Tales from The Great Depression

Recently, I had occasion to use single ply toilet paper which got me thinking about my dad (an explanation IS coming) which got me thinking about The Great Depression and how it compares with the troubles of the current economy.  I guess going from thinking about toilet paper to thinking about the economy isn’t such a leap after all!

Okay, here’s an explanation on how my twisted mind works.  As I said, I recently visited a bathroom stocked with one ply toilet paper.  We’ve always been a two ply household, only because I think you use less and, thus, save money.   I commented to my mom that my poor dad would have never been able to survive the “hardship” of the scratchy, thin one ply.  Not because Dad was such a diva — just the opposite.  He always took 4 squares of toilet paper, not 3, not 5, but 4 squares of toilet paper and folded them until they were just 1 sheet wide.  He used it, then folded it again, used it, and, if necessary, folded it and used it again.  WHY?  Because my dad grew up during The Great Depression  and his family had to conserve everything, including toilet paper.   Now, it didn’t matter that the Depression had been over for DECADES by the time I came along as a child to view his bathroom habits.  It didn’t matter if the tough times were yesterday, last year or 40 years previously — my dad continued to do so many of the things he did during the Depression to survive, even after his economic survival was no longer at stake.  His attitude was that it was a good idea not to be wasteful just because of the principle of the matter, personal economics aside. 

This is a rather large deviation from the thinking of current culture (or even the culture of 30 years ago).   Remember the Energy Crisis of the ’70s?  Remember all the public service announcements on TV about turning down your heat and turning off the lights?  What happened after America got past the Energy Crisis?  The ’80s!  Gluttony, greed, consumption with no thought to anything except more consumption!  Remember the high gas prices of this past summer?  Remember how people walked and biked  to work and combined errands so as to spend as little gas as possible?  Now that gas prices are affordable again, what has happened to our good intentions?   When the current economic crisis eventually corrects itself, what will happen to people’s desire to eliminate debt, bulk up personal savings and do away with needless consumption?

My dad was not traumatized by The Great Depression, and his family was luckier than many, but he was forever changed.   As a result, my life was forever changed as well. 

When I was in college, I took an English class which studied the popular theatre plays during The Great Depression Era.  One of the last class assignments was to find someone who lived during that time and interview them.  I loved this assignment — it was a piece of cake.  I could recite so many stories about what it was like to live during the Depression.  Most of my classmates hated it because their parents and even grandparents were too young to remember much about that time.  The other students had to go to scour the local nursing homes to find someone old and SANE enough to interview. 

So in light of the current economic crisis, over the next few days, I’m going to share with you some stories from my dad’s life during The Great Depression.


BOOK GIVEAWAY: I have TWO copies of When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall to give away (see the review posted 12-08-08). Please e-mail your name and mailing address to seewhykinsman@yahoo.com to be entered in the random drawing this Friday, December 12th. Good luck!


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