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Looking back at the Great Depression

Posted Monday, December 8, 2008, at 7:58 AM

This iconic Depression photo of a migrant mother and her two children may well be the most famous of all the photos taken during the Great Depression. Dated February or March of 1936, it captures the despair of the era.
Like many Americans my age (66), I grew up listening to my parents and grandparents tell stories of the Great Depression. At times, these woeful tales just seemed too outlandish to be believed - and I think that we sometimes rolled our eyes (secretly), when the snow got too deep, the money got too scarce, and the distance to school got too long.

However, all those tales have been woven into a tapestry of legend which has made the Great Depression a familiar part of our culture. In today's shakey economy, I can hardly believe that Americans are looking back to those former hard times and wondering if that's where we're headed now.

I told 94-year old Paul Corbin that I wanted to do a blog about the Depression, and he agreed to add his comments from experience. We readers of the North Stoddard Countian have enjoyed his occasional excursions into his family's rugged past, as he recounts stories from those lean times. When he describes his father chopping a hole in the living room floor of their cabin on the Cato Slough, in order to save the chickens from drowning in a flood, I sense the stuff that legends are made of!

The beauty of having Paul Corbin as a resource is that he can remember what things cost back in the dim shadows of the past. He remembers the price of a bushel of corn in 1920; he remembers what his father paid for his first car - a Model T!

Worst economic disaster in the history of the modern industrial world

The Great Depression began on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, when the stock market crashed, and it lasted until the early 40's - though some local Southeast Missourians will tell you that it continued ten years or so beyond that. Banks failed and businesses closed, leaving one-quarter of the workforce unemployed (15 million).

The U.S. already had a tremendous imbalance between the rich and the poor, with 0.1 percent of society earning the same income as 42 percent, so the depression had a hard impact on a large segment of the population. Though businesses had made great gains (65%) from the mechanization of manufacturing, the average worker's wages had increased only 8%. "Nobody had money" is the common refrain from survivors of that economic disaster.

President Herbert Hoover was in office at the time, and his unresponsiveness to the disaster is credited for some of the folklore of the era. Calling the depression "a passing incident in our national lives" and trusting in "tickle-down economics," he predicted that it would be over in 60 days. His name was given to several colorful Americanisms: An empty pocket turned inside out was called a "Hoover flag," and decrepit shantytowns, which sprang up all over the country, were called "Hoovervilles."

The stage was set for the election of New York multi-millionaire governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932 and the introduction of a Socialist program called "The New Deal," which is credited with having saved America from starvation.

In the first 100 days of Roosevelt's administration, Congress passed the Emergency Banking Relief Act. Within 37 days of Roosevelt's March 4, 1933 inaguration, the first member of the CCC was enrolled.

Civilian Conservation Corps

Known as "Roosevelt's Tree Army," the CCC lasted from 1933 to 1942, when the U.S. pulled its resources together for World War II. Thousands of young men, unemployed, unmarried, and between the ages of 18 and 26 (though the rules were later relaxed for war veterans) were employed to renew the nation's decimated forests by planting 3 billion trees, building roads and bridges, fighting fires, establishing drainage systems for farmland, building campgrounds, and providing erosion control, as well as disease and insect control. The reforestation was especially important in states affected by the Dust Bowl. Poor farming practices and a drought in the western states had caused the land to turn into unproductive dust, blowing away and causing the ruin of hundreds of farm families, who were forced to migrate to California in "Grapes of Wrath" fashion.

My father spoke warmly of his time in the CCC camps. The work was hard, but he loved it. Men were paid $30 a month with mandatory $25 allotment checks sent to their families.

Vocational training was also a part of the program; 90 percent of the enrollees participated in some facet of the educational program. More than 40,000 illiterate men were taught to read and write.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was one of the most successful New Deal programs of the Great Depression. It existed for fewer than 10 years but left a legacy of handsome roads, bridges, and buildings throughout the U.S. Between 1933 and 1941, more than 3,000,000 men served in the CCC. After the job market picked up, employers were happy to hire a man who had been in the CCC, knowing that he knew what a day's work meant and could carry out orders in a disciplined way.

Migrant Mother photo

If you would like to read an interview with one of the daughters in the above photo taken during the Depression, you can go to http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/12/02/dus.... The photo was taken by Dorothea Lange, who was working for the Resettlement Administration when she took the photo of Florence Owens Thompson, then 32, and her two children. Katherine McIntosh, now 77 years old, is the girl on the left. She tells how ashamed she and her sister were during that period of time, when they had to live in a tent or a car, and were told by their classmates to "Go home and take a bath!"

There is so much more out there about the Great Depression. I know I've just scratched the surface of this fascinating topic.

Showing comments in chronological order
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I, too, remember many stories from grandparents and parents. I use them often as I read "Out of the Dust" with my students. One remembrance is that my great-grandparents lost all of their money in a bank in Stoddard County. (I won't name it here.) After that, my Grandma hid their money in different places all around the house. She never again trusted a bank. Before she died, she told us not to throw ANYTHING away without going through the item carefully. Money was found in coat pockets and hems, coffee cans, mattresses, and a variety of other places. She was ready to protect it by keeping a hammer and an umbrella beside her pillow. (I'd almost feel sorry for the home invader, too.) Nothing was ever wasted at her house either. Most things were made at home, and I treasure the things I have from there, including scrapbooks of original newspaper articles from that era.

My other grandparents lived on a farm, so they never went without food or basic necessities. They had chickens, a cow, and plenty of vegetables. Times were hard, but they weren't ever hungry, as so many folks were.

I could recount many tales, but this would turn into one of my class lecture/discussions. I'll save it for my students. I'm sure I'll have to chime in again though. Thanks for starting another interesting topic. (I do wish I knew how to underline or italicize though--I know a book title should not be in quotations! I preach about such things regularly, but I don't know how to properly note a title on this site. No one else cares, except the English teachers. Ha!)

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 9:29 AM

Ha, ha! I sympathize with you on the book titles! It really goes against the grain to use quotation marks, but we have no choice!

I'm not familiar with "Out of the Dust"! I must check that book out!! (Oops! I must "check out that book"!)

In reading that story about the migrant mother of seven children, it's interesting to see that she carried her newborn babies inside the cotton bags, as she and her older children picked! And she often went without eating, so the children could have food! Wow! What an example she was!

I remember my husband telling me that his grandmother would take his mother out to the fields with her when she was a baby. There simply was no choice. His grandmother set his mother down under a tree, while she worked in the fields. This was in the Essex area about 80 years ago.

Can you imagine today's children being good enough to be left alone under a tree in the hot sun?? And what would happen to parents who did that today???

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 10:21 AM

gl, sorry to correct you so soon, it was called a cotton sack, not cotton bag.

I was 5 years old when that picture was taken and I can relate to that lady as being my mother. I tell my kids our floors were dirt but it's kinda hard to convince them. I remember in later years my grandmother received an old age pension check of $16.00 a month and she felt rich. Her money was kept pinned inside her dress bosom, if I'm allowed to say that here.

Sorry, but it wasn't the good old days, and we survived by respecting our neighbor. Doors didn't have locks, you could hang your clothes on the line, so many things have changed and we're perhaps healthier, not sure we're happier.

