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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Depressions without depression

During the great Depression times were tough. Most folks endured financial set backs. Some people lost everything. Many people truly suffered.

In spite of the huge monetary losses, a lot of people were actually in pretty good spirits. They may have lost a lot of money, but they still found joy in their hearts. There were those who say that the Depression was a happy time for them.

How is that possible? For those who's families and friends joined forces to help each other there was a “we are all in this together” feeling. Being able to contribute to a group for a good cause creates a lot of satisfaction. Their financial capital was low, but their social capital was high.

My grandmother fed a lot of people during those hard times. She had a huge outdoor kitchen set up in a small barn. Running down the center of the building was a long table made out of old doors and saw horses. She had a huge garden and people would contribute what they could. It was a big deal when relatives came down from Canada with crates of salted fish.

From the tales my grandfather told me, a lot of times those dinners turned into parties. Of course, US Prohibition was still in effect and those Canadian relatives often smuggled a few bottles of booze over the border. That might have helped a lot with the party atmosphere.

A lot of people were just grateful that they were not as bad off as some other people. My grandfather managed to find just enough work to keep his large family fed -a good accomplishment for the times.

If you believe that those days will never come again, then this is just a quaint story about the old days. However, if you think we haven't seen the last of depressions then there are some lessons here.

Just because it's a depression doesn't mean we have to be depressed. Having people to rely on, some level of self-reliance, and good attitude go a long way.



  1. Your grandmother was obviously a kind soul. Good article!

  2. My parents would tell me about the depression, but since I wasn't born until 1943, I didn't experience it. Now, both my parents came from railroading families, so their fathers had work.

    1. My grandfather was a paper mill worker and demand was way down.

      I wonder which jobs will survive the next depression?

    2. I would guess those goods and skills essential to basic standards of living, and which don't require complex tech or supply chains. Even with reduced demand, anything to do with food, alcohol, communication, transportation clothing, and shelter, healthcare, education-- not nec. in that order, and certainly not necessarily the form in which we deliver it today. People have a need to belong too, so religion/social/org. roles
      will likely exist as well. Just my offhand guess.

    3. Sounds like a good and reasonable guess to me. Skills and community.