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An Interview With Jane Reynolds About The Depression

An Interview With Jane Reynolds About The Depression The depression of the 1930s was a major event in many American’s lives. It left them with little money, and even fewer resources. The country had to bind together to get through rough times, and each person was struggling to live individually. Enter Jane Reynolds, a 76 year old woman whose memories of the depression are surprisingly happy. Her family was very lucky in that her father owned a used car lot in Salt Lake City, a steady job that put food on the table. Jane says she remembers her father had to repossess cars all the time because no one had money to pay for anything.

In 1930 Jane and her family moved into her grandparent’s house, to combine all their resources in this hard time. She remembers the home as being very happy and comforting, even though her mother was at first in a state of depression because she was worried about the new baby she had just beared. There were no drugs to treat depression like there are in modern times. Yet still, Jane can remember her mother saying, We are poor, but we are not poor in spirit. Jane’s grandfather worked at ZCMI and traveled selling shoes.

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The family was very fortunate to have two men in the house with well paying jobs while so many people were going hungry. The children’s clothing was the same fabric used repeatedly, but taken apart year after year and sewn back together again in an updated style. The girls learned at a young age to be worthy seamstresses, something helpful to their mother who was trying to raise 5 children and be cheerful about it at the same time. School was always a pleasure for Jane, being with all her friends and having fun was something any child could enjoy, poor or not. She remembers that some students couldn’t bring a lunch to school so they had to walk to and from home for lunch because their mothers didn’t drive.

Some children would have a solitary piece of bread to eat, and some would have nothing at all. At these times, Jane remembers the teacher handing out small cups of milk and bits of bread to the hungry children. The children who had food never took what the teacher offered because they knew that the less fortunate children needed it. Jane’s family was pretty well-off, receiving groceries twice a day and eating canned fruit from the summer. They always had a big family gathering on Sundays and had a big roast, a privilege not many people could claim in those days.

The rest of the week was usually filled with beans and small bits of meat. To help out with the money issues of the times, many of the kids in Jane’s family, including herself, had part time jobs. Mostly they were hired by friends or neighbors to clean their houses, which was looked upon as a very generous gesture. Also in Jane’s memory is a friend’s father who received two hundred dollars a month, which was a fortune back then. Many people were not as blessed.

Some of Jane’s friends had to go straight from school to a job every day, shoe-shining and doing other various things, anything to get a little bit of money. The only frugal time Jane remembers clearly is Christmas, when presents were small but satisfactory. On the subject of unemployment, Jane recalls her poor uncle who could not find a job anywhere. He had tried in what seemed like fifty different places, but no one had enough money to hire him. Jane’s father welcomed her uncle into the house and supported him until finally he found a job as steel mill worker.

A very lucky aspect of Jane’s life was that her grandfather had a steady job, something very hard to come by in those days. His employment as a shoe salesman was what kept Jane’s family rooted. On the other side of employment, Jane related how many of her friends’ fathers were searching and searching for a job. She recalls going over to her friend Andrea’s house one day and walking in to find the place bare of furnishings. The family’s furniture had all been repossessed. These were sad times, and Jane wished there was some way she could help her friends in need. She realized how lucky she was to have a safe, comfortable home with food on the table every night.

Although in this case, a happy childhood is remembered and thought fondly of, the impact of so many people hungering for a better life made the depression of the 1930s a time that Jane Reynolds will never forget. It will live forever in her memory as a time where America was struggling to find itself, and the fellowship of man played a higher role than any. History Essays.


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