Depression Era: Mom Made Doll Bed With Coping Saw and Knife

Iowan remembers the sad times of the depression era, and the doll bed that her mother made her with only a coping saw, knife, and hammer.

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As the Christmas season draws near I remember one very special- 1933. It had been a very traumatic year. Not only had it been one of "The Depression Era" but also it had been one of sadness. During the summer my beloved sister, Ethel, had died. She was one of the first diagnosed cases of lymphatic leukemia. Our Mom spent many long hours caring for her, often carrying the very frail little twelve year old girl. Even though I was only six years old I would spend a lot of time rubbing Ethel's legs for the pain that would never go away. After rubbing them I would lift her feet onto small simple wooden box, Ethel's Box.

Christmas Eve of 1933, I, out of the clear announced, "I am goin' to hang up my stockin'." A Depression year, no money for essentials let along frivolities as toys or gifts.

Early Christmas morning I ran downstairs, thrust my hand to the bottom of my stocking hanging on the back of a chair behind the old pot-bellied stove. (This was as close to a chimney as I could get.) Racing back up the icy stairs I jumped into bed with my parents to snuggle down and share their warmth.

"What did you find, Annabel?"

"Nuthin' ."

I hadn't seen the small doll bed standing in a corner in the semi-darkness. Mom had worked late into the night by the sputtering oil lamp with only the simplest tools, a coping saw, hammer, and her butcher knife to make this Christmas remembrance for her baby girl.

So every Christmas season and other times when I need the assurance of Christmas love I reach out and touch the doll bed - Ethel's Box.

Annabel Walkup
Redding, Iowa


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.