Reflections on "Voices from the Great Depression"

When the politicians and pontificators began comparing the 2009 economic woes with 1929, I thought of my parents. I remember as a kid, my father bending over in a parking lot or on a sidewalk — it could be anywhere — then proudly plucking a penny from the ground and placing it in his black coin purse. He was born in 1928 and raised in a poor Italian family in northern Michigan. There were hardships. His father died when he was in sixth grade. His mother put cardboard in her worn-out shoes because money was tight. But when he talks about those tough times, he always adds, “We were happy.”

ZuppaMy mother was born near the end of the Great Depression but also grew up poor in South Carolina. My parents passed their experiences on to me in the form of simple economic lessons. Live within your financial means. Don’t waste your resources. Save some of your income.

Like my parents, I thought that others who endured those earlier hard times could provide more personal and thought-provoking insights than today’s pundits. I started with retirement organizations that might be able to help. John Knox Village in Tampa responded first and provided several great subjects. I then approached the Lions Club, community leaders, fellow journalists, anyone who could point me in the right direction. Many were eager to tell their stories. Some weren’t. The memories were too painful, too private. One man just figured that younger generations didn’t care enough to listen.

I hope he’s wrong. In today’s digital, mass-produced era, the penny lacks value for most. Still, when Bill Jackson — who worked in a grocery store making less than a dollar a day — mentioned that at age 93 he still picks up pennies from the ground with the help of a walker, I was amazed and delighted. I thought of my father. He still picks up pennies. [CHRIS ZUPPA, Times]


No Responses to “Reflections on "Voices from the Great Depression"”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: