Monday, October 19, 2009

I've never drawn an unemployment check in my life, and in two more months I'll be 85.
Once, I think it was in 1954, after being injured and disabled for several weeks while working a sales territory that ran up the Redwood Highway in Northern California, I lost my job, and so went to the State Unemployment Office because I needed money to buy food.

About twenty of us as new applicants were ushered into a room and told to sit at desks, and then we were talked down to by a pedantic jerk as if we were kindergarten children. Exasperated, I finally stood up, tore up my application, dropped it on the floor and left the room. It was a struggle for awhile, but we made it through those tough times. I used the lessons I had learned in childhood, when my father had led our family through the Great Depression, which were instilled. . .a work ethic that never leaves you. That was the only time I ever applied for Unemployment. My brother never took an unemployment check either, and my sister was a Dental Hygienist, who stood on her feet, while working for various dentists, for more than fifty years. I might mention that she had a bad heart, eventually leading to heart surgery in which they replaced the valve using a pig's heart valve, and she still continued working. She was known for her sunny disposition and steady work habits.

THE GARMENT INDUSTRY AND MOTHER: There was a period in there where finances got to be extremely thin and mother was doing all that she could to stretch each thin dime to make it count. Milk at the time was eight cents a quart, but money was so tight that if one of us kids spilled over the bottle on the sink or pitcher on the table, it was a major tradegy. Nothing was wasted. Peeling potatoes or carrots, we had to make sure we didn't cut too deeply and waste anything. You used as much of the onion as you could, as well. We were not wasteful in any way, the ham bone was used for soup.

But with three children to raise, attention to our clothing was important. Anything that was accidentally torn was sewed up or patched again by hand. Socks were darned, and I can remember many nights that after everyone was in bed and asleep, that mother would still be sitting in the living room, under the lamp, carefully darning our socks. There was a special little basket containing her darning needles and yarn of different colors, so that the colors always matched up. At times she would fall asleep with the darning materials and repaired socks in her lap. Mothers got upset when children would fall and rip a hole in the knee of a sock, because that meant another half hour or hour of work at night to darn the hole. Children didn't think of that when they were out running around, playing, the additional work they made for their mothers, but in those days most women learned such skills and that saved money in the long run. Remember, nickels and dimes added up to dollars!

Mother had a sewing machine, one she had bought for herself when you she single and working at the bank, a Singer, with a foot treadle. She made almost all her own clothes, suits, dresses, beach-wear, and she was always well-dressed, Depression or not. She made some of our clothes too, but she taught my sister how to sew and throughout her lifetime, she too made most of her own clothes. Hand-tailored clothes? That was a luxury that only the rich could afford, right? Not when you bought your material at Macy's or Gimble's, on sale, and knew all about materials.

She was the first up in the morning and the last to go to bed at night. We didn't go to school with holes in our socks or other pieces of clothing, but we were always neat and clean, with our clothes ironed, right down to our undershorts. Every piece of clothing was ironed and folded and put away in the drawers. When you consider that there were no electric irons, that they were heated on the stove and were heavy and extremely hot, the family wash for three children and two adults was a big job.

Then as money became harder to get, mother sought out something to do from home and she found an add in the daily paper for a job she could do at home. She had to go to the ever teeming garment district on the West Side in New York, and found that the factories there had piece work that could be done at home. She would make the trip to the city to visit a manufacturer of blouses who put emblems on them, such as stars, circles, and shields. One design in particular I remember were the anchors, perhaps one for each sleeve of the blouse. They were embroidered on large sheets of muslin in rows across and columns down, several dozen per sheet. First one had to cut the rows across, then cut them into singles, then trim them. Such fine detailed designs were not easy to cut out of the material to which they were sewn and it had to be done very carefully with a pair of very sharp small scissors in order to get into the corners. It was tedious. It was tiring and again, late at night she'd sit there after everyone was in bed and cut, her fingers would get stiff, but she kept working. They only paid something like 15 cents to 25 cents a gross, if I remember correctly, and if you didn't cut them to their satisfaction, they'd take the whole gross, but not pay you a cent for them. I remember her saying that a couple of times when she came home. The larger ones could have paid up to a dollar a gross, but my memory falls short there. The lower the price they paid for such things, the cheaper they could sell the blouses or clothing and beat out a competitor.

You went up and down in freight elevators in the garment district, and you walked into lofts where dozens of women worked at sewing machines in order to get to the office to deliver the embroidered pieces. It was a different world over there, and most of the owners were immigrants from Europe, the women sewing from Puerto Rico or eastern Europe. There was mother, having to travel from New Jersey to this strange place in order to deliver the work she had completed. They had record books to show what she took home with her and what she brought back, and paid her those few dollars in cash, down to the penny.

Most of the men in the garment industry were merciless, stingy with both money and compliments or appreciation, not phased out by tears I'm sure as some women were desperate for those little amounts of money, and they were mostly unappreciative of the women who worked so hard for them. Mother would have to leave home early go take bus and ferry to New York, and deliver the bags of cut-out emblems. They'd all have to be counted out and wrapped in bundles, all according to instructions. But, it would be a few more dollars and that bought milk and bread for the family. She'd return home with those few dollars, happy to have earned them, and with more sheets of those emblems to be cut out. Yes, I tried to do some of them when she was pushed to deliver them, as did Charles. We weren't very good at it and might have cost her some of those losses, I don't know, but she never blamed us for it if we did.

Luckily we weren't as poor as some of the other women who worked in that industry, who lived with their families in the tenaments in the inner city of New York. We always lived in one or two family homes, across the Hudson river in New Jersey.

Everything was based upon nickels and dimes, which I will emphasize in these stories again and again, and so she kept careful track of her expenses to go to New York, a nickel for the bus down to the Delaware-Lackawanna Ferry Boat, a nickel to cross the river, a nickel across town, and then, when she got paid, to stop at Horn and Hardart's Cafeteria and spend a nickel for some soup or a dime for a sandwich in the automatic food dispensers.

Later in life she suffered such severe and painful arthritis in her hands and I wonder now if it came from those long hours cutting out those embroidered designs with such small scissors. She went to Boston to an Arthritis Hospital, but they couldn't help her much. When she was young she had such pretty hands, but always covered them with gloves when she went out as that was the proper way to dress in those days.

Today the younger generations have no understanding of what it is for people to walk three or four miles to save the nickel they charged for bus fare! Mother would walk clear across the city of New York to save those nickels, as would Dad, and as we children did when going to the Zoo, mother holding one by the hand, and the two other children holding on, as she was a swift walker. It was like flying part of the time. We walked to Central Park from 42nd Street, certainly? We walked to all the museums too, such as the Museum of Natural History.

We did not have a car for some of those years, and when we did, it was a one car family and only Dad drove. I do not ever remember going to New York in the family car, although we drove to P New York and New Haven, Connecticut, every couple of months

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Like everything else in our memories, there are some incidents that stand out, while others are less distinct, but photos can bring about sudden recall. Last night I was sorting through some of pictures that I'd removed from an old album and there were some that verified many of my memories, others that helped recall incidents that I had supposedly forgotten.

One memory is the insurance man who came to our door every month to pick up a dime for a policy that Mom had bought, a $500 Life policy. In fact, she had purchased one for me, one for Charles and another for Eleanor, so he got thirty cents each time he came by. She had it all ready, three dimes, on top of the payment book, the day he was due to come by our house. You wouldn't think that anyone could make a living and raise a family on dimes, would you? But, people did, and that was the way this man made his living. Of course, he was always ready to sell us additional coverage, but it would not fit into mother's budget.

