HARD TIMES: Tales of courage and desperation from the Depression and WWII.

BigDaddyLH

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Yep. In my home growing up, you'd be severely reprimanded for not eating what you put on your plate. To this day, even if I'm stuffed and really can't eat any more, I'll finish the plate though it might pain me to do so ;) I'm careful how much I put on my plate, but sometimes my eyes are bigger than my stomach... especially during the holidays LOL!!!

I think the NOOM web crawling algorithm just went "ping"!
 

David Barnett

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My parents were both born in Oklahoma in the 1920s, so there's gotta be some hard times to report.

My mom was in Muskogee and was sort of lower middle class. My dad had it much rougher, being from farther west. All his homes had dirt floors until he was 13 years old, his dad was killed in a wreck, and his mom moved to an apartment in town and worked in a laundry. WWII may be the best thing that ever happened to him, it got him the hell out of Oklahoma. Yeah, I guess I'm saying the ETO was a step up from Depression-era Oklahoma. And the GI bill when that was over.
 

Mechanic

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My dad was 4F due to asthma. He worked in machine shops during and after the war. My father in law got blown up on Dunkirk beach and spent the war as a German POW. Both of my parents were quite frugal as were the 1st wife’s parents. Dad told me all about rationing in relation to his hot rodding and cars through out the war. Dads 1st cars were 30s Fords or Chrysler product that were cobbled together for transportation. His 1st new car was the ‘55 F100 I drove in high school. Mom came from a farm in Salt Lake City. Did farming and sowing clothes for the family until she moved to SoCal to work in an accounting office.
Thanks to Mom and Dad for their examples to my sister and I.
Miss you Daddyo.
 

brindlepicker

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No real big desperation stories from my folks born in 1925.Dad was a stateside Navy WW2 vet.

I think of the young boys and babies( their siblings and also moms 2 nephews) that were lost on both sides of their family and Grandparents being able to carry the on.My grandparents were all born in the 1880’s, so they’d seen a lot.

They tried to make do on the farms with no electric and using horses.Dad’s last sister at 95 sent him a 93rd b-day card she wrote “we didn’t have much but we had each other.”

Dad swore his 1 arm was longer than the other from carrying water buckets.He and Grandpa were still grubbing land cross cutting native timber.He could leave a glass of water on the bed side , and it could have a skim of ice in the morning, or maybe a little snow would blow in his room.

He told me once he was spoiled cause he had to have an egg every morning. Said Grandma could’ve sold it with the rest for cash instead. I’m thankful for the parents I had.But it was tough times that influenced them.
 

buster poser

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Hey man, just FYI but your post came up completely blank??? At least it's blank on my end... Just wondering if it's a new feature with the upgrade, or if you forgot to put your comment in there or something, or is it me? ;)
Nah, I had a comment typed out but realized I'd probably mentioned my grandparents here previously and didn't want to blah-blah. Just edited it down to a dot :)
 

trev333

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I can't remember being in a room with any folks from that generation who mentioned anything about war or depression, as a young person...

we were never got threatened with... eat your dinner because we all starved through the blah blah blah...

though?..who knows what they talked about when we young uns weren't around?... ;)
 

David Barnett

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I can't remember being in a room with any folks from that generation who mentioned anything about war or depression, as a young person...

we were never got threatened with... eat your dinner because we all starved through the blah blah blah...

though?..who knows what they talked about when we young uns weren't around?... ;)

My folks never talked about the Depression or the War, even though they lived through both. What little I know about their experiences was picked up in dribs and drabs over years. They're not around now to check for accuracy.
 

Buckocaster51

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This may take a while…

My paternal grandfather’s first wife died in the 1918 influenza pandemic leaving him with three young daughters.

As was often the case among immigrants at that time he married her younger sister, my paternal grandmother.

That produced two children, my father born in 22 and my uncle born in 24.

My grandmother died in childbirth leaving my grandfather with 5 children under the age of 12.

Yikes!

This all took place in Racine WI. Somehow my grandfather had a connection with a brother / sister combination near Freeport IL. The three girls went to the married couple and the boys to the maiden sister who lived across the road,

Their childhood innocence ended at that time. The girls were basically indentured servants. The boys? I really don’t know how long they were boys.

I do know that my father was held back from attending school until my uncle was old enough to go as well.

They both left school at the end of the 8 th grade

I remember the lady that raised them. In the 60s she still had an outhouse. She fell, broke a hip, and was sent to the county home in the mid 60s.

That was a HORRIBLE place. Bad smells and lots of screaming and crying.

His sisters, and their children were in my life. But we saw them infrequently. The cousins on my fathers side were more prominent.

Vowing to NEVER walk. Behind a horse again, Dad got a job at the Burgess Battery Co (what’s black and white and red all over?) He stayed there until he got his draft notice.

Went to Italy with the 1st Armored Division. Learned to fix white haltracks, keeps the deuce and a halves running, work on jeeps and lead a 30 cal MG squad.

After the VE Day, he didn’t have enough points for discharge. He was scheduled to be deployed to the Pacific TO and invade Japan. ( He could have written Paul Fussel’s “Thank God for the Atomic Bomb”.

He came stateside in September 45 and married my mother. With his impressive resumè he and a fellow he knew (a former USN blimp crew member) bought a Hudson dealership that one of my mothers paternal uncles owned. They never sold Hudsons but did continue to sell Texaco gasoline and do mechanical work, oil changes, tires , shocks, batteries, exhaust systems, valve jobs. My mother was the bookkeeper.

They worked their tails off. 7-5 every day. Every other Saturday. Every 4th Sunday. They kept at it for 40 years.

When computers came to cars, they sold out and he began to drive limos and hearses for a local funeral home. He was ideal for that job. At that point in his life he knew everybody in town. Being a 32nd degree Mason helped with that

Somewhere along the line he took GED classes which allowed him to graduate from HS the same year as me. That was neat.

Never talked about the war too much. He did have a piece of shrapnel that his helmet stopped near the Po River. When my bother was in Germany while flying for USAFE they tracked down a couple of German soldiers that fought near the Po at the same time. I think that brought closure.
 

Novak

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My father’s father was a NYC fire fighter who died right after a fire. He had his brother lived in a bungalow on the Rockaway Peninsula. His mother was a firehouse matron to supplement her widow’s pension. They walked to and from school along the Long Island Railroad tracks gathering coal to heat the bungalow. Occasionally a fireman would throw a shovel full of coal alongside the tracks for them.

My dad was the model for Rambo. His Birthday was December 7. He enlisted in the USMC the Monday after graduating high school. He carried a Browning Automatic Rifle with two belts of ammo, and his pack, including trenching tools off of landing craft and up onto the beaches across the Pacific. He only talked about the actual fighting once, commenting that the Japanese wouldn’t surrender. The battle would be over and they’d run at him trying to be killed. Only the wounded were captured so at that point he tried to shoot their legs out from under them.

My father in law was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and got frostbite waiting for corpsmen to carry him off the battlefield. He refused to allow his feet to be amputated.
My grandfather was in the Army in Europe during WW2. He drove a truck supplying fuel to Patton's armored division in what was called the Red Ball Express. The Nazis corrrectly figured out that trucks were easier to stop than Sherman tanks. He had two trucks blown up under him and survived with minor injuries.
 

rarebreed

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My mother, whom I miss dearly has been gone for 19 years. I would give anything to see her smile and hear her voice just once more. Her side of the family was from the small river community of Utica,Indiana. Her father died when her and her siblings were young, and she, and her brothers and sister told me many times that they were so poor that for a while they lived in a tent on the banks of the Ohio river.
 

P-Nutz

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Dad was born in '14 and mom in '18. Dad and five brothers were itinerant farmers up and down the east coast, supplementing their income with playing barn dances. Mom's dad died in '21, and stepdad moved them to Canada on the Saskatchewan prairie to homestead. Dad was stationed in Amchitka in the Aleutians for communications during WWII, and mom saved everything as we were growing up, broke and poor. Dad worked in a factory until retirement, after doing other jobs. Yep, they worked hard and persevered ... however ...

I take some issue with saying this generation doesn't have the same work ethic. To do what? Work a fast food job for minimum wage or even $15/hour? Still can't buy a house (median price today - $350K) and barely rent an apartment. Cars new & used cost thousands. No loyalties anymore from employers, no health insurance and no full-time hours in the service industry. I worked UAW after HS for $8/hour, minimum wage was $2.35. That factory closed a long time ago.

Construction/trades are booming, but not everyone has that skill set. Go to college? I spent $2000/year room and board at a state school in the '80s. Now, $20K/year, and we chastise them for taking out loans. Prices have far surpassed incomes, and the jobs that pay well are dwindling, whether requiring education or not.

Places can't hire? No one wants to sell their souls to work multiple jobs with no future in them. I don't blame them. My current profession has become demonized, with more non-related functions added yearly, budget cuts constantly. I still love what I do, but am glad that retirement looms. Starting out in my biz today, where you must have a college degree, and usually a masters, most can't afford a house either, without getting a second job. And, we were just called "sinister" by a state representative ...

The "kids" today have work ethics, what they lack are opportunities worth having a work ethic for ... just my $.02, YMMV, blah, blah, blah (to quote Alex Lifeson).

*Mods-delete if this is/becomes political
 
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Mike Eskimo

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The greatest generation* - absolutely.

*though, if you took a time machine to back then and got five minutes into a conversation with 96% of them, they’d all seem wildly racist…🙄🤣 (take the good with the bad/everybody was that way/yadda yadda/whatever)
 
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RobRiggs

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My folks were both born in 1941 but over the years I’ve been privileged to befriend some members of the greatest generation. I remember eating lunch with Louie Morris. It was 1988. I was 21, he was 75. He ate an apple, core and all. All that was left was the seeds. I observed that I always just threw the core away. He said “well, young fella, I doubt you’ve ever been really hungry”. I learned a lot about life from Louie. He served in Europe 1942 to 1945.
 

Happy Enchilada

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Now for something completely different.

When my father in law passed, a local preacher who he'd never met spoke at graveside.
The preacher went on and on about how Stan had been a proud and brave member of the Greatest Generation.
He mentioned that he served in the Army.
After the service I told the preacher that Stan actually served in Germany during the last days of the Korean war as a quartermaster's clerk. And that he was in diapers during WWII.
Nobody ever mentioned this since.
 

schmee

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Neither of my parents spoke of much hardship during the war or depression. I wish so much I had been smart enough to ask more questions while they were alive.
Mom was born in 1927.
Dad was born in 1925.
I still have ration stamps in a little leather book from WW2 that were found in Mom's stuff after her death.

We are mainly a family of Marines during and since WW2. Dad joined in WW2 when he was too young. They kicked him out after they figured it out in a couple of months. Then he joined again when he was of age. He became a Marine Paratrooper. Never talked much about it. But I played with a bunch of his marine stuff when I was a kid. He even had the book/manual for the little 30 caliber automatic rifle they used back then. I read the whole thing! Dad was a Marine Corps boxer and according to Unk only beaten once. Dad had a rough upbringing, my Granddad was a Police Sargent for many years and a bit of a roughneck I think. Dad was the protector of his 4 siblings. He never spoke well of my Granddad.
His brother, my Uncle, was in the 4th wave on Iwo Jima. Uncle Skip was decorated and lived a long life. He died a few years back after being celebrated in WA DC.
 

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