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THE LEAN YEARS

Stories of the Great Depression With Much Truth; Though Some Of It Stretched A Little.

BY

Henry Cole


THE GREAT DEPRESSION (My experience)

There were not many kids around Gwabegar at that time and Old Dick Cole and his four boys were favorably well-known. My Mother stood high in their esteem by cooking tasty treats to serve with the cups of black coffee often needed. Though she hated booze with all the fervor with which the men loved it, she tolerated it. Consequently, when the men came in on Saturday and got the dust flushed from their throats, I got my head patted and bags of boiled lollies thrust into my hands. Knowing her feelings, the men brought Mother flowers, which she loved, when they could find any. This had become such a ritual that I found it hard to understand when it was Monday and the men were loafing around, grumpy, sad-looking, and with no lollies. I was to learn later that that was when the railways department had cancelled the previously issued orders for sleepers and bridge-timbers. This left men used to earning, and spending, good money suddenly without income, and worse, without promise of any. The stories of American millionaires defenestrating into bloody heaps onto footpaths had not disturbed them in the least. There were plenty more American millionaires to go round, and windows for them to jump from. But now the depression had arrived at our place.

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