Being fully prepared ahead of time is the absolute only way to survive comfortably until the disaster has passed. And everyone will have to revert to some of the methods our ancestors used to feed their families.
Money plays such an important role in our lives that most of us could not imagine surviving without it. Yet that is exactly what you need to do if you want to prepare for an economic condition called deflation.
Deflation is the term economists use to describe a “general decline in prices, often caused by a reduction in the supply of money or credit.” A good way to think of deflation is as the opposite of inflation. Inflation occurs when there is too much money in circulation, which destroys its value and raises prices. When deflation occurs, there is too little money available, which often causes prices to collapse and the economy to shut down.
In severe cases of deflation there can be no money available at all not — even at the banks. This nightmare actually occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when there were places in the United States where there was no cash available at all. More recently, it has happened in Greece, where ATMs ran out of cash and where banks placed limits on the amount of money that could be withdrawn.
People had no money to pay bills or buy food for their families. Employers had no money to pay employees, customers had no money to buy goods, and many people were reduced to bartering to survive. During the Great Depression, farmers would pay professionals such as mechanics and doctors with food because they had no money and no credit.
The situation got so bad that in some areas of the country, local governments, chambers of commerce and businesses issued their own currencies — the so-called depression scrip. (See a picture of one here.) The scrip often took the form of pieces of paper that people used as money because there was no government currency available. The scrip was used to pay workers or buy goods.
At one point during the Great Depression, the money shortage got so severe that the US government considered issuing a national scrip as an alternative to the dollar. That plan was eventually dropped and the government solved the crisis by simply printing more dollars.
Many people have known survivors of the Great Depression who liked to keep large amounts of cash on hand. Others would hoard food and other items. Those people developed that habit because they remembered what life without money was like. The fear of the deflation that occurred in the 1930s haunted them all of their lives.
The frightening reality is that the threat of deflation is still real. Some knowledgeable individuals, such as wealth preservation experts Will and Bill Bonner, believe that a sudden deflation leading to a national or international money shortage is still possible today.
The Bonners, who have studied some of the world’s knowledgeable investors such as George Soros, believe that the next financial crisis will begin with a “violent monetary shock” similar to the one that occurred during the Great Depression. They predict that money could suddenly disappear overnight, causing the economy to come to a grinding halt.
What Happens When Money Vanishes
Historical accounts of the Great Depression show us some of the possible effects of such a violent monetary shock. The damage caused by such a violent deflation can include:
The sudden collapse of prices. The Great Depression began with the collapse of stock market prices in 1929. That was preceded by the collapse of agricultural prices in the United States during the 1920s. During that crisis, land prices in rural areas collapsed, causing large numbers of rural banks to fail. When the banks failed, the government liquidated them and their assets, which included lots of foreclosed farmland, an action that further drove prices and made the crisis worse.
Everything you have — your investments, your home and your possessions — could suddenly lose all of its value. We saw this happen during the mortgage bubble of 2007-2008, when many people found themselves “underwater.” That occurs when the amount a home is mortgaged for exceeds the property’s value.
The collapse in prices during the Great Depression particularly hurt farmers who relied on commodity prices. Newsreels from the early 1930s show farmers dumping grain on the ground and pouring out milk because they could not sell them.
Bank runs and the collapse of financial institutions. A bank run or banking panic occurs when all of a bank’s depositors try to take their money out at once. Bank runs often trigger the collapse of financial institutions, which prompts even more bank runs. Between 1930 and 1933 nearly 10,000 banks failed or were suspended. The panic got so bad that President Franklin D. Roosevelt actually suspended all bank transactions in the US between March 6 and March 10, 1933 to prevent further runs in his so-called “bank holiday.”
During the banking crisis of the 1930s, many Americans lost their life savings simply because they were not able to get to the bank fast enough and withdraw their money. Even some wealthy individuals ended up on the streets and in bread lines because they could not get money from the bank.
Massive unemployment. It is a simple and obvious fact that when there is no money, there are no jobs. At the height of the Great Depression in 1933, 24.75 percent of the nation’s labor force, or one in four workers, were unemployed. Around 12.83 million people were out of work at a time when America’s total population was only around 93 million people. That unemployment persisted for years, with 8.1 million Americans still out of work in 1940 in the 11th year of the Great Depression. The unemployment created by the Depression only ended when World War II created “jobs” in the form of the draft and war production.
Hunger and Starvation. Not surprisingly, hunger and in some cases death from starvation can become a problem after deflation. Historians disagree on the number of people who died during the Great Depression.
Massive expansion of government and its power. In his first 100 days in office in 1933, Roosevelt signed 15 major pieces of legislation, several of which established massive new bureaucracies. During the 1920s there were 553,000 civilian employees of the federal government, but by 1940 the federal government had more than 1 million civilian employees. For the first time in American history, the federal government even tried to set prices for products under the National Recovery Act. The government also told farmers what to grow under the Agricultural Adjustment Act. Those laws were so blatantly unconstitutional that the US Supreme Court struck them down in 1935 and 1936.
Increased taxation. When money disappears government gets desperate and imposes more and taxes in an attempt to squeeze more money out of the economy. During the Depression, the maximum income tax rate was raised from 20 percent to 55 percent, gift taxes were increased from .75 percent to 33.5 percent, and new taxes were levied on automobiles, gasoline, telegrams, telephone calls and even checks. By 1934, the United States had the highest tax rates in the world. In 1935 taxes were raised again. Historian Murray Rothbard estimates that the effective tax rate in the United States increased from 16 percent to 29 percent during the Depression.
Why it Could Be Worse Today
If such an event were to occur in today’s world, it could be far worse than the Great Depression.
People were far more self-sufficient in the 1930s, as large numbers of families lived on farms and grew their own food. Even many Americans who lived in town maintained gardens and chicken coops. In those days people also hunted for meat, canned and preserved their own food and baked their own bread. People also sewed their own clothes and fixed their own cars, which gave them a high level of self-sufficiency.
Today, most Americans rely solely on supermarkets for food, and many families no longer even cook. Few people bother to sew, and most of us do not even change the oil in our cars. If our money were to disappear, we would be as helpless as children.
It’s time that we learn the lessons of the Americans who survived the Great Depression. That lesson was to be as self-sufficient as possible so you can survive, no matter what.
Do you believe that what happened during the Great Depression could take place again? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Sometimes when I’m browsing through social media posts, I feel like I live in a different world than many of my fellow citizens, especially those a good deal younger. There is no denying we live in a world of contrasting opinions and worldviews. Modern technology has made it more convenient than ever to display our unique […]
When the stock market crashed in October of 1929, it sent the country into a tailspin and resulted in an economic depression that would last 10 years. Although no sector of the American economy was immune to the fallout, the agricultural community was hit especially hard.
For most farms, the depression actually began just a few years after the end of World War I. During the war the government had pushed farmers to grow and produce as much as possible to send overseas to troops and to export to European nations. However, once the war ended and other countries were able to get their own agriculture back on their feet, prices went into sharp decline here. Suddenly there was far more product than demand, causing farmers often to sell at a loss. Still, credit was easily available and farmers were able to limp along in hopes that the market would stabilize.
When the stock market crashed, though, all the “limping along” came to a sudden stop. Banks became desperate as depositors removed their funds, forcing the banks to call in their loans and mortgages. For farmers who had already been struggling with variable markets, this often meant foreclosure and bankruptcy sales.
Still, a number of farmers both big and small were able to carry on. Those who avoided foreclosure and bankruptcy now dealt with the next hurtle – very few had the funds to buy their products! Supply exceeded demand in such extremes that by the early 1930s corn was worth less than coal, just 5 to 10 cents a bushel. Many farmers turned to burning corn to heat their homes.
Despite low prices and a stagnant market, farmers who had been able to hold onto their lands were much better off than many of the people who lived in town. Those who farmed were able to grow food and to feed their families, even when there was no money to be had. Neighbors got together and traded crops and livestock, and for this reason more small farms and farming communities faired far better than the bulk of town dwellers.
In 1933 Congress passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act to aid struggling farm families. This Act raised farm product prices by paying farmers not to raise crops or livestock, particularly corn and hogs. By the end of that same year the government controlled 87 percent of corn and 95 percent of hog production.
In the Midwest and Plains states, trouble continued to brew. Dust storms had begun to crop up as early as 1931. Farm lands which had been over plowed during the farming boom of the early part of the century had turned dry due to drought. These dust storms worsened and increased over the next few years, and by 1934 about 35 million acres of land that had been previously cultivated was now useless. Another estimated 125 million acres was losing its topsoil at a rate that would soon make it useless, as well.
Farmers who had held on now found themselves in a new situation. Many abandoned the land and migrated in hopes of finding jobs or land to rebuild. Those who stayed dealt with health issues such as “dust pneumonia” and the persistent dust and dirt that found its way into every nook and cranny. After several major dust storms in 1934 and 1935, the term “Dust Bowl” was coined.
In 1935, Congress established the Soil Erosion Service, along with the Prairie States Forestry Project. These were just two of several programs that FDR and Congress started in hopes of reducing the strain and addressing the plight of the American farmer. The Prairie States Forestry Project was one of several that put unemployed farmers to work, planting trees and windbreaks to help slow the windstorms and erosion.
While the Heartland tried to halt the loss of its topsoil, the Dakotas and areas to the north were fighting grasshoppers. The grasshopper plague as it was later called caused not only the loss of crops, but destroyed trees and just about anything the bugs could eat. Many farmers, tired of poor prices, drought, and insatiable insects, left and headed west in search of other opportunities.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, small farms and farming communities that had been able to survive on their own were now finding some growing market for their crops and livestock in local towns and cities. Town dwellers, who had previously not had cash to buy with, now were able to afford a little after FDR’s “New Deal” put men back to work building bridges and other infrastructure.
In the latter part of the 1930s the rains returned and with it the end of the “Dust Bowl” storms. Many people who had migrated out of the Heartland returned to their farming lifestyle, though others had to adjust crops and change techniques due to the erosion of topsoil.
With the onset of World War II, agriculture in the U.S. finally recovered as once again American began exporting crops to European nations. It also marked the end of the Great Depression, as factories once more began to produce goods.
What would you add? Share your thoughts in the section below:
(image: United Sates Farm Security Administration) The Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s was a reflection of high unemployment, staggering debt, and a collapsed stock market. The hardship that resulted has not been experienced by Americans since. Those at the time somehow lived through it, and will tell you lessons learned, including the following… USE WHAT YOU’VE GOT Find resources in unlikely places. Do not throw anything away. Find uses for things that otherwise would have been unnoticed. Pool your resources. Be practical about everything. Use space and resources wisely. Live and survive with less. Find multiple
The Great Depression, with all of its hardships, was one of the most prolific times in the history of the American diet. This period required homemakers to develop creative new ways to feed their families, sometimes for less than pennies a day. But as the economy improved and more Americans went back to work, many of these dinnertime staples simply faded out of style.
Yet they haven’t faded from memory. Here are 10 Great Depression foods that seemed strange and even weird at the time.
1. Prune Pudding
Prunes were a humble, inexpensive food source during the Depression. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt actually made headlines by pressuring her husband to eat prune pudding when guests came to the White House for a visit. Why prunes? They were easily stored and didn’t cost as much as other fresh fruits.
2. Dandelion salad
Foraging was not uncommon during the Great Depression, and it was easy and free to scavenge in the backyard for edible greens. Dandelions weren’t the only produce of choice; many Depression-era homesteaders also made soups or salads out of burdock root, wild onions and other weeds. Although dandelion salad is still popular in many cultures today, it’s typically accompanied by sweet or tangy ingredients to offset the bitterness of the plant.
