The City Girl and the Great Depression

The remembrance continues…
Mother was a "city girl", living in the county seat of Burlington, Iowa, a Mississippi River town.  I don't know the population back then, but as of 2000 the population was 26,000.  The town 5 miles from Dad's farm had a population of 1,464 at the same census.  That's a big difference!

The Great Depression didn't "sneak up" on them in 1929.  At least, Great Grandfather Zart, her father's father, was very aware of the impending monetary crisis.  He spread his money out among 3 banks (remember, there was no FDIC to guarantee your deposit – that came after, as a result of the crash).  Mom also said he bought up a lot of coffee (think commodity) and stocked his basement as a hedge.  All the preparations were for naught:  all 3 banks failed.  However, they did have coffee to drink for the duration! 

The Zart homes were not lost, but lifestyles changed.  Grandmother (I called her Mom Addah) took a job as a grocery clerk.  Mother tagged along, and told a story of getting in trouble by fooling around with a mop and pail someone had left mid-mopping.  Mother spilled it, and Mom Addah slipped in it, breaking her collarbone. 

I grew up in the 1950's child of these parents who gave us all they could, but never made a financial decision without looking back over their shoulder at the depression.  I was well fitted to "make do" as my DH went through graduate school.  The hardest part for me was to actually spend any money without guilt,  once he was out of school and a success.  Every news story today brings all the cautions of the past back.  As Bette Davis said in All About Eve, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night."

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