Depression Era: Making Do as a Shoe-Maker

South Dakota woman recalls her father making her family's shoes as a child during the depression era.

| Good Old Days

In the scenes of the Depression Era, like an old photo album, I can see Dad by lamp-light, late at night, sitting on an old stool with the iron shoe-maker's stand between his knees and his lips full of shoe nails; cutting shoe soles from old inner tubes, or sometimes real shoe-sole leather, and nailing them onto our worn-out shoes.

I remember, too, that the next morning, they didn't always fit like they had before. Sometimes we would find tacks sticking our feet. So before we could go to school, Dad had to put the shoe back on the stand and hammer the offending tacks until they were clinched down firmly into the leather.

In the same manner he fixed harness, saddles and bridles, braided cinches and quirts and spliced ropes.

My mother always wore "cover-all" aprons made from flour or salt sacks. She made her under-clothing out of flour sacks, too; as did other ladies in our rural community. (I know that because they exchanged patterns and "how-to" tips.) And all of us girls wore home-made flour-sack bloomers. Colorful printed chicken-feed sacks were a welcome addition, indeed, when they came out.

Virginia Lautenschlager
Hot Springs, South Dakota

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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