saturday. A gallon of gasoline was 20 cents, bacon was 37 cents a pound, standing rib roast 39 cents and a bottle of Coke was 5 cents. Pillsbury flour was 99 cents for a 25-pound bag. A loaf of bread was 10 cents. Oles market had bread five cents a loaf. A fur coat at Strouss was $39. "
- Olga Morrison, age 91, Youngstown

"Most people would not understand, especially in this day and age, what being truly poor really was. They had no jobs, no money and not much hope. But they would keep fighting until all was lost. And that nearly happened more than once. When each girl turned about 10 years old, they started cleaning house for the rich people. They were paid about 25 cents for a days work. Mom's brothers sold newspapers and chunks of coal on the street corners for pennies and nickels. The men on the trains would throw down lumps of coal for the boys to sell and use. Grandma would take the change the kids made to the local grocery and purchase flour and fat-back (a very fat version of bacon). She would bake her own bread and make gravy out of the fatback. They would eat gravy bread for supper that night. There was no fruit or vegetables."
- Joyce M. Pack, age 69, Toledo

"Things got pretty tough at home, and we nearly lost our home. We couldn't pay the mortgage. Fortunately, I wrote a letter to the loan company and they sent a man to see us. He was able to set up a plan that we just barely could afford to pay our monthly mortgage so that we would not lose our home."
- Ed Persino, Niles

"Honesty and thrift were absolute traits. A handshake was as good as your word or signature. Children were taught to be saving. Most had a personal bank at home, and the school had a savings bank project. The students brought money each week to add to their account at school."
- Helen Cook Railer, age 95, Burlington, IN (formerly of Greenfield)

"A tricycle momma had almost promised me was on sale for a dollar, but they were sold out. I doubt I was more disappointed than momma, who had pledged that days' wages to me. The up-side was now she could buy a pound of bologna and a loaf of bread, some salt fish and have money left over for tomorrow."
- Harold Russell, age 85, Gratiot

"As I remember and my parents told me, the good times ended very quickly for most people, and when the banks failed it turned into chaos in the streets. We were in Toledo, Ohio, and they were hit really hard by it all. One evening, when we went downtown to check on the bank, there were hundreds of people out front yelling and crying and fighting and beating on the locked doors and windows. They had fires built in the street to keep warm and there were people milling around all over the downtown. Anybody that thinks what we are going through now is a Depression doesn't have a clue of what a real Depression is. We lost maybe $400.00 in the failed bank, but we moved on, went to Florida and soon Dad was working again. I remember, for years after the banks began to come back, Mother would receive a check every once in a while. They were small by today's standards, I think $4.00, but well received in 1933. I learned a lot from living in those times. Maybe that's what we need again, to show these young folks just how good they had it."
- Vane S. Scott, Jr., age 85, Newcomerstown

"The country store was very important to many phases of life in the community; it was our connection to the outside world for our necessities as well as a few luxuries such as candy, chewing gum, cookies and yes, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco and cigarette tobacco to roll your own. The store was heated by a pot-bellied stove located near the center of the building and light was provided by two pump-up gasoline lamps, which were placed on a hook near the ceiling. In the evening, many of the men of the community would gather to buy a few items, exchange news, tell tall stories and enjoy snacks, such as bologna, long horn cheese or sardines. It was ordered by asking for ten, fifteen or twenty five cents worth of the product. One day, one of the regulars at the evening gathering asked for a nickel's worth of cheese just to test the storekeeper but it didn't work out that way he thought it would. The storekeeper stepped from behind the counter with the cheese knife in his hand, raised it to the mans face and said, smell this!"
- William M. Shaw, age 87, Sarahsville

"As for the Depression, many lost money in banks, but our cash was so meager there was no bank account. Mother raised chickens so she would take eggs and butter to the grocery store to get the few supplies for her baking needs. Dad would sell half a beef to pay the yearly taxes."
- Beva Stonebreaker, age 89, Cadiz

"At my elementary school, the teachers taught us how to save. I had a bank book and was very proud of the $48 dollars I had saved, but we had to withdraw that money and use it for food. It served us for many weeks. A maiden aunt would also stop by, en route from the grocery store, and leave us meat, eggs and sometimes flour. I would, in turn, do things to help her like pulling my wagon to the ice house and bringing her back a large block of ice for her ice-box. To have it delivered by an ice wagon was a luxury. Dad removed our doghouse from the back yard and brought it on the porch so we could dig up the space and plant a garden."
- Esther R. Sukosd, age 91, Carrollton

"I was in the kitchen with Mom when Dad came home. Mom was comparing the shopping list to the purchases while Dad put 10 percent of the proceeds in the church box.

