The Great Depression
The Great Depression was a worldwide economic decline in 1930's. It was the most difficult and longest period of unemployment and low business activity in modern times. The Depression began in October 1929, when the stock values dropped very quickly. Many stockholders lost large amounts of money. Banks, factories, and stores closed and left millions of Americans jobless and penniless. Most families had to depend on charity to provide food.
When the Depression began Herbert Hoover was the President and in 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President. Roosevelt's reforms gave the Government more power and helped ease the depression.
The Depression caused a very sharp decrease in world trade because each country raised taxes on imported goods trying to help their own industries. The depression caused some countries to change their type of government and their leader.
The stock market crash occured from 1925 to 1929. During this period the price of common stocks on the New York Stock Exchange more than doubled. When stock values rose it encouraged many people to buy stocks hoping to make large profits following the future price increases.
Black Thursday was Oct 24, 1929 when the stock values dropped. The Friday and Saturday after Black Thursday stock prices remained steady. On Monday stock prices fell once again. By Tuesday, October 29, the stockholders panicked and began to sell a record of 16,410,030 shares of stock.
Millions of Americans suffered from a disease caused by malnutrition. People lost their homes because they didn't have enough money to pay their mortgage.In1932 at least 200,000 young people and 25,000 families roamed through the country looking for food, clothing, shelter, and a job.
The Great Depression had many effects on the United States. It produced new laws that gave the government far more power than at any time in the history of our nation. It changed the American society's outlook toward life.
Cyber-Visitors' Memories of this Event:
Remembrances of Diann Boehm's father :
He was only 2 years old when the depression hit but the depression didn't just take place in one year...it took years and years to recover...so his whole childhood was affected. Everyone
was...it was a different world...(these are his words) He should have grown up in a middle class farming family. instead it was a struggle... People went hungry it was touch...there was killing of cattle. Potato were burned in order to raise prices...and people would line up at the soup kitchen in order to be fed.
He did not like Roosevelt. He felt Roosevelt took advantage of the situation for his own political needs. Christmas was celebrated at the church. No Christmas trees. You got your present after the sermon. Everyone brought food and made the spirit of Christmas happen for the kids. I never had a Christmas tree til I met your mom and she never knew there was a depression when she was growing up in Pennsylvania.
When he was older he worked with his dad on the Roosevelt WPA 51 days of work then off for 2 months. He was 3 years old when they left Kansas...farm...and moved to Oklahoma.
The Dust was incredible...and everyone knew hunger more than a full tummy. When he was 16 and 17 he worked at the Tribune as a Fly boy and made $17.00 a week...room and Board was $7.00 and he had some money left over for the movies. He wanted to be in the movies more than anything and be a singer.
( I do know for a fact he was so good looking back then and He sang like
Bing Crosby. When I was little I would sit on his knee at Christmas and he
would sing "White Christmas" for me)
He wanted so much to have the money to go to Hollywood and try to make it...but as he said....duty called...the war started....the government knew we needed to be in the war in order to create jobs...He believes like many Americans in his time...that the government heard the warnings about Pearl Harbor and ignored them in order to regain economic recovery. He says they don't tell you that in History books...but if you heard the average person speak in those days you would know it was true. It was better to loose 100 thousand of our kids and enter a war for the economic recovery...Politics....He went on to say...as He entered the WOW and fought...
it was the most devastating thing to experience...Your friends dying right next to you.
When he returned home....His mom did not recognize him. When he left he was undernourished...he had not even gone thru poverty...when he came back he was well fed...and he came back 6 foot 1 inch....Tall and handsome... He picked up his mom who was only 4"11 and wore platform heels all the time...and she began screaming....he said he had to rattle off all kinds of
memories before he could be let back into the house.
(That was pretty funny don't you think.)
He did not get to finish high school because of the days.
He is amazed how people have it so easy and don't appreciate all they have. If he had one wish...it would be to be an extra in a movie.
The Depression Years
Fortunately my life was not adversely affected by the depression. Not only did I have a job but kept changing jobs for higher pay from 1930 on graduation from college to 1937 on graduation from college to 1937 when I quit a good job to go back to graduate school. Nevertheless this was a wild unsettled period. Right after the market crash in October 1929 there were news items of people jumping out of windows in skyscrapers in New York City where I had gone to work for Bell Telephone Laboratories. There was much hardship with people selling pencils on the street for 1 cent, apples for a nickel each and there were long soup lines for people living in the streets.
Since I grew up on a share-cropper farm in a small East Texas town, hard work and frugality were a way of life. So even at a college on money borrowed by my Dad, my lifestyle was no different . I mowed grass for the faculty for 35 cents per hour and swept the college shop every week for $7.50 per month. By joining the ROTC I got a subsistence allowance of 30 cents per day plus a uniform allowance and managed to get by.
After the market crash in October in 1929, the main part of the big depression ran from 1930 into 1933 . After a slight recovery, a recession followed in 1937 and 1938.
Graduating in 1930 at age 20, the depression was getting well under way. Fortunately, before graduating, I had taken a Federal examination for a Radio Inspector job. Then I had been interviewed and accepted for a job
at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City at $35/week. Some classmates who signed up for jobs with other companies were told not to report to work because of the depression.
At the laboratories I worked on a "Radio in every room"for the Waldof-Astoria Hotel, an early salary example of an electronic network.
By October 1931 the laboratory was talking about a possible 8% salary cut for everyone. At the same time I was offered a job in the Radio Division Department of Commerce at $2400/year which I accepted and was soon transferred to Baltimore.
The main job at the port of Baltimore was to inspect radio equipment of ship docked at the port to see that it was in good working order. One Spanish ship did not have enough vacuum tubes to run the receiver and transmitter at the sane time. So they would transmit messages then move a tube to the receiver to get a reply. Though unusual, it passed inspection since everything worked! The Depression got worse and the Radio Division was transferred to the Federal Radio Commission as an economy measure at the end of December 1932. I was the junior employee in Baltimore and was Reduced in force(RIF) at the same time.
After driving back home to Texas for a brief stop, I went on downtown to Houston since I had seen an advertisement that jobs were available in geophysics. The Texas Company hired me immediately to work in their R&D Laboratory on seismic exploration equipment. In fact I had to work until the weekend before I could go home and get a change of clothes. Texaco had developed a system called"remote control" which permitted seismic detectors(geophones) to be placed out in the swamps for a mile or by stringing a single copper wire for each geophone. This enabled Texaco seismic crews to explore swamp areas that other oil company crews could not cover.
From 1934 to 1937 there was a partial recovery from the depression.
After two years in the laboratory where I trained new crews to go into
the field , I was made Party Chief of seismic crew with a big salary jump in salary. My crew found an oil field under a small way out in the Louisiana swamp where others could operate only with great difficulty. By this time I had saved enough to quit and go back to graduate school at the University of Texas and got a Master's degree there in 1938. So I go out of graduate school at age 28 just as the 1937-1938 recession was ending.
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