Memories of the Great Depression: Surviving the Depression Era

Kansas woman recalls the joys and hardships of surviving the Great Depression

| Good Old Days

Memories of the Great Depression are etched deeply and permanently in my mind. These were bittersweet days, testing the mettle of people living during the depression era, as they sought ways to survive. And we did survive by faith, courage and ingenuity.

During the spring and summers, people who had gardens carried water from struggling wells to thirsty rows of vegetables.

If fruit trees and roadside vines and berry bushes produced, neighbor women and children gathered wild plums, wild grapes, elderberries, currants and gooseberries. Chiggers, heat and dust were forgotten when gleaming jars of fruit and shimmering glasses of jellies, jams and preserves sparkled on pantry shelves.

Although it would appear that, with such provisions, the depression was not so severe, these products of the land were not all available as they competed against insects, birds, wind and drought. But we learned to gather all we could to preserve. Nothing was wasted.

We enjoyed the bounties as plates of rich, red tomato slices came to our table, along with green beans cooked with sautéed onion, and crisp bacon pieces. Bowls of fluffy mashed potatoes, creamed peas, glazed carrots, buttered corn or roasting ears brightened our meal-times, one vegetable at a time, usually never more than two at one meal. Gravies, cream style or flavored with homegrown meat products, often accompanied the potato dishes and helped to stretch the food supply.

Flocks of chickens were fed on home-grown grain. Each spring most farm families ordered strong crates of young chicks, which were housed and fed, until roosters reached frying size. It was then that platters of crispy fried chicken graced the table. Others were canned in glass jars and allowed to cook slowly at low heat. We knew these would be a part of our winter meat supply.

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