Thanks MD for a great topic.

-- Posted by changedname on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 11:23 AM

Haha! Thanks for the correction, dexterite! You can tell that I didn't pick cotton, can't you?

Actually, I tried it ONCE, when my best friend agreed to take me out to the fields. However, when it was NO FUN, and she could pick SO FAST that I got left behind in the dust, I said, No more!! That was the early fifties, I think.

My grandma kept her money pinned to her apron top, I think. (I actually never looked, but it was there somewhere!)

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 2:23 PM

"Out of the Dust" was written by Karen Hesse, and the entire book is free-verse poetry developed into novel format. It is a beautiful story of a teenage girl who learns to appreciate life and loved ones at a difficult time. Many of my students take it home and finish it over night. Of course, others complain and drift away. They learn a lot about the era, though it is historical fiction. I'll stop now. I hope you read it! I learned a lot, too--always do when I teach something different. Maybe I learn more than the kids? Probably!

My "in-town" grandmother bartered during the Depression. She was a piano teacher, and nobody could afford to pay for that luxury; however,they COULD bake bread and do laundry etc. So, they brought their kids to Grandmother's, and in return they baked her bread or brought eggs etc. Some did her laundry and brought it back with the kids each week. Everybody won! Too bad we don't do more of that in our own time. (I'd teach their kids, and parents would do my laundry and clean my house... yep!)

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 3:03 PM

Yeah, I like the bartering idea a lot! My oldest brother (the old hippie) still does that, but he always seems to come out on the short end of his business arrangements...

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 3:06 PM

Ah!! - Those were the good old days. That's a refrain we often hear as some elderly person relates a story about some incident that happened or some condition that existed back during the "GREAT DEPRESSION."

As they mentally and verbally travel this path of bygone years there is a mark of sincerity in their expression, when they remind us that this was before the days of indoor plumbing, the plastic bag and the ballpoint pen. They will point out that, down on the farm we all lived in harmony with nature, gathering most of our livelihood from the land where we lived, while moving at a slow and repitious rhythm, just as regulsr as the orbiting moon, which was, at that time an ubreachable object, mostly for the benifit of lovers, poets and for cows to jump over.

At age 94, I lived through those years, and was happy in our environment of poverty, not knowing that we were poor people, and as I now look back to those "Good Old Days" I wonder if that expression of sincerity was not just a product of faulty memory.

-- Posted by paulcorbin on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 7:55 PM

When the pace of life gets too fast for us, I think it's only natural for us to become nostalgic about the past and assign loftier qualities to it than it really had.

I, for one, would not want to do without indoor plumbing! I used to visit my aunt & uncle in Arkansas, and I did NOT appreciate their OUTHOUSE!

Also, the last time I tried to drive a car without power steering, I couldn't believe how HARD it was! I don't remember it being so hard to turn the steering wheel, back in the early 50's.

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 8:06 PM

Okay - now for the BIG QUESTION: If the government doesn't do massive bailouts, will we have another big depression like this one???

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Dec 9, 2008, at 8:04 AM

Although the times were not nearly as harsh, some of us remember cotton sacks in the bootheel in the 60's. I remember going to the fields with my mother and riding on the sack as a very small child while my older sisters and brother picked cotton. Unlike some of my closest friends I can remember when we first got indoor plumbing and thought we were rich. That was in the southern end of Stoddard County and these memories are from about 1965-67. 1967 is when we got indoor plumbing because it was the year I started Kindergarten.

I remember a conversation with my history teacher when I was in 7th grade where he was telling of going outhouse tipping on halloween and only 3 of the class of 30 knew what he was talking about. I was 12 before my Granny would let mom and dad run indoor plumbing for her and that was only because she had broken a hip walking 1/4 mile to Uncle Raymond's to get water in the frozen hills of Bollinger County. Amazing how life changes.

-- Posted by SKDellinger on Tue, Dec 9, 2008, at 8:50 AM

"Out of the Dust" was one of my students' favorite books in the library. They loved the poetry style in which it was written, and of course, the story.

-- Posted by lovebooks on Tue, Dec 9, 2008, at 11:03 AM

That's two votes for "Out of the Dust." Sounds like a "must read"!

Well, Dellinger, you have my husband's family beat, I think. They came out of the "woods," so to speak, in the fifties, but it sounds as if your Depression lasted a lot longer.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Dec 9, 2008, at 4:42 PM

For a FUN book about the 30's, read Richard Peck's "A Long Way from Chicago." That one is a hoot about a funny grandma. I read that every year--and haven't tired of it, even after reading it with at least three classes at a "spell", year after year. There is a sequel that most kids beg to read, also. Kids learn about "privies", making soap, and telling yarns,among other things. For a tough time in history, Peck made the reading a hoot!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Tue, Dec 9, 2008, at 6:49 PM

GL, the bailout fever can be likened to a mob war over tax money. It can also be likened to rewarding failure. In contrast, bankruptcy acts as a liposuction process that gets rid of the fat from bloated inefficient companies so they can function profitably. Some companies are beyond repair and they are simply dismantled. So be it, and may they RIP. We forget that the norm is for companies to cease to exist. There were over 1800 automobile manufacturers in the United States from 1896 to 1930. Now there are less than ten including Nissan, Toyota, etc. What happened to Studebaker? Gone. What happened to American Motors? Gone. It would be no catastrophe for the U.S. if Chrysler and GM went bankrupt and were reorganized. It wouldn't even be a big deal for the country if they ceased operation. Ford and the other manufacturers would pick up the slack, and they would even hire he best of the laid off workers. Look at the exciting new Aptera and it is no mystery why dinosaur auto companies that suffer from mental rigor mortis are deservedly having trouble. http://www.aptera.com/look.php

There is a much greater likelihood that there will be a major economic downturn if the government continues with this bailout insanity -- because it can only "give" to favored interests money that it "takes" from the public in one form or another.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Dec 9, 2008, at 9:14 PM

Gonenow, bartering would be a great way to do a lot of things but now you would have to place a value on it and declare it on your taxes. Our government would still want their share.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Dec 9, 2008, at 11:56 PM

Gonenow: you are a Treasure Trove of wonderful information, girl!! I'm headed to Cape today and will hit Barnes & Noble for "A Long Way from Chicago," and "Out of the Dust"!!! These books also sound like good Christmas presents!! I'm excited!

FJ, that is such thought-provoking information on the car companies! Is it really possible that the economy could survive the bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler? Economic conditions weren't so critical back when Studebaker and American Motors went out.

It sounds as if the gov't should have let Chrysler go under the last time they had to bail them out, doesn't it?

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 7:51 AM

What would happen when we bail out the auto companies and they still go under? How do we know they would do the right thing with our money when they couldn't handle their own?

-- Posted by mythought on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 9:04 AM

About the auto industry bail-out--I think it is the old adage of "too many chiefs and not enough Indians". If the CEO's were willing to work at a minimal( or no) salary until the economy is better, maybe it would seem fair. I don't resent folks being paid for what they earn, but how many of the big salaried positions are replaceable? How many ordinary folks would LOVE to have the job at much less compensation? Most of these guys/gals could afford to forfeit a tad, so that their business could again thrive. I'm talking about giving up a trip to the Riviera, not a dinner for the kids.

