May 25, 2010

Hard times?

Image compliments of Holly

As Memorial Day is approaching, my thoughts travel back to the Greatest Generation, which was my parents', and to thinking about their stories of the Great Depression and World War II.

Just yesterday, my mom gave me a paper my older son had written back in 1998 when he was in his first semester of college. He had "interviewed" my parents to obtain information for the paper he was writing for his American History class at Kent State. What a treasure this paper is already, as Andy has gone on to not only graduate from seminary and become a pastor, but he recently obtained a Master's Degree in History from the University of South Carolina.

The gist of his paper was that even though two-thirds of our nation was living below the poverty line during the Great Depression, most people, like my parents and grandparents, did what they needed to do to survive everyday life and relied on their core family values, work ethic, and faith in God to see them through the hard times.

I love what Andy said here:

"The Great Depression was not a time of sadness about how little my grandparents had, but rather a time of hard work and thankfulness for what they did have. When it was so easy for the poor to cry, my grandparents did their best to make it a time of laughter. They knew nothing else but being poor. It was a way of life for them. Still, both families had a sense of pride in the hard work that they had to do in order to survive. Wastefulness was never an option, and innovation was a way of life. It was through this pride in their families, strong faith and morals, and hard work that so many Americans survived the Great Depression and managed to remain happy in times of despair."

He then went on to give example after example of the way this attitude played out in their everyday lives, such as this one:

"My grandmother recalled one time during the Depression when their family's dog brought home a loose chicken. This was considered a blessing to the family, and her family was soon asking the blessing over that chicken at the dinner table."

In these current days of economic recession, my husband and I often talk about how we really can't get a grip on what life was really like even a generation or two before us. I don't know a single family that would cook and eat a chicken the family dog just dragged home. I don't know a single child who would be over-joyed to receive a single orange in his Christmas stocking.

One of my father's brothers died unexpectantly in 1935 at the age of 15, in the midst of the Depression. My grandparents had no money for a gravemarker and buried their son in an obscure section of the local cemetery where there hardly seems like there was room to do so. My grandfather made a marker himself out of cement, with a pole in the middle of it that bore an American flag, and carried it to the cemetery in a wagon, a couple of miles away. At some later date another headstone was placed on the grave. No one has ever wanted to remove the original homemade stone.

Every time I visit the cemetery and plant flowers where thirteen family members are now laid to rest, I think and remember. I am filled with gratitude for the heritage that I have, and for the generations now coming along who inherit the same blessings of hope of our faith-filled ancestors. We continue to tell the stories of hard work, perseverence, sacrifice, and faith in God to the next generation. And we look forward to a glad reunion day.

Andy and my mom


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful post!

I was just reading an inspiring bit of scripture this morning, which reminds me of God's promise to provide: Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." ~Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)

Whether it comes in the form of manna, the gift of innovation, or a dog bringing home a chicken, God will never fail us nor abandon us.

I saw it just yesterday. Our cat, Junebug, was lying around obviously not feeling well. It just came up suddenly. We had already paid out around $1000 in vets bills in the past several months and just did not need to pay out more. We both prayed for her and asked God to help us. In no time, she was up and running around and sign of any illness or problem and remains so today. God IS faithful to His Word. He does not abandon us. He does not fail us!!!

Holly, the Old Western Gal said...

I loved hearing stories of the Great Depression and WWII. Things MATTERED. My father wrote a book about how life was in his generation, and it went on to be publshed and is admired in Louisiana and is in every public school library. His main point was similar to Andy's: People found ways to cope, to carry on, to LIVE as decent people. Your chicken story reminds me of part of his story: He noted that his children would likely faint if they sat down to a dinner of a stewed squirrel. Yet they were able to do it and enjoy what food they had.

What a precious post. There are naysayers who will say, "Oh, it was awful back then, don't gild it, it was an ignorant time" to which I say, "We are living in ignorant times now, too, without the heart they displayed back then!!!"

Rose said...

Jacque, great post. You know it just serves to remind me of what a spoiled bunch we are today. No such thing as doing without. It's all about how much can I get. Thanks for the wonderful reminder that we won't die if we don't have EVERY thing we see!

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Hi Jacqueln,
What a great post, and what a neat paper your son wrote. It is so good to look back but,like you it is hard to imagine how hard it really was, but I think if we are believers things are a bit different because we serve a God that will never leave us or forsake us, and we can have that wonderful confidence in his love and care for us. That makes it quite a bit easier to have peace and joy in these trying times.
and also makes us anxious for His appearing, who knows it could be tonight!!
Have a great day,
Blessings, Nellie

Jess said...

Thanks for sharing such precious blessings: Andy's paper, his persistance in his education and his call to serve the Body of Christ!
The photo of your Mom and son is wonderful too. Thank you for pointing our hearts towards the inspiration of the Greatest Generation.
Love and ((HUGS))

Dar said...

Jacqueln, What a loving entry about your parents, your treasured son and all who smiled rather than cried during the Great Depression. My family also were always money poor, but so rich in love with their family. God is SO Good.

Pat said...

What a touching post!
We think we know hard our internet just went out! Ha! The greatest generation really knew hard times.
Those times served to make them the greatest..and we need to remember that and try to be more like them.
That home made grave marker just touched the very soul of me. You have a great family legacy and a great family that will be the future...your son is an honorable and good man.
Blessing too many to contain...we give thanks!

Jacquelyn Stager said...

Dear friends, thank you all for your wonderful comments here. Blessings do abound, don't they? God has said He will never let His children go begging for bread. My grandparents had a huge garden and even though they had 10 mouths to feed, they always shared with those in need. Have a blessed Memorial Day weekend and enjoy the good memories as we honor those who came before us. God bless you all!

Dar said...

Jacque: You asked for my recipe for the Dark Cho. Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting...You May already have, the ingredients are the exact same as the Cho. Dump Cake I posted on the 15th of April. The only difference, The Dark Cake is everything mixed together in one bowl, then stirred The Dump Cake is done in steps.
Enjoy, it is so moist and delicious.
I rarely measure so the Peanut Butter Frosting is just:
1/2 bag of powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 Tblsp. softened butter
milk enough to make frosting consistency to your liking

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Hi Jacquelyn,
Nice to hear from you hon, and thanks for your well wishes and prayers for us during this lay off time. We are doing our best to enjoy it and take advantage of the extra time the Lord is giving us.
There is a silver lining to every cloud, that is for sure, you just have to look for it, sometimes it is harder to find that others!! lol
This is our 5th time of going thru this in our almost 40 years, but God has always been faithful, so we know He will be faithful once again.
Take care sweet friend,
Blessings, Nellie

Rebecca said...

I wonder if it could be said any better??? While I don't like to be uncomfortable myself and am sometimes tempted to fear (not so much for myself but for our children and grandchildren), I KNOW that difficult circumstances build character when we put our head and hearts and hands to growth and overcoming.

So I am working at "counting it all joy.

Glad you kept that paper! Well done, Andy.