"Mom said, 'Great. Everything's here. Where's the excess cash?'

"Dad said, 'There isn't any. There was so little that I told the grocer to just put the excess in the sugar bag.'

"Mom, aghast, said, 'George, we don't have a nickel in the house!' The church box contents were not 'our' money.

"Dad asked, 'does the roof leak?'

"'George, you know it doesn't leak.'

"'Do we all have clothes?'

"'Yes, of course.'

"'Do we have something to eat?'

"'Sure, you can see it on the stove.'

"'Well, we have a dry place to sleep tonight. If we had more clothes, we couldn't even wear them, and we have more food than we can eat.'

"Mom cautiously asked, 'But what about the mortgage?'

"Dad responded, 'It isn't due for another thirty days. Call the boys for supper.'"
- George K. Weimer, Jr., age 77, Sebring

"There was a run on the banks, People lined up for blocks to get their money, so the banks closed their doors and everyone was in a panic. My parents lost their home. The bank foreclosed for a balance of $ 3,200 dollars. My parents' home was built brand new for approximately $7,800, and the bank stole it for that balance, as my parents could not even afford to pay the interest. Very interestingly, my mother persuaded the bank president of the First Federal Savings and Loan to accept $ 5 as a down payment on another home, which needed much work, promising that my Dad would fix all that was needed to upgrade and make it a very livable place again. It was done and the bank president, years later, visited my mother in the nursing home, still remembering the down payment and change that my Dad made in that house."
- William L. Zurkey, age 84, Boardman

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Depression Era Clothing and Laundry

"Clothes that were too worn or torn to be given away or passed down were made into dust cloths or cut into strips and woven into rag rugs. Dust cloths were washed and used over again until they wore out. My mother made most of my clothes that hadn't been handed down. Shoes had to last through the season. One summer, my feet grew before it was time for school shoes, so mother cut the toes out of my tennis shoes so they wouldn't hurt my feet. My mother's cousin, who lived in Indiana on a farm, would send flour sacks with patterns which my mother would make into pajamas."
- Paula Deatrick Ashton, age 69, Toledo

"I can remember my mother carrying buckets of water, scrubbing her hands raw on a scrub board. She saved every penny so she could buy yard goods to make dresses for my sisters and me. Every stitch was made by hand. When I started to school, I had a new dress. My mother would sit up all night making it. "
- Margaret Byrum, age 83, Chillicothe

"My mom was a non-complaining mother. She kept us fed and clothed and taught us how to sew on buttons, how to sew the holes in the toes of our socks and how to iron our clothes. Ironing involved two heavy irons heated on the kitchen cook stove. No easy task. Mom washed our clothes on a scrub board in a big tub. We used rain water when available. We caught the water from the roof gutter downspouts in big wash tubs. Eventually she did have a washer. Winter or summer, she always hung our clothes out to dry. She never had a dryer. She would stand our frozen long underwear against the wall behind the stove to thaw."
- Ralph W. Dennings, age 87, Saint Marys

"We all wore well-patched and darned clothing. A neighbor gave my sister and me clothing her daughter outgrew. One dress for the week of school, one dress to change into in the evenings to keep the school dress clean, and one dress for church."
- Evelyn Donohue, age 85, Columbus

"My aunt, an actress, mailed packages of her used clothing to us, and my mother transformed them. When I was twelve, I wore a black satin spring coat - beautiful material, but so unsuitable!"
- Jeans Elsner, age 89, South Euclid

"Laundry was an all day affair. Water was pumped from the well and heated on a wood stove. We did good whites first, light colored clothes next, household linens, work clothes and darks last. This was all done in a wash tub with a wash board. Everything was rinsed, rung out by hand, and hung up to dry - outside in warm weather and inside in cold weather. Then there was ironing: a flat iron heated on the wood stove. We only had one pair of shoes; they were kept for good wear and cold weather. Most of us kids walked barefoot to school until cold weather. One fall day, we walked the mile-and-a-quarter to school, barefooted. While in school, it snowed. We ran all the way home barefoot in the snow."
- Laverne Hillyer Fifer, age 92, Northwood

"Sometimes, Mom sent for clothes from Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward. She'd order dresses for 75 cents, and they would send us whatever no one else wanted! Dad would fix all of our shoes, putting new heels or soles on them."
- Dorothy Orthwein Fundum, age 82, Malinta