Goat Lady, I can't wait to hear what you think of the books. One is a fun experience with a grandma anyone would love; the other is a coming of age and serious approach to the Depression. I loved listening to my grandparents' stories about life and that era. I hope to "entertain" my own with stories of dances in the cafeteria and my husband winking at me as he circled "The Pig." Ha! I might throw in one or two about working for 75cents an hour--and being proud of it! Of course, I did have to walk to school in the snow--uphill both ways. (Not really, but at Cape it seemed like it! Hills all day long.)

-- Posted by GONENOW on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 11:26 AM

GL, the management of GM and Chrysler have run those companies in the ground, and Ford isn't far behind. The "Big Three's" problems are not rooted in the economic downturn this year, they were already in a death spiral that has only been accelerated by the current credit crunch. GM, Ford and Chrysler have been burning through many billions of cash reserves the last several years. Follow the money. Who could be expected to directly benefit from a "handout" ... opps "bailout." Bankruptcy would likely leave the stockholders holding certificates worth as much as toilet paper, the unionized assembly line workers making wages and benefits far in excess of their skill level would suddenly be faced with finding a job that would pay what their skills are actually worth in the marketplace, and the same is true of the legions of executives who are more skilled at brownnosing than doing productive work.

GL, I found an article from 1983, "The Chrysler Bail-Out Bust," that contends the 1979 $1.2 billion Chrysler "bailout" was unneeded because behind the scenes Chrysler restructured its finances in the same way it would have if it had in fact officially declared bankruptcy. See, http://www.heritage.org/research/regulat...

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 8:12 PM

Wow! The ironies in that report are massive! So, in 1983, they predicted that the bailout would make the auto industry - particularly Chrysler - better and more efficient?? Were they ever wrong!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 9:01 PM

Gonenow, I picked up the books today. Very reasonably priced. I think I'll start on the poetry first.

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 9:02 PM

FJ, You're right about autoworkers being paid high wages for the educational level they attained. Auto workers with a HS diploma start out making more than beginning teachers, who worked hard for that degree. I'm sure they surpass the ranks of educational professionals soon after, though I don't have those statistics. Granted, we didn't enter the field of education expecting to be rich, but it does make priorities noticeable. Is that quite right?

GL--I can't wait to hear a book review! I'm glad you found them.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 8:15 AM

Things picked up quite nicely for our family in 1968 when dad got a construction job. He is still my hero for managing to feed, clothe and house a family of 6 on farm hand wages. I gave him a scrapbook for Christmas last year titled "My Dad, My Hero". I loved the expression on his face as he looked back over the pictures of our family growing up. Things were not always easy but we never went hungry, nor did we ever go homeless. Mom and Dad did a great job seeing to that.

-- Posted by SKDellinger on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 8:54 AM

I can't say that the autoworkers are overpaid because I don't know what is involved in doing their job. I worked at a job for several years that was dangerous work, one mistake could have cost me my life and there were people that said I was overpaid. I received my salary plus medical insurence and one week off a year paid. The medical insurence is what kept me there. My health problems ended that job for me. I now work at a job that pays much less and has insurence.

I still feel blessed because I still have everything I need.

-- Posted by mythought on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 9:41 AM

Mythought, you bring up a very good point. The danger level of working in many factories far exceeds the skill level required of the workers. The most dangerous job I ever had was working one summer in a roof truss assembly plant. One slip of a fellow worker's finger on a hydraulic press control and I would no longer have had a hand -- and I was making the minimum wage. So one advantage of formerly domestic factories now operating in other countries is those workers are now losing their fingers, hands, arms and toes. A movie that effectively portrays the constant danger of working in a factory is "The Machinist" starring Christian Bale.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 12:35 PM

Teaching school is not exactly a safe career anymore. Consider lockdowns due to weapons or drugs, bomb threats, or out of control students (sometimes parents) who vow to get even if a delinquent kid fails a class... Then there is the daily exposure to every single virus or disease out there as students sneeze, cough or worse... all around. I'm not complaining--I'm just pointing out that there are risks for educators that seem to go unnoticed. We may not operate heavy equipment, but we do face possible dangers every day.

Many teachers stay because they have to have insurance, but ours continues to decrease in benefits year by year. Teachers are high risk to insurers because the job makes for lots of sick folks! Most insurance companies don't want us, so they don't even bid. We have to take what we can get. Yes, I'm thankful to have insurance--nobody would take me if I didn't have a group policy. Of course, this job is the biggest reason I HAVE the health problems. I'm thankful in all things, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing as long as I can.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 2:50 PM

GONENOW, if you wouldn't mind, please explain all of these health hazards that you encounter teaching school. I am very curious. I did not know someone could become so ILL being a school teacher. Please enlighten me.

-- Posted by BonScott on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 4:19 PM

She already DID that, BS! C'mon, now, are you dead rockers gonna come out of the woodwork, or are you NOT?? I guess NOT, but ya just can't resist a jab now and then, can ya!!

I think it's the age thing that makes teachers an insurance risk, gonenow. There are just so many OLD ones still on the job! (No offense, here - I'm one myself! Old, that is - not still on the job...thank God!)

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 4:33 PM

Dellinger, that was a neat story! Thanks for sharing! (Don't associate with those bad boys...)

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 4:35 PM

Aside from coming in contact with every single communicable disease out there, is that what you're asking? You don't have time to read the entire list, so I'll try to consolidate.

*STRESS--try being responsible for every kid who enters your class being a candidate for passing the HS competency exams state legistlators think are the all in all proof of knowledge. (another topic) Would you worry? Would you carry that responsiblity on your own shoulders? If you're a caring teacher, you would.

*KIDNEY/BLADDER illnesses/failure: We cannot go to the rest room anytime the call comes. We are responsible for the children of the community. Who else will protect them if we go to the bathroom? So what if we're doing a dance with goose-bumps up and down our arms and legs? Kids can go--can we? NOPE!

*Heart disease--is there time for exercise after going in at 7:00, leaving at 5:00, carrying home 80-90 essays or exams that nobody else can grade except me? Eating whatever can be quick-cooked or bought along the route to the house--there is no time to prepare a meal that would meet any good health standards.

*Relaxation--What is that? There is never a time that good teachers can say, "I think I"ll just do whatever I want to today." There is always a bag of papers or a load of paperwork to complete, usually for someone else. Everyone thinks what they request is the most important task.

*Now, there are those pesky kids. WE love them! We worry about them; we counsel them. We talk to their parents; we make up extra credit so Little Johnny won't fail this time. We give them our lives. Is that what most folks do after their paid work day is ended? Is that HEALTHY for anyone? Do you remember about Jack and all work?

*Now, if you're at work and you get a message to lock the door, not to let anyone in, and to turn off the lights because all are at risk... would that be good for your heart? Your blood pressure? Your kidneys when you've had two cups of coffee and can't go to the rest room for two hours? Tell me about that. It happens in schools all over the country, every single- diddley day it happens somewhere. Yet, when we go home at the end of the day, it's the kids we were so worried about. YOUR kids--your neighbor's kids, they are all OURS to be concerned about.

