65 Pieces Of Survival Wisdom From The Great Depression (2 videos 3 pages)
It was the best of times, it was the very worst of times. America’s Great Depression of the 1930s was a time of starvation and subsistence survival for many families. Decades later, many survivors of those years hold on to the survival lessons they learned, from hoarding pieces of aluminum foil to eating lettuce leaves with a sprinkle of sugar. Frugality meant survival.
Today, most of us aren’t living quite the same bare-bones lifestyle of the Great Depression, and photos from that era are difficult to comprehend. In a photo from my own great-grandparents, I see a family group wearing tattered clothing, standing on the porch of a dwelling that can hardly be considered something as sturdy as a house.
Yet, those people went on to ultimately live productive lives with an inner strength gained from having lived through the worst.
Survival wisdom, Great Depression
I spent some time earlier this year researching the Great Depression years and was most interested in even the smallest life lessons to be gained from those “worst hard times.” Here are 65 of them.
- Families traveled to wherever the work happened to be. They stuck together as much as possible.
- Life insurance policies were cashed in to try and survive for just a few months longer in their “normal” worlds.
- If possible, homes were very often refinanced in an effort to save the family residence.
- Clothing had to last as long as possible and women (mostly) became expert seamstresses, especially at alterations. One creative woman used the fabric from the inside of a casket to sew beautiful holiday dresses for her children.
- In areas of the Dust Bowl, cattle were fed tumbleweed and moms learned how to can tumbleweed to feed their families. Some had to find food wherever possible to keep from starving.
- During heat waves, people slept on their lawns or in parks.
- Many stores allowed people to buy on credit and they just kept track of what was owed. Sometimes they were repaid, sometimes not. Some store owners ultimately lost their businesses.
- It wasn’t unusual for people to live out of their cars and trucks.
- When there was no cash, payment was made with eggs, fresh milk, or produce.
- A family with a cow and a garden was considered “rich”. Those two advantages alone meant the difference between a well-fed family and one that was near starvation.
- Many Americans were too proud to accept charity or government help.
- It was important to maintain appearances. Individuals still had a lot of pride, regardless of their circumstances. Mothers still wanted their children to look their very best.
- When the soles of shoes were worn through, pieces of rubber tires were used as replacements.
- Thousands and thousands of entire families were displaced. Very often, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins ended up living in one house, or one vehicle, as the case may be.
- Desperate people would sometimes beg outside of restaurants, and yes, there were those who could still afford a restaurant meal.
- Many kindhearted farmers kept workers on payroll as long as they possibly could, even if meant paying them with produce.
- Some families ended up living in tents or lean-to’s.
- Many became migrant farm workers, traveling from harvest to harvest in order to stay alive.
- Anything that could be freely collected and sold, was. Driftwood was collected, split and sold as firewood.
- Many men joined one of the government programs that were part of the New Deal. One group, the Civil Conservation Corps, built dams, roads, campgrounds, and were trained in fire fighting in national forests.
- Banks closed quickly and without giving any notice. You never knew ahead of time when your own bank would close its doors.
- Back in those days, banks were revered. It never occurred to anyone that a bank could close and their money would be gone forever.
- Most people were willing to do any type of work. My own relatives became moonshiners!
- Just about everyone had a garden and most gardens were enormous. Since 20% of the population still lived on farms, even those in cities still had country roots and gardening know-how.
- Neighbors and family members were supportive of each other, donating meals and money whenever possible....