Depression Era: "Make-Do" Attitude

Colorado woman shares vivid memories from her childhood in the depression era, of hardships and her parents' "Make-Do" attitude

| Good Old Days

As a child of the Depression era, I have many vivid memories. The strongest, perhaps, is seeing two teenage boys, just off a freight train, wolfing down a can of beans and a chunk of bologna on the curb outside the grocery store while I was on my way to school.

I remember the whispered conversations of adults about money - and its lack there of - and how to "make do." That has marked me to this day, I think, for I am thrifty to the point of penny-squeezing, and today's inflation strikes me as both horrible and terrifying.

But for a child, there were happy times, too, sometimes made out of the adults' adversity. I remember considering it a special treat when my father would come home early with his lunch still in its black tin box, and I would help him eat it, myself all unaware that he was home early because the job of day labor on which he had depended had fallen through.

One incident that was both sad and funny concerned my bout with the chicken pox. In those days, the house would be quarantined for a certain period. Since my father wanted to continue working and could not afford to board away from the house, my parents and the doctor did not report my case to the grade school nurse, a real tyrant. (The family of the boy next door did the same when he had whooping cough.)

Inevitably, since there was no word of what really ailed me, rumors began among my friends. I belonged to a group of little girls who called our selves the "Busy Bees." We met and played and sometimes tried to sew. But the six of us eight-year-olds were very close and my friends began to worry about my continued absence from school.

One Saturday morning a delegation of sad-faced little girls appeared at the door. Considering my infection, my mother could not let them in but talked to them at the door.

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