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Posts Tagged ‘tobacco’

Q & A: living in the Depression

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Grandmother Jennie Maceyka of Granville, Mass. (born in 1928)

Grandma's throwing the peace sign.

Grandma's throwing the peace sign.

Q: What do you remember about life when you were younger?
A: My father, the mail carrier, had a “stage” [truck] and he gave rides to people to get into the city. There was also no formal kindergarten back then.

Q: What about money is different now?
A: Well, we didn’t have much — no allowance. We didn’t have the money.

Q: How did you learn to manage money?
A: It was automatic because I watched my mother. And Grandpa and I were careful, because we wanted to buy a home.

Q: What kinds of jobs were available back then?
A: When I was a teenager, the best job around was working in tobacco. We sewed leaves together and hung them up to dry. That was the best paying job in the summer, so that’s what a lot of kids did. I babysat next door, too. I’d be walking down the road, no flashlight, keeping an eye on the branches against the sky. You could feel the sand on your feet and realize you were off the road a little bit.

Q:
What was the transportation like?
A: We were lucky back then that we did have a bus that picked us up and brought us home. One city had a bus but a lot of students had to walk a ways to catch it. We’d also play baseball back then. First base was the telephone pole.

Q:
What resources were used in your school?
A: They were just basic: reading, writing and arithmetic. Later on there was art and music, as we got in the higher grades. I could remember there were these bells. A piece of wood with bells on the end, and we all fought over it. Later we had a gym. We had baseball, softball and basketball. We even had a horseshoe pit one time. One of the horseshoes hit me in the leg; I think I still have a dent! I don’t remember us having what you would call a library. But our school has grown; it’s been enlarged.

Q:
What kinds of colleges were around then?
A: Grandma went to a school for teaching. I wonder if they had Westfield State [a local college] back then. My mother was boarding in Springfield, and then went to “normal” school to become a teacher. They did a lot of traveling back in those days to get kids to those schools. We had basic to 8th grade. There was no high school in Granville. Later on, they had vocational high and their curriculum was enlarged. They have automotive and word working there; they also have science classes, bookkeeping and English. We had a gym teacher and a sewing teacher, for those that took sewing.

Q: What did you do after schooling?
A: I graduated in ’46. We [Grandpa and I] got married in ’48. After high school I worked in the office at Noble and Cooley Drum Co. They made toy drums, etc. It seemed the easiest thing to do because of transportation, since we lived right in Granville. People would be laid off, and then brought back. I don’t know if it was a demand for the merchandise or what, but for part of the year they were laid off for a few weeks. It was just certain people; some they kept on. Noble and Cooley do very little now. They don’t have many people there. They have opened a museum with some of the things they used to make, like tambourines and drum sets.

Q:
What other kinds of jobs were available?
A: There was a box shop in town, where people built boxes, and there was the orchard, with people picking apples and other fruit. A lot of people went to work in Westfield and Connecticut. There wasn’t much in Granville.

Q: Has the current economic recession affected you at all?
A: I’m pretty good about staying the same. I really haven’t had any problem. Because I don’t go out for a job, it’s what I have coming in. I’m OK. I don’t have any large problems. I get some from Grandpa’s retirement and Social Security. Thank my hubby; he did well. He had a good job and he worked hard. His boss really respected him. They respected each other’s views on things.

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