*Even if you don't acknowledge the above REAL concerns, think about MERSA, staph, flu, chicken-pox, COLDS, even lice! We deal with it all--and we love the kids, just not the baggage.

I almost forgot to mention this one--do you know a teacher past 40 who doesn't need glasses, at least to read? Doubt it! We strain what we have--including voices and legs to stand on.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 5:19 PM

Aside from coming in contact with every single communicable disease out there, is that what you're asking? You don't have time to read the entire list, so I'll try to consolidate.

*STRESS--try being responsible for every kid who enters your class being a candidate for passing the HS competency exams state legistlators think are the all in all proof of knowledge. (another topic) Would you worry? Would you carry that responsiblity on your own shoulders? If you're a caring teacher, you would.

*KIDNEY/BLADDER illnesses/failure: We cannot go to the rest room anytime the call comes. We are responsible for the children of the community. Who else will protect them if we go to the bathroom? So what if we're doing a dance with goose-bumps up and down our arms and legs? Kids can go--can we? NOPE!

*Heart disease--is there time for exercise after going in at 7:00, leaving at 5:00, carrying home 80-90 essays or exams that nobody else can grade except me? Eating whatever can be quick-cooked or bought along the route to the house--there is no time to prepare a meal that would meet any good health standards.

*Relaxation--What is that? There is never a time that good teachers can say, "I think I"ll just do whatever I want to today." There is always a bag of papers or a load of paperwork to complete, usually for someone else. Everyone thinks what they request is the most important task.

*Now, there are those pesky kids. WE love them! We worry about them; we counsel them. We talk to their parents; we make up extra credit so Little Johnny won't fail this time. We give them our lives. Is that what most folks do after their paid work day is ended? Is that HEALTHY for anyone? Do you remember about Jack and all work?

*Now, if you're at work and you get a message to lock the door, not to let anyone in, and to turn off the lights because all are at risk... would that be good for your heart? Your blood pressure? Your kidneys when you've had two cups of coffee and can't go to the rest room for two hours? Tell me about that. It happens in schools all over the country, every single- diddley day it happens somewhere. Yet, when we go home at the end of the day, it's the kids we were so worried about. YOUR kids--your neighbor's kids, they are all OURS to keep safe.

*Even if you don't acknowledge the above REAL concerns, think about MERSA, staph, flu, chicken-pox, COLDS, even lice! We deal with it all--and we love the kids, just not the baggage.

I almost forgot to mention this one--do you know a teacher past 40 who doesn't need glasses, at least to read? Doubt it! We strain what we have--including voices and legs to stand on.

I hope some of my fellow teachers have more to say. I'm too darn tired. I've taught 90 kids today--including some whose parents don't appreciate a darn thing I did. Do you know anyone like that?

-- Posted by GONENOW on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 5:22 PM

Now, how did that happen? I guess I'm too tired to be at a computer. That happens, you know! I'll just say oops--I was double-darm tired tonight. YOu only have to read it once. HA!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 5:24 PM

SKD..., I can attest to the accuracy of your account about your family. In the early 1960s my aunt, who had six kids, married a man who was able to support all of them AND buy a house on ten acres working as a construction laborer, until he was hired on as a laborer by a public utility in the early 1970s, where he worked until he retired.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 6:15 PM

I forgot--that was my other job where I work that hard. As a teacher, I put on my pretty dress, my pearl earrings, and my new heels. Next, I walk up and down the halls waving like the Homecoming Queen! Yeah, they really expect us to do that.

GL--the reason there are so many OLD teachers is that the young ones are going elsewhere to get a paycheck commensurate with their education. What will happen in a few years when the kids we've educated see that it is not a profitable career? I shudder to think about it. My grandkids--and yours, will pay that price.

I'll try to send this only once.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 6:37 PM

I hesitate to make a statement about this Bail-Out because I did that about the price of gas when it was near $4.00 per gallon, and was I ever wrong, so instead of making a statement I will put my thoughts, regarding the bail out in the form of a question. Do you suppose that this proposed bail out may be trying to feed the wrong end of the horse?

Suppose we do save the automotible industry, and they continue production, who is going to buy these cars when unemployment is at it's highest level in sixty years.

Why not spend this billions of out tax money on a works program to improve our schools, our roads, and bridges. clean up the blight of our small towns, and large cities, and create new sources of energy.

If we put John and Jane Q. Public back to work, giving them money to spend, and a more positive attitude, they may pull us out of this depression much faster than the multimillionaires of Gm. Ford and Chrysler

-- Posted by paulcorbin on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 8:22 PM

I don't know Gonenow, that sounds like the same problems, difficulties and illnesses that all the rest of us have.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 9:16 PM

Paul, I think I've heard our new President-Elect suggest a program much like yours. However, I can't imagine that he'll let the auto companies go under, and I don't see how we could do both!

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 9:51 PM

IB--I'm laughing very loudly. I know all folks work 14 hour days, while they are paid to work 7.75. I know they are responsible for OTHER folks' kids welfare and successes in life--at least 150-200 each year. I know all of that must be true. I also know that some people don't GET IT, and never will. Lunch? Ever think about that? Where are the teachers during that 25 minutes? Duty-free? Ha!You know what else? All of those activities and worksheets, tests, projects etc...don't just appear. Kids come to school--what if nobody got ready for that day? Do other professions do that on their own time, too? Most people walk out the door and go home.

I'm finished. It is surely a waste of my time to explain. Like I said, some people just don't get it--probably never did.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 7:22 AM

Gonenow, I finished reading "Out of the Dust" this morning. Wonderful book! I'm glad I didn't read the back cover before I read the book, though. I hate it when they give away the surprises inside!

The author did a good job of capturing the hopelessness of a three-year drought and the constant blowing of the dust in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. What an era! So many factors combined to make the Great Depression. At least we don't dust to contend with, this time around!

One critic called the poetry "blank verse," and one called it "free verse." What's your take on that, as an English teacher?

Thanks for suggesting it. I'll read "A Long Way from Chicago" next.

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 7:22 AM

Oh, my gosh! We did it again! Posted at exactly 7:22!! Hahaha!

I was going to add another comment about the book: Blank verse is unrhymed iambic pentameter, right? It has to have about five accented beats per line -- therefore, this book must be written in free verse. Right?

Watch us post at the same time again!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 7:28 AM

Ah, don't try to defend the teaching profession, gonenow. The only ones who'll understand are teachers or spouses of teachers.

My husband, who was in construction all his life, knew that he had to let me teach in order for me to be happy, but he SO resented all the extra time it took away from our family. There was never an evening or weekend when I wasn't loaded down with homework. He resented every after-school minute, when I sponsored extra-curricular activities. He SO wanted me to be an 8-3 teacher, but I just couldn't do it!

I look back, now that he's gone, and wonder if I should have listened to him and stayed home more and assigned fewer papers to have to grade...

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 7:36 AM

My youngest was born when I was 48, she will be seven in March and I am so thankful for the teachers that are educating that very active mind of her's. She has learned so much in her short time in this world. She wants to know everything and know it now, so I know she is a handful for her teacher. I couldn't pay these wonderful people what they are worth to me and my child.

In case anyone wants to Know, I am not a teacher, you should be able to tell by the way I write.

-- Posted by mythought on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 8:20 AM

You do fine, mythought!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 12:48 PM

GL, I'd say it is blank verse. I think blank verse can disregard meter rules, yet it must have rhythm. I remember reading the book with tears streaming--it was just so like the truth. I am reminded of the sensory references to apples when I slice or bite into a crisp, juicy one. I think if we taught the history of the Depression through books like this one, more young folks would understand. I guess I try to sneak that in with the two books. You will laugh with Grandma and the kids as they get to know one another. The only time I didn't laugh was the chapter "Train Time", which I always have someone else read. I can't do it. It is beautiful though.

Keep me posted! Readers--if you check out the local library, you could join in and learn more about our country's history and the Great Depression by reading a great, short novel! (or two) These are very easy reads--and as GL mentioned before--great gifts for adolescents.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 1:25 PM

I get it and I understand it, but obviously you feel that you have the only profession that somehow requires extra work or is dangerous or has enormous responsibiliity or doesn't get a break for lunch or has a risk of increasing your contact with a communicable disease. A lot of people would tell you that is nothing special or at least no different than their job. Thank you for doing your job, but you shouldn't think that the jobs of the kids who you are teaching have any less demanding professions.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 7:27 PM

Obviously, you didn't get it. You probably won't ever know what I'm talking about, but that's okay. I recognize a fence-post. Read whatever you want to into that.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 9:47 PM

gonenow, parents and teachers lay the foundation, how a person builds is their responsibility. Whatever I have accomplished in life I owe to my mother and my teachers, not some bricklayer or truck driver. Of course we're all influenced by people around us and our coworkers, but thank God for the dedicated teachers I had in school.

-- Posted by changedname on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 6:42 AM

Thank you, dexterite. We all owe so much to our parents and grandparents, as well as our teachers. It means a lot to get a word of support and encouragement here and there. Thanks again!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 7:54 AM

Gonenow, I'm reading "A Long Way from Chicago" right now, and I don't want to put it down! Grandma is a great character! I'm as far as her confrontation with the sheriff, when she's set the catfish feast out at the railroad tracks for the drifters. People like her should live forever!

Maybe if our young people could learn more about the Depression when they're in school, they could be better informed citizens and avoid another one.

During the good times, nobody thinks the Great Depression is relevant.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 9:07 AM

GL, I got to meet Richard Peck at an ALA conference one year. He told me that Grandma Dowdel will dance on his grave. She isn't really like his own grandma, he said. (but sort of) Can you imagine being such a clever and funny grandma? Did you just hoot when she fired the gun at Shotgun Cheetham? The kids really have fun with that--learn a lesson about country burial customs, also. Mary Alice is Grandma's teen companion in "A Year Down Yonder." It is good, too.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 9:45 AM

gl, I remember growing up near the railroad tracks in Pemiscot county in the 30's many hoboes would make their way to our door and there would be some food to share. No money ever, but just a bite to eat.

-- Posted by changedname on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 9:46 AM

dexterite, In the book we've mentioned, the drifters (hobos) marked the gates of houses where it was likely a meal would be offered. If a gate had no notches--no need to stop. These were men headed for California, where there were jobs rumored to be available. Many left families behind to search for a job, with hopes to send money back. I'm sure you remember those stories, too. Let's hope and pray that we will be saved from such severe deprivation again. Lots of folks today have no idea how to scrimp or do without. I was never hungry growing up, but we didn't have money to burn. We had a good, loving home--and nothing else mattered. That was in the 50's and 60's. Many others would say the same thing, I imagine. SEMO was a great place to grow up then.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 11:14 AM

I remember many times mom would say for supper tonight we're having beans and taters and tomorrow night it would be taters and beans. Always had biscuits and gravy, that made the taters go further. We survived, don't know how folks would handle it these days.

I hear there are increased stealing and burglaries around Dexter, be wary of your surroundings. It's a real shame, no one is respected any longer.

-- Posted by changedname on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 12:09 PM

My grandma must have had a mark on her gate, because the hobos always stopped. She was a widow with 8 children, but she always managed to find something for the drifters to eat. Before her husband died, they had a grocery store, and one thing they had lots of was pudding mix in big wooden barrels. The hobos ate lots of pudding, I think.

Grandma wasn't quite as fearsome as Grandma Dowdel in the book, but she was hardy, and she cared about people. She would go tend the sick and never worried about "catching" whatever they had.

I finished "A Long Way from Chicago" this afternoon, and it was WONDERFUL! I must get the sequel!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 8:35 PM

"It's a Wonderful Life" is on Channel 6 tonight. That movie will have new relevance in these hard economic times!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 8:45 PM

I just thought of a cute movie about the Depression: It's called "Kit Kitteredge: An American Girl." I say "cute," because there are so many cute characters in it, and it has an overall warm feeling about it.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 8:59 PM

My grandma was the same as yours--she never let anyone go hungry. There was always something, no matter who you were. She also took care of sick folks, sat up with mothers delivering babies, and never expected anything in return. Not too many people are so caring anymore. We are all too busy, just too busy.

GL, I knew you'd want to read the next book. You'll enjoy it, too. Did you see what I meant about "Train Time"? I'm tearing up just thinking about how much love shone for her grandson, as he passed through that small town-- split in two by the train. I could go on and on, but I won't. Maybe some others might still want to read it.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sat, Dec 13, 2008, at 9:49 PM

Yes, I cried at that point in the book, too. When you first mentioned it on the blogs, I was afraid taht it would be the chapter in which Grandma died. I'm glad that wasn't the case!

I plan to buy another copy of the book to donate to our local library, and then I'll have this one to loan out to friends & family! I may even buy some for Christmas presents!

I wish I'd known about it while I was still teaching.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Dec 14, 2008, at 10:03 AM

GL--I just knew you'd like the book! You'll like "A Year Down Yonder", too. I sure wish I could write like that! I've had kids who "hate to read" become readers after finding out what fun it can be. The audio set is very well done, if you know someone who needs an audio book.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sun, Dec 14, 2008, at 12:24 PM

One of the things I discovered in dealing with non-readers was that they didn't seem to have developed "voices" in their heads for the characters. If I had several good readers in class, I could assign the lines, as if it were a play script, and we could read some of the book out loud. That seemed to help.

If all they "hear" in their head is a dull monotone, of course the book isn't going to be interesting!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Dec 14, 2008, at 4:55 PM

So right! I use audio tapes quite a bit. Textbooks can be downloaded to students'ipods and computers next year. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. Will they still read them? Let their computers read it for them? I can't quite imagine students wanting their textbooks on their ipods. I think I may have laughed when the sales rep so proudly informed us of the new capabilities.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sun, Dec 14, 2008, at 5:32 PM

I can also recognize a fence post and understand a little bit about the fencing also.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Sun, Dec 14, 2008, at 11:52 PM

Good question about the audio books, gn. Have you done any research to see if they're considered effective?

