LESSONS FROM THE GREAT DEPRESSION

Photographed by Rothstein., ca. 1942 Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

Great Depression holds lessons for surviving tough economy (CNN)

Memories of salvaging and stealing to avoid going hungry are part of the legacy of the Great Depression. Some iReporters say they can’t help but look at the current economy and feel the past holds lessons for the present.

Donna LeBlanc of Waxia, Louisiana, says she carries no credit to this day as a result of the frugality and self-reliance instilled in her by her family. Her husband keeps the couple’s credit card and maintains a zero balance.

The Great Depression meant scary times for many households as a period of economic downturn spread throughout the world. Historians trace its start to the “Black Tuesday” stock crash on October 29, 1929, and argue that the resulting global desperation set the stage for World War II.

LeBlanc said her grandparents were fortunate that they didn’t have investments and could grow — or catch — their own food during the Depression years.

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Comments(14)

  1. Cindie K. says:

    Anais, I am very grateful for the stories my mother tells about her family’s survival (and thriving) on the extensive gardens they grew each year. Those gardens and a few chickens for eggs/protein were the staples by which her family was supported. My father came from a similar family, with my grandmother raising 9 children, four of them big husky boys. My husband’s family was the same: all living a very sustainable lifestyle. As times continue to get hard, I believe those basic skills will be important for all of us in the country.

  2. Cindie K. says:

    Anais, I am very grateful for the stories my mother tells about her family’s survival (and thriving) on the extensive gardens they grew each year. Those gardens and a few chickens for eggs/protein were the staples by which her family was supported. My father came from a similar family, with my grandmother raising 9 children, four of them big husky boys. My husband’s family was the same: all living a very sustainable lifestyle. As times continue to get hard, I believe those basic skills will be important for all of us in the country.

  3. thyhandhathprovided says:

    What a neat photograph. I wish I could see what all they have in their jars. I’m sure those gardens took on a new and great importance for families back then. It was no hobby, it was survival.

  4. thyhandhathprovided says:

    What a neat photograph. I wish I could see what all they have in their jars. I’m sure those gardens took on a new and great importance for families back then. It was no hobby, it was survival.

  5. deb says:

    these are great stories. Thank you for sharing

  6. deb says:

    these are great stories. Thank you for sharing

  7. Sue says:

    My grandfather was a young adult during the depths of the depression. One time I pressed him to tell me of his experiences. He took a breath, looked me in the eye and said, “I hope you never have to go through that.” It was several years before I got him to describe the grasshoppers blotting out the sun and eating his entire crop and of him quitting his farm (and everything he’d ever wanted) to go to California on the slim hope of finding any job that would pay him. “You gotta eat, right?” Lessons from the Great Depression? I think the lesson learned is never give up. Eventually he made his way back to farming, a life he loved.

  8. Sue says:

    My grandfather was a young adult during the depths of the depression. One time I pressed him to tell me of his experiences. He took a breath, looked me in the eye and said, “I hope you never have to go through that.” It was several years before I got him to describe the grasshoppers blotting out the sun and eating his entire crop and of him quitting his farm (and everything he’d ever wanted) to go to California on the slim hope of finding any job that would pay him. “You gotta eat, right?” Lessons from the Great Depression? I think the lesson learned is never give up. Eventually he made his way back to farming, a life he loved.

  9. Frank says:

    I always will remember the stories that my mother told about growing up on a dairy farm the youngest child in a family of twelve. If they wanted to listen to the radio after dinner one of them had to ride the stationary bike that charged the radio’s battery. Having to milk her two cows before going to school….

    Thanks for such a great site..
    Frank

  10. Frank says:

    I always will remember the stories that my mother told about growing up on a dairy farm the youngest child in a family of twelve. If they wanted to listen to the radio after dinner one of them had to ride the stationary bike that charged the radio’s battery. Having to milk her two cows before going to school….

    Thanks for such a great site..
    Frank

  11. LaVonne says:

    I didn’t hear the positive stories others talk about, just how hard it was. Later, I realized my family didn’t have it nearly as bad as many others. My grandparents had a small but nice house and my grandfather never lost his job. But living with my grandparents taught me a few things by osmosis — like the soap that my grandmother made before I was born, and still used, and the pantry full of homemade applesauce and apple butter from the apple trees in the back yard. She was finished with all that work by the time I came around, but the remnants of it made an impression on me. And today, I canned my first four jars of tomatoes–woohoo!

  12. LaVonne says:

    I didn’t hear the positive stories others talk about, just how hard it was. Later, I realized my family didn’t have it nearly as bad as many others. My grandparents had a small but nice house and my grandfather never lost his job. But living with my grandparents taught me a few things by osmosis — like the soap that my grandmother made before I was born, and still used, and the pantry full of homemade applesauce and apple butter from the apple trees in the back yard. She was finished with all that work by the time I came around, but the remnants of it made an impression on me. And today, I canned my first four jars of tomatoes–woohoo!

  13. LaVonne says:

    I totally forgot a wonderful story from the other side of the family who were quite poor, scratching out a subsistence living on a rented potato farm. On Friday and Saturday nights, they moved the furniture out and held dances, playing and singing for a crowd that came from miles around and paid a dime apiece to enter. I heard about it from my elderly aunt just a few years ago, and love imagining my father as a young boy up on that makeshift stage.

  14. LaVonne says:

    I totally forgot a wonderful story from the other side of the family who were quite poor, scratching out a subsistence living on a rented potato farm. On Friday and Saturday nights, they moved the furniture out and held dances, playing and singing for a crowd that came from miles around and paid a dime apiece to enter. I heard about it from my elderly aunt just a few years ago, and love imagining my father as a young boy up on that makeshift stage.

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