3. Fish …. anything
Fishing was a popular pastime during this era, not just because it was an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday, but also because it put food on the table! A weekend fish fry would produce enough leftovers for the entire week. Bones, heads and tails could be used for soup or gravy stock.
4. Creamed chipped beef
This curious dish originated in Pennsylvania Dutch country and consisted of salted beef and milk. Any kind of beef-like meat could be used (cows were difficult and expensive to raise, so goats or wild game could also be used).
It was typically served on toast and became a staple for soldiers fighting overseas during World War II. Ever heard your grandparents talk about you-know-what on a shingle? This is it!
5. Ritz cracker crust
The purpose behind this crust has nothing to do with the crust itself, but what the buttery flavor of the Ritz crackers does for the apples. Apples were in short supply during the Depression, so the rich flavor of the crackers helped to supplement the limited apple flavor.
6. Spaghetti with boiled carrots
Carrots were easy to grow in most homestead gardens during the Great Depression. As a result, spaghetti with boiled carrots—with the addition of a simple white sauce—was a heavily promoted, relatively nutritious dish in schools throughout the country.
7. Meatless loaf
When raising livestock was impractical or impossible, many Depression-era cooks turned to meatless loaves for sustenance. Made out of vegetarian ingredients such as peanuts, rice, cottage cheese and flour, these cakes were popular before tofu was even a thing.
8. Vinegar pie
As mentioned, fruits were in low supply and high demand during the Great Depression. During cold winter months, most families found themselves without any fruit at all. What to do about dessert? Many bakers added vinegar to a mixture of spices (such as cinnamon and cloves) and—if fortunate enough—butter or cream to create a low-cost version of a pie or cobbler.
9. Peanut butter stuffed onions
This dish was commonly suggested in newspapers and magazines as a nutritious and delicious recipe for any family’s table. Although the glop wasn’t popular for its taste, texture or nutritive qualities, it must have contributed to at least a small uptick in oral hygiene.
10. Kraft macaroni and cheese — wait, what?
James Lewis Kraft, the founder of Kraft foods, patented the process of emulsifying and powdering processed cheese in order to give it a longer shelf life—a necessity during this time period. Although the packaged dish was originally sold as a bag of pasta with a package of powdered cheese attached to it, it still exists today as one of the few Depression-era meals with lasting popularity in American households.
Making ends meet was tough during the Great Depression, but with some creative thinking and adventurous palates, these homesteaders made the most of whatever they were given. Whether you’re planning meals for a large family or on your homestead, keep these tips in mind for ultimate success in living off the land.
What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Mark W. Yusko thinks something like the 1929 stock market crash, which triggered the Great Depression, is imminent.
“I have this belief that we’re flowing toward the path of 1928-29 when Hoover was president,” Yusko, CEO of Morgan Creek Capital, said on CNBC’s Power Lunch.
Part of Yusko’s prediction rests on a president and a Congress that accomplish little. Yusko made his comments even before GOP leaders announced that the effort to repeal Obamacare likely was dead.
The economic downturn, Yusko believes, will occur this fall.
“Both [Hoover and Trump] were presidents with no experience who come in with a Congress that is all Republican, lots of big promises, lots of things that don’t happen and the fall is when people realize, ‘Wait, it hasn’t played out the way we thought,’” he said.
When Herbert Hoover became president in 1929, the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent; when he left it was 23.6 percent. The stock market crashed in October 1929, seven months after Hoover’s inauguration.
Yusko believes the stock market will crash because there simply is not enough economic growth in the U.S. to sustain current stock prices.
“[By the fall], we’ll have a lot more evidence of declining growth. Growth has been slipping,” he said.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Quick. What are the healthiest greens growing in your garden? Lettuce? Spinach? Kale? These crops, and others like them, are planted, cultivated and harvested in many gardens around the country. We pay money for their seeds. We often run water to help them grow. And then after a few weeks, our garden greens are ready to be harvested.
There is a possibility, though, that you may be removing a plant from your garden that rivals even kale in its nutritional value. This common garden green has earned many names over the centuries, but is commonly known as lamb’s quarters.
Lamb’s quarters is a green with a rich history. The Romans and people in the Medieval Ages readily consumed it. Entire towns actually acquired their names due to the abundance of the plant.
The nutritional benefits of lamb’s quarters weren’t a secret only to Europeans. In fact, people in the New World also were keen of this healthy wild food. Native people across the country consumed the greens and also harvested the seeds and ground them for flour. Even in the more modern world, people have looked to lamb’s quarter to sustain them.
In her book “Wild Seasons,” author Kay Young tells a story about how people during the Great Depression utilized this green. Her story comes from a retired meter reader who spent his days traveling around Kansas City in the 1930s. During this difficult time, the meter reader claims to have regularly seen bathtubs full of lamb’s quarters being washed and prepared for canning. It also was one of the few edible greens growing in abandoned city lots.
At a recent family gathering, my wife’s grandmother — now in her early 80s — told of commonly eating lamb’s quarters as a child. Although she was surprised to learn how nutritious it is, she wasn’t surprised at all to learn how people during the Great Depression ate it.
If you have a garden, there is a good chance you have some lamb’s quarters popping up. There are many varieties of the plant, also known as Chenopodium, but the varieties generally consumed have some similarities.
First, the leaf structure of the plant resembles the shape of a goose foot. (Because of this, it’s commonly called goose food.) Another identifying feature is a purplish coloration on the nodes of mature plants. When you are examining it near the stem, you will notice a series of ridges that run vertically down the stem. Perhaps the most distinguishable feature, though, is a white powder coating the plant. This white powder is hydrophobic and repels water. If the “weed” you are about to pull from your garden has these characteristics, it may in fact be the ultra-nutritious wild food.
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If you have located some lamb’s quarters and want to enjoy it, you can prepare it several ways. One way is to eat young leaves raw. While the plant can be eaten raw, it does contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can cause a number of problems if eaten in high volume. Fortunately, many recipes call for the leaves to be boiled. Blanching your leaves in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes removes most of the acid. It may be wise to limit your consumption early on in your foraging and to blanch the leaves, too.
One tasty recipe comes from Kay Young’s book. It was contributed by a Nebraskan who recalled the dish from her childhood. First, gather a few cupfulls of lamb’s quarters leaves. Three cups seems to be a good amount for a single person. Next, drop the washed leaves in a pot of boiling water for two minutes. This not only removes much of the oxalic acid, but it also will tenderize the greens. After two minutes, remove the greens and drain away the excess water. Next, drop the greens into a pan coated in hot bacon grease. Cook the greens until heated throughout, and then remove. Once removed from the pan, you can season with salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.
Words of Caution
With a rich history, high nutritional value and great taste, you may be wondering how lamb’s quarters fell out of favor. It is a good question. While the answer may not be straightforward, here are a few factors that may have contributed to its decline.
Although lamb’s quarters is great feed for chickens (earning it the nickname “fat hen”), it can be poisonous to grazing animals. The problem occurs when the plant is grown under drought conditions, forcing it to absorb high levels of nitrates from the ground.
Another factor that led to the devaluing of this nutrient-dense plant was the introduction of spinach to the European table. Folks swapped out their historically valued food for one they thought was more delicious. Personally, I’ve found the taste of both leaves very palatable when boiled and seasoned.
Finally, the build-up of oxalic acid potentially can cause health problems. One such problem may be the formation of kidney stones. When experimenting with a wild food, it is best to proceed in small doses and see how your body reacts.
When weeding your summer garden, it might be worth keeping an eye open for a plant with a leaf resembling a goose’s foot. It could be a hidden boon rather than a dreaded weed. Not only will it add some additional nutrition to your plate, but it may allow you to spend less time weeding, and more time enjoying the fruits of the harvest. More nutritious, less maintenance, less money spent — what’s not to love?
Have you ever eaten lamb’s quarters? Share your thoughts on it in the section below:
No matter how many times I heard my parents talk about their lives during the Great Depression, I didn’t come to a full understanding of just how much wisdom they had until they passed on — and I could no longer ask them.
Still, I do remember a few of the lessons that they and my grandparents taught me, although some of them can benefit from a little modern-day hacking, if you will.
1. Find food wherever possible.
While we hope we never get to the point where we must cook tumbleweeds just to have something in our bellies (yes, people did this), there may come a time when we have to find food wherever we can.
This means we should learn about edible plants, berries and other food sources in our area. Think about what you would eat if you had no more canned or frozen foods and no grocery stores. Learn how to kill and skin animals, even if you only just read about it. (Only resources and physical books will help you in this area.) Nothing is guaranteed in this world, and being prepared is your best defense against starvation.
2. Scrounge and reuse.
My grandmother was famous for saving almost everything. When I was younger, I couldn’t imagine why she would wash and refold aluminum foil. I mean, it’s not like it was expensive. Now that I am older, I understand why. Learning to save and reuse items can save you a small fortune. (Plus, it’s good for the environment.) I try to buy items in glass jars so I can reuse them for leftovers and to freeze extra food. I rewash plastic Ziploc-type bags until they tear. Imagine what you would do if you had to personally get rid of your own trash? Imagine how much money you would save by simply reusing everyday items as much as humanly possible?
“Scrounging” was a term that my grandmother used frequently. Scrounging, to her, was taking a few extra packs of sugar when she got coffee or saving all the crackers from a restaurant. I don’t think my grandmother ever had to buy sugar, creamer, crackers or plastic utensils because she “scrounged” them from someplace else. She wasn’t able to do this during the Depression, of course, but this was a hack my grandmother used in her later years.
3. Learn easy cooking hacks.
OK, you don’t have to go as far as fish gravy or Depression soup, but making the most out of cheaper items can save money and can be a lifesaver when you run out of other items.
For example, adding just a pinch of salt to your coffee pot will remove a great deal of the bitterness and also make your brew taste smoother. This means you can buy cheaper coffee, but not sacrifice taste. There are cake recipes that don’t need butter or eggs. You can make pie crusts out of graham crackers or Ritz crackers when you don’t have flour. You can literally find thousands of these ideas online. Keep your own recipe file box and amaze yourself at the ingenious ways you can “make do.”
4. Diversify your money.
Although we like to think that banks can’t really “fail” as they did in the Depression Era days, the fact is that they can. When this happened in the 1920’s, many people were simply cleaned out. What if all your assets were in one or two banks and those banks failed? Or the grid went down? What would you do for cash?
This is where having some cash or gold stored at home can make all the difference. Yes, I realize that for many people this seems like a dream, but any effort at saving is better than no effort at all. My grandmother often told me stories of using things other than cash as payment, such as eggs, chickens and rabbits. If you had no access to your bank, what would you use for bartering? Learning skills or having something on hand to trade never goes out of style, so to speak. No time for classes? Take an online course!
Bonus: Save money like grandma never did.
My grandmother never owned a cell phone, but you can use yours to save money on just about everything. Try an app called PushPin. You can scan almost any item that you are considering buying — whether it is green apples or a new Apple product — and find coupons, sales or the store with the cheapest price.
Almost every major store has some type of card or savings club. If you frequent one market more than the others, sign up for their app or card. Ralphs and Kroger, for example, offer a card that gives you money back at the end of the year, coupons during holidays, and other rewards, just for swiping that card whenever you buy something. My grandma and mother would have been all over these types of savings!
One last trick that my mother taught me; whenever possible, take your coupon savings and put that money away somewhere. One example: If you used a buy one, get one free coupon for an item costing $2.49, then literally put $2.49 in a jar or the bank. Keeping track with your cell phone or tablet makes this task all the easier. The amount of money you will have set aside after just one year will amaze you.
