Not too long ago, I had the chance to sit down and talk with my grandmother and ask her about what it was like during The Great Depression. What she told me is something I would like to share.

My grandmother was in her late teens when The Great Depression hit. To add fuel to the fire, my great grandparents were anything but rich and had 5 kids to feed. They were a farming family from Michigan. Varying factors of weather and the depressed economy caused my great grandfather to give up the farm and take the family west to California in search of work. In 1930, there were no interstate highways. The going was tough. They had an old 1920's farming truck with wood planks as sides in the back. "We loaded it with the few things we had and headed west", my grandmother said showing me a picture of her and her family wearing worn and ripped clothing standing in front of the truck on a remote dusty road.

"It took us over a month of constant travel to go from Michigan to California. We were happy if the truck would only have 3 flat tires in one day. There was one day we had 17 flats", she said chuckling. "The roads were terrible. They were hard, dry dirt with wheel ruts. Sometimes you would get lucky and the road would be smooth enough to go 30 MPH".

"When we got to California, we found that there were no jobs at all. There was no work and lots of men looking for work. Dad was able to get odd jobs with some farms or local businesses, but nothing constant and pay was really poor. We barely had enough money to eat. Most of our meals were boiled cabage and some bread. Sometimes dad would be able bring home some fresh produce as part of his pay. It was really special when he would bring home sweet corn." she said kind of in a daze appearing to be thinking about those times.

Asking her about Christmas during that time was a real eye opener for me. "Each of the kids got an orange and one piece of candy.", she explained, "Oranges were very exclusive back then. They were something that you could only get during the summer, and were quite expensive. So, it was very special to have them at Christmas". I asked about the piece of candy. "I thought the candy was the most beautiful thing. It was covered with a sparkling coating of sugar that would just glisten in the light. I would lay in my bed and hold it up in the sunlight to watch the sparkles", she said as she mimicked holding a small object up to the light.

The fact that somebody would find such beauty in an object that most of us would never think twice about, left quite an impression on me. It made me think about what we have today and what life must have been like then. I spent the remaining time with her looking over the pictures that she had of that time. She showed me pictures of the places that she and her family had lived. They were old, run down 1 bedroom houses with no plumming. Basically buildings that look like they were left over from the 1849 California gold rush. Nobody in any of the pictures had much of anything in the way of possessions. Most of the younger children didn't have shoes. A lot of the pictures almost looked like the slums that you see in 3rd world countries.

I can't imagine what it was like. I grew up in a middle class family and I know I didn't have a whole lot compared to some of my friends, but when I look at what my grandmother had gone through, I just shake my head in awe.

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