Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rosemary's Grandaughter

"I am Rosemary's Granddaughter, the spitting image of my father..."

When I think of my Gramma, Rosemary, that is the song that always pops into my head.

Anyway, I remembered I had an email from her from about 10 years ago that she wrote about her life in the 30's. It is short and made me want more. I am going to see if she has any more written down...but I thought I'd share. We just celebrated her 90th birthday. I think she still looks amazing. She still has her bedroom on the second story and still goes up and down those stairs several times a day. This after having heart surgery last year. She's got good genes!

Here are her notes on the 30's.

The Thirties

It was the best of times: It was the worst of times. *

The 1929 stock market crash plunged this nation into the worst depression in its history. In the large cities, breadlines and soup kitchens were the last hope for the many hungry men, women and children. Although my family was far removed from any large city and I was just 10 years old, I shall never forget the struggle of families just to survive. There was no Social Security, so the young took care of the elderly, the strong took care of the weak, neighbors were neighborly, churches were filled, and when we sang "God Bless America" we really meant it. The lessons of the Great Depression served our generation well as we all learned that our first obligation is to pay for our living. It was necessary to take the shortest route to a paycheck. I was fortunate to be able to attend a very good high school where I could graduate with a teaching credential. My first job was in a ranch district where the school house was a little sod building. It was the last sod house in use in the state of Nebraska and was replaced by a new frame building after I had taught there for six weeks. My contract required that the teacher live within the district during the school year so I boarded with one of the ranch families. My transportation to school was provided. It was a horse. I did learn how to ride and truly enjoyed my morning and evening horseback rides during the two years that I taught there. I taught two more years in other one-room schools but no more horseback riding. Other things were changing, too. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a dictator, but a very benevolent one. He was criticized by his opponents for initiating too many reconstructive government programs, but they were effective in putting people to work cleaning up the countryside, building parks, regulating banking and commerce and most of all, restoring confidence in the government. On one occasion, F. D. R. was told that some sons of bitches were taking advantage of the programs for their own gain. His response was "Yes, there are some sons of bitches out there, but they are our sons of bitches." The president had other things to worry about. War was brewing all over Europe, America was trying desperately to remain neutral. John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" painted a picture of the thirties that America did not want to see: failed farms, parched earth, dust storms. The book and the movie were both at first controversial, but there was no denying that the conditions described did exist and the descriptions were accurate. Thus, the thirties ended and the next decade presented even greater challenges, but that's another chapter for another day.

* title stolen from Charles Dickens Rosemary 4/26/2000

1 comment:

Josh said...

Your grandmother paints quite a picture! What she wrote in the first few paragraphs about taking care of one another was very relevant. Fantastic post and gift to read.