What Great Depression tips would you add? Share your ideas in the section below:
Guest article, by ‘NRP’ I have so many fond memories of “going to Grandma’s house” in my younger days, the warmth of the home, the smells of something baking, all of the flowers planted outside and those in vases inside. I remember the warm smile always on my Grandma’s face when we would walk […]
My parents were just toddlers when the Great Depression burst into their lives. It forever altered their view of the world, and not always in a good way.
My mother, in particular, would tell me horror stories about some of the things that went on during those years. Until the day she died, she always carried some sort of food in her purse, usually peanuts or crackers. She never forgot what it was to be truly hungry.
Perhaps the worst story she told me was that my paternal grandmother, who was in her early 20s at the time, woke up one January morning in a barn to find that her husband had just left her and their toddler in the night. She had no food, no money, no family, no place to live, and a baby to feed. She walked along the highway and offered her baby to anyone who would take her. She assumed that someone with enough money for a car had money to feed a baby.
These type of stories can give you nightmares and make you wonder how people survived! My mother told me many other amazing stories, about how they “just did without” or “made do” with what they had, but some of her stories were practical enough that we could still benefit from them if we should ever find ourselves in the same desperate circumstances.
One of those was how women shared food-stretching recipes, such as macaroni and cheese or fish gravy. One recipe my mother remembered clearly was called “depression soup,” although she said her father called it “garbage soup,” a name that would make my grandmother angry.
My grandmother had a large pot with a lid that she kept in the ice box or outside in the snow. Cans (or jars) of fruit or vegetables were filled with a bit of water, and then scraped out and put in the pot. Everything, and I mean everything, went in that pot: bread crumbs, a tablespoon of rice, a shriveled-up carrot, a half-rotten potato (just cut off the bad part), fish heads and tails, bits of garlic, chicken skin, necks, livers, hearts, the hard skin of onions, broccoli ends, carrot and radish greens — you name it; unless it was rotten, it went into that pot.
Once it was about half full, my grandmother added water, perhaps a tablespoon or two of bacon grease, and cooked it for two hours or so. And that would be dinner. If you were fortunate, she baked bread.
My mother remembers that some soups were better than others. Once they began raising rabbits, the bones were used as a base. Soup made with bones and vegetables had to be tastier than soup made with carrot tops, radish tops and some bacon fat.
The point here is that while we would never dream of eating Depression Soup for lunch, remembering how people survived on scraps, literally, might come in handy for tomorrow’s world. We aren’t promised a land of fruit and honey in the future, so knowing how our ancestors survived during hard times might one day ensure our own survival.
Would you eat Great Depression Soup? Is there a better way to make it? Share your thoughts in the section below:
By: Tom Chatham The people that are preparing for some sort of chaos in their future are only doing the prudent thing considering the environment we are now living in. Those with growing piles of supplies for disasters, war or some type of collapse have made the mental leap that is required to prepare themselves […]
If and when there is a ‘next’ Great Depression (some may argue that we’ve already entered the next one – although hidden from sight), the question is “How will it be different from the first?” The current labor force participation rate is somewhere around 62% in the U.S. and the current (NOV-2016) combined U3 & […]
For the last 20 years I have been working on my genealogy. The research is fascinating to me. Old certificates and wills captivate me and the search for my ancestors is like a treasure hunt. One part of genealogy that I have found most valuable are their personal journals. Their stories of survival and endurance have always left me in awe and reminded me that I have life pretty easy. I have done my best to apply their wisdom to my family and learn from their life experiences. I want to share some of the lessons we can all learn from the branches, twigs and occasional nuts in our family tree.
1. Eat real food.
Whole grains, milk, eggs, cream, butter, seasonal fruits and vegetables, along with fresh eggs, seafood and other meat. My ancestors, and yours, ate them usually in the form closest to how God made them. They used herbal remedies as medicine. Nowadays, we have to seek out information in books like this one (something for beginners!), because we probably won’t learn it from our own parents and other family members. They also grew and preserved herbs to season food. Many of these foods were home grown or found out in the wild and were full of vitamins and minerals. Could you forage for food? Most people nowadays cannot and would walk right by edible foods and herbs. This foraging for beginners book has been helpful to me in learning the potentially life-saving skill of foraging.
Real food is better for you and tastes so much better than the processed food at the grocery store. There are not words that describe the difference between a store bought tomato and one that is picked right from the vine in a garden.
2. Grow a garden and raise animals.
There is something to be said for planting, caring for, harvesting, and eating your own food. It helps you appreciate the food on your table each day. Not only is the food you eat full of more nutrients, but you are healthier for working in the garden. It counts as exercise and gives you your needed sunshine. Being outdoors and listening to nature is good for the mind. Spending time away from any screen and being with yourself can be therapeutic. Having your hands in the dirt and caring for your plants helps connect you to Earth. A reverence and feeling of gratitude for nature and animals can be felt.
An old farmer once told me, “It takes 10 years to really get to know your land.” Even if your land is just a backyard, this is still true. Think about it. You plant a few things one spring…and nothing grows, or only the mint grows and ends up taking over your entire garden plot. Well, that’s Year #1. Next year, you know you need to better amend the soil, move some of your plants elsewhere in the yard, keep your mint in a pot!, b or maybe even move the entire garden to a sunnier/shadier spot. This time around, your garden still experiences successes and failures. That’s Year #2!! (I know experienced gardeners out there are nodding their heads!)
This is why you need to start growing something right now, even if it’s just a windowsill herb garden. The learning curve for growing anything successfully is surprisingly steep.
3. Notice your surroundings.
Our ancestors went outside and paid attention to nature. The migration of animals and the life cycles of certain vegetation let our forefathers know of the changes in seasons. Specific species of animals are sensitive to changes in the atmosphere. Farmers were able to pick up on the behavioral changes in these animals and know what weather may be coming their way. Understanding how to read the sky above and the ground below was once a skill passed down throughout the generations. They knew their environment and were sensitive to its fluctuations. Observation skills are something we can learn and teach our children. This article gives a few tips about what to look for when you’re observing nature.
4. Use it up, do not waste anything — Another survival lesson from old-timers.
Old-timers didn’t spend money freely and, often, there was nowhere to shop! Clothes were worn, handed down to the next child, and then the next. When it was not able to be worn, the article of clothing was then taken apart and reused, often for quilt squares, patches for other clothes or a dust or dish cloth. There was so much wisdom our ancestors had, and this list is just a partial collection of what we can learn from them.
Last year’s new shoes became “new” shoes for the younger sibling or old work shoes for this year. In fact, back in the 1930’s a product that used beeswax to seal shoes was invented! Sno-Seal is still a popular product today and something that can extend the use of our own, modern-day shoes!
Scraps of leftover food went into a soup later or they were used to feed the animals. My grandfather could extend the life of ordinary items with odd stuff he had in the garage. Any lumber or hardware was stored away for future needs. An old paper bag could be found filled with bolts, nuts, washers and nails. Over the years he learned to fix and maintain cars, appliances, and homes. It kept him out of my grandmother’s hair, saved money but also kept his mind and body active.
5. Be dependable and helpful.
Many of my ancestors were farmers. When harvest time came, everyone chipped in. It required many people with a variety of skills to get the job done. Harvesting from the fields, cleaning the produce, getting it ready to sell or for preservation was a big job that needed everyone to help. My great grandmother Nelson lived on the same block as her 2 daughters, 2 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. This arrangement allowed her to stay in her home. There was always someone around to drive her where ever she needed to go, to help with the avocado tree or move something heavy.
Now that she has passed, those simple tasks are beautiful memories for our family. It has also served as an example to the future generations about caring for your elders. There were other times when someone was sick or had a baby, the neighborhood women would get together and help. Between caring for the sick, cooking, cleaning or tending children, the job got done. Friendships and a sense of community grew from service towards another. Pitching in and assisting those around you benefits everyone.
6. Plan ahead and prepare for the unknown.
Our ancestors’ lives depended on being prepared. Food needed to be preserved in the fall so they had something to eat in the winter and spring. Wood needed to be cut and stacked during the summer months, and food for livestock and the family needed to constantly be stored up.
Life was more unpredictable for them. Disease could come and take out their livestock or family in a matter of hours. Injury required more time to heal, death was more of a possibility. My third great aunt buried more babies than anyone should ever have to. With every pregnancy, she knew there was a chance that her baby may not survive. So in her mind, she mentally prepared for a possible burial.
For some ancestors, one snow storm could keep them homebound for weeks. We may not need a winter’s supply of hay for livestock, but being prepared and having a backup is wise. Having additional light sources, additional food, water and medical supplies, fuel and money set aside is a good idea. Check your life, health and other insurance plans. Maintain your physical, mental and emotional health. Set money aside for a rainy day, because it rains in all of our lives at one time or another. Do not assume the worst will happen, prepare for it in case it does. Survival Mom’s family preparedness manual is the best one around for getting started on all this, which can be overwhelming!
7. Have hope, maybe rebel a little.
America would not be the great country that it is if it were not for those who were willing to rebel against the King of England all those years ago. Others left behind their homeland and risked their lives to come to America. Many of my ancestors came over on the Mayflower in search of religious freedom. My Irish family traveled to America because of the potato famine. Others came with the simple hope that things will be better, if not for them, then for their descendants. They had a hope and perseverance that carried them through obstacles in life.
Most of us have not had to leave behind family, learn a new language and culture and try to assimilate to a new life. Our ancestors did it for us. What we can do is follow their example of hard work, hope and maybe rebel a little. Stand up in our communities when an injustice is done. Or get involved in our local government. Be the kind of citizen that stands up for their rights, and give a hand up to someone in need.
8. Be a thankful and happy person.
Our society bombards us with advertisements for all of the things we do not have. Some have the pressure of keeping up with the Joneses. Most of my ancestors were not rich. They had what they needed and were content with that. There was not the desire to have excess that is in today’s culture. Everything they worked hard for, they appreciated and took care of. They blessed the food before they ate, just content to have a good meal. The Bible was read after dinner and children were taught to acknowledging their blessings. We forget to look at what we have and be thankful for the blessings in our life.
This is all part of being a survival, both mentally and emotionally. It’s surprising how often people who have everything, both for everyday life and survival, often do not thrive and may even perish. This article explains why that sometimes happens.
9. Have a hobby and laugh.
In my home I have a christening dresses made by a talented great grandmother. Every tiny pleat and gather is pure perfection. On a shelf I have wood animals, hand carved without a detail left out. These items were not necessary to my ancestors or my survival, but it is a reminder for me. To slow down, to take the time to develop a talent, do something new. It is a reminder that life is not all about a “to do” list, it is also about doing things you enjoy. Nowadays, we have to really seek out time for hobbies and then, once we have a bit of time on our hands, it’s not easy to decide what to do with it! Check out the Survival Mom Skill of the Month for a ton of ideas to keep your hands busy and productive.
10. Develop a sense of humor.
Tough times come to all of us at one time or another. It is better to laugh during some of these times. My great grandparents had their car break down on them 3 times during a road trip in the 1930’s. Money was tight and they were hoping to drive from California to Colorado to buy a chicken farm, to provide income for the family. When the car broke down 2 hours from home, they just laughed about it. The family camped on the side of the road until they could get the part they needed to repair the car. Even now, my older relatives get together and laugh about all of the things that happened in their younger years. They learned to have a logical perspective during those difficult moments.