FAMILIES OFTEN SUBSISTED ON NICKELS AND DIMES When my brother and I began selling magazines to earn extra money, most sales were a nickel for either Colliers Magazine or The Saturday Evening Post. A manager drove around and met with his salesmen (us kids) every week, and delivered our week's supply to us and collected his three and a half cents for each copy we'd sold. If I had sold ten copies of Colliers, he collected thirty five cents just as if he were collecing a thousand dollars today. It was a business deal, and he had kids all over the area doing the same thing. He treated us with respect. We thought of it as a business and we knew how much we'd earned each and every week. There was a certain place that he'd meet us each week and all business was conducter from his car, then he'd go to meet another group. This was his income, and he built his route and hired kids who were recommended as trustworthy by other kids. We also had magazines that sold for a dime and a quarter, the last one earning us a nickel on each sale, and we returned any unsold copies to him. Everybody did their arithmetic and nationally all those nickels, dimes and quarters were the foundations of huge publishing enterprises, for that was the circulation that they guaranteed to their advitisers, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Motor Oil, etc.

We were to "shock troops" on the front lines, thousands of young boys and young men from coast to coast selling magazines, like the New York Daily News had boys on the street corners and newsstands all over the New York and New Jersey area selling the papers for three cents. With some families, such earnings were an important part of their subsistence to the father's earnings, in others that might be what they depended upon totally. Each was a micro-organism of its' own. They had their problems and they worked them out.

BANK TELLERS VISITED THE SCHOOL Even the bank down at the corner respected those nickels and dimes. Each week a Bank Teller would come to our school and visit each classroom, and most of the children had bank accounts in which they deposited a dime or more each week. The Teller noted it in out Bank Book and initialed it. In this way we were taught the importance of saving money for the future, and kids even bragged about having five or ten dollars in the bank. We did not draw it out and spend it frivously, it meant something to a young man when he got married if he had money in the bank. Prospective in-laws, who were almost always involved in such decisions, also looked favorably upon young men who were seriously preparing for their future by establishing a savings program.

We weren't taught to spend recklessly; we were taught to use our money wisely, sparingly, prudently. We weren't encouraged by our Government to go into debt, because that was foolish. We wanted to be solvent and we also wanted our government to be solvent.

Men weren't looking to the government to bail them out in those days, although the idea was growing more popular as they years of the Depression economy did not seem to be coming to end in the near future.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


The news today is far more depressing to me than the thoughts of the past and the years of the Great Depression. The 2009 Congress wants the Government to take over our lives in every aspect and to tell us a better way to do things, but in order to do that they must destroy a good part of what we have now. My message to them is: Balderdash! You don't create wealth by taking it from those who are wealthy and giving it to those who are poor. You create wealth by offering those who have it some incentives to develop new projects and employ people to build them, and those who begin earning money will spend it for their own needs.

If you teach a man how to plant crops, he will have food to feed himself and then, some to sell to his neighbors. In the meantime, his neighbor is busy making pottery for the farmer to cook or store food in. Those were the type of lessons that I learned when I was young, and they pertain to today's world just as much as they did before and during the Great Depression.

To understand things better about those days in the Great Depression, let's first do some arithmetic, using only ten fingers (and ten toes if need be). Chewing gum,Wrigleys, was five cents a pack for five sticks of gum. A pound of sickel pears cost a nickel. Milk was nine cents a quart, fresh from the farmer and sold out of a large can at the local bakery. We walked there with a two quart pail, and at times bought fresh buns or rolls fresh out of the oven. Chris, the baker's daughter worked behind the counter from the time she was nine or ten years old. A loaf of bread was a dime as well. It was nice being around Chris when she was outside, as she always smelled of that baked bread, and to us it was better than perfume. When she was 16 and 17, that bakery smell and her other attributes made her quite attractive. Stanley Podwyszynski, a kid with ears that stuck out at a sharp agnle from his head, like jar handles, would sing to her as a group of us walked in the park on a summer night. (He joined the Army in 1941, but I'll bet they never put him in the front lines, as the enemy could line up his sights on those ears.)

In 1931, Dad earned $64 every two weeks for 80 hours work or 75 cents an hour, handling ticket sales at the Electric Ferries in Weehawken, New Jersey. I cannot say for certain, but this was probably a nickel to a quarter an hour more than many jobs paid.

Gas, I think, was about six or seven cents, but I do remember that in 1939, when we were going to High School, it was nine cents a gallon.

We had Five and Dime stores, and it was surprising what a nickel or dime would buy you, almost everything you needed in the kitchen and all the small items in the home.