"My sister and I learned homemaking in a hurry at age six. I stood on a bench to reach the ironing board. I ironed all flat stuff: hankies, dish towels, pillow cases. We also learned how to wash clothes on scrub boards and hang them up to dry. At 12, I was taught how to cook, wash clothes and I also learned how to embroider and crochet. We also cut patterns out of newspaper and I sewed my own outfits. We also made aprons. My parents were great teachers and taught us how to earn and save."
- Theresa Giallombardo, age 80, Maple Heights

"That year, when it was about time for my brother Charles and me to start back to school, I didn't have any shoes to wear. Mother saw an ad for shoe sales in a town about 20 miles away. My brother rode his bike all the way to that store and brought back a pair of old lady shoes with high heels and pointed toes. I cried and didn't want to wear them, but my dad cut the heels off and I wore them anyway."
- Charlotte Walters Grant, age 88, Jacobsburg

"The women would gather occasionally to quilt from scraps of cloth that they had left over from making their own clothes for the family; the quilts would be given to those who needed them. The churches often had clothing sales to raise cash to purchase clothing for the children; this practice was carried out without respect for the many denominations of religion. This practice helped in distributing clothing that was outgrown, and provided for infants' clothing. As you see our community was quite cooperative in helping as the need arose."
- Myron Johnson, Barnesville

"I am enclosing a picture of a shoe that I still have, which my dad was wearing in the '30s when he stepped on a rusty nail. He would have been 23 or 24 years old. You can see a hole in the top toe area and it looks like there was a resole. When he ran that nail through the shoe and into his foot, we had no money, no health insurance. He believed, as did other people at that time, that if you kept the shoe with the nail in it, you would not get blood poisoning. He lived until age 86. Can you imagine anyone today who would wear a shoe to this point of use?"
- C. R. Lanning, Fostoria

"What I was aware of was the Saturday trips to town to the clothing stores in Bellaire became scarce, we did not get a lot of clothes. You wore them till they wore out. My little Red coat was worn till it couldn't be worn any more. As for shoes, Dad had a device that he repaired shoes on - an iron device with a shoe on it. Dad had a shoe repair gadget and would repair our shoes when they wore out. He would get a repair kit at the woolworth store and proceed to fix the worn shoes at home."
- Martha Rosella McCabe, age 88, Saint Clairsville

"We patched our clothes, put cardboard in shoes when soles got holes, and wore hand-me-downs. We washed our clothes by hand, heated water in a boiler on the coal stove, hung them outdoors to dry in the summer, and ironed them with an iron that was heated on top of the coal cook stove."
- Helen Oliver, age 83, Poland

"Each year, the Depression got worse. Mother patched and made-over as clothes wore out. Dad half-soled our shoes as they were handed down to the younger ones. I learned to darn socks at an early age and that is an art. If done right the hole is filled in by weaving with needle and yarn back and forth. The surface will be smooth and the sock will have many more months of wear."
- Oida Peacock, no age or location given

"We had two pair of shoes a year. Mother made our dresses in grade school and they were 'hand me downs'. Our brother was lucky, I think. Mother didn't make boys shirts or trousers. Not complaining, our dresses were pretty, we thought. Two of our aunts worked in a coat factory and cut down coats to fit us girls."
- Margaret Brazzil Perkins, age 95, Toldeo

"We had very little clothing and wore most things interchangeably - like a sweater first day, sweater and blouse next day; just the blouse next day and back to just the sweater. One dark skirt only; no jeans back then - at least not for me."
- Doris Portmann, age 76, Navarre

"Our clothes were mostly homemade or made over. About the only clothes we bought were shoes, stockings, jersey gloves and overalls for the boys. Garments were handed down, passed on, taken up and let down. I was a pretty good seamstress by age 14. Women in the neighborhood saved feed sacks and often traded them back and forth to get matching material for some items. They made nice kitchen curtains, aprons, dresses for small girls, and Mom even used them for pillow cases."
- Delcie Pound, age 92, Medina

"Being the youngest member of the family I was the one most acquainted with hand-me-downs. Standard procedure, for us boys especially, was a 'summer haircut' (which meant right down to the scalp) and the immediate removal of shoes. Both boys and girls went barefoot for the rest of the summer."
- Bob Reichard, age 86, Willoughby

"Those high top boots I wanted would not be showing up, the ones with the knife pocket on the side. Instead we would be cutting out cardboard insoles to cover the holes in the old shoes. This was an everyday chore since cardboard would only last a day."
- Harold Russell, age 85, Gratiot

