I’ve been thinking a lot
about the Great Depression.
I know I am not alone.
Sure, news media have been making comparisons since last year, but you can’t listen to them. But when the front-line, realtime, down-home media (that would be you and me) start examining the ways that our current downturn/ recession/collapse/meltdown is similar to what happened in the 1930s in the U.S and Europe, it’s time to listen. When layoffs are no longer something that happened to a friend of a friend or your cousin’s ex-husband, but rather a reality for your friends and neighbors, it’s time to listen. When great, big things are being tried and the economy still seems to be sinking, it’s time to listen.
The problem is, we don’t have anything but numbers to help us compare what has happened/is happening and to project how it will ultimately affect all of us. Unfortunately, numbers and economic theory are best at telling you about numbers and economic theory. They have less to say about individual human beings.
And to even try to extrapolate Depression-era history and make a forecast for the Millennial Meltdown is to invite gross miscalculations. Yes, we care about the economics of it. We want to keep our jobs or find good ones. We want to keep our 3,000-square-foot homes. We want to send our children to high quality schools that are well staffed and fully equipped. We want to ``cut back’’ by eating out fewer times per week, doing less reckless and impulsive clothes shopping, buying a more fuel-efficient car.
In short, the average American is approaching this broad economic crisis like a bunch of Herbert Hoovers. We can’t possibly give up the gym memberships, yoga classes or personal trainers because, without them, we worry about being too fat. Friends, that’s not deprivation. One pair of shoes My grandmother, Stormy, was born in 1912, in Pensacola, Florida. She passed away late last year, living proof that all the things that won’t kill you actually do make you stronger. And maybe meaner.
Certainly more neurotic.
But no less loved.
The Deep South, and Pensacola in particular, began experiencing harsh economic tides around the time my grandmother was 5. The next year, a massive flu epidemic swept the globe, and didn’t do a thing to make matters in Pensacola any better. They made things in Stormy’s world a whole lot worse. She and her 26-year-old mother, Mollie, both fell ill with the disease. Stormy survived, as many children did. And like many adults in the prime of life, Mollie did not survive. She died, seven months pregnant, on her 27th birthday.
Stormy was classic Greatest Generation (Great Depression) material. She and her siblings owned one pair of shoes each, and in order to keep them looking good for school and not wear them out prematurely, they walked to school barefoot, then cleaned their feet and put on their shoes before class. Every recipe she learned to cook could feed a whole family on half a pound of meat. (And that’s a Catholic family, mind you.) To the day she died, she believed that the deadliest sin of all was not envy, lust or pride but waste.
Much farther to fall Most of us aren’t living anywhere close to the kind of sustainable life that people were already living before the Great Depression. Many families were already living with multiple generations in a single household.
What were a few extra cousins and aunts and uncles? Throwing away left-over food? Only if you were giving it to an animal who would repay you in milk or cheese or meat.
Even the very definition of need was different. My grandmother didn’t need a new pair of shoes until another round of repairs was just not possible. And when she did get ``new’’ shoes, they came from her older sister, who had gotten them from a cousin or neighbor, who had gotten them from an older sister. I’m no mathematician, but according to my calculations, only 27 pairs of girls’ shoes were manufactured between 1929 and 1940. They were passed around the country, from sister to sister to cousin to friend.
My calculations also tell me that, even if the Millennial Meltdown takes only a fraction of the economic toll of the Great Depression, the day-to-day social toll could be much, much greater.
Elizabeth Trever Buchinger is fully diversified.
You can connect with her at www.moremindfulfamily.
I’ve been thinking a lot
about the Great Depression.
I know I am not alone.
Taking risks and getting out of my comfort zone
I never thought that I would be trapped in so many whirlwinds of stressful thoughts about where I'm taking my life. There are so many different options to choose from, and so many decisions that have to be made. I feel like I am falling into an endless pit, awaiting my final decision that will inevitably lead me into the unknown that is my future.Continued ...