11. Learn more than one skill.
My husband’s 2nd great grandfather, old-timer Noah, was a great example of this. He farmed and raised pigs to sell. He learned how to become a blacksmith, which came in handy when the water and grain mill burnt down. When family needed a place to live, he was able to clear trees and build a home on his land. If something broke, he fixed it himself. If he wanted to learn something, he worked for someone who would teach him. He was never a rich man, but had learned a variety of skills that he was able to take care of his family.
His wife, Leona, was able to use their resources wisely. She knew how to prepare healthy meals with whatever they harvested. She made and mended clothes for the family, made sure the kids went to school and she helped with the crops and animals. They were able to give their newly married children a better start in life by helping them build a home, giving them land and learning a trade. Between Noah and Leona, they were able to do just about anything. Being educated in one thing is good. Knowing you have other skills to fall back on is better. Think about learning about home/car maintenance and repair or other employment skills.
We begin each day with the opportunity to learn from the lessons of those that have gone before us. Their sense of family, traditions and faith is something that can be shared with future generations. In us we can carry their bravery, dreams, beliefs and the lessons learned from their life.
I’ve written previously about how my grandparents and parents survived during the Great Depression. Although growing up with parents from the Depression had its drawbacks (those $5 tennis shoes are just as good as the $30 Vans shoes, I was told), I realize now that I actually learned quite a few survival skills from them.
Perhaps one of the biggest things I learned was to identify a “need” from a “want” Yes, I needed shoes, but I wanted Vans. My mother would often ask me: “What do you need it for?” If I couldn’t prove I needed it, I rarely got it.
In this article, I want to take a look at the things my parents, and others, simply did without during those difficult times – things our great-grandparents never had.
1. Cable television
Television can be cheap entertainment and a good place for news, weather and other important updates. However, one thing we could live without are cable channels. Putting an antenna on your roof will work just fine.
2. Disposable goods
Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that disposables were meant to be used in emergency or only for travel. Plastic bags weren’t really even commonly used until the 1960s and no one “needs” disposable coffee cups, paper plates, plastic forks and one-time-use razors.
3. Video games
While our kids might think these are absolute necessities, they aren’t. You can spend family time and still have fun with old-fashioned games such as checkers, chess, Parcheesi, Monopoly, and other board games. Or have kids play the old-fashioned way — outside.
4. Health clubs or gym memberships
Walking and jogging cost nothing. If you’re near a town, imagine the workout from simply walking to the store and carrying home groceries? But if you think your health would benefit from exercise equipment and weight sets, check out Goodwill or Craigslist.
5. Microwaves, espresso makers and other kitchen gadgets
Ladies, I understand completely. There is nothing like the latest kitchen gadget to make cooking easier. However, if you take a hard look at things (as my mother would have asked), do you really need it?
Rice and popcorn can be made in pots on the stove. Toast can also be made using a small device that goes over the burner. Knives work just as well as a food processor. Take a good look around your kitchen and you will find a dozen little “must-have” items in your kitchen that you truly don’t “need.”
6. Clothes dryers
My mother didn’t buy a clothes dryer until 1970. Even then, she only did it because she got a job outside the home! We hung clothes outside, or in the laundry room during bad weather. My mother talks about how embarrassed she was as a young teen when she had to hang her underwear near the fireplace and her brothers saw it.
7. Tanning beds and nail salons
Sunlight in large quantities, whether natural or man-made, is not good for the body. Some sun exposure is good for the body, so take advantage of it when you can. However, as hard as it might seem, you do not need a tanning bed. Or even a nail salon. In my mother’s 84 years, she never went and had a manicure or a pedicure, let alone acrylic nails. She did her nails herself and they were always beautiful.
8. Cell phones
It wasn’t all that long ago that no one had cell phones. I, myself, did not get a cell phone until 1996. Even then, they were unusual and they could only make calls — nothing more. Some people still live without them today, but if you feel you must have one for emergencies, you can buy a basic pay-as-you-go phone. I’m not saying today’s phone can’t be time-savers and very convenient, but we could actually live without one just fine.
Just a side note here to make you laugh. I once bought my then 78-year-old mother a cell phone so she could take advantage of the “free nights and weekends” plan and talk to her friends and relatives out of state. It was a simple flip phone with big numbers and I showed her how to use it. Two weeks later, she called me on her house phone and told me I should get my money back because the phone didn’t work. I asked her what happened, thinking she would tell me about dropped calls. Instead, she told me that she opened the phone and waited all day for a dial tone, but she never got one. She never did get the hang of cell phones — and lived her entire life without one.
What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Both of my parents grew up during the Great Depression. Even though my mother was very well-off later in her life, I never saw her leave the house without some snack inside her purse. She said she just didn’t feel comfortable or “safe” without taking something to eat.
My father grew up on a farm and my mother on the outskirts of town, but both had difficulty finding plenty of food to eat. I often wonder if I would be as brave and resourceful as my parents were should I ever find myself in a similar situation.
Although they went without many other items, including new shoes, new clothes, and store-bought candy and toys, the thing my parents talk about most was the difficulty just in feeding themselves.
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the best food sources that people used during the Great Depression.
Hunting, Fishing, Living off the Land
There was plenty of free food around — if you were willing to catch it, trap it, shoot it and skin it. My father and his brothers spent many, many hours out in the fields and woods surrounding their home shooting rabbits, wild pheasants, quail, grouse, wild turkeys, doves, ducks and deer. My father was the youngest of 13, so food didn’t last long on the table.
For those who had enough land or lived on farms, there also were the usual chickens, rabbits, pigs, sheep and cows. However, lots of thought went into deciding whether to kill livestock. For example, killing a cow meant no more calves, milk, cream or butter. However, if the cow was too old to have more calves, it would quickly find itself the main food at Sunday dinner.
My mother talks about going out to the open fields near her home and collecting whatever edible greens or wild food they could find, such as dandelions, burdock root, wild onions, potatoes, wild blueberries and raspberries, chickweed, wood sorrel or plantain. Wild honey was also desired, but it could be a dangerous endeavor.
If you lived near any body of water that contained fish, you could usually manage to catch enough on a Saturday for a fish fry. Fishing was rather time-consuming, though, when you consider that you generally spent the better part of the day for only one meal.
Stretching the Food
Making the most of whatever you had was one of the main ways people lived during these stressful times. For example, the fish that you caught on Saturday might make a fine fish fry, but don’t you dare throw out the heads or bones! This could be reused to make gravy or a base for soup. Add some fish heads, tails and everything but the entrails, a few vegetables, and you could brew up a stew or soup for another meal or possibly even two!
One-dish suppers, casseroles and other food-stretching recipes were popular during this time. Women traded secrets on how to make things like creamed chipped beef on toast, chili, soup, creamed chicken on biscuits, spaghetti without meat, bean soup or bean sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese.
Almost every meal was made at home from scratch. Forget about cake mixes, biscuit mixes, chili spice packets, or packaged mac and cheese. Not that these things weren’t available, but it was much cheaper to buy in bulk and cook at home. Most women became expert cooks and knew how to make just about anything by hand.
Let’s not forget “leftovers.” You never threw out anything, no matter how small the portion. My mother talks about “mish-mash” nights, when they took everything out of the icebox and pantry and ate whatever they found before it went bad.
Gardens and Backyard ‘Farms’
Unless you lived in an apartment building, you likely had a backyard garden. People would grow just about anything, and they often saved seeds to share with others, as well as to use again the next year. Popular garden vegetables were corn, green beans, tomatoes, squash, turnips, potatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins. Almost every woman knew how to can or pickle vegetables. Fruit would usually be eaten promptly, but there were still plenty of women who canned applesauce, as well as jams and jellies from fruit about to go bad.
My father would tell how he and his brothers would go to neighboring farms after the harvest and take home whatever had been left behind. Corn that had been nibbled on by birds or squirrels, cabbage with too many worms, or bird-pecked fruit left on the trees or the ground would be collected and taken home. His family would chop off the bad parts, wash off worms, and eat whatever was left.
They say no man is an island, and that certainly was true during these trying times. Many communities and church groups would hold potlucks, church dinners and Sunday night suppers, where everyone would bring whatever they had and everyone could share in the bounty. These were usually a once-a-week measure, but it certainly helped to stretch the family food budget. You might only have a loaf of bread to share, but if someone else brought chicken, everyone could have chicken sandwiches!
My parents told frightening stories about people who would literally stand for hours in the cold or snow in front of restaurants and beg for food as people came outside. People would dig through trash cans, hoping to find some scraps of food, or they would simply beg homeowners or farmers for work in exchange for food.
In larger cities, people often had to resort to begging on the streets or waiting for hours in line at a “soup kitchen” for a bowl of soup and a thick piece of bread.
Hopefully we won’t have to experience the hard times of another Great Depression, but isn’t it comforting to know that, if needed, you could manage on your own by keeping your skills and know-how up to snuff?
Do you have any stories of survival during the Great Depression? Share your stories and thoughts in the section below:
By: Tom Chatham The coming elections are very important to the future of the U.S. but do not think for a second that our troubles will end on Nov. 8. We have many serious problems that must be addressed and solved in order to maintain our current quality of life. This election will determine how […]
Chances are pretty good that you know someone who lived through the Great Depression. Some of the stories they tell are almost unbelievable.
My mother, for example, was a child during the Great Depression and World War II. She always kept some type of snack in her purse, even though she was well off. She used to tell me that growing up in Michigan, she and her sisters would eat corn meal mush for breakfast while my grandmother heated potatoes inside a wood-burning stove. In the winter months, those potatoes would go inside their coats to keep them warm on the walk to school, and believe it or not, that’s what they had for lunch. A cold baked potato. It’s hard to imagine.
Let’s take a look at 10 ways our Great Depression-era ancestors reused or upcycled common items:
1. Flour sacks
Especially in rural and farm areas, flour sacks were literally reused as clothing. Patches were applied to pants and shirts, socks were mended, youngsters wore hand-me-downs, and flour sacks, which were large cotton bags, were washed, cut, and sewn into just about anything, including aprons, dresses, boys shirts, and underwear
While we might not think of rabbits as something you can “upcycle,” they really were versatile animals that helped many families live through the depression. A breeding pair of rabbits could be fed just about any type of produce scraps you could find, or for just a few handfuls of alfalfa. They reproduced quickly and could be used for meat or sold to others for cash or other goods. The fur also could be used to line boots or make blankets and clothing.
My mother says that her father once spent the weekly meat money on a pair of breeding rabbits. My grandmother was really angry with him at first for spending grocery money on something she had to feed, but within a year, the family was making money or exchanging rabbits for things such as milk or eggs from other families.
Large, galvanized washtubs were used for just about everything: washing clothes, washing dishes, even as bathtubs or water heaters. One summer (fortunately it was summer!) my grandmother’s water heater broke and there was no money for another one. My grandfather put a few old sheets in a washtub and would leave it filled with water on the back porch, which got a great deal of sun. By the end of the day the water was warm enough that someone could take a bath.
Most children received fruit and nuts as a Christmas present, or if they were very lucky, a few pieces of hard candy. My mother used to tell me that she would make all of her presents from leftover material she would collect. Broken shoelaces became woven key or watch fobs, scraps of paper (she collected a great deal from school) were cut into small notepad sizes. The tops would have two holes punched in it, and then tied with an old piece of string for notebooks or drawing books.
5. Sheets, towels and blankets
These valuable items were never, ever thrown away until they were literally just threads in your hands. Sheets were mended and patched until they couldn’t be used anymore, and then cut up into dresses, curtains or more patches for other sheets or pillowcases. Sometimes, sheets were cut into long strips and woven into lightweight blankets or rag rugs. The same was true of blankets. Towels were mended until you could literally see through them. Even then, they were cut into washcloths, cleaning clothes, or used for patches for pants and shirts.
