Brother can you spare me a dime?
Feature editor Sophie Epps recently had a chance to compare life as a teen in 2017 with that of her Grandmother in the 1920's
January 3, 2018
An important opportunity
People today complain about not having the newest iPhone or enough Cheez-Its in the kitchen pantry, which are things we don’t necessarily need. However, we should be appreciative that we didn’t grow up in the Great Depression. This became abundantly clear to me once I had the chance to interview my Great Grandmother. Ever since the age of six, she has lived in the Cannon Falls area and she told me about her fascinating experience she encountered during the Great Depression.
As any child’s life should be, her life was simple. That was until the Great Crash came tumbling into the picture. At the young age of five, Adeline Hanson-Lindell’s world drastically changed. Even after 78 years of living through the most catastrophic stock market crashes in America, Adeline still reflects upon the daily struggles of living during the 1930’s. In the 21st century, people don’t understand how difficult the conditions were during the Great Depression. Our sluggish society constantly complains about the most absurd things even though there is so much to be thankful for.
“We had to walk two miles to school every day. We walked so much that we got holes at the bottom of our shoes. I remember wanting a new pair so much,” she recalls. Her parent’s small farm didn’t produce enough money, so Adeline wasn’t able to get new shoes that would have cost $1.00. As a substitute, she would put cardboard or heavy paper in her shoes to prevent blisters. With the help of her three older brothers and her sister, Gladys, Adeline would arrive at High Prairie’s one-room schoolhouse somehow without getting lost. They would crawl through jagged barbed wire and walk through meadows swarming with prickly burs just to get to school. There weren’t any school buses to transport children to and from school plus owning a car was unusual so walking was the only option. On the other hand, modern-day teenagers take for granted being able to driving everywhere. The convenience of driving is instantly ruined by the loss of their favorite parking spot because it is just too much energy to walk an extra couple of feet. In first grade, the teacher kept Adeline after school so she could improve her reading and writing. A squeamish feeling settled in the six year old’s stomach because she wasn’t sure if she could find her way back without her siblings. Fortunately, Adeline’s teacher escorted her part of the way home.
Adapting to hard times
Due to a virtually vanishing family income, Adeline and her six siblings didn’t have the privilege of expanding their education. After completing first through eighth grade at High Prairie, it was time for Adeline to help support her family. Today teenagers have the opportunity to continue their knowledge in college if they choose to. In present day, teenagers aren’t forced to have full-time job. They normally have a job for their own personal reasons such as saving for college or buying the newest fashion trend yet they still moan about having to work. Earning a measly 50 cents a week, the thirteen year old began her first full time job. While staying at the home of her employers, Adeline’s job consisted of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children. Although it took six weeks of earnings, she saved up enough money to buy her mother a $3.00 bedspread. One year later, Adeline upgraded to working on the Thrasher’s farm where she earned $2.50 every week. Aside from threshing straw bales and pulling weeds, her primary job on the farm was serving a total of four meals to the family. Forenoon lunch at 10 a.m. was followed by noon dinner and afternoon lunch that occurred around 3 p.m. Evening supper concluded the day and after each meal Adeline would also help wash the dishes. “I served each family member a little dish of strawberry sauce with poured cream from a pitcher,” she vividly relived. Four meals were served instead of three because the small amount that each person was allowed needed to be resourcefully eaten throughout the day. This also allowed for more time to sit down and eat with the family. Nowadays people are just ‘too busy’ to eat organic food with their family so they may often rely on fast food to fuel their bodies. We have a wealthy abundance of healthy food in this world which has caused Adeline to become such a food-pusher in her family since she never got enough during her childhood.
Becoming a performer
In her spare time, Adeline learned how to play the guitar from Elmer Ohnstad, Gladys’s boyfriend. With a guitar in hand, Adeline was unstoppable. Day and night she would study the chords until she became flawless. Due to many distractions, it is common for teenagers to lose interest in perfecting a talent or skill. ‘Whippersnappers’ in the 21st Century always feel the need to have some form of technology in their hands and it’s the ‘end of the world’ if the wifi is slow. We have been brainwashed into thinking that we don’t have to wait for anything. After awhile, Adeline and Elmer gathered enough people to start a band and began practicing at the Hanson household. The limited space wasn’t enough for the eight member band to practice so they relocated to East Side park. The band was soon discovered by local theater manager, Jerry Silver. Built as a “state of the art” theater by Jerry Silver in 1941, the Cannon Theater became one of the band’s biggest stages, seating over 230 people. Before closing in 1964, the “Scenic Valley Mountaineers” band was fortunate enough to play several times at the Cannon Theater. Throughout their gigs, each band member received pockets full of dimes which they contributed to supporting their parents and siblings. “Jerry bought all of our outfits! We [the girls] had satin blouses with vests and skorts. The boys wore cowboy hats, boots, and blue handkerchiefs,” she expressed. Nonetheless, the band ended after about two years. World War II began and three of the boys in the group were drafted into service. The band’s 78 year intermission ended once everyone reunited in the clouds where they perform for endless hours.
Words of wisdom
Although over twelve years of Adeline’s childhood consisted of daily blisters and food rationing, she managed to keep her faith and make each day meaningful with the help of a guitar. She has been through numerous changes and rarely complained about her situation during the Great Depression. By developing a driven attitude as a child, Adeline appreciates the little things in life and encourages others to pursue their ambitions no matter what other struggles they are going through. We are living in the century of innovation and we need to take advantage of what the world has to offer. From the convenience of driving to looking up presumably anything on the internet, people need to forget about the negatives in life and be more appreciative of what they have.