Essay on Grandama's Memories of the Great Depression

Essay on Grandama's Memories of the Great Depression

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The Great Depression began in October of 1929 when the stock values in the United States dropped rapidly. Thousands of stockholders lost large sums of money-or were even wiped out. Many people had to depend on the government or charity for food. Many of the stories about the Depression have been told about the large cities and their struggles to live a life of poverty after being used to the luxurious lifestyle. However, those accounts do not reflect the true damage caused by this economic plunge. The many "country folk" that inhabit the area around Tennessee had a somewhat different recollection of this time period. The stories told by the people who had lost all of their money in the stock market are stories of doom and despair, but those told by the people who didn't have anything to begin with are filled with memories of family and friends helping one another in a time of need. In a personal interview with my grandmother, Vergie Matherly (eighty-seven years old) whom I call "Nanny", I learned first-hand what the Depression was like in a small community located in a very isolated area. Her accounts of family struggle seem to dwarf those accounts of the rich tycoons who lost it all in the stock market. A book entitled Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression of the 1930's contains several pages of anecdotes written by various people who lived in small towns during this time. This book goes hand in hand with the memories of my Nanny.

In 1929, Vergie got married at the age of 17 to a man by the name of Jim. Jim was a coal miner in Hampton, Tennessee, and was injured when the mine collapsed on top of him. Vergie recalls this accident,

They had to take five wheelbarrows of stuff off of him right here (motioning to her ...


... middle of paper ...


...ession. According to Van Amber, "We have learned that their personal experiences in striving to make the best of it taught us dependability , self-reliance, awareness of the needs of others and money management. Although we lost a part of our childhood by having to help out, the deprivation of enjoyment matured us as children beyond our age(Amber 3)." Good things did come out of the bad circumstances, while some people thought it was the end of the world because they had lost their money on the stock market, many people cherish their memories of the hard times and look back on them as being an event that shaped who they are today.


Works Cited:

Amber, Rita Van. Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression of the 1930's and More From Your Kitchen Today. Van Amber Publishers: Neenah, 1986.

Matherly, Vergie. Personal Interview. November 28, 1999.

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