Since we spoke about how rabbits could be used, chickens were also versatile. My father grew up on a small farm where they kept about 100 chickens. Chickens that didn’t lay eggs for a few days became dinner. Feathers from chickens were used to make or repair pillows, blankets, sometimes even saggy mattresses! While geese had better feathers, my father said that their geese were often eaten by local wildlife, so they relied on chicken feathers instead.
7. Old clothing
Some of the creative ways people dealt with clothing during the Great Depression were simply amazing. A knit sweater, for example, could be used in the winter, and then the sleeves removed for the summer. If the sweater was still good, the sleeves were sewn back on. My mother tells me that she once had a pair of shorts and a blouse that were fairly worn out. She and my grandmother took them apart and sewed the material so my mother had a “new” bathing suit.
Dresses could be cut into blouses or skirts, depending on where the wear or damage was. Pants were made into shorts, overalls made into pants. My uncle John would tell me that he was embarrassed to wear a pair of his father’s patched-up work pants, until he saw his friends wearing the same things.
8. Tires and inner tubes
Although most tires today do not use inner tubes, they were common during the Great Depression. Tires from cars and bicycles were patched over and over, until they simply could not be used any longer. Some tires were burned as a means of heating, but the smoke is so terrible that you had to be pretty desperate to do that. Tires were often cut and used to replace shoe bottoms or were used to make swings for the kids. Inner tubes were usually cut up to make patches for other inner tubes or tires, but they also could be used to make waterproof boots by simply covering them with pieces of inner tubes cut to fit.
9. Driftwood, string and other things
My mother says that she and her brothers spent many weekends in search of anything they could find either to use or sell. Even things like old tree branches and driftwood were collected, cut and bundled either to be sold or used. Every rubber band and piece of string was kept or collected to be reused when the need arose. Every paper bag was folded and saved, every cord cut off of every un-repairable appliance, and every scrap of soap was saved in a jar to melt later and be reformed into a “new” bar of soap.
Many stories about the Great Depression are filled with acts of kindness between people experiencing great hardship. Those are the stories that fill me with the hope that we all could survive something this terrible.
Do you know of other ways our ancestors reused items during the Great Depression? Share your tips in the section below:
By: Tom Chatham Many people today know there is danger on the horizon and want to do something to prepare for it but lack substantial money to buy what they think they will need. They have scanned many good lists online and know what others are stocking up on. There are many good ideas out […]
Although the Great Recession is officially over, our economic problems have just begun. Wall Street and the Federal Reserve essentially papered over the systemic problems that led to the stock market crash in 2008. They may have kicked the can down the road, but they are almost out of road. I believe shortly after the […]
The post 50 Interesting Facts About Life In The Great Depression appeared first on Urban Survival Site.
What lessons from the Great Depression might apply today? Here’s how my family got by.
by Leon Pantenburg
The stock market crashed in 1929, the economy tanked, farm prices dropped and my grandfather, Peter Pantenburg, lost the family farm in central Iowa. My people have been in that area since my great-great-grandfather, James Hallowell got a land grant after the Civil War and homesteaded in the late 1860s. My great-grandpa, Charles Hallowell, plowed the prairie for the first time in the 1870s with a John Deere breaking plow
My dad’s family went from being prosperous farmers to homeless in a matter of months.
My mom’s family had a similar story. Grandpa Leo Wirth also lost a farm, and he had a large family to feed.
Both families were destitute, but they weathered the storm and stayed intact. There are a lot of lessons learned about coping with economic disaster.
To put this in context: By 1930, according to history.com four million Americans looking for work could not find it; that number had risen to six million in 1931. Meanwhile, the country’s industrial production had dropped by half.
By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its nadir, according to history.com, some 13 to 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half of the country’s banks had failed.
The United States didn’t come out of the depression until 1939, at the beginning of World War II.
Despite the hard times, both families stayed intact. All their children turned out to be upstanding, successful people.
Here’s some of the lessons learned.
Never give up: Leo moved his family to Wesley, Iowa, because he found work managing a gas station/garage at a Standard Station. Pete and Leo took whatever work they could find and did any jobs that were available. Neither sat around waiting for someone to help them out. Nobody expected any government help, and both men would have felt it demeaning to take assistance from anywhere.
Figure out your resources, and come up with a plan: Even though it was a good crop, Pete’s corn was not worth harvesting in 1930 with the low prices. So the family burned corn for heat one winter.
Some of the displaced farmers headed west, or to other areas to look for work. Others tried to stay in place. Take an inventory of your resources and assets, and use that list to decide what to do next.
Subsistence hunting and fishing: My dad was 11 in 1929. He was too small to be much help farming, but he was an excellent small game hunter. Dad hunted all the time, and frequently, the rabbits and squirrels he killed became the main course for the evening meal.
His marksmanship got really good. Years later in the Army, that skill got Dad a job training troops and teaching rifle and pistol. Dad’s primary hunting firearm was a single shot .22 rifle. He used .22 shorts, because of the low price and noise, and he only shot once before moving along. (It’s difficult to locate a single shot by sound.) Still, he got caught poaching once.
But don’t depend on hunting or fishing. Hunting and foraging can supplement the food supply, but heading for the hills and “living off the land” won’t work. Have other ideas and plans to put food on the table during emergencies.
Have a skill or supplemental job: All farmers, it seemed, had some sort of side occupation. Leo was a butcher, and he would travel to farms to process cattle and hogs. He frequently got paid in meat. (Leo died when I was seven or eight, but I remember him skinning a pig and tending his bees.)
Charles Hallowell and his daughter, Alice Johnson, used their musical skills to survive. Charles played the violin at bars, dances, parties and other social events. Alice accompanied him on the piano, or played another violin.
They made enough to keep ends meeting, and to take in Pete’s family temporarily. ( It’s in the DNA – today, I play Charles’ fiddle in an old time string band at the High Desert Museum near Bend, Oregon. We do some of the same tunes Charles did. Check out how grandpa’s fiddle sounds on “Over the Waterfall.”)
Everybody, including the kids and old folks, had a job they could do based on their abilities. These tasks could be anything, from gathering eggs, to snapping beans, to helping with the harvest to working in the garden. Every little bit helped.
Stick together: Pete’s family moved to another farm north of Ames, and got a new start. I grew up on that farm, and my dad bought it in the 1960s. (I hunted the same hills and timber he used to hunt as a kid, but I never had the pressure to be successful!)
Other neighbors were not so fortunate, and many of them had to hit the road (Think “Grapes of Wrath”). Our next door neighbor, Jo Stahlman, was born in Foley, Alabama, when her family moved south to find work.
Make do: Fix, repair, recycle and reuse. Clothing was patched, handed down and used up. When it finally reached the rag stage, it might be made into a quilt.
That went for just about everything. Money was scarce, and fixing or mending something didn’t cost anything.
Garden: While millions of Americans went hungry, my relatives gardened like they always did. Every farm had a large plot, and many families were largely fed off the produce. Fruit orchards and berry patches were common,
There was virtually no market for livestock, but farmers could and did raise animals for their own tables. As far as I know, places like Iowa and other midwest states, which didn’t have the severe droughts of the dust bowl areas, fared better than many areas.
Raise chickens and rabbits: Farms back then were more diversified, with a variety of food raising activities. Every farm had a flock of chickens for the eggs and meat.
Rabbit meat is one of the most nutritious meats available, according to Rise and Shine Rabbitry, and rabbits can produce six pounds of meat on the same feed and water as it takes a cow to produce one pound of meat.
Both of these animals can be raised in small spaces and are productive and prolific.
Preserve food: Every farm wife knew how to can and preserve vegetables, and every farmer had a pantry. My relatives, being of mostly German extract, made lots of sauerkraut, and pickled many other vegetables.
Canned and smoked meats were also important. Just about every farm had a smoke house, where meat was preserved by smoking. This included hams, of course, but bacon, sausage and other smoked meats last a long time, and could get you through the winter.
This probably explains why bratwurst and sauerkraut is one of my favorite comfort foods. That’s also in my DNA.
Build a root cellar. These were the family’s food insurance policy. They were generally an area under the house, like a basement, where canned foods could be stored. The temperature, being underground, was generally pretty consistent, and it allowed for long term storage of root vegetables. Hence the name.
The root cellar was an essential way to keep carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, potatoes, and other root vegetables fresh through the winter months. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, to work properly, a root cellar must be able to hold a temperature of 32º to 40º F and have a humidity level of 85 to 95 percent. Ground temperature stabilizes at 10 feet deep, according to the almanac.
My Aunt Irene, 82, recalls that Grandma Sophie Wirth frequently ended up feeding extra mouths at the table.
“He (Leo) was known for supporting siblings in anyway he could,” Irene told my cousin Lisa Faust Swenson. “On weekends, anywhere from one family, to all his siblings’ families, would show up for dinner. Grandma would just keep taking food from the root cellar to make sure all were fed.”
It took World War II to bring the country out of the Great Depression. There are still arguments what caused it, and who is responsible. That discussion can take place somewhere else.
We’ve all heard that cliche’ about “Those who don’t learn from the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them.” And I think the lessons learned from my families’ survival of the depression are valid today.
Here’s the bottom line: You have to be part of a tribe, family or larger group that cares about the individual. Stick together. Learn how to produce, preserve and store food. Learn job skills and how to get by.
And maybe the most important lesson: Never give up!
(Note to all my relatives: I did the best I could with what there was to work with. I remembered stories I’d heard, and in particular, loved talking with Great Aunt Alice about family history. If you’ve heard other stories on this topic, or if I got something wrong, let me know!)
This year when I was getting ready to plant my spring garden, I was a little hesitant to plant according to frost date this year. In February, I had seen a local farmer post on Facebook something that sounded to me like pioneer weather wisdom:
February thunder brings a May frost.
It sounded like something out of the Farmer’s Alamanc. We had a thunderstorm on February 2, this year, and while our last frost date is usually around Mother’s Day (May 8), we had a frost on May 16. That frost damaged several crops in the area, and I was glad I had seen that farmer’s post and had waited to plant in my garden.
I saw another saying come true this year as well and this time it was from farmers who had to wait until after the frost and then had a second delay in planting due to rain. When most finally got around to planting, they noticed that at the same time there was a lot of white stuff floating around in the air.
When cottonwood starts to fly, it’s time to plant corn.
Seeing these sayings come true before my eyes made me wonder what other old farming wisdom was out there from pioneer days and even earlier in history. I began noticing other signs in nature, such as that June Bugs were only seen from our porch when it was a warm night. It had to be even warmer for the frogs to show up. I wondered if it might not be a good idea to wait for them to show up at least three nights in a row before trusting my plants to stay outside all night.
Hmmmm….maybe these farmers and the pioneers before them were on to something.
I decided to explore 3 different books of old-time weather wisdom from colonial days through pioneer days:
- A Millennium Primer: Timeless Truths and Delightful Diversions
- Ben Franklin’s Almanac of Wit, Wisdom, and Practical Advice
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Pioneer wisdom for planting and weather
People have been planting long before there were apps or the internet to tell you when, where and how to plant in a garden. Planting was done by carefully watching signs in nature, including the weather and the moon. Over time, people began to notice patterns for what worked and what didn’t and those observations turned into catchy sayings that could easily be taught to the next generation and the next.
Many folklore sayings don’t have much to back them up scientifically, but then there are others like the two I saw that do show themselves true in nature, at least sometimes.
