Friday, April 12, 2013

The Year 1933

by Audrey Barclay

Most young people stare in disbelief as though they'd like to say, "You're crazy; 1933 couldn't have been that bad," when their elders start reminiscing of those days.

It was another year of depression, despair, breadlines, bank failures, and suicides of epidemic proportions because of financial losses. Work was scarce, wages low for those who had employment. We were among the lucky ones; my husband was a car-carpenter for the railroad, but was often idle several days at the end of the month. No money, no work, so smaller pay.

During that memorable year our family grew to thirteen when our last child arrived in May and two months later my mother and sister came to live with us. It was hard enough to feed and clothe so many, much less make the $11.95 monthly payment on our home. The boys wore overalls that were patched upon patches, and I searched remnant counters for cottons for shirts and dresses. I made quilts from the left-over bits of materials; there were beds in every room but the kitchen.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated that year for his first term as president. Within minutes after the ceremony his first official act was to close every bank in the country, indefinitely, in what proved to be a successful move to stabilize the economic structure of our nation.

Later, when prohibition was repealed, and women's skirts crept to knee-length, everyone knew the world was headed for perdition. 'Twas not so!


Editor's Note: Grandma Audrey didn't know it at the time she wrote the above piece, but she was actually a distant relative of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt:  half-sixth cousin, twice removed. Their common ancestor was a Dutchman, Jan Barensten Kunst, who came from the Netherlands to America aboard the "Gilded Beaver" in 1658.

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