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Dec 15, 2008, at 8:12 AM

Yes, research supports seeing and hearing the words simultaneously. Poor readers aren't left behind, and good readers often benefit, as well. Dr. Janet Allen, one of the world's most highly respected literacy professionals, recommends it. (If she says it, I'll do it! I've had the opportunity to train with her several times. She is just the best and most motivating literacy advocate ever! She has published several books that all teacher should have.) Most textbook companies are now providing audio materials, and now it is accessible by home computers or even their ipods. Fast readers often read ahead, and that's fine too. Times have changed from the old film strips and LP records that skipped and had so much static. We thought those were advanced--ha! You might want to check janetallen.org. She has reading lists and all kinds of neat things there.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Dec 15, 2008, at 10:16 AM

Ah, I don't need these materials, anymore, gn. I'm retired from the classroom. I'm just interested in the subject. Once a teacher, always a teacher!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Dec 15, 2008, at 4:56 PM

I might get to retire before I die. What I do now is mahhvelous, but I have to go back full-time next year. It doesn't pay worth a hoot! I job-share, in case you've ever wondered why I can email at odd times of the day. I'm not really playing on the computer while my classes run havoc! I was going to have to take a year's medical leave to avoid exhaustion leading to possible death. Really, the job was literally killing me...but another teacher and I convinced the school board to let us split a unit. He teaches one day; I teach the next. I am never burned-out, but I still work every day grading papers or planning. I just don't have to work as often at night. We don't even have to share our kids, since we are on an alternating day schedule. I've often thought you might think I'm writing with students underfoot. NOPE! I'm home on those days. Anyway, retirement would be wonderful if I could still pay the bills. That gets harder and harder for every one of us--so back to the topic of the Depression. Folks need to find ways to stay alive and still beat the bill collectors!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Dec 15, 2008, at 6:19 PM

Personally I never wanted to be a teacher but have so many fond memories of the wonderful people who helped shape my mind. I have always had a love of English, Literature, History and even Math, science was my nemesis as I had to work so much harder to get decent grades. I so appreciate the people who dedicate their lives to helping others learn and achieve their goals. My hat is off to each and every one of the teachers past and present who still have that desire to take on the daunting task of molding young minds.


-- Posted by SKDellinger on Mon, Dec 15, 2008, at 9:08 PM

Dellinger, that's sweet of you! Thanks from all the teachers out there!

Gonenow, I sure hate to see you go back full time, if you were that close to exhaustion before this job-share. If I could have done the job-share, I would probably still be teaching now. Bad things can happen when you're stretched so thinly over so many years. A summer off is nothing, when you're that worn out.

I didn't think I could afford to retire, either, so I hung on too long. You need to bite the bullet and quit while you're ahead. I'd have saved myself a lot of heartache if I had done that.

Of course, it depends on a lot of factors: your age, the number of years you have in retirement, your health, your home conditions (house payments, car payments, spouse's situation). Fortunately, my husband and I sold part of our farm to pay off the house loan before he died, and that's been a blessing. I'd be in dire straits if I had a house payment!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Dec 16, 2008, at 9:26 AM

SKDellenger, Thank you for the support of our children's teachers. I would like to hear from more people with positive input about them.

-- Posted by mythought on Tue, Dec 16, 2008, at 11:16 AM

Thanks to all of you who appreciate your former teachers, and the teachers of your children.

I wanted to say how much I've enjoyed this topic, though we sort of strayed from time to time.

GL, I have a few more years before I can actually draw my retirement, so I have to tough it out. I don't mind it at all while the kids are there--it's the after the bell details that get to me. You know, summer is not really that long anymore either. We have 7-8 weeks off, but we are required to do some in-services etc. We also use that time to preview new materials, freshen plans, organize materials etc. YOU know that, but some folks think we're floating down the river on a boat or traveling to our hearts to content. I haven't figured out how to do that. It is nice to sleep past 5:30 and to sit and listen to the frogs at night, instead of working several nights a week on school duties. SO, I do really love those few weeks. They make it possible to face the next year with a smile! I appreciate your advice, and I wish I could take it. I have taught in this state 18 years, and I taught 4 in Missouri, which didn't transfer. I started after my own children were in school, so the years added slower than for those who taught right after graduation. I'll just keep trying to find new ways to grab those children's attention long enough to teach them something.

Keep writing these fun columns. We've had fun!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Tue, Dec 16, 2008, at 7:37 PM

Yes, this has been a good column.

I lost a total of ten years by state-hopping, and several more by staying home with one child, waiting to have another.

One of the things I love the most about retirement is Sunday nights. It is soooo nice not to have last minute homework to do for Monday. I also love Monday mornings. With my current job, I don't have to leave the house as early as I did when I taught. And there's so much less stress, knowing I don't have to get up in front of 25 kids the next day.

As long as the pleasures outweigh the hardships, keep teaching. I had a friend who taught 35 years, and when she retired, the doctors found cancer. She didn't last long. It was a shame, but she did what she loved all her life.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Dec 16, 2008, at 10:00 PM

I've had a few friends who taught until retirement, then died as soon as they left. (Several didn't quite make it.) I tell my kids to choose a profession that they will be proud of, and that will make the world a better place for their having been here. I do feel we will have achieved that at the end of our days.

My favorite day at home is Monday, too. It makes Sunday so much better! I don't have to grade papers or iron clothes. I can actually enjoy Sunday again. I work two days one week, then three the next. Having to work Fridays is nothing--having to work Monday makes all the difference in my "emotional well-being" on a Sunday afternoon. I really wonder if I can do it full-time again, since I've learned to work some every day--even though I'm not paid for it. It makes living a little easier. This is a wonderful way to teach, if I could just afford to continue. I'm a better teacher for it, too--lots of reasons why!!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Wed, Dec 17, 2008, at 5:33 PM

Yesterday I watched Will Smith on Oprah and was so touched by his philosophy that everyone should do something to make the world better for others.

Even if a person's job isn't as altruistic as teaching, social work, or preaching, they can volunteer in the community to make the world better and do something they can be proud of.

I feel that teaching was the only choice for me - It was as natural as breathing. I started my career at age 4, when my first brother was born! (He's not the fence-post!)

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 6:56 AM

The holiday season is upon us and the wife and I have a short list (actually the list is longer than my arm) of last minute things to take care of before family starts coming in. I won't be posting for a little while so I would like to wish all of you and your's A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A FANTASTIC NEW YEAR!!!!

-- Posted by mythought on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 10:02 AM

Happy and prosperous shopping, mythought! See you on the other side!!

I can keep going until Christmas (while my house waits to be cleaned and the cooking doesn't get done...)

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Dec 19, 2008, at 8:06 AM

The irony of the picture from 1936 is that it is known the Great Depression would have been over by then if Hoover and Roosevelt had not instituted policies that not only hindered economic recovery, but made the situation much worse. Economist Murray Rothbard documents in his book, "America's Great Depression" (1963), that "New Deal" policies to stimulate the economy began under Hoover, and were continued and in some cases expanded by Roosevelt. Contrary to popular myth, Hoover was far from a "free market" supporter, and in fact implemented massive federal government intervention into the economy. Rothbard wrote that in 1929 Hoover embarked on, "the "Hoover New Deal." For if we define "New Deal" as an anti-depression program marked by extensive governmental economic planning and intervention -- including bolstering of wage rates and prices, expansion of credit, propping up of weak firms, and increased government spending (e.g., subsidies to unemployment and public works) -- Herbert Clark Hoover must be considered the founder of the New Deal in America."