Denmark meeting expectations
Hej! My name is Max Ofer, and I am in Denmark through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. I live in a small town called Hjallerup, consisting of 3000 people, in the northern part of Jutland, the main peninsula of Denmark.Continued ...
Local Voices From Around The Globe: Settling in and having a smooth transition
Oi! I'm spending my junior year as a Rotary Exchange student in Brazil.Continued ...
Teen Talk: Getting working experience has had its bumps in the road
Stepping into the working world has proven to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.Continued ...
Getting to attend a journalism and media conference
What has social media got to do with journalism? Why does the media focus on the topics it does, and how does that shape public opinion?Continued ...
Local Voice From Around the Globe:Thinking, 'How can this be?' all over again
I have at last bid farewell to India, and come home. However, the thread of my story did not stop at the departure gate, but continues on uninhibited, having only changed course.Continued ...
There is good, there is bad and then there is high school
Looking back at all my endeavors since freshmen year in high school, I realize that life moves on in a blink of an eye.Continued ...
Getting to know a man called 'Ee-yah'
Hughie Jennings died in 1928, but I feel like I know him well.Continued ...
Local Voice From Around the Globe: Keeping Thai while re-entering America
As I've begun my American life again, spending time with friends, holding up a job, etc, I've been able to stay above the tide of reverse culture shock and the sort of post-exchange despair that is common at this time for exchange students by meditating on some Thai-inspired thoughts.Continued ...
A new kind of racing is turning a dream into reality
There are really no words to describe getting on a race horse, getting behind the starting gate and taking off full speed at a trot. All I can say is it is a bumpy ride that gets the cheeks bouncing and your helmet pushing back in the wind.Continued ...
Fight to keep chicken alive has taken several attempts
I agree with the narrator of Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall" that good fences make good neighbors - most of the time.Continued ...
'Read My Lips' may not be a memoir for everyone
Sometimes an actor or actress can be defined by a singular performance. Everyone remembers Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind," but most people would be hard pressed to name any of her other films (I can name one, "Caesar & Cleopatra," only because I saw it for a class in college).Continued ...
Local Voices From Around the Globe: It's been a year of inexplicable joy, struggle, hilarity and triumph
Recently I went with my host mother to travel through a central province of Thailand called Kanchanaburi. Here, I was able to sit among and pet sleeping tigers at a temple that serves as a tiger reserve/zoo.Continued ...
Attack on Sacket's Harbor
Sacket's Harbor, near the beginning of the St. Lawrence River from Lake Ontario, was the principal American naval base on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812.Continued ...
Once again, hope springs eternal ...
We are happy to report that although Mother Nature did her best to thwart the annual Upper Pioneer Street Block Party, she was not successful.Continued ...
Local performs costumed recitations of Casey at the Bat
Since 1996, I have had the privilege of doing costumed recitations of Casey at the Bat as part of my job at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Iâ€™ve performed the poem an estimated 2,000 times in 22 states, at ballparks, conferences, classrooms, Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies, weddings and other events.Continued ...
E-readers come in handy when traveling
I recently took a trip to California and it was the perfect time to make use of my e-reader. While I'm still devoted to actual books, I must admit that traveling with a thin, lightweight computerized device beats dragging along one or two bulky hard copy titles. The only issue is finding the right e-books to take on the airplaneContinued ...
Local Voices From Around the Globe: Arriving at the last bend in the River
The month of May is the height of the summer in India, a time best spent indoors with a good book and a sliced mango for company.Continued ...
Cooperstown election and law
On Tuesday the 18th inst. [May], the following persons were elected officers for this village for the ensuing year: --Continued ...
Local Voices From Around the Globe: Exchange has taught me to love my flaws
Hello from Germany! I'm currently on my second Euro Tour visiting and exploring most of Europe.Continued ...
- Taking risks and getting out of my comfort zone