Life After The Great Depression

 

 

In 1929, the United States had an economic failure. One cause of this failure was an uneven distribution of wealth. Since the money was so unevenly distributed between the classes, it created a weak economy. Another cause was the crash of the stock market on October 24, 1929. There was also an international trade decline.

 

During the Great Depression, life changed drastically. The period just before it hit was a very prosperous time in the United States. When the depression hit, money and work ran short. At one point one in four Americans looking for work couldn’t find a job. People couldn’t afford to buy food; everyday luxuries could no longer be afforded. This did not end along with the depression; it continued for many years after the economy had rebounded.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Kingwood College Library

Photo courtesy of  Modern American Poetry

To bring the country out of this depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought a series of changes to the economy known as the New Deal. It had three parts which were Relief, Recovery, and Reform. As part of the relief, many agencies were created for the people hardest hit by the depression. Social Security and unemployment insurance were also created. The recovery wasn’t a huge success since the unemployment rate stayed high until World War I. The reform was to help balance the money between labor, agriculture, and business. These programs helped but there wasn’t an instant fix; the country struggled for years more.

 

 

My grandmother is Elsie “Irene” Veal Murphey. She was born May 5, 1928, on a farm in Washington County, Georgia. She grew up with fifteen in her family. Since she grew up as a child during the Great Depression, she remembers hard times. They never bought new clothes, they made their own and handed clothes down from child to child. They grew almost all their own food. Sometimes one could wear shoes the other had outgrown, so they never had to buy shoes for all fifteen children at once.

 

They were better off than most people during the depression. They had enough food because they planted huge gardens during the summer and canned enough vegetables to last the winter. They always had chickens because they were a source of eggs and meat. They were so well off that they shared their food with friends and family. They were too poor to have a tractor; a mule was used to get the fields ready to plant, and all picking was done by hand.

 

They didn’t have running water inside the house. They had a windmill outside, and they had to go out to the pump and bring in water. They put water on the wood stove to heat for baths and washing dishes and clothes. They also had an “out-house” instead of an indoor bathroom. They did, however, have electricity in their house, but not many people did. They also had a telephone that worked like a two-way radio.

 

Photo courtesy of Answers.com

Photo courtesy of 20th century history

They made all the decorations for their Christmas tree by hand. Each child got one gift for Christmas. They only industry in that part of the country was the chalk companies. The chalk companies were a big help to the economy of Washington County. To make money, my great-grandfather sold the mineral rights of his land to the chalk company.

 

My grandmother had a happy childhood growing up on the farm, even though she was poor. One of the stories she tells most often is of their one bicycle. My grandfather traded something (she doesn’t remember what) to get it for them. They all had to share it and one day they were taking turns riding it down the hill. When it was my granny’s turn, she wrecked the bike and all her brothers and sisters were mad because that was the only bike they had!

 

As poor as my grandmother was there were people who were far worse off then she was. It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like not to have a farm during the depression.

 

 

For more information on the Great depression visit these websites:

 

Economists View

Kingwood College Library

Main causes of the Great Depression

 

This website was designed for a Junior English project in the Fall of 2006.

If you have questions, please contact me.

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