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Depression era memories not all bad

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

As I sit in my favorite recliner in the living roomthinking about what I will write for my column this week, I find myself going down that road that at one time or another we all travel. It is Memory Lane.

As I take this road I finally find myself in the year of 1938. I am in the second grade. We live on the east side of Fort Scott on Hill Street.

The country is in the throes of the Great Depression. Of course, being a kid, I didn't really know what that meant.

But I do remember that times were tough, and it was hard for a family to make ends meet. I think I have mentioned that my mama could stretch a penny as far as the next guy (or farther).

I didn't know what "new" clothes were, as I got my sisters "hand me downs." If they were too big, my mama would remake them to fit me.

The same went for shoes, but there wasn't much she could do with those except stuff newspaper down in the toes so that I wouldn't walk right out of them. If I remember, we got a new pair of "Sunday go to meetin' shoes" maybe once a year. And those were never worn only to church.

When we went to church, mama always tied a penny in the corner of our hanky for Sunday school and stuck it in our pocket. (I think the Sunday school teacher had to pry it out of my hand.) As soon as we got home from church, mama would say "take off your Sunday clothes and shoes and put on your play clothes."

Speaking of shoes, there were so many ways to absolutely ruin a pair of shoes. Off the top of my head, three come to mind.

Remember when everyone had a pair of skates, the kind that had a skate key? I am sure you ole timers will remember them. You slipped your shoes into the skates, and then proceeded to tighten them onto the soles of your shoes with your skate key. If you did much skatin,' it wasn't long before the soles were ready to fall off of the shoes. I remember I used to skate over to Eugene Ware School on a Saturday, and what a place to skate! There were cubby holes and hills and a most wonderful place to spend hours just skating around the school.

On my way home, if I was lucky enough to find a penny, I would stop by McCreedy's neighborhood grocery and spend a lot of time trying to decide how to spend the penny that I had found. There were lots of bins of candy to choose from.

Lookin' for pennies was one of my very favorite pastimes, but they were few and far between.

I will continue this story next week.

Marilyn Miller
The Old Grey Mare