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The Great Depression: Where True Heroes Are Found

Essay by review  •  November 27, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,681 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,392 Views

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October 29th, 1929, a day in history that I will never forget. My name is Bob Bigsby, and I survived The Great Depression. My survival was all due to two of the hardest working people I have ever met, my mom and dad. It was just the three of us living in our small two-bedroom house in New York City, right outside of Manhattan, home to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. I was 11 years old at the beginning of the Depression; old enough to remember some of the worst sights and experiences I have encountered till this day.

Black Tuesday, October 29th, 1929, was, as I remember, the day that the whole stock market went to hell (Gupta 17). All the stocks began to plummet at the fastest speeds ever recorded in history. There are many arguments of how and why the stocks did crash on October 29th. I believe that it was due to President Hoover, the current president at the time, keeping the Federal Reserve from expanding the money supply while bank panics and billions of dollars in bank deposits were lost (Gupta 19). Basically, the stock markets crashing began a chain reaction, which ended in what we call, The Great Depression (Nelson 1). But the how's and why's are not very important because nobody really understands that economic "mumbojumbo" that analysts and experts talk about. The thing that is important is what went on during the Great Depression after Black Tuesday.

Our family had a small turkey farm that contained about 200 some wild turkeys. It was an "ok" business before the arrival of Black Tuesday. We had to buy the feed for the turkeys on credit because we were just getting started with this business and couldn't afford to pay for the feed just yet. It was our job to make the turkeys nice and plump so that they would attract customers during Thanksgiving. Last year we made a killing off of our turkey sales, we were able to pay off all our debts and still have enough money for good Christmas presents. My mom and dad were greatly anticipating this years Thanksgiving sale, because we had twice as many turkeys as we did last year. We were only about a month and a half away from Thanksgiving. Spirits were high. I remember just chasing the turkeys in the field without a care in the world. My dad would yell from the house, "Now Bobby, don't be exercisin' those turkeys too much, they needa be fat for Thanksgiving". That was the last time I remember having fun with those turkeys.

My mom and dad began to read articles in the newspaper about how banks were closing, businesses failing, and people were out of work, all results of the stock market crashing (Nelson 1). I was only 11 at the time, so it was hard for me to comprehend how the stock markets crashing and people losing jobs and the economy going down could possibly affect us since we had no stocks and we owned our own business. My parents, on the other hand, completely understood and I could tell that they were becoming very depressed.

Thanksgiving Day. I finally understood. We still had 186 turkeys, we only sold ten, and we ate four of them in the past month because we had no money to buy other food. Christmas was not going to be good, I could feel it. To make things worse, we were still in debt with the shopkeeper who let us purchase the feed on credit. He was a very nice man; he let us pay the debt in turkeys. We agreed to give him four turkeys a month to help him feed his family. Although we had no money and we were in debt, we were, by far, better off than most, we still had food (Gupta 32).

Winter had already arrived and it was a rough one. My parents were forced to barter turkeys for warm clothing and firewood. Our nation was falling apart. Unemployment rates were very high and still rising and the economy was very low and still dropping (Gusmorino 1). My father knew that our turkeys would not last, so he began the inevitable job hunt and my mom getting an area of ground ready to plant fruits and vegetables as soon as it started to warm up. I realized that there were going to be very hard times to come, so I, too, began to job hunt. I shoveled driveways for between .02-.05 cents a driveway, depending on the size (Nelson 1). A job like that was even hard to come by because nobody could afford to pay anyone to do it.

Finally, my dad got a job in March, perfect timing too because our remaining 30 turkeys had caught some type of disease and died. My dad was working in some factory where all he did was box things up and put them in crates. His days were very long, about 13 hrs a day and he was paid $1 a day (Gusmorino 1). It was little, but it was something. It's a good thing food was cheap: Coffee was 19 cents a pound, butter 20 cents, bacon the same, with a five pound bag of sugar or flour about 25 cents (Gusmorino 1). That one-dollar my dad made a day would last us about a week. He started saving money up and every now and then on the weekends, my dad would take us out for a spin in our 1920 Ford because gas was only $1 for five gallons (Nelson 1). I remember one day when we were driving around town and we had stopped to fill up gas. That day was a horrific day. I looked across the street while my dad was filling up the tank, and I saw this man on the ledge of the roof of a building. It was as if time had come to a standstill, I knew he was going to jump, I had read about people jumping to their deaths and committing

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