As survival moms, it could help to know some folklore in regards to weather and planting in case of a long-term power or Internet outage. A calendar last-frost date could be hard to figure out if you’ve lost track of what day it is exactly. Or, by paying attention to nature, you might be able to avoid a late frost like I did this year. Consider, too, that even with all of today’s technology, weather forecasts are not 100% accurate. Nature has its ways of predicting the weather, too.
Besides the Internet, one of the best sources to find folklore sayings is to get the Old Farmer’s Almanac or one of the books their editors publish. I picked a few up at my local library to look through (after which, I promptly put them on my list of books to buy for my reference shelf).
One of those books was, A Millennium Primer: Timeless Truths and Delightful Diversions by The Old Farmer’s Almanac editors and Tim Clark
A Millennium Primer was written to be a “summary” of the Old Farmer’s Almanacs from 1792 to 1999. The editor wanted it to be like a “suitcase you’ve packed for your journey into the next millennium.” It’s broken down into seven sections covering the human connection, health and food, self-reliance, animals, the sky, time and space and prediction. Here are some of the old sayings I found in the book — some interesting, some accurate, and some never proven to be true!
“When sheep collect and huddle, tomorrow will become a puddle.”
“St. Swithin’s Day (July 15) if thou dost rain, for 40 days it will remain.” (Not proven to be true.)
“Bats flying late in the evening foretell a fine next day.”
“Cows give more milk and the sea more fish when the wind’s from the west.”
“If a fowl roll in the sand, rain is at hand.”
“There’ll be one snow in the coming winter for every fog in August.”
The book also gives advice on using insects as thermometers. Grasshoppers are loudest at 95F, but can’t make noise below 62F. If you hear a house cricket, count how many times he chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 for the temperature where the cricket is. Ants don’t emerge from their dens unless it is 55F or above. Bees cluster outside their hive at 102F and inside at 57F. No noise from insects means it is 40F or below.
There are also tips on predicting the weather by the moon. Researchers are finding there is a correlation between the full moon, cloudiness, rainfall and thunderstorms. The full moon can raise the temperature of the lower four miles of the Earth’s atmosphere by a few hundredths of a degree – enough to affect the weather.
Weather & gardening wisdom from Ben Franklin
The second book I found at the library was Ben Franklin’s Almanac of Wit, Wisdom, and Practical Advice by The Old Farmer’s Almanac editors. Before the Old Farmer’s Almanac, there was Poor Richard’s Almanack, published by Ben Franklin from 1733-1758. It contained tables and weather predictions, along with whatever wisdom Franklin wanted to include. This book contains selections from his almanacs and information on Franklin’s life.
Here are some of the more interesting folklore sayings I found in this book:
”For every thunderstorm in February will be a cold spell in May.” (This is the one my farmer friend had heard!)
“If grass grows in January, it will grow badly the whole year.”
“When oak trees bend with snow in January, good crops my be expected.”
“When the cat in February lies in the sun, she will creep behind the stove again in March.”
“April snow breeds grass.”
“Old-timers in the upland South believe that frost will not occur after the dogwoods have bloomed.”
“If the ash leafs out before the oak, expect a wet season.”
“Frogs singing at dusk indicate fair weather to come.”
“Mist in May and heat in June makes the harvest right soon.”
“There will be as many frosts in June as there are fogs in February.”
“When hornets build their nests high, expect a hot summer.”
“Wet June, dry September.”
“If the wind be hushed with sudden heat, expect heavy rain.”
“When spiderwebs are wet with dew that soon dries, expect a fine day.”
“If the first week in August is unusually warm, the winter will be white and long.”
“Spiderwebs floating at autumn sunset, bring frost that night, on this you may bet.”
“If meadows are green at Christmas, at Easter they will be covered with frost.”
The book is chock full of tips on cooking, gardening, taking care of the house, how to find north without a compass, how to predict a frost using nature and animals. (The wider the black band on a brown wooly caterpillar, the more severe the winter will be.)
The classic American almanac
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a classic, and a new, updated version is available each year. There is also a lot of information on their website. You can visit daily for a bit of advice (some is folklore). There are sections for weather, astronomy, gardening, calendars, food and advice. I think I might start checking my local forecast on their Web site and comparing it to the local news station’s forecast. You can get personalized gardening calendars and search their pest reference library.
I also asked my farmer friend if he could share any more folklore sayings he’s heard from the “old-timers” and pioneers of days gone by. Here is what he shared:
“If cows go in, rain will be short lasting. If they stay out, it’s going to rain a while.”
“You can always tell it’s going to rain if the leaves turn under and the flies bite.”
When referring to planting dates on corn, if you plant late due to weather, you lose a bushel (of yield potential) after the 10th of May. “A bushel per day after the 10th of May” the old saying goes.
After seeing some folklore sayings come true this year, I’m going to be paying more attention to nature when it comes to gardening and weather. I’m planning to buy some Old Farmer’s Almanac books and teach some of the folklore saying to my children as we see them come true. I already taught them about the June Bugs only coming out if the night was warm enough. I plan to take to heart the advice in Ben Franklin’s Almanac of Wit, Wisdom, and Practical Advice, to “… open your mind to the possibilities that exist to understand the world …”
The Fifteenth United States Census was conducted in May of 1930, and it was determined that the resident population was 122,775,046, in the United States, which was up 13 percent from the 1920 census. Today there are over 322 million people in the United States. Another great depression would have a profound effect on the country, much more so than in the 1920’s and 30’s.
During the first great depression, the government was much smaller, much less intrusive. There was no question as to whether you could raise chickens in your front yard, side yard, or backyard, you simply did it without anyone demanding a permit or threatening to sue over the noise and smell.
Back then not having a garden was considered an oddity if you lived in a rural area. Today, in some municipalities you can’t even raise vegetables in your front yard. Government dependency is at an all-time high, so what happens when the government cannot provide any more. We are almost to that point now are we not?
We are dependent on electricity and technology today. Dependent to the point that some, if not many of us would not survive without either. Technology keeps the pacemakers operational, the dialysis machines running and the tools for complicated surgeries rely on advanced technology as well.
In 1920, there wasn’t much of a dependency. Cities and towns had access to electricity, but few rural homes enjoyed the luxury. If you never had it, you wouldn’t miss it, nor need it. Today, however, it’s a different matter.
It is not the loss of billions, it will not be the shortage of food, and it will not be violent riots and civil unrest, which kills the most people. No, it will be the lack of electricity and lack of access to technology that will be the most devastating in the short-term, because people will not be able to get their government check, their medical care, and their food stamps, cell phones, free heating oil, and food from food banks, which they so rely on today.
People today don’t really know their neighbors in suburbia. It is best not to get involved, not hear the goings on next door, unlike in years past where neighbors were like family. You needed a barn raised 30 people showed up with hammers and saws without being asked and went to work and the only pay was a good meal at the end of the day that the ladies of the home so happily prepared for the hard working crew.
If there was a death in some family down the road people showed up with covered dishes to pass, men helped dig the grave in the family plot and every man removed their hats and bowed their heads in respect, even if the person that passed was a stranger. That is what people did, they cared, and they helped knowing that they too may be in the same position one day, and they knew they could count on their neighbors or even complete strangers in some cases to rally around and help get the job done.
Morality or lack of it will kill people today. When groups of people on a sidewalk can step over injured people, victims of a crime or someone with a medical emergency without even seeing them, let alone offering help, then people will die by the thousands during a crisis like the great depression because no will notice nor care to stop and help anyone.
There is more to prepping today than gathering food, equipment, and materials. Most Preppers by nature are generous and willing to share their knowledge and skills, and even their supplies in some instances. However, Preppers make up just a small fraction of the population today, so to be the only person in the room willing to help means you have a huge task ahead of you. A task you must prepare for along with gathering supplies and learning to live without electricity, natural gas, propane, and technology.
You have to prepare to deal with those that do not care. Some people will change once the SHTF, if for nothing more than for self-preservation but the vast majority of people will continue as they did before the crisis, and so, they will be your worst nightmare.
The post Another Great Depression: How Devastating Would It Be? appeared first on Preparing for shtf.
The Great Depression (1929-39) was the deepest and the longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world. It was caused by the stock market crash of 1929. Millions of investors were left holding worthless stocks and bonds. If you didn’t have cash at the time then your fortune was gone. Money on paper was not worth the ink it took to print the bonds.
It was estimated that by 1933 close to 15 million Americans were unemployed, and considering the population at the time, this was a devastating development for the country. No one had money to spend on goods so production nearly ceased in some sectors, thus, causing, even more, layoffs and the calculations were not precise so no one really knew the true unemployment rate at the time.
The cause was the rise in stock prices, which lead to a bubble because the rise could not be justified by future earnings. In other words, people were betting on a lame horse with no chance of winning the race. It fell apart and fast, overnight millions upon millions of dollars were wiped off the books. Panic ensued and the rest, as they say, is history.
Are There Lessons from the Great Depression?
1.) First, never put all of your eggs in one basket. This goes for money in banks and food and supplies in the pantry and around the home. The reason being obviously is that if something happens and you have all of your money or supplies in one place then everything can be stolen, damaged or destroyed at the same time leaving you nothing. In the case of a bank failure, your money could be lost for good.
Cash in the mattress is not a bad idea. Contrary to what some may say about cash versus gold, cash is still king, because the monetary system is far different from what it once was when the country was on the gold standard. This is not to say that you should not put some precious metals, gems and stones aside, but consider how you would value it, how much for a loaf of bread, a liter of water, and some diapers for the baby, for example. Cash is face value and always will be for the most part.
2.) Frugality is a word in which you need to become familiar. You will have to learn how to do with less. Pinch pennies, and save, save and save some more. There are things you need, and then there are things you want. Learn the difference. Save your money (cash) for the things you need first and then treat yourself to something you want, but make sure whatever it is, it performs a function, because during hard times everything you own must have a purpose and then be used, reused and then fixed when it breaks, fixed by you.
3.) Learn to get along with others, because you will need others whether you believe that or not right now. Unless you have extensive training and supplies for several years and know how to do everything that needs to be done, then you will need other’s knowledge and skills at some point. Keep in mind the vast majority of people will be in the same boat as you. There will be some comfort in that, and pulling together for a common cause is what rebuilds communities and towns.
4.) Getting out of debt is important. Despite what some may believe you will still owe the debt regardless of the calamity that befalls the country unless of course we all perish. Get out of debt and save cash.
5.) Never, waste anything, because you can’t afford to throw anything out that could serve a purpose later. However, you have to be careful you are not hoarding to the point you do not have room for needed supplies and equipment. Know how to keep and reuse items and know what can be used later and what is junk.
If you love modern history, homesteading, and all things survivalist/ preparedness, and have run out of series to binge-watch on Netflix, may I humbly suggest to you BBC’s Wartime Farm?
Wartime Farm is an eight-part documentary series released in 2012 that chronicles the adventures of a team of archeologists and historians who run a farm in Southampton, England, the way that it would have been run during the early 1940s during the second world war. They wear period clothing, use period machinery, and eat period meals. Along the way, the main cast explores rationing, the technology available during the period, as well as the socio-political aspects of the war. If you are interested in emergency preparedness, even if the war itself has no interest for you, this show is a goldmine of wisdom. History tells us that if it can happen once, it can happen again, and there but for the Grace of God go we.
This type of show is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to admit that it takes a certain degree of talent to make plowing, sewing, and laundry interesting – especially eight hours of it.
