Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Mother's story: hard times

Again, this is another chapter of my mother's story, told in her own words. So far, everything she's written about is long before my time.

My grandparents with their children; Mother was pregnant with the baby she carried full term who was stillborn as a result of the umbilical cord being around his neck.
I will relate many things that happened in our early marriage: while I was working for 25 cents a day, saving every penny, my dad needed money to pay interest and taxes; so he borrowed $10 from me before we were married. Now that we were getting settled in our home, Mom and Dad said they'd give me my $10, or they'd go to town and get all the things we needed in our cupboard and cabinet to have to eat and use. Since we needed a lot of things, that was settled. When they brought it to us, it was a big, heavy cardboard box full, a box 36" X 36:. A broom was standing up in the corner of that box. There was everything you could imagine.
Our big cardboard box contained:
my broom 19 cents
50 pounds Banner Loaf flour 59 cents
10-pound cloth bag sugar 35 cents
10 cans various spices and such @ .10 each $1
10 yards muslin (Mom made two sheets) 50 cents
3-pound bag salt 10 cents
big box rolled oats 15 cents
K.C. baking powder 10 cents
soda 5 cents
rice ??
5 pounds lard 25 cents
1 pound Peaberry coffee 13 cents
1 pound cocoa 15 cents
vanilla 10 cents
lemon extract 10 cents
corn starch 10 cents
laundry starch 10 cents
big bar P & G soap ??
hand soap 5 cents
Lots more!!!
Ten days after our wedding, early in 1933, our good old Pearson's Store had a 9 cents sale. We had $2.00 that Everett had gotten for four days work helping saw, chop and get up wood. We had no car, so we walked six miles and spent that $2.00. A razor (Gillette double edge) was 9 cents; he used it for years. A pair of scissors, 9 cents; thread, 9 cents; unbleached muslin, three yards for 9 cents. We got 18 yards and I made curtains for the living room and cute embroidered kitchen curtains with ruffled tiebacks. A paring knife was 9 cents. We spent every penny of that $2.00, but I can't remember what all we got. I also had filled a hope chest my daddy had made me out of walnut sawed on his old sawmill.

My dad and my sister at work in the field
We were very happy in those early depression days, but we had our problems. We were married just a year when, on Christmas Eve, 1933, I began feeling bad and lost our first baby prematurely. I'd only carried it four months; so we had our first disappointment. The next December, in 1934, I was suffering with an excruciating pain in my side. All our neighbors knew I was desperately sick and decided they'd go to the county and get help to get me to the hospital. We had no money. No one had much. The county came up with $25. My dad had given me a Jersey heifer three or four years before. She was now a cow, so we decided we'd sell her. But $30 was all a good young cow was worth; so my dad went to the bank and borrowed $40 to give us for our cow. Now we had $65 for the hospital. The church gave us $10, and the neighbors went around for a nickel and dime shower. So my folks took me in their old jalopy of a car to Bethany to Reid's Hospital, where I stayed for ten days after the removal of my ovary and tube that had caused all my pain. When the ordeal was over, we then paid our complete bill. It was $83 for a ten-day stay. I'll never forget.
The next winter, too, was one to be remembered. These were still depression years, and there was no work, even for fifty cents a day. We had a bad winter, so cold, and with lots of snow. My folks had a bushel basket of small potatoes they had saved for seed for the next spring, but they froze hard as rocks; so they brought them to us and Mom said, "Keep them outside and keep them frozen so they won't thaw out and turn black."
We'd bring in those little, frozen potatoes and wash them and boil them and they came out fine. A couple from church had raised little white beans and threshed them out, and had a big burlap bag full; but they needed to be cleaned. So they said they'd give us half of them if we'd look and clean them. We were glad to! Then a widow lady close by had lost her husband, and she was left with two sons. They butchered a hog, and when she had the lard rendered, she wasn't going to make lye soap; so she gave us the cracklings. They made the best seasoning fat for our frozen potatoes and our beans. So with our home-ground corn meal, we had corn bread to go with our beans.
Well, Everett's sister was expecting her second little girl; and since her husband needed to get some wood up and we didn't have any work, we went down three miles to stay with them. This way, they could get wood up to keep us all warm. We baked our own bread and needed yeast; at that time, Mara yeast was three cents a little packet. They had two pennies and Everett had one penny in his pocket. The boys (our husbands) took the dog and walked three miles to our little town to get our packet of yeast. The dog caught rabbits, which we ate for our meat. We divided the yeast and made two batches of bread with it, and it worked fine that way. Besides, the two or three rabbits the dog had gotten put meat on our table.
About all we had on our table was canned corn we had canned out of field corn and peaches off of seedling trees. They were very small, but we did can them anyhow, and I'd made lots of cucumber pickles and canned. Maybe not a healthy menu, but it kept us all going, and with that corn bread, I am still alive and eating at 84.
(to be continued)


Midlife Mom said...

Great post as always. Sure am enjoying this series!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I know those times were very tough as my own mom told tales of growing up in the depression era. Her family had originally had money but lost everything but their land. I cannot imagine what it must have been like but like you mom said she was alive and still eating in her 80's. People did band together and that was good. Your mom tells her story well. I got cold just thinking about them.

madcobug said...

That was a hard time for everyone. It would have been a lot longer winter if they had several children to feed. We think we have it hard. We really haven't seen that yet but who knows, it might be down the road yet again. Helen

Debbie said...

Oh, how sad that your Mom & Dad lost their first baby on their 1st Anniversary.

They had so little in the days of the depression but they felt blessed for what they did have. Neighbors were truly neighbors back then and they all helped each other to survive. I know my Mom & Dad didn't believe in wasting anything because of the way they were raised in those hard times.

ingasmile said...

I just can't even begin to imagine the hardships.


Anonymous said...

I don't remember the "depression years"...being the youngest in the family...but the tales my sisters and brothers told me were hair and family were the support back then huh??? and like your Mom said...she is alive at 84 and still eating LOL...she was a treasure for sure...hugs...Ora

Paula said...

I feel so spoiled after reading this but it is good to be reminded. As Helen said we don't know what is down the road.

Lori said...

The way things are today we could all face a bit of this type of depression. This reminds me so much of the stories my mom and dad told.

Becky said...

What an unexpected connection I found with your mom. I was hospitalized for a week and lost an ovary and tube too in my late 20s. My bill was closer to $20,000.

Jackie said...

83.00 for a 10 day stay in a hospital? I can't even imagine it!