Oft-Darned Long Stockings Worn During the Depression Era

Nebraskan recalls several facets of depression era life, including the long stockings that she wore to school.

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As I reminisce about the depression era these are the things I remember. My sister and I each had a "fancy" pair of stockings.

All girls and ladies wore long stockings, we never dreamed of showing our legs in public. Well these fancy stockings had a kind a pattern woven and rayon and cotton knit threads of similar colors, but not the same. Our stockings were darned many times until each of us had one each that could not be mended anymore. Then the two "good" ones were given to me and I wore them to school. No one laughed as they were as poor as we were.

One of the things I did not like was the long underwear that bunched at my anklebone. We wore ankle-high laced shoes that never covered the bunch. I really never minded the four buckle overshoes - it helped to keep our legs warm, as you see there were no snowsuits and our gender never wore pants. Nothing was to suggest the shape of our legs! Girls began wearing day time pajamas in the mid 30s. Oh, times have changed. Back in the olden days as well as the depression years almost everyone had a chicken house, a cow barn, fuel shed, and a large garden area, fruit trees, vines and bushes and don't forget winter onions and pieplant.

We did our own butchering of animals and chickens, ducks and geese. After a pig was slaughtered and cooled out by hanging on a tree branch, it was brought in before dark to be sure it was safe from 4-legged animals and 2-legged ones. Everyone was hungry. Meat, pork as well as beef, was quite often cut in small pieces and put in canning jars and then put in hot water and cooked for about 2 to 3 hours. We used the clothes boiler for our canner. When it had processed the proper length of time it was time to cool the jars and take them to the cellar or cave until used.

From pork the big slabs of fat were removed. The fat, too, was cut in small pieces or coarsely ground to render the fat into lard and cracklins. A cracklin is the cooked piece floating on top of the lard, and they were done when the cracklin had a dry sound when tapped by a spoon. Then the lard was drained off through a cloth in a colander. The lard was saved in canning jars or stone jars, with a board on top.

We had the dairy and delivered milk to people's houses in those glass bottles. We also had chickens, so with milk and eggs we made and froze our 6-quart freezer with ice cream every Sunday in warm weather.

Everyone remembers what they wish, but I do say the Depression will be remembered to me as "The Good Old Days." We did not have the strain of hurry, or were we concerned about keeping up with the Joneses. We enjoyed the simple things like star gazing. Back then "we had time to smell the roses!"

Dorothy Payne
Ulysses, Nebraska


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.