Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Great Depression.

This will not be a cheery post.
You've been warned.

I was looking at images over at
Searching on the term FOOD, I came across the photo above from 1940.

And, this photo, by photographer Carl Mydans, taken in 1936.
Over at Shorpy, you can see photos in high resolution, you can purchase copies, and you can comment on them. The comments can be very interesting.

Back and forth the comments went.
Was the photo staged?
Did negatives back then provide such high resolution?
(Apparently, yes - especially large 8x10 glass negatives.) Wouldn't a family that poor be taken care of by neighbors? Wouldn't someone provide them with better clothing? So many comments, ranging from how many sets of clothing a parent had to the burden of hoarding places on the next generation. You can read them all here.

Then, as an example, Dale Caruso posted a link to a You Tube video which he has compiled. The Face of the Great Depression. Powerful stuff.

Here's Dale's video..and my comments following, regarding the picture, the video, and hoarding.

It's amazing...the impact one photo can make on one life...71 years later.

Two things struck me about that picture: the caked on dirt on the mother's feet and the smile on the boy's face. Sure, I had heard the phrase, "dressed in flour sacks." But, there's something about an image - seeing it. It hits home.

About the video, The Face of the Great Depression
At first, honestly, I thought, "Can't the pictures move faster?" Then I looked, and listened, and let time stand still for a brief moment. By the end, I was crying. The license plate in the last photo was 1939. My mother would have been 13.

NOW IT GET IT. Well, I'm beginning to. A second generation child on the South Side of Chicago, she always told stories of a her gang of kids distracting the cart owner so other kids could run by - stealing whatever vegetables they could grab. They would start little fires at the curb and roast them on a stick or boil them in a pot of water. She said that's why, as an adult, she hated boiled onions or potatoes. But, the stories she told, of washing out her underclothes each night, sleeping 4 to a bed, lard and bread sandwiches...I somehow cleaned up the images and made them all pretty. I left out what it smells like if you haven't had a bath. Or, what it must have felt like to really, really be hungry.

Mom hoarded. Born in 1926, she left me the legacy of wall to wall, floor to ceiling piles of National Geographic magazines and "collectors" tins."

"These will be worth something someday," she chided...and promised.

They weren't.
Well, some of it was valuable - more from memories of her than replacement cost. More than anything, I wish she could have culled her stuff so she had more room to live.

Sure, it was a burden to empty. But it was easier for me to let go of her junk than it was for her to unload the fear of being "without." I can live with that.

Everyday I understand and accept her more.
--D Pin It

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