Depression Era Homemade Bread

Oregon woman recalls her parents making homemade bread from their own coarse-ground corn when times got rough.

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In the summer of 1939, during the depression era, my parents went through a brief time when they were out of cash. When the flour and cornmeal bins became empty they could not be refilled. Imagine trying to feed a family of thirteen without bread. We had cows producing and hens laying, so we had plenty of milk and eggs. There were fresh vegetables in the garden so we were not going to be hungry. But what could we do for bread?

Our ingenious parents were equal to the problem. We would have bread - homemade bread. That was what we usually had. The corn in the field was just past the milk stage - or as we said then - just past the roasting ear stage. Or "roasin ears" to put it in the idiom we used. An older brother was instructed to make a grater from a gallon-size tin can, pounded through with nails, and fastened to a board.

Corn was gathered and shucked. Next the corn was grated into a large pan. It was not an easy job doing so large a quantity by hand. Several of us took turns.

The coarse meal was made into cornbread. Actually it was quite tasty. Some of the kids expressed a dislike for the coarse bread but ate it anyway. We cooked some of the meal for a breakfast cereal. Not the best we ever ate, but filling and nutritious.

Indeed, we were several years ahead of the trends! Our bread was organically grown and unrefined.

Thank God for parents who knew how to cope with difficulties.

Nova Felkins Bailey
Beaverton, Oregon


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.