Depression Era: Hand-me-downs and Precious Memories

Illinois woman recalls wearing hand-me-downs as a child, and her mothers' sacrifice for her children.

| Good Old Days

During the depression era, my clothes were hand-me-downs from my sister or were given to us by someone. I wore long underwear and long stockings for which garters were made out of rings cut from old innertubes.

During those years some people would take shoes that they had outgrown to a room in the basement of the public library uptown. These were given to poor people who couldn't afford to buy new ones - we went there a lot. Usually they found something I could wear, except once.
Surely one of the saddest and yet most precious memories of my whole life concerned my need for a pair of shoes. I can still see my Mom and Dad talking about it - then she slowly removed her wedding ring and placed it in my Dad's hand. He took it to Keokuk, Iowa, to the pawn shop where they gave him five dollars for the ring. He brought home a pair of shoes for me - I can't remember if I ever had a new pair before that time. When I grew up I bought another ring for Mom but I will always remember that she gave up her most precious possession to buy me a pair of shoes. This was our Mom - one of God's finest examples of a Mother.
My dad had a cobbler's last that sat on the floor and he cradled the iron shoe holder between his knees. He resoled our shoes with nails; later bought pairs of rubber soles that he glued on and finally bought soles that had a sticky glue already on them. He also sewed gloves and shoes.
One of my Mom's favorite sayings was, "Dip and deal and save a little for the next meal."

B. Alice Holtsclaw
Hamilton, 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. 


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