Other topics covered:
- Washing hair with soapwort
- Raising rabbits
- Building a temporary structure out of bales of hay
- Making silage
- Cooking lots of depressing 1940s-era meals (this era must be where Britain got is reputation for cuisine)
- Plucking chickens
- Rat extermination
All this, and more! And it’s engaging and interesting enough that I was inspired to actually go out and buy soapwort seeds so I could copy what I saw on television.
Reliance on Farming During the War
“The plow was the farmer’s principle weapon of war.”
Every episode opens with this statement from one of the cast members. Farming became a reserved occupation during the War, which meant that farmers were exempt from the draft. Prior to the War, two-thirds of all Britain’s food was imported, so when the German submarines enforced a blockade, the British knew they’d have to more than double food production or starve.
Britain’s farmers had many tricks up their sleeve in order to meet the demand. These included using prisoners of war as agricultural workers and plowing up any teeny bits of irregularly-shaped land that could be found. Because farmers could not grow hay, they fed their animals things like beet tops, nettles, and the weeds that grow in churchyards.
In modern America, people choose to be thrifty in order to save money. In Wartime Britain, people had to be thrifty because there were no other options, period. You had to make every last scrap of everything count because even if you had money, you could not go out to the store to buy more of it.
- “16 Super-Frugal Tips to Save Loads of Money on Entertainment & Holidays“
- “18 Tips for Enjoying a Frugal Lifestyle“
- “31 Super-Frugal Tips for Saving Money on Food“
- “43 Super-Frugal Tips For Cutting Down on Household Expenses“
“Make Do And Mend”
If you could condense the series into one phrase, it would be this one. Here’s a perfect example: the farm simulated preparations made for receiving evacuees from London. To do this, the cast had to fix up some of the out buildings and make them habitable, but the roofs had holes in them. Buying tiles for repairing the roofs was out of the question because all the factories that used to make tiles are now making munitions. So what do you do? You pull out some rusty machines that were obsolete in the ’20s and make tiles in your backyard! And then you distill some hard cider while you’re at it. Most of the show seems to consist of dealing with rusty machinery, come to think of it. And the rest of it entails resurrecting trade skills – like blacksmithing – that hadn’t been used in decades.
In this way, the series almost serves as a call to action. The way Wartime Farm tells it, possessing skills that were widely considered “obsolete” is what saved Britain. If there hadn’t been people around who knew how to use those ancient tile-making machines and how to build a kiln to fire them, what would you have done? With little clothing available for purchase, how else would you have clothed yourself or your children if you didn’t have any sewing ability?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my son’s favorite segment. As part of the Christmas episode, one of the guys makes a toy airplane out of a tin can and some roofing nails. My six-year-old thinks this is the height of technology, and has often asked us to make him an identical plane out of our many empty #10 cans. That we lack the tools and knowledge to do so makes us, in his view, somewhat lacking as parents. But more importantly, the necessity of having to make a toy out of a tin can at all highlights the differing attitudes towards toys between then and now.
Today, children have more toys than they know what to do with, and people make jokes about how a child’s playthings reproduce at night until the house is completely overrun. Many children in 1940s Britain witnessed their homes being destroyed and their families torn apart. Something as simple as a tin can airplane would have been an absolute treasure.
Not All Was Sunshine and Rainbows
The final episode briefly touches on some of the negative consequences of the farming methods employed during the war. British farmers couldn’t afford to use their land to grow feed for livestock because it was needed to grow food for humans. As a result, a great number of animals were culled. In agriculture today we refer to “rare breeds” of livestock – this event is why so many breeds of farm animals are considered “rare.”
The war also introduced a number of government farm-related regulations that were arguably necessary given the circumstances, but in the United States we would consider them abhorrent examples of government overreach. The Ministry of Agriculture had the power to grade farms based on their efficiency, and if you failed inspection, the government had the power to take your farm away and give it to someone else. After the war, people had the opportunity to vote on whether to keep the new regulations or dispense with them. The voters ultimately decided to keep the regulations.
In addition to the TV series, the cast wrote a book entitled Wartime Farm, which is alsoavailable for purchase. The series itself is only available as a set of region 2 DVDs on Amazon, but and can be found on YouTube. If you enjoy Wartime Farm, you should also check out additional series done by the same people: Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, and Tudor Monastery Farm.
By: Tom Chatham The purchasing power of Americans has been unequalled for the past several decades. This has been made possible by the high paying jobs created by our manufacturing sector. These jobs insured a wealthy middle class that could buy anything they wanted. These high paying jobs meant that some of the wealth created […]
By: Tom Chatham It has been said that history may not repeat but it sometimes rhymes. Just as the generals always seen to fight the last war people seem to prepare for the last depression. Times change and the mechanism that leads to misfortune changes with it. Looking at the past may not give us […]
An economic collapse, like the one many of us remember in 2008, can have a devastating ripple effect across the entire world. When things start to slow down, people have to tighten their purse strings. And when that happens, businesses struggle and start laying off workers. That results […]
Although many people like to point out all the similarities between The Great Recession and The Great Depression, there’s really no comparison. It’s true that Americans have faced hard times in recent years, but The Great Depression was far worse than what we’ve experienced in recent years. Many […]
The post 65 Pieces Of Survival Wisdom From The Great Depression appeared first on Urban Survival Site.
Survival and preparedness is on the rise today, and for many Americans, that means looking to the past for guidance. For example, how did our ancestors survive, with next to nothing, during tough times?
On this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio we examine survival during the Great Depression with survival expert, blogger and author Lisa Bedford, who has studied how our grandparents and great-grandparents not only endured the 1920s and 30s but actually thrived.
Lisa, the author of “Survival Mom” and “Worst Case Scenarios and Emergency Evacuations,” tells us:
- How people during the Great Depression made money when there seemingly were no jobs available.
- What unique foods they ate – foods that many Americans would never try.
- How they found food in their yards and the forest, and why we should do the same.
- What they used to sew their own clothes when they couldn’t afford fabric.
- How they repaired shoes, using an overlooked item that all of us own.
Finally, Lisa tells us why people who survived the Great Depression look back on that era so fondly – as if it were the best time of their lives. If you need some survival wisdom and inspiration this week, then this show is for you!
The upcoming ‘Greater Depression’ may likely last even longer than ‘the Great Depression’ of the 1930s and will have far worse consequences for more people than ever before. The Great Depression that took place during the 1930s was a severe worldwide economic depression, the timing of which varied across nations; however, in most countries it […]
Food has changed so much over the last 100 years that even amateur chefs rarely cook from scratch anymore. Instead, they rely on ready-made ingredients like cream of mushroom soup, seasoning mixes, pasta sauce, etc. But if we ever face a total economic collapse and a return to […]
The post 100s of Delicious Recipes From The Great Depression appeared first on Urban Survival Site.
Modern life is so easy and so convenient, most people have forgotten all the simple survival tips that used to be common knowledge. For example, you can preserve newly laid eggs for up to a year by burying them in salt. At one time, most people knew about this. But […]
What will you do for entertainment on long, dark nights when the power grid is down? Music might be just what is needed.
by Leon Pantenburg
The Great Depression was devastating for farmers in the Midwest. My grandfather, Peter Pantenburg, lost the family farm about 1930, and briefly, the entire family was homeless. What kept them from going on the road ala “The Grapes of Wrath“ was my great-grandfather Charles Hallowell, and his daughter Alice Johnson.
Charles was a fiddler and Alice was a pianist, and together they played any gig they could get. They made enough
money performing at bars, dances, parties and other social gatherings to keep the entire family together and in Iowa until times got better.
There’s a reason music has always been the center of most social gatherings. I think humans are hardwired to appreciate rhythm, and music evolves naturally out of that. I also believe that music is a natural stress reliever, and that it can have a soothing effect on troubled times. And what church service is complete without music?
Music can invigorate, soothe, inspire and calm. It can be the focal point of a fellowship gathering, and a way of getting people together who otherwise don’t have much in common.
And the point here is: When there is no electricity, what will people do to stay entertained and mentally stimulated? Reading is great, if you have books, but that can be a solitary activity that doesn’t do much for social interaction.
If music is not part of your preparedness plan, give it some thought.
Singing is the probably the easiest music for everyone. And acappella music is wonderful – it is so simple anyone can participate. But sounding good takes some practice and hard work!
The next step could be improvising instruments from common items.
These traditional percussion instruments are essentially free to make, and were mainstays at dances and social events on the frontier.
- Spoons: Just hold them by the stems so the bowls can strike against each other. Anybody can play the spoons. To be good with them takes some practice, though!
- Washboard: You’ll need one for washing clothes anyway, and all you need are some thimbles on your fingers to make some sounds. Here’s how to play one.
- Comb: Put some cellophane or paper over the comb and hum into it, kinda like a kazoo.
- Washtub bass: You can adapt the standard washtub used for laundry into a pretty decent bass with the right accessories. Here’s how to make one.
Kazoo: If you can hum, you can play a kazoo. They’re great to get beginners started, and for breaking the ice at parties. Don’t pay more than a buck for one.
Harmonica: Long a frontier standard, and a favorite of soldiers, hikers and of anyone who needed a lightweight instrument, a harmonica provides the classic soundtrack for a campfire.
Other instruments can be as eclectic as your musical tastes.
The next step is to form a band. The band can be a polished ensemble, or a group of people who get together to jam. Check out the regional
preferences of the area you live in. A polka band in the midwest, for example, or a country band in the southeast, are guaranteed moneymakers. Find people of similar tastes, and get together to play on a regular basis.
Then, start playing gigs. During the Depression, people were broke, but they still packed the bars. Your band, like my great-grandfather’s, could turn out to be quite profitable. It might even provide a livelihood, or way of making extra income when everything else has gone to hell.
Regardless if you’re preparing for the apocalypse, or just want to play for fun, music can be a vital part of your preparedness equipment and skills. And until a disaster happens, you can have a lot of fun practicing!
This is an article by Bob Rinear and it hit a note with me as I can’t help but have this feeling of dread. Other people that I talk to have it as well. Whether it’s an investor thinking the stock market will collapse or it some parent who think there will be a great depression and he won’t be able to feed his family, or it may be a parent who thinks there will be a total collapse and medicine for his diabetic son won’t be available.
Whatever it is, I am heeding it as I have long ago learned to respect my gut instincts. It may be all that keeps you alive in the coming chaos.
Are you Scare? by Bob Rinear
When I talk to people that I consider to be “awake” they all tend to say the same things to me. Almost to a tee, they suggest that they feel something isn’t quite right, but they don’t know exactly what.
They feel like things are out of control, but can’t say why. They feel there’s some form of impending doom, but can’t explain what it is, or why they even feel that way. They just know things aren’t right,but for the life of them, they can’t elucidate just why they feel that way.
I understand that feeling and it is real. You know it in your mind, you almost feel it in your gut. It’s not just the rioting, it’s not just the crazy things like Jade Helm, it’s not just the soggy economy, it’s not just the loss of morals, it’s not just the mindless souls staring like zombies at their cell phones, it’s not just the insane Political Correctness, it’s not just the laws for the privileged versus the laws for the masses, it’s not just any one thing. It’s a combo platter of all of that and considerably more. In a word, many of you are “worried” and I think rightfully so. You just hide it well.
The old analogy is “whistling past the graveyard”. Popular in the 30’s, its definition is “To attempt to stay cheerful in a dire situation; to proceed with a task, ignoring an upcoming hazard, hoping for a good outcome.” I remember quite well using an example of whistling past the graveyard when I was a youngster. I was 12 years old and my neighbor Matt and I had walked to the movies to see a show. Slated to end at 9 pm, the theater was just half a mile from our house and back then kids could walk home safely in the dark.
