Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

March 6, 2008

Veterans of Great Depression dwindling group

Recent speculation about whether America is - or is not - on the brink of another depression had made me aware that I am one of a dwindling group who can remember the Big D Depression of the 1930s.

Those of us who lived through it tend to be a special breed: We belong to the Clean Plate Club ("It's sinful to waste food,'' we pay off our credit card debts as soon as the bill arrives (neither a borrower nor a lender be.'') and we can still parallel park on Main Street.

My family did not really suffer during that Depression. We lived in the parsonage supplied by the congregation my father served and he continued to receive a salary, although it was reduced during that period and it did not always arrive on the scheduled date.

But we had shelter and food, and we did not know anyone who jumped from a 30th story window after the stock market crash, or farmers whose topsoil was blown away in dustorms of that decade.

The signs of stress, though, were all around us. People sold apples on street corners, trying to collect enough dimes to provide a meal for a family.

I knew one man, a member of my father's congregation, who fitted up an old baby carriage with bins and boxes and a grinder and trundled it through the residential streets of Germantown to sell fresh-ground horse radish to housewives.

All over the city, on house after house after house, for sale signs appeared and the bank where I began working shortly after college graduation had a huge Real Estate Department involved in handling the thousands of properties on which the mortgages were in default.

By that time the Depression was already more than seven years old. It had begun in the summer before the Wall Street crash, with a series of bank failures. They were mostly small banks, but their customers panicked, businesses down-sized and people began counting their change.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
  • Happy 200th to St. Paul's Lutheran congregation Today is the 200th birthday of the Lutheran congregation in Frostburg!

    On Aug. 14, 1808, 24 people joined in a communion service in the New Church, a log structure on the edge of what is now called the Prichard Farm.

    August 14, 2008

  • Quality, attitude of people make 'Burg special A note in the newspaper a week or so ago mentioned that Oprah Winfrey was looking for "the best small towns in America.'' Frostburg is the best one I know of - but unfortunately Oprah asked for photos or videos supporting the nomination.

    August 7, 2008

  • There's always something new under the sun! The popular press has been devoting a good bit of space in recent weeks to the new swimsuit, introduced by Speedo, which supposedly has contributed to the record-breaking times posted in the Olympic tryouts.

    July 24, 2008

  • Ward and his mansion stand proud in 'Burg I've had questions recently - not for the first time! - about William Ward and the house he built at 73 W. Main St. here in Frostburg.

    July 17, 2008

  • July 4th: Finding our beliefs Independence Day, like Christmas, is one of the few national holidays that has not been moved to Monday, to provide a four-day break for working people. It holds its own as the Fourth of July.

    July 3, 2008

  • Berry-picking brings back many memories Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream.

    June 26, 2008

  • Ambulance service has key community role The Frostburg Area Ambulance Service is currently asking for our help in raising money for the protective clothing that new government regulations require.

    June 19, 2008

  • Planet continues to change; Big One on horizon? In a year that is not yet half over, 2008 has already written itself into the record books for extremes of hot and cold, rain and drought, tornadoes and floods and earthquakes. Our planet Earth has been in a constant state of change.

    June 12, 2008

  • In tennis, individuals face each other as equals I'm not a sports person, but I like to watch tennis. During the three big summer tournaments - Paris, London and New York, played on three different surfaces - my TV is on, and I check the newspaper for details that I have missed.

    June 5, 2008

  • Arts are obviously alive in Allegany County Last week I had the pleasure of attending the spring concert of the Allegany Community Symphony Orchestra. The program was free, and nicely varied, and the instrumentalists were competent.

    May 29, 2008

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