Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lee Remembers the Depression Years

The Following comes from Lee R. Christensen's book:

 "You Knew Me As Buddy and other Tales"

His book is a compilation of letters he has sent to friends over the years.  His memories of going to school at Hamilton Elementary, North Sanpete and Wasatch Academy are filled with his wonderful humor.

 From a letter to Beth Lund June 14, 1997

Most of the sheepmen in our town in our day were broke. The one exception was John
K. and his son-in-law, and ranch manager Bill Olsen. The banks could have foreclosed
on most herds, but what would they do with them? World War II got the sheepmen out
of debt, just as it did other industries. Unfortunately, for John Seeley and W.D. Candland
families, the banks did foreclose. Most of the boys from both families went to work for
someone else.

Robert Hinckley, mentioned in an earlier letter, former mayor of Mt. Pleasant, owner of the
Dodge agency, went broke. The Locke family left town when the Ford agency went broke.
Both banks failed. Only two people drove a car as fancy as a Buick - when the car you
drove indicated your financial status - Doctor Madsen and Ralph Throndsen. Many families
had no car. Did Wayne’s family have a car? And his father had been head of the bank.

We were all poor - but even then, some were poorer than others. I don’t know how some
families made it. I was close to the Wing family. Never saw them eat anything but canned
pork and beans. Poor as they were, two of them finished college, Bette and Bob -and maybe
Ed. Jack I don’t know about. He was dyslexic, which we did not understand then - and
maybe not today. Never saw the father. Mrs. Wing (a Freston), small as she was, kept her
family together and moving forward. A strong woman.

Both the grocery stores could tell us stories of how they carried people on their books. The
government helped - WPA, student aid, free flour. We had classmates at both North Sanpete
and Wasatch sweeping the classroom floors. At Wasatch, they were working for room
and board. And, at Wasatch, running both the school bank and bookstore.

How did families like the Blacks, Smiths, Dale Christensen’s family in your neighborhood
make it? 1930-1940 was a bleak, tough ten years. WWII put everyone back to work and
killed 60 million people. We’ve been on a roll since.


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