After our movie was over, the theater announced that they were going to run a “sneak preview showing” of a brand new movie called “night of the living dead”. It was a Saturday evening and Matt and I phoned home quickly to see if we could stay and watch the “free” movie. We got the okay.
If you’re not familiar with the film, it’s about a group of folks that find refuge in a farm house after the population had been turned into flesh eating zombies. Well, it scared the Bejesus out of the both of us. On the way home, we had to take one short path through some woods, and we did our version of whistling past the graveyard by talking really loud to each other and making fun of the ghouls because they were so fake. Truth is we were scared witless and awful glad to get home.
I see a lot of whistling past the graveyard. You ask folks “hey, how are you doing” and they respond, “oh fine, thanks” but then later you find things aren’t so fine. They’re behind on their mortgage, the kids can’t find jobs, medical is eating them alive, etc etc. Every story is different, but similar. They aren’t fine in the classic sense that we all used to be. They’re whistling.
I wanted to write this to let you know, you’re not alone. If you have that feeling that things aren’t right, and you’re concerned about the future, you’re in fine company. You have every reason to feel that way because indeed there’s so many things going on that it becomes overwhelming. Let’s face it folks, the three biggest selling drugs in America are anti-depressants, anti-acids, and Erectile dysfunction medicine. That alone should give you a good insight into the stress of modern day living.
I think the key to remaining sane in this modern world is picking your battles. You can’t fight everything. If you’ve got one pet peeve chewing on you, then go after it with gusto. Maybe you can join forces with other folks bothered by the same topic, and get something done about it. But don’t try and take on all the ills, it will drive you crazy, exhaust you and make you miserable.
People often ask me why I don’t talk about such things as Ferguson or Baltimore. Why I usually don’t comment on the gay movement, or the lesser number of Christians in the past ten years. Well the fact is I have very strong opinions on such things, and many more to boot. When I see a child get expelled for chewing a pop tart into a “gun shape” don’t you think my head explodes? It most certainly does. I think the loss of common sense in America is one of the things that bothers me more than anything else. Where the hell did it go??? When I see the loss of Freedom’s we’ve experienced, it saddens me to the core.
But again, you can’t fight everything. We try our best to tell you what’s happening in global finance, who the elites are, what their angling towards and how best we can profit or protect ourselves from them. That battle alone is all consuming as far as time and energy goes. Why? Because what happens at the upper end of elitist banking will trickle down and affect virtually every aspect of your life.
From taxes, to interest rates, to employment opportunity, to wars, to politicians, to you name it. I have enough battle on my hands, that’s for sure.
I’d love to tell you it’s all going to get better, but alas, I cannot. Each day gets more bizarre than the next. The worst part is that from where I sit, most of it stems from the financial side of the story. The struggle going on globally to deal with a quadrillion in derivatives, and dozens of completely broke nations, tends to toss normality out the window in a big way. Governments can ram all sorts of things
down your throat when you’re more worried about your paycheck than keeping an eye on their criminal activity.
Just consider the abject insanity of this…on Wednesday we had the worst retail sales report since 2009. On Thursday the WSJ reported that we have just come through the worst month of economic reports since the great recession. So what did the market do Thursday? It ran to a new alltime high on the S&P. Are markets supposed to soar to new highs on economic reports this bad? No.
But in 2015 they do, because the market is broken. It’s all about Central planners, central bakers, Wall Street wizards. It’s all about selling debt to buy back stock, it’s about the Swiss National bank owning billions upon billions of US stocks.
You’re right to be confused, concerned and at times mad. The world has been turned upside down.
College costs more than my first house. Race relations are at an all time low. Despite the war on drugs and the war on poverty, we have more of both in huge supply. Civility is gone. Road rage is the norm. The police are being militarized, and scary joint exercises are being played out in 20 states.
The price of protein is out of sight, and chicken, and burger has hit yet another all time high. Seafood has become completely out of the question for tens of millions. I could go on for ages.
My point isn’t to be an “angry white guy” as I was called recently. Hell I keep collecting nicknames all the time. I’ve been Negative Nancy, an angry white guy, and that conspiracy nut Bob just in the past month. My point is simply to say to you all, it’s real. What you’re feeling is legit. Something is coming and only your imagination will limit what it could be. How do I know something’s coming?
Because we cannot keep spinning ever more out of control for ever. Something’s got to give.
I don’t know how we fix inner cities, I really don’t. I don’t know how we get politicians that don’t lie to us. I don’t know how to fix a justice system that has one set of laws for the Hollywood and rich, and another set for us peon’s. I don’t know how to get common sense back. I don’t know how to defeat political correctness. I simply have a feeling that it all has to play itself out, burn itself out.
And I think the spark that lights the fire is some form of economic reset. Something pretty big that shakes us to the core for a while and we collectively wake up and decide we’ve been going down the wrong path for too long and it’s time to rebuild. Empires that begin to lose control don’t tend to fix themselves and return to what made them great, they tend to be faced with something major that forces them to change. War, bankruptcy, revolt, etc. I think we’re on that path. And yes it hurts to say that.
So no, you’re not crazy and things are indeed strange and getting stranger. Everyone’s whistling past the graveyard. Something’s coming and it’s my job to try my best to figure out what it is, and how we can get around it. So far the only thing that makes the most sense to me is a global economic reset, and the disruptions something like that will bring. Maybe I’m wrong and imagining all this…but I don’t think so.
If you’ve been with us for any length of time, you know that the thrust of most of my articles is “what can we do about it?” It’s one thing to rant and rave about all the lunacy we see each day, but it’s something else to try and lay out real plans to deal with it. Well I tend to think that it always starts at “home”. All you can do is make your family the best it can be. That’s financially, educationally, defensively, etc. You’re not going to alter the tides of societal change. All you can do is alter
yourselves. Once your situation at home is as good as you can make it, can you then reach out and try and “fix” other things.
Let me leave you with this thought. The President is working on his pet trade agreement. So secretive is the content of that agreement, that word is if you’re in Congress and want to see it, you have to meet one on one in a basement office. You cannot take in a cell phone. You are given the pages one section at a time and must be returned after reading while you’re watched. You are then sworn to not discuss what you’ve seen. This is what passes today for our “Government for and by the people”. It’s nothing of the sort. This is Government for and of the elitist corporations and one world thinkers. You simply get in the way.
If your elected officials have to create pacts and agreements in total secrecy and then we have to “pass it to find out what’s in it” the idea of a free Republic is no more.
So you’re right to whistle past the grave yard. You’re right to have that ugly feeling in your gut.
You’re right to think that as much as you hope for the best you fear for the worst lately. In all the years I’ve been writing this, which actually started in 1994, some 21 years ago, I’ve never been as “worried” about our future as I am today. That says a lot because I’ve come through some big things in my life, from Vietnam to 9/11 to the 2008 crash.
95% of all my articles are designed to enlighten you to what we really see going on, and provide some path to profit from it, or protect yourself from it. It’s all I know how to do. Stay tuned.
Surviving in the woods is something that you may, at some point, need to know about. Even if we never experience a local or global natural disaster that would force you into the woods in order to survive, there are always other times when you may need it.
For instance, if you’re camping and lose your way or if your car breaks down in the woods and you are miles away from civilization, you’ll need to know how to survive for a day or two.
Survivopedia has teamed up with the guys from Survival Know How to bring you a series of videos about 5 crucial hacks for your wilderness survival. We will teach you how to build a snare to catch small game, how to make a simple water filter, how to create fire using a mirror, how to make a tarp shelter and how to make a 2-liter bottle fish trap.
Each of these survival hacks requires very little in the way of materials and most of them, you’ll have in your bug-out bag or your vehicle bag anyway. If not, they’d be good to add.
1. Catch Live Game with a Wood Cage Trap
This is a pretty cool way to create a basic snare to catch small game. In the video below, Malcolm uses bamboo and a few feet of string but you could use any kind of sticks that you can find. It’s important that the sticks be relatively small in diameter. This is because the snare is going to be built by stacking the sticks atop each other in a manner that will leave gaps as large as the stick. If you use sticks that are too big around, your prey will be able to escape through these gaps.
You’ll be using the strings as the frame for the snare and will build the walls in such a way that when the snare is complete, it will be held together by the tension on the string. It’s extremely simple to put together.
Next you’ll learn how to make the stick that holds the trap up, which is actually quite clever. Finally, he’ll show you how to set the bushcraft trap so that it will snare a small animal. It’s easy and it seems as it would be effective. Check out the video!
Watch this video on Survival Know How.
2. How to Make a Simple Water Filter
There’s nothing more critical to survival than water. Our bodies are made mostly of it and your brain and organs are quickly affected if you don’t have enough. As a matter of fact, you can only go about 24 hours without water before your body and your brain stops functioning optimally. It won’t be long after that you die.
The how-to video below shows you how to make a simple water filter using a scrap of cloth and two empty containers. It works on the wicking method and the water will still need to be boiled or sanitized, but it will be free of debris and dirt.
Watch this video on Survival Know How.
3. How to Create Fire from a Mirror
Next to lack of water or food, exposure to the elements is the next biggest danger to you if you’re stuck in the woods. You need to know how to build a fire for a couple of reasons. First, many places get incredibly cold once the sun sets, and may even be dangerously cold during the day. You’ll need to build a fire to keep warm and to cook your food.
Another reason that you may want to build a fire is so that rescuers can find you. One of the first things that search parties look for is smoke, especially if they’re searching from the sky. Of course, if you’re trying to hide, you’ll want to build a smaller fire in the cover of trees of in a cave in order to hide the smoke.
Regardless, you’ll still need to stay warm and cook the meat that you caught in the snare, so watch this video to see how to start a fire using a vanity mirror. We’ve always said to include a mirror in your kits, so you won’t have anything more to add; you’ll already have what you need. Well, that and sunshine. Check it out – you may be surprised by how well this works!
Watch this video on Survival Know How.
4. How to Make a Tarp Shelter
You’ve got food, you’ve got water, you’ve got fire, and now you need shelter. Those are the basics that will keep you alive if you’re stuck in the woods trying to survive. Since we always recommend carrying a tarp or plastic garbage bags and 550 cord with you in your bug-out and vehicle bags, you won’t need much more other than a little bit of elbow grease.
The video below goes into detail about where you should build your shelter and offers some advice about where NOT to build it. He also talks about the prepping steps that you should take prior to putting your shelter up then tells you how to make it warmer and more comfortable. Check it out – you’ll love the simplicity of it.
Watch this video on Survival Know How.
5. How to Make a 2 Liter Bottle Fish Trap
Just in case your snare doesn’t work, you may want to have a back-up plan. Fish is pretty tasty and it’s also extremely good for you. It has a ton of protein and healthy fat that will help you to survive no matter what your circumstances are.
For this project, you’re going to need a 2-liter bottle, some string and a knife. Though the video shows a 2-liter bottle, you could use a smaller water bottle or even a larger jug. You’ll be catching minnows, which you can eat or use as bait to catch other fish. This is actually a pretty cool trick that you may want to use if you’re a fisherman in order to catch fresh bait throughout the day as you float along.
The concept is the same as commercial crab traps and is a pretty slick hack.
Watch this video on Survival Know How.
All five of these hacks are easy to do and don’t require any other materials than you should have in your bug-out kit or vehicle bag. Not only are they great for survival, they’re even good if you’re just out camping and having fun.
We’d love to hear what you think if the videos so let’s hear your opinion in the comments section below. Also, if you have any other cool hacks, feel free to share those, too!