by Katie Ouilette
Faithful readers, WALLS just looked down at the footstool in front of the chair that is placed at the window from which we can watch the birds at the bird feeder or from which we got a surprise the other day when a young deer appeared. Yes, the birdfeeder had a visitor. Then, another surprise came our way a few days later. We had a new visitor by way of a woodchuck! It was more interested in sleeping on a big rock that trims our backyard. Unfortunately, we have seen neither one since.
Well, WALLS, it is time to get back to the footstool. There was a headline about ‘How we see the poor’ and you read it, but I’m about to step into this discussion. You faithful readers know that I am now 87 years young, but, admittedly, I was a Depression baby, born in 1930. I guess people had already jumped out of their office windows in New York City when my birthdate came along, but, WALLS, I know what it was to live during those hard times, even as a growing baby. Now, we all read today about people in Maine getting older, but I’m now going to take you, faithful readers, back to the days of poor folks. Granted, some people are truly poor-in-spirit (even the rich folks, so to speak), but WALLS, tell folks about what poor meant during that era of Depression in the USA.
You’ve told faithful readers about living in a three-family house (grandparents, my mom and dad and me). And you’ve told about my mom’s working in the, then, selectmen’s office, in Skowhegan, and giving food orders to folks and their pay-back ten-cents at a time and grocers carrying ‘folks names on a tab,’ also waiting for payback.
But, WALLS, it is time to tell what you learned about poverty. Yes, you’ve already spoken about lots of money sometimes leading to depression, but in those days of The Depression, there was a town nurse. The schools had a doctor and health examination days. Insurance? Well, folks had life insurance and some of you faithful readers may remember the insurance man collecting 50 cents at your house every week. Kids worehand-me-downs and only the older kids got ‘new clothes’. Lunch at chool? Well, if you were lucky enough to be poor! Otherwise, school lunch happened to be what was put in your lunch bucket! Credit cards? WALLS, our faithful readers must to told there was no such thing for shopping and every day the word was “saving.” We wereurged to save, save, save our pennies, which were, in our house, kept in a jar. Yes, some of us did get a reward for ‘whatever’ was important to parents. Y’know, WALLS, I was rewarded for eating everything on my plate…scraping the plate clean! I learned so well, I still scrape my plate!
Well, faithful readers, there probably will be more about growing up during the Depression, but if anyone considers the family poor, it would be wise to think about those days of the 1930s and live with leftovers and without credit cards.
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