“Look, Mom…there’s a worldwide depression going on…
“…if you want to stay with us you’re going to have to straighten up ..[mother has a bad case of osteoporosis]…
“…no more drinking late at night. No more parties ’til 3 in the morning… No more sticking us with your gambling debts…”
“Oh…okay…but is it alright if I just sit in the corner and do my crossword puzzles?”
“Well, I guess so… Just don’t ask us for anymore 8-letter words that mean ‘a lot.’ It’s plethora. It’s always plethora.”
We made it very clear – she better mind her Ps and Qs or she’s out on the street!
“But you’re being very silly…as usual. I remember the real depression. I was born in 1921. So, I was 8 years old during the crash of ’29. Then, I was a teenager throughout the depression.
“It wasn’t anything like what is going on now…I remember my father was director of a local bank in Baltimore. My mother was ill, so he didn’t want to trouble her, I guess. And I was so young I really didn’t know what was going on. Then, one day Aunt Sophie sent a note with a news clipping, saying she was so sorry to hear about what had happened. I read the news. The bank had failed. My father had all his savings in the bank. When rumors began that the bank was going to fail, he felt couldn’t pull his money out, because he was one of the directors. I guess you would say he went down with the ship. But he never even mentioned it. Even after we all knew, he acted as though nothing had happened.
“Then, he was too old to start over. All we had was the little farm. And we only had that because it belonged to mother. She was still ill. So I went down to the farm with her to take care of her while my father continued to work in the city. Then, he retired completely and came down too.
“I liked the house. You know…where you were born. But it didn’t have heat, or electricity or plumbing. It was just an old farmhouse that had never been modernized. And then, in the depression, we didn’t have the money to do anything to it. So, we just lived there as it was. It seems strange now. But then, a lot of people lived like that. We got water from a spring. We used oil lamps. In the winter, we had to start a fire to melt the ice water before we could take a bath.
“But by then the war had started. I remember sitting in the parlor listening to our old radio when President Roosevelt told us about the bombings at Pearl Harbor. I must have been in my early 20s. My father was home then and he told me that it wasn’t a good idea for me to stay at home…I was too isolated. He suggested I join the WAC – the Women’s Army Corps.
“Of course, that changed everything. I had never been away from home. And the next thing I knew I was on a train for Texas. That’s where I met your father. He had just come from Pearl Harbor where he was stationed when the Japanese attacked. We met at a New Year’s party. We wanted to get married right away…because he was leaving for the South Pacific…but I couldn’t get married in Lent. So, we waited until after Easter.”
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