The stock market crashed in 1929. The Great Depression soon followed in the 1930s.
My siblings and I were all born in that period of time. To a child growing up in that era, things seemed like just the normal way of life.
Now I know it was anything but normal! But then ... what is normal?
Looking back in time and putting the pieces to the puzzle together, I can now more fully appreciate what my parents and grandparents went through to provide for the family in all aspects our of lives.
Our grandparents lived with us. Over the years, they were "family" and we all had that togetherness of living, working, sharing and loving. There were many happy times, and there were the sad moments too.
It must have seemed like a "double whammy," for no sooner had people coped with a depression than World War II was upon us. How sad to read historical accounts of slaughter and the total disregard for human life.
Does history really repeat itself, as many historians say?
During those war years, I remember our windows were draped with heavy curtains to black out any lights at night.
There were air raid drills and officials stationed outside to make sure the householders observed the law.
Lights out meant lights out and windows draped meant just that.
All vehicles had the upper part of the headlights painted black. It looked like the automobiles had black eyelids.
That was certainly a strange sight when traveling down the road.
Traveling? Gas was rationed, so everyone was careful to economize in that area ... that is, when you could find fuel at the gas pumps.
Even though I was very young, there are memories that will always be there.
What was called a "Victory Garden" was a must in those days of food rationing and high prices, when items could be found. People canned as much of their produce as they could, along with cold cellar storage, smoking, etc.
We lived in a very residential area. We could garden, but livestock or farming was out of the question. So we did what we could, and quite well, I might add.
I vividly remember the lengthy preparation of our sauerkraut. The basement laundry room was turned into a "cabbage nightmare." Cabbages were everywhere ... in the laundry sinks and piled up all over. The adults were busy as bees shredding the heads over large wooden board-type boxes with sharp blades as the heads were manually run up and down. The process took a lot of energy, and even the men folk took their turns.
These old-time cabbage shredders, now termed "mandolins," can be found in antique stores today.
(I wonder what my folks would have thought of my food processor?)
The large crocks were filled, salt added, a heavy stone placed on top of cheesecloth and then the lid. All was placed in the dark cold cellar to ferment.
There were shelves lined with all sorts of preserves, canned vegetables and you name it. The sand bin held the root vegetables, such as carrots, turnips and potatoes. We were ready for the winter months and even on into spring and summer again.
Dad prized his fruit trees, and granddad manned the heated greenhouse. Toward the end of winter granddad would be spending hours upon hours preparing the large table-top flats with fine sifted soil. As seedlings would mature, there was replanting, and as the weather warmed up there was the large garden to spade and compost. Mature plants were planted in a well-planned grid. Grassed walk areas were given thought to also, for half an acre of vegetables had to be accessed for the needed TLC. I remember that all this work was done by hand. Truly a labor of love and, of course, necessity.
Most people helped the war effort. The tin foil was carefully peeled off cigarette packs and squashed into large balls. Grease was collected in cans, and wasn't there something about silk stockings recycled for parachutes? I'm sure the library has many write-ups about that.
Of course there was no TV back then to update us on the world news. The newspapers, for us kids, were mainly for the comics. The movie theaters had news reels, which seemed irrelevant because what was shown wasn't going on in our back yard. (Kids seem to have their heads in the sand.)
Looking back, things were different. One historian stated that, "... the last normal' year was 1913." That was before World War I and all that followed.
I thought about all these "happenings" as I read Matthew 24 in my Bible. Everything does fit in with that prophecy.
There is a lot to think about and especially for the "what's next"?
Elaine W. Kniskern is a 75-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five.