Depression Era: Whistling While You Work

Louisiana woman comments on how she heard folk whistling while they worked during the depression era.

| Good Old Days

No one sings or whistles at work anymore. Always there is a radio or television providing the music that people used to make themselves.

Workers in the fields sang and moved their hoes in rhythm to the song. Mothers sang while they swept the floors or washed dishes. Their music was sometimes off key, but they sang. They sang at bedtime to quiet a tired child.

Men sang or whistled when they walked down the streets. Part of it was for company because houses were far apart. Perhaps some of it was to keep from worrying about the hard times of the depression era. As a child I thought people were singing because they were happy. Even though the physical work was hard, people got a satisfaction out of the day's accomplishments and they slept well at night.

Singings were held about once a month in different rural churches, usually on a Sunday afternoon. Anyone could attend and visitors were asked to sing. Sometimes there would be an all day meeting with dinner on the ground.

Gypsy Damaris Boston
Shreveport, Louisiana

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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