Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dad's Memories, Part I

(Intro in preceding post.)


You asked me for my memory of the depression. It is pretty dim, as I didn't know it was going on, and if it affected me I didn't know it at the time.

October, 1929 seems to be the date it hit this country. I only knew about it through the movies; the first thing would always be "Pathe News." We saw men splattered on the sidewalks of New York after losing their shirts on the stock market and taking off from their office windows etc. in a high dive

 It was big for the newspapers and since I always read the papers, I was aware, but not concerned to any degree. Our local paper, "The Brockton Enterprise," cost two cents, twelve cents for the six days it printed, and the paper boy was always given fifteen cents. First class postage was also two cents, and haircuts were twenty five cents.

In 1929 my folks bought me my first bike. It was a "Miami," made by Columbia, and I was never more thrilled. I think it cost $29.00, a lot of money at the time. No depression yet.

My bike and my hormones kicked in at the same time. My first "kissy face" was just down the street and her name was Eleanor Gorman. My bike was often parked by her back steps. Her father was never home and her mother didn't pay much attention to what was going on on the back steps.

Most shirts were white at the time, and were long sleeved. When the cuffs got a bit frayed, the sleeves were cut off at about the elbow. Then you had a shirt for summer.
    (Jr here: Dad has also told me that when boys got suits in
    those days they got two pair of pants, one of them knickers.
    They didn't get to wear the long pants until the knickers were
    worn out. During the winter they wore long underwear, tucked
    into their stockings. Going to school in the knickers, the
    bulges in the stockings showed, and were very embarrassing.)
One night when I got home about dark, my mother was in the kitchen and noticed lipstick on the collar of my white shirt. Trauma in a second. The problem was that the girl was an Irish Catholic, and to a diehard Methodist family that was of great concern. I imagine there was relief when my bike showed up from a different direction.

We lived at 29 Nye Avenue from the time I was born until I was about sixteen. It was a "three decker" with large rooms. My grandmother and Bertha shared one bedroom; Irving, Ruth, and later Strafford had another bedroom; and my mother and father had another. When they went to bed, I was on a couch on a living room for the rest of the night
    (Jr again: Dad said that when he was very young, they would
    put him to bed in a bedroom, and he would wake up in the
    morning on the couch.)
When we moved to 23 Newton Street, Strafford and I had our own rooms on the third floor, and the others had the whole second floor. It was a nice rent, and was owned by a Brockton school teacher.

I can imagine that so many living together was the result of the depression, but I didn't know it. Bertha, Irving, and my father were still working, although I know nothing of their wages.

Do you remember the watch that Gramp wanted Bobby to have (probably because he sat on his lap, listened to his stories, and stole cigarettes and matches)? In the watch case was a pawn ticket from a Brockton pawn shop. At some point (1931 or 1932) he had pawned it for $15.00, possibly for reasons depression related, but I just don't know. Why he saved the pawn ticket for so many years I can't imagine. It was redeemed less than a year later.


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