"The first new snow suit my mother was able to purchase for me was in about 1938. We took our sleds to school with us and slid down the pasture field hill belonging to the neighbor who lived next to the school. Unfortunately, I hit ice and had no control of the sled and went under the barbed wire fence which tore into my snow suit hood and jacket ripping them apart making it unable to be repaired. I cried the rest of the day and prayed that when I arrived home my 'real' parents would be there to take me to their rich home. My mother was very upset and informed me that I would have to go back to wearing 'hand-me-down' clothes."
- Ann Shilling, age 80, Canton

"Mom's creativity, however, extended beyond the kitchen. When the flour bag was finally empty, she would lovingly launder it, hang it up to dry and gently iron it. Then, the seamstress in her would go to work. I can still see her sitting at her foot-pedal Singer sewing machine stitching together... would you believe? Bras! And more. The very fine, delicate cotton from which those flour bags were made was perfect for bras, slips, scarves, even café-style curtains for the kitchen. But I was most fascinated with the bras. I emulated my 14-year-old sister and couldn't wait to be old enough (and developed enough) to have my very own flour-sack bra (or brasseire, as we called them in those days.) Yes, my mother (probably like many others of the Depression era) had her own version of Victoria's secret. I just wonder how many women of the day wore undergarments with the words 'Pillsbury's Best' and those recognizable four Xs stretched across their bosom!"
- Anna Marie Slezak, age 88, Middletown

"Mom made most of our clothes. Not even a scrap of fabric was wasted. Everything was utilized, even Dad's old suits. Used flour bags were bleached and made into pillow cases, and doll's socks were not thrown away - they were darned (and we kept wearing them). One incident I remember is my noticing that Mom's coat had a patch on it. I said, 'Daddy, why don't you get Mommy a new coat?' Then I cried, as there was no reply from either Dad or Mom."
- Gladys Case Stent, age 84, Columbus

"Mom would buy coats and other clothing at rummage sales for about ten cents a garment, and then she would cut patterns out of newspapers for clothing for the children, using the cloth from the best parts of the garments."
- Wanda Stubbart, age 78, Columbus, Vic Thomas, age 83, Middletown and Kathleen Lambert, age 80, Middletown

"My Mom and the women in town washed clothes with a wringer washer or scrub board and boiled clothes in a copper boiler over a wood stove that heated water. You used a large, long wood stick to lift the white clothes out, then put the others in. Even in winter, you hung them on the line, they froze, but when brought in to dry, they smelled like washing never smells today."
- Geraldine Vincenzo Szymialis, age 81, Flushing

"My uncle brought me a beautiful alpaca coat for 'good' that his stepdaughter outgrew and said I should wear it as long as it fit and then give it to his granddaughter, which we did. It was a lovely coat (soft to the touch and stylish), and I hated it when I outgrew it. We got it cleaned and gave it to cousin Audrey. I hoped she enjoyed it as much as I did. So one coat was worn by three young teenage girls. Our school dresses were usually homemade by our mothers or later by us girls. They were quite often made from feed sacks. As farmers, we often had to buy animal feed, and the feed companies started to make pretty printed cotton sacks. My mother also used feed sack material for pillow slips, and I think I still have some of them."
- Ernestine Van Asdale, age 86, Columbus

"Our mother was an excellent seamstress and she made all of our clothes, except for the overalls my father and brothers wore. It was a problem getting the money together for shoes and socks. I can still picture my father wrapping his feet in cloth strips because he had no socks to put on. Also, we were always so glad for any clothes that anyone gave us."
- Margaret Willford, age 87, Plymouth

"We wore hand-me-down clothes too big so we could grow into them. We changed our clothes after school. They were folded or hung to wear for the next day. No wash and wear, no automatic washers or dryers. We took care in order to pass them on. You learned not to waste what you had. Our Sunday clothes were precious. They were passed on for many years for others to wear. I hated our stockings [or socks]. They were cotton but not like today's. With wear, the heel got a hole that was repaired with darning cotton. The repair was so big that it rubbed your heel till a sore blister appeared. Those that had no socks had other problems. Our shoes could easily have a hole in the sole. If they were not half sole at the cobblers, one could slip card board into the shoe to cover the hole. You were lucky to have more than one pair of shoes - everyday and good shoes which we passed on too."
- June A. Young, age 84, Worthington

"There was mainly no money for clothes. I and my girls needed coats for the winter. For my coat, I took apart an old tweed coat and reconstructed it inside out. For the girls' coats, I picked up coats at the Goodwill and took them apart to reconstruct. I sewed for many years. My first store-bought dress was for the prom in high school."
- Opal Yowell, age 99, Centerville

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