If you listen to members of the "Greatest Generation," those surviving the Great Depression and beyond, you hear stories of hunger, unemployment, desperation, sacrifice, and austerity. It was a point in our history when the middle class hit rock bottom. If you talk to people from this era though, they will also describe a time when the family pulled together and worked unselfishly to make ends meet. Families maintained vegetable gardens, canned fruit, raised chickens and rabbits, sewed and knitted, put cardboard in shoes to extend their life, walked to school, turned the heat down during the winter, and wasted nothing. Children sold newspapers and ran errands, some quit school prematurely in order to work to support the family, men sold apples, bottles were saved for their deposits, and everyone understood the value of a mere penny. To illustrate, when I was in Junior High School in Chicago, back in the 1960's, I remember an incident whereby my family was going out for dinner. My father was driving, and we had just left our driveway when my brother discovered four pennies in his pocket. Thinking the coins were nothing but junk, he rolled down his window and threw the pennies out into the street. When my father saw this in his rear view mirror, he slammed on the brakes, and barked at my brother to get out of the car and pick up every penny he had thrown out. Yes, my father, who grew up in the 1930's, understood the value of a penny, a lesson he taught not only my brother, but myself.
Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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