Growing Up During the Depression Era: My Shetland Pony and the IGA Grocery Store

A depression era teen remembers working at one of the first IGA grocery stores, and earning extra money with his Shetland pony

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I was a teenager during the depression era, but I remember it with fondness. My father owned and operated one of the first IGA grocery stores, and it was an interesting experience to get people to help themselves to the groceries on the open shelves. Many customers gave us their list of groceries and we had to gather the items from the shelves.

Our family had a black and white Shetland pony named Buster who did a lot of work cultivating a huge garden and truck patch. He also gave us a lot of pleasure taking us to the swimming hole at the dam or to Stone Lake to go fishing. He was also the means for me and my brothers to earn money. We took the seat off the buggy and made a wagon with which we hauled piles of ashes for people around town at ten cents per load. The town dump where we hauled the ashes and the trash is now the site of a large lumber yard, among other businesses. One Saturday job was hauling ashes for the local bakery, which paid fifty cents and kept us in spending money for five cent ice cream cones and ten cent hamburgers. You could even buy many things at the candy counter for one cent in those days!

Lotus E. Troyer
Chenoa, Illinois

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.