No Charge: Helping Each Other Through the Depression Era

Missouri woman recalls how neighbors and local businesses formed a strong community during the depression era, assisting one another for 'no charge'

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During the Depression era we trusted everyone and they trusted you. No one was crooked.

The telephone was a crank type and on the wall. There were several neighbors on the same line. One could tell others were listening as the receiver would click. No one used a phone for business. Sometimes several neighbors would get on together and visit a bit. But I think that phone cost all of a $1.00 per month. If your phone did not work properly a service man would come and put in two new batteries that would run the phone. No charge for that

Once in awhile our grocer would put a sack of cookies or candy in our groceries as a surprise. This was a big treat to the whole family and no charge for what he had done.

The five and ten cent stores were so enchanting to my sister and I. One counter was jewelry and a clerk at each counter and no taxes back then.

Our entertainment was most every day life. But in good weather someone would go to town and get a big chunk of ice. We then would crank an ice cream freezer and make ice cream.

Bonita DePue
Nevada, Missouri


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.