Also contrary to the myth people are taught in school, the "New Deal" policies of Roosevelt (and Hoover) didn't end the "Great Depression" -- but dramatically exacerbated 1929's economic downturn that otherwise would have run its course. In 2004 two economic professors published an article in a Univ. of Chicago journal that documented Roosevelt's New Deal policies caused the depression to last at least an extra seven years from when it ended in 1943.

In their article based on four years of research, "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression," the authors found that the country's recovery from the 1929 economic downturn would have been very rapid if the government had not intervened. In a 2004 interview about the study, co-author UCLA Professor Harold L. Cole commented, "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies." See, http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/FDR...

The professors determined that the Great Depression would have ended in 1936 -- three years after Roosevelt took office if he had not supported and in some cases expanded Hoover's "New Deal" regulatory and stimulus policies. (Keep in mind the Social Security Act was not a "New Deal" policy ostensibly intended to end the depression.) In other words, if in 1929 Hoover had not greatly worsened the economic downturn by attempting to prop-up and stimulate the economy, the depression would have likely run its course and been over by the time of the 1932 election -- when Hoover would have easily won reelection. The U.S. and the rest of the world would have thus been spared FDR and the economic devastation wrought in the U.S. and other countries by his "New Deal" policies. People wax poetically about the WPA and the CCC, but in reality they contributed nothing to the country's economic recovery. A good book about the negative effects of Roosevelt's policies is Jim Powell's, "FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression." (2003)

Intertwined in the popular myths of FDR's "war" against the Great Depression when he actively worsened and prolonged it -- are the myths of FDR and WWII. No less an authority than Adolf Hitler accused FDR of trying to instigate a war in Europe as a way to stimulate the U.S. economy. In fact, the U.S. corporations were right in the thick of aiding England, France and Germany build up their war machines in the 1930s, and the U.S. government provided war munitions to England prior to Pearl Harbor. With Roosevelt turning a blind-eye to enforcement of the Trading with the Enemy Act, U.S. corporations continued to do business with Germany through the war. See e.g., "Trading With The Enemy," by Charles Higham (1995).

The Great Depression was a tragedy manufactured by the federal government's intervention -- and yet the Feds are now making the same errors in response to the current situation. Just as Roosevelt continued and expanded Hoover's disastrous "New Deal" policies, every proposal yet made by Obama and his associates is virtually guaranteed to make the economic situation worse than Bush's interventionů and perhaps catastrophically worse.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Dec 30, 2008, at 6:59 PM

Nobody's buying it, FJ.

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Jan 1, 2009, at 4:55 PM

Too much info gl.

-- Posted by changedname on Fri, Jan 2, 2009, at 6:12 AM

Dexterite, the short version is that the "New Deal" stimulus and regulatory policies of first Hoover, and then Roosevelt, turned the economic downturn of 1929 into The Great Depression and caused it to last at least ten years longer than it would have without their policies and federal government intervention. There had been many serious economic downturns prior to 1929 -- but they were allowed to run their natural course and the economy soon rebounded. Roosevelt was unquestionably one of the two worst presidents and he caused unnecessary misery and incalculable suffering to tens of millions of Americans. An excellent book that tells the true story of how corrupt Roosevelt and his administration was is, "The Roosevelt Myth" by John T. Flynn. The book was a New York Times bestseller when published in 1948, and it is still in print 60 years later. It was only after I left school that I was able to deprogram myself from the fabricated history students are taught about Roosevelt and his presidency. Albert Jay Nock described Roosevelt's death as "the biggest public improvement that America has experienced since the passage of the Bill of Rights."

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sat, Jan 3, 2009, at 6:23 PM

FJ, Have you spoken to any of our honorable survivors of that era? How many of them think Roosevelt is one of the worst presidents? We all know who you think is number one--and I don't think you have a basketful of supporters there either. HOOVER--Yes! He was not so good for our country. I have scrapbooks filled with the news clippings of that era. I'm thankful my ancestors preserved the way it really was to have lived then.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sat, Jan 3, 2009, at 9:19 PM

FJ, wash your mouth out with soap!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Jan 4, 2009, at 5:04 PM

I was born in 1931, we needed a great person like Roosevelt to lead our country at that time and he did so magnificently. You young fouls have no idea about the real world and tough times.

Shame on you for not recognizing the situation, writers may write anything, but it is only their opinion.

-- Posted by changedname on Mon, Jan 5, 2009, at 6:20 AM

Roosevelt brought back a chance to rebuild. How can anyone NOT recognize his excellence in halting the downward spiral of our country? I've read a lot about that time, and I've listened to the stories of my parents and grandparents. None of them had a negative comment about FDR!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Jan 5, 2009, at 7:53 AM

My Dad and Mom were married in 1932. My Dad told me that Roosevelt's policies helped put food on thier table and gave my dad work experience that helped him to obtain better jobs later on.

-- Posted by mythought on Mon, Jan 5, 2009, at 8:47 AM

My dad worked for WPA, about a dollar a day and every night he brought home a loaf of bread, that was really needed, we didnt know poverty, it was everyone in the same situation, I never heard an unkind word towards the president.

-- Posted by changedname on Mon, Jan 5, 2009, at 10:11 AM

I did not live through the depression, I was one of two of my parents children born later in their life.

-- Posted by mythought on Mon, Jan 5, 2009, at 1:31 PM

For those of us whose parents lived through the Depression, the era has taken on the form of legend - and FDR towers above it all as the savior of the nation!

I'm sure there may be elements of the New Deal which had some negative effects, but, overall, it seems a little silly to say that everything would have worked out okay if FDR hadn't taken the approach that he did.

I've noticed that writers like John T. Flynn and Jim Powell - as well as Libertarians like my brother - love to talk endlessly about what should be done in a situation like the Depression, but that's all it is - talk. If they actually had the POWER to put their cockeyed beliefs into action, they would have us in such a mess that we'd never be able to dig our way out!

To them, it's all an intellectual game. You don't play chess with people's lives!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jan 6, 2009, at 9:12 AM

FJ, you're saying that the government "manufactured" the Depression, right? So did the government manufacture the Dust Bowl and subsequent crop failures?

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jan 6, 2009, at 9:19 AM

FJ, There will always be extremists, but that doesn't mean they are right. I dismissed any credibility when you quoted Nock as stating that FDR's death was "the greatest improvement". Life, and loss of life, should not be so lightly cast--not even to please a biased author.

Reality is revealed through those who lived during that time, as well as scholars who try to remain unbiased. If you can so easily dismiss the teachings of your school years as indoctrination, do you mean to say that your teachers were all simply puppets who could not think for themselves?

I was angry before, but now I'm laughing again. I am so thankful that I can think for myself, and that I can also recognize fact from fantasy.