Newspapers were three cents. The Post Office charged 2 cents to send a letter. A post-card could be mailed for a penny. It was easy to keep track of things when so much of life was in nickels and dimes. Kids earned nickels and dimes by doing errands for neighbors, by standing outside of a grocery store with a wagon and loading up someone's groceries and walking home with them. This was opportunity to us. We may not have thought of it that way, but we were learning daily lessons about work and responsibility. Then Archie hired me to come inside the store and wrap packages of groceries, and suddenly I was earning ten cents an hour. Archie wrapped and tied the neatest packages in town, then put a handle on the package for the man or woman to carry it home, and under his supervision I learned how to do the same. Years later I wrapped five thousand ten thousand dollar paintings with the same pride Archie took in his work on a dollar or two worth of groceries at the National Grocery Store in North Bergen, New Jersey.

We earned additional nickels and dimes and even quarters by mowing lawns, weeding gardens, cutting hedges, shoveling snow from driveways, odd jobs, all done with hand tools (who ever saw an electric or gas powered tool in those days?). Small lawns, medium sized lawns, and even large estates, all done by pushing around a hand-mower. You didn't see many fat kids around town in those days, believe me. Work? It was really work then, hard work too. We sweated freely and didn't have a can of spray to clear away the odor. You did that with soap and a washcloth in the bathroom sink. We were preparing ourselves for the future, our future.

But then, we did not know that, and to us kids a dime meant that we could go to the movie matinee on Saturday morning, two movies, a cartoon, the news, and a Buck Jones (on his white horse) cowboy serial. Buck always taught us too, like a moralty show, the virtues of honesty and loyalty. He taught us how to get the girl too, but we didn't always learn that too well. He wore a white ten gallon Stetson and all the bad guys wore black. Sometimes a neighbor would give a kid two large empty soda bottles and they were worth a nickel each when returned to the grocery store, so that could be a box of popcorn or an ice cream cone. A smaller coke bottle was worth two cents. We Knew how to add things up, how ten pennies could get you into the theatre as well as a dime.

Perhaps we did not have it as bad as some of the others, because Dad had managed to find a steady job and it was one where they had a steady work force because it was a crucial link between New York and New Jersey, the Electric Ferries Co. with boats crossing the Hudson River every half hour. Perhaps that would have meant that we were somewhere in the lower middle-class. Poor, but not too poor. This meant that if you tripped and spilled that two-quart bucket of milk, you got one Hell of a scolding when you went crying home with an empty bucket.

But the Daily News and Daily Mirror had pictures of the lines of men outside any factory that put out a sign, Men Wanted. There could be a hundred or two hundred men lined up for those two or three or four jobs, men with families who were short of food. Every guy had a newspaper sticking out of his pocket, with the pages for jobs, with the ones he could do, circled. Hot sun, summer rain, winter snow, the lines were always the same, as they bore those discomforts in order to find work.

We were avid newspaper readers as kids, as Dad brought home three or four papers a day, left behind by riders on the Ferry Boats. News kids on the docks sold papers to passengers as they boarded, kids twelve to fifteen years old, helping to supporttheir families. Shoeshine boys were always around too, helping to make some guy more presentable for a job interview, or a floor salesman in a department store neat and presentable. A nickel a shine, and how those kids prided themselves on the shine they'd give you. They too, were salesmen, often Master Salesmen. It wasn't jive talk; it was sincere, and then, at the end, a little bit of spit on the toes of your shoes and that extra cloth snapping down and across a few more times. That was quality, that was the best shine you ever got in your life!

