Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grandma Pierce and The Great Depression

Mother told me many stories about the Great Depression.  Mother’s dad died at sixty one years of age of pneumonia.  This was right at the beginning of the Great Depression.  They were living in San Angelo, Texas at the time of their father’s death.  They did not own a house, so, they were living in a rented house.  In that day and time when some one died, the funeral home would come to your house to prepare the body for burial.  After the body was prepared, it was displayed in some part of your house, usually the living room.  Mother said no one slept any the night their dad’s body was on display in their living room.  She said for one thing they just couldn’t believe he was dead, it had all happened so quickly.  I remember Aunt Doe saying she heard the birds singing outside, and she said to herself how can the birds be singing, because daddy’s dead.  She said she soon learned that life didn’t stop for any one.  But, for the moment she couldn’t imagine life without dad. 

But, life did go on. 

They soon found themselves broke, without any means of making a living.  They were stuck in a big town with no ability to raise their on food.  Mother said they would set around for days without any food.  Finally their mother dressed up in her best clothes and went to the local grocery store and she went to crying and told the owner of the store that her family was home starving.   The guy told her he would sell her some groceries on the credit.  Mother said that they were so happy when their mother walked the house with a bag of groceries, they didn’t know what to do.  Before they got these groceries, the only thing they had to eat was some careless weeds they got out of the alley.  They would boil these careless weeds and eat them without any seasoning.

They were soon unable to pay their rent, and they were threatening to have them evicted from their home.  Someone told there was a lot of cotton to pick down in the coastal area of Texas.  So, Uncle Willie, mother’s older brother, had someway managed to trade for an old model A Ford.  So, they loaded up all of their belongings and took off to the coast.  They did odd jobs along the way to help pay for the gas.  If you have ever read the book, “The Grapes of Wrath,” Grandma Pierce actually lived it.  When they finally got to the coastal area, they didn’t find any cotton to pick.  They decided to return to San Angelo.  Uncle Zane and Aunt Mary were living in Water Valley, Texas, and they told mother and them that they knew some one who had a pecan crop that needed to be harvested.  They gladly accepted the job.  Mother said this was like Heaven compared to what they had been through.  Having a pecan crop to pick, meant they all of a sudden had a place they could camp without some one running them off.  They could fish for protein, and they could pick lamb’s quarters greens for vegetables.  They could use what little money they made off picking the pecans, to buy bread, milk, and sugar.  Mother said they didn’t always have grease to fry the fish, so they would eat the fish boiled, without any seasoning.  She said it didn’t taste very good.  But, it nourished their bodies.  Mother loved to fish and she was apparently very lucky at it, so it was her main job to keep them supplied with fish to eat.  They lived around Water Valley for several years. 

They eventually moved to Menard to take care of Grandpa Keele.  They basically lived the rest of their lives in Menard.  As I think back on the hardships that they endured, it gives me an insight into why they were the way they were.  The hardships they endured profoundly affected the rest of their lives.  It makes me wonder sometime if their lives would have been different if they had not have had to endure the hardships inflicted on them by the Great Depression. 

I guess that is something we will never know. 

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