We never had any money when I was young in Ohio, but nobody was jumping out of windows or selling apples in our town. We always thought life was about making do and working hard for very little. My parents told me a little about the Depression, about how my mother’s family moved into my grandfather’s small hotel for a short time, about how my father who kept his job through it all selling furniture and mattresses could pay his bills. They didn’t explain the Depression as an unusual and desperate heartbreaking experience, a story with a moral to pass on. Nothing they told me impressed me as a different life than what I was living.
I was lucky as a child to live in a pretty little town surrounded by a large fairytale forest. My father created a garden around our little house by transplanting wild flowers from the forest and people drove long distances to see his masterpiece. So I didn’t see life as a very small house with a very small bathroom; I saw it as living in a famous wildflower garden. My parents worked hard but everybody’s parents worked hard in my slice of Ohio – I didn’t feel poorer than anyone else, I didn’t know anybody who had a big house with two bathrooms. As I grew up the Depression appeared to me in books and theater and movies – distanced.
However, when I was older I learned that my parents had ben deeply frightened by the Depression and the impact it had on people’s lives and relationships – and its threat to us. They just saw no point in upsetting their child and unwittingly they may have contributed to my courage or craziness in financial dealings.
I am very concerned about today’s financial world, but not so much in its possible threat to my children, or our friends and me. It is the precipice overlooking how little we know that has been revealed that is my Depression.