So much about life in the Great Depression years of the 1930s ,growing up on a farm in Northeast Georgia centered around, growing things, creating things, conserving and preserving things, learning things, doing things and appreciating things.


Quite different from today living in a throwaway society, with so much available, we do not have to be concerned with growing things, preserving things, creating things, nor doing things. So much is just there for us. There are replacements available if we decide to throw things in the garbage.


If it’s cold we flip a switch for heat, if it’s hot we flip another switch. We turn a knob or push a button to cook, take a bath, wash clothes, listen to music or hear the news. What a wonderful period of time we live in today. And have a computer to communicate around the world, 24-7.


But back in the 1930s we had to work more for the things we had, I went to school, after school, I had chores to do. Draw water from the well, tote water from the spring, Bring in firewood for fireplace and cook stove. Because I was the oldest child, it was my job to take care of a younger sister and two brothers when my parents had work to do.


I was never allowed to cook because my mother was so frugal; she thought I might waste food learning to cook. And oh how I wanted to cook. Growing up on a farm never learned to cook or how to milk a cow.


So much about life back then revolved around seasons of the year. There was a time to plant, a time to harvest, a time to prepare for the winter and a time to prepare for each season. An almanac always hung in the kitchen, and used religiously as a guide for the time to perform certain work. It was a guide when to plant certain things, when to harvest, when to kill hogs. For example if one fried bacon and it curled up and not easy to fry out flat, that was an indication the hog was slaughtered the wrong time of the moon.



Much about everyday living was guided by Universal laws Seasons for doing certain things were guided by the zodiac signs in the almanac. For example the cane was harvested to cook sorghum when the sap was rising or the sap was going down. I do not recall which.


Mondays were wash days for clothes. Water was drawn and the clothes were boiled in large black pots. The purpose for boiling clothes was not only to help clean, but to sterilize and kill germs in clothes we wore and bed clothes.


Tuesdays were ironing days. Wednesdays were house cleaning days. All the floors were made of pine.  No carpeting but throw rugs were used. The floors were scrubbed with homemade lye soap, using corn-shuck mops. A piece of wood about twelve inches long with holes bored in it to pull dried corn husks through, attached to a wooden handle was the mop for scrubbing floors.



Cotton crops were king. Aside from time work and attention on growing food, much time was devoted to growing cotton. The fields were prepared for planting by hand plowing with mules. The seeds were planted in rows and carefully nurtured by hand hoeing to remove grass around the young stalks. Once the cotton stalks grew to a certain stage and had young green bolls of cotton, the main threat was boll weevils, a worm that entered the boll and ruined the cotton. Therefore the crops had to be poisoned to kill the invader. This was done by placing the white powder poison in a thin cotton bag and spread on each stalk by human hands shaking the powder onto the stalk. This was a time consuming, tedious job.


Once the cotton reached maturity, it was picked by hand, and then taken in wagons to a cotton gin, where the seeds were removed and baled into large bales of cotton to be sold in the fall of the year. Cotton was the cash crop. It was cash from the cotton, farmers had to manage to live on and pay for supplies for the next year. Until the next fall


There were some tough times.  But everyone managed by, families, and communities working together. We looked out for each other. Children attended school, and then had chores to do after school and during summer months. There was a structure and discipline in life during those years. Most people were honest, hard-working responsible and respectful of others, the rights and property of other individuals.


Most lived their lives according to fundamental Principles of morality. I personally knew of no one who lived off any government welfare programs. The closest thing to it was the CCC program implemented by President Roosevelt and that was a program where people worked on government projects and paid a small salary. As I recall I had an uncle who worked a short time, towards the latter years of the depression in one of those CC camps.


Now we are in a recession, and talk of another depression around the corner. This is what prompts me to write about those years I lived through.








The Freedom Lady





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0 Responses to Living Through the Great Depression – Part Three (Issue 186)

  1. Ken says:

    Thanks Anne, from another Georgian! I really enjoyed reading your wisdom!