Goat Lady, I'm with you all the way! You go, girl! (oops--is that on overused expression? It just fits!)

-- Posted by GONENOW on Tue, Jan 6, 2009, at 9:47 AM

Gonenow, you stated it very well. Thanks for this post, I appreciate 'thoughtful thinking'...

-- Posted by changedname on Tue, Jan 6, 2009, at 1:40 PM

I think "you go, girl" is a perfectly acceptable form of English! By the way, you hardly know the irony of your last posting!! I shall not reveal the secret, however!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jan 6, 2009, at 9:54 PM

Ironic, huh? I'd guess something about a career... You just wanted me to be the one who had to guess something, didn't you?

-- Posted by GONENOW on Wed, Jan 7, 2009, at 4:24 PM

Yeah, turn about's fair play!! Hahaha!

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 11:19 AM

Since irony is one of my favorite literary terms to teach, I'll keep trying. GL, I'll never give up--and you shouldn't either. Ha!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 2:09 PM

Oho! Irony is MY favorite topic to teach, too!! HaHa! Do you believe that there are certain people who are incapable of ever understanding irony??

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Jan 8, 2009, at 9:48 PM

Yes, ironically, I do.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Fri, Jan 9, 2009, at 3:10 PM

AAAHHHHHHH and isn't this "ironic" I have just left a 'blog' where I read insightful notes on the condition of the english language to find two of my favorite writers here saying things like YOU GO GIRL hahaha i agree You Go Girl has it's moments

-- Posted by Big Papa on Tue, Jan 13, 2009, at 1:27 PM

My grandparents lived outside of Morehouse for ooh so many years and being sharecroppers we all were touched by " the way things were" outhouses, truck patches,smoke houses, coops, and pitcher pumps were a way of life and I can also remember being told by several relatives about how many times they had to pull my lazy behind on their cottonsack, about my first attempt at "choppin' cotton" and the 1st time at picking( needless to say don't tell a 3 & 4 yr old to Chop anything you don't actually want gone LOL)

It was a different way of life one I still remember fondly ( hhmmm come to think of it my grampa got away with out paying me for that floursack of cotton I picked........)

-- Posted by Big Papa on Tue, Jan 13, 2009, at 1:37 PM

OHHH!!! I'm so glad I checked this blog!!! Not only do we have a new voice added to our Depression blog, but he's from Morehouse!! Well, now, I just happened to have a rather special interest in that town, though I won't divulge how!

Suffice it to say that I have heard MANY, MANY stories about that once-thriving and now practically deserted little town! Progress is not always pleasant, is it?

And "You go, Girl!" is a pet peeve, is it?? Hehe!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 9:49 AM

I never had to pick cotton, but I heard about it from my two sisters. They are in their seventies now and and still quite the hard workers

-- Posted by mythought on Fri, Jan 16, 2009, at 8:49 AM

Ah, the ones who lived through the Depression and the cotton-picking days speak of it so LOVINGLY that it makes us youngsters wish we'd been there!!

I feel DEPRIVED because I never had to go through all that deprivation!!! :)

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Jan 17, 2009, at 3:50 PM

Gonenow and GL, at the end of the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a grizzled newspaper editor tells an aspiring reporter after they've heard the truth about a revered man (played by James Stewart), "If you are forced to print the truth or the myth, you always print the myth."

So it is with Franklin D. Roosevelt. Kids read the myth, not the truth about FDR in school history books. Among Roosevelt's despicable actions that aren't taught are:

* He secretly declared economic and diplomatic war on Japan in an effort to "strangle" Japan to the point that they would be provoked to militarily react against the U.S.' aggression. The only "surprise" about Pearl Harbor to Roosevelt and his associates was that it took Japan so long to attack the U.S. Roosevelt's fevered efforts to involve the U.S. in the European war have been amply documented. Accused during the 1940 presidential campaign of trying to entangle the U.S. in foreign wars, Roosevelt blatantly lied to the American people two days before the election, "The first purpose of our foreign policy is to keep our country out of war."

* He authorized the military's imprisonment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans in concentration camps without a single one of them being charged with any crime and knowing they posed no threat to national security. Released government documents show that the military knew the Japanese would not attack the U.S. mainland and that Japan's military capabilities were stretched to the max just to launch the mostly symbolic attack on Pearl Harbor.

* He permitted selective enforcement of the Trading with the Enemies Act against U.S. corporations that continued to engage in commerce with the Nazis after the U.S. declared war on Germany. War is very good for business ... especially when you can work both sides of the street.

* He aided the Nazis in their policy of transporting Gypsies, Jews, dissident Germans and others to slave labor camps where war munitions were produced or to outright death camps. At the latest Roosevelt knew by February 1942 that the Nazis were systematically transporting people to camps, and to the consternation of top people in his administration he refused to do anything to stop it. Adolf Eichmann was the German bureaucrat in charge of coordinating the rail transportation of war munitions, people to camps, etc. In 1962 he was convicted of "crimes against humanity" and executed by the Israelis. But Eichmann could not have done his job without Roosevelt's assistance, because Roosevelt refused to order destruction of the rail lines vital to Germany's transportation system.

Roosevelt rates as one of the top three worst presidents without even considering his agreement with Stalin to a division of Europe that resulted in the "Cold War" with the USSR, or considering his disastrous domestic policies.

Roosevelt is only venerated because so little is taught in school about the truth of what he did and the harm he caused, and the worship mantra is repeated in newspaper, on television, etc. But people in all countries seem to put their monsters on pedestals. I recently met a man who emigrated to the U.S. from Germany in the 1960s. He thinks Hitler was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and would want to return if a Hitler like figure rose to power again. Likewise, many millions of Russians long for a return to the "good ole days" of Stalin.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sun, Jan 18, 2009, at 5:10 PM


-- Posted by changedname on Sun, Jan 18, 2009, at 6:42 PM

Well, that's fascinating information, for sure, FJ. I knew about some of it - at least the Japanese concentration camps.

I hadn't read about Roosevelt's refusal to bomb Hitler's railroads.

Still, I'm afraid that I persist in the foolish notion that Roosevelt was the right man to bring us out of the Depression - despite your evidence to the contrary.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Jan 18, 2009, at 6:50 PM

Oh, dexterite! We posted together, I see! That's a good point: Who DOES do the ratings, FJ? Or are you reluctant to tell us that?????

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Jan 18, 2009, at 6:52 PM

FJ, I appreciate your researched and well-written account, though I think your resources are biased. I prefer to believe the words of people I know who actually lived through that difficult era. Honesty is foremost in my family, so I doubt they fabricated the stories and lessons of life they recounted, nor did thousands more folks.

I am aware of the concentration compounds for Japanese-Americans. It was an unfortunate error, but I'm sure it was made to assuage the fears of many Americans. It also may have saved the lives of many Japanese immigrants, who might have been killed by citizens who feared those they did not understand.

I do appreciate your response, but I don't buy it. You don't have to buy mine either, so we're even.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Jan 19, 2009, at 11:15 AM

I agree with GONENOW. I tend to believe what my parents and grandparents said about that time in history.

-- Posted by mythought on Mon, Jan 19, 2009, at 11:56 AM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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