And, that, to many, was the difference between food on the table at night or go to bed hungry. It was the same for the newsboys hawking papers on the corners in New York, or the old women selling flowers or apples. (con't. from here tomorrow)

Friday, July 24, 2009

MEMORIES OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION - CHAP. V Before the Great Depression, my father had a successful business. I cannot give all the details, because I was too young to understand them, but he opened his own music business at one point. He had managed the Record Departments in a couple of major department stores, and had enough faith in his own abilities to go out on his own. It was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and he featured Victor recordings and the hand-wound machines to play them on. The store was located in the "negro" area, and the type of music he sold catered to their tastes. When the Depression hit, his business fell off dramatically and eventually he had to close it. Newspaper headlines often cause panic, and in all depressions I am convinced that the over-exuberance of the nation's press makes things severely worse. There never is a calm and rational voice among them to mitigate the circumstances, but only shrill headlines that maximize the impact. Rational people sit back and assess the situation; irrational people make sudden and unwise choices that affect everyone, including those who are rational and trying not to contribute to these media induced paranoias.

Perhaps, at times, we'd be better off if the press suspended publishing Business News for a week or two, in order to see what actually was happening, instead of being the carriers of the virus and spreading it. It is a thought that is not without merit.

At the time, my grandfather, also a hard worker, was doing alright too, with most of his money invested in a building that was leased by the U.S. Government for use as a Post Office. That seemed safe too, right? No, the Government decided to build a Post Office themselves and moved out of the building, which was not a good thing to happen to your major investment during a Depression. Such are the Vagaries of Life. When you think that you're all set, having planned well for the future, a ball comes through your front window and disturbs your peace and quiet. Thank goodness that my grandparents owned their own home in Philadelphia at the time, as that kept a roof over their heads during the lean years as well as a favorite refuge for their grandchildren during summer vacations.

Earlier on he and grandmother had owned a restaurant, which was said to have been successful. The origin of their business might have been that he sailed as a cook on trans-Altantic steamships. Dad's early memories are of his father packing a satchel, being gone for weeks at a time, then returning home and opening his satchel and handing money to grandmother, suggesting a seagoing period where you sign on, make a trip, then pay off at the end of the voyage. In 1926 he was working as a cook on the Governor's yacht in New Jersey (see photo), and again, this suggests prior experience as a ship's cook.

The accompanying photo of Dad, taken on a sales trip to Pittsburgh, shows a well-dressed confident young salesman, probably taken around 1927, when he was 26 years of age. It was taken on a hotel balcony. He'd been married about three years and had two young sons, and soon to have a daughter. He didn't know it, but the Great Depression lay in front of him and some tough years ahead, but his confidence and self-reliance shown here was to be a big help to him when hard-times came along, although it was to be sorely tested time and again throughout the coming years.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

There's a reason behind giving you an insight into the family history before getting to the story of how we survived The Great Depression, and that is to show that many people were well prepared for it because they had been taught from an early age how to work, and work meant survival. In other words, they were prepared for such upheavals. Uncle Harry, whom I have mentioned, as a well trained technician as a lens grinder in the optical trade, also had other abilities and seemed to always be employed throughout those years. In fact, right in the middle of it, in 1935, he took his savings, borrowed other money from friends and family, and opened his own business in Hew Haven, Connecticut, an optical shop where you could take your prescription for glasses and he'd grind the lenses, sell you the fames as well, and fit them to your face. He employed from three to five people, sponsored a weekly radio show, giving his nieces and nephew a chance to act, and was quite successful and lived in a nice home in an upper-class neighborhood. His business continued on until his death, and, in fact, after he died my father, who had also obtained his Optician's license, continued the business until his retirement.

This is a good example of why I say that opportunity was not dead because of the Depression, it was simply not available to everyone because they either didn't have skills to sell or if they had them, they didn't know how to market them. Uncle Harry obviously did. This may sound simplistic to some, but I saw it time and time again in those years, and young as I was I recognized it. As an example, one neighbor, an Italian named Steve Cerra, opened a barber shop half a block away on the main street. He spoke English with a strong Italian accent, but he built up a stead clientele and continued there during the thirties, saving his money, and one day had enough to buy a nice home in another town on the south Jersey shore, where he opened another shop and continued to earn and save. He never had trouble feeding his family and he saved enough money to send both his son and daughter through college. It was an immigrant's dream, America, the land of opportunity and open to all.

Another neighbor had an ice cream parlor and it was successful all through the Depression. In fact, at one point when our finances were in a precarious position, mother went to work for him and she became his most valued employee because