A Depressing Letter

May 30, 2012
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
Flora DeLeon
158 Hanover Street
Gaston, North Carolina

March 7, 1935

Dear Flora,

By the time you get a hold of this letter on your 75th birthday in 2010, I hope and pray that God continues to watch over you. As my only child, who was born on this day when this letter was written, I would like to make sure that you have in your hands, the story of the many challenges that our family went through during this great depression that started on October 29, 1929, also known as Black Tuesday, which sent the world in the largest economic crash ever.

It was a time in America when the stock market crashed and banks closed. Our family's life savings were lost and we were left without money or a job. Our family waited in line for countless hours just for small amount of food. You may ask what caused all of this to happen. One of cause of the Great Depression was trickle down economics. This means that the more money you give rich people, the more money poor people will get because the rich person would start a company with the money and hire poor people to work it. What happened instead was that rich people either kept all the money given to them or they started a company and instead bought a bunch of machines to work instead of people. Either way, it didn’t work. The stock market speculation was the second cause of the Great Depression. This was when everyone wanted to have a part of the stock market but didn’t have the money to do so. So they borrowed the money and bought overpriced stocks that were really worth nothing. Our family lost all of our money. The people who lent us the money also lost, because all of their borrowers could not pay them back.

With borrowed money, our then president, Franklin D. Roosevelt began buying up mountain land across the ridges of Appalachia and began the Works Project Administration. My older brother (your uncle) was fortunate enough to get a job as a construction worker that helped build the Blue Ridge Parkway. He was getting paid one dollar per day. He brought me along to be his assistant. I felt so blessed to just be able to receive half of what he was making in order to buy our family some food to get through the day.

I struggled a lot in going to school every day. Even as a young father, I was determined to finish high school. It was a huge challenge to be in a one-room school with all 65 of us being handled by one teacher, Mrs. Smith, who is always stressed out and sick. I heard that her pay was cut significantly, and that the mill owners helped pay her wages. If you were to ask who my friends were at school, I loved hanging out with my African-American friends who, to this day, are experiencing the pains of being segregated in school buses and cafeterias. I loved hanging out with them at the vacant lot near the mills where my high school was located. Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, I had to quit school, to get a temporary job at the WPA with my brother.

As I write this letter, economics is dominating politics. We live in one of the shanty towns called "Hoovervilles", named after our president who felt that relief should be left to the private sector, and ended with a lot of federal programs funded by the national government. With very little spendable income, people had to look to inexpensive leisure activities. President Roosevelt promoted stamp collecting as a famous hobby. Board games became popular. People resort to more gambling as a result of seeking any means to add to their income. As for fashion, the simple print dress with a waist line and longer hem length replaced the flapper attire of the 1920's. The use of the zipper became wide spread for the first time because it was less expensive than the buttons and closures previously used. Vest sweaters were an alternative to the traditional matching vest of the three piece suit. Hats were mandatory for the well-dressed male.

By being aware how this depression took part in shaping our family values, I am hoping that our future generation will be inspired to rise above any situation. I believe that this is what every history is meant to be used. America should look back and learn from it. My wish is for your children, and your grandchildren to have the strength that you need to be able to brave any challenges that come your way.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback