They were my family.
In the past four years we have been immersed in news stories and reports about how depressed it has been in the good old USA. How ever did we make it this far?
I was born in the depths of the great Depression. My father worked 20 hours per week at a rate of 35 cents per hour at the local sawmill, and was glad to get it. Yes, gasoline was 19 cents and bread was a nickel. He and his brothers did anything else they could lay their hands upon, and actually found the resources to start investing in homes or acreage of their own.
The women in our family may have worked harder than the men.
My mother finished two years of high school. At the age of 14 years she had to care for my grandfather who had been injured in the logging industry. There was no industrial accident coverage. She cared for him and her youngest sibling, but in addition, took in ironing to earn a little cash. Twice each week she walked the several miles between where her father lived and the family who needed ironing lived.
Years later, still in the grip of the Depression, she and her sisters would make preparations for winter. They canned food. The men would borrow a truck, go to Salem's peach, apple, and pear orchards. They loaded their truck with the cheap culls. The women canned them in Kerr Mason jars, and we had delicious fruit with our winter meals. I helped by chopping the wood that burned in the old kitchen stove that heated the copper boilers in which the fruit was canned. We grew our own vegetables. Row after row of nutritious food filled our fruit room. And our old Jersey cow provided butter, cottage cheese, whole milk, and if we were lucky, a nice little veal in the spring. Eggs were sold, providing mom's kitchen money.
These were pioneer women.
I do not recall any of my family asking for charity or governmental help. There were no programs to help us anyhow. My family, like all men and women before us, took care of their family responsibilities. Yes, babies died at very early ages. Life was tough, but family and love were our rewards.
Then the second World War was declared. Money was suddenly available. Everything changed.
Now instead of fruit rooms we have shelves at Walmart complete with food stamps. More than 50 percent of our marriages end up in divorce. Instead of night jobs to pay tuition or loans or gifts from mom and dad, we have Pell Grants. We dare not trust God. And we are depressed.
Monte Fast, retired executive director of a local charity, now serves winters as Chaplain at The Palms RV Resort of Yuma, Ariz.