I just came from reading A Homesteading Neophyte; she mentioned that there are tent cities going up around the country, just like the Hoovervilles of the 1920s and '30s.
She said some of us might know about Hoovervilles if we "had grandparents or parents that actually talked to us about the Great Depression".
This sent me down memory lane, because my mother loved to tell about the old days. She and Daddy married in 1932, and she had lots of stories about how poor they were.
But this morning it hit me that her stories were more about "the great drought" than the Great Depression. She talked about the gardens drying up, and the terrible heat during those summers. About making water gravy, and living on dry cornfield beans one winter. (Cornfield beans were simply pole beans that had been planted in the field so they could vine up the cornstalks for support.)
She told about having bedbugs in one of the houses they lived in, early in their marriage; Grandma would leave her purse outside when she visited, Mother said, because she didn't want to carry any bedbugs home.
In fact, both my parents said the Depression didn't affect them much, because they were so poor to begin with. Daddy worked as a hired hand on farms, and Mother worked as a "hired girl", cooking and cleaning and babysitting: in other words, doing anything that needed doing in the boss's household. She also got out in the fields and helped pick corn when her help was needed.
My parents never owned a house until the mid-1950's. They really had nothing to lose in the Depression.
I think Mother's favorite part of being the hired girl was cooking. Growing up, I often heard her refer to any group of hungry guests as "eating like threshers". This from her childhood when all neighboring farmers pitched in with the harvest, and it was the housewife's job to feed them all.
Mother loved to cook throughout most of her life. Sometimes she'd take a notion on Sundays to invite everybody at church to our house for a meal (it was a small congregation). If strangers were passing through our town and visited at church, they were invited home with us for dinner.
I sure wish I had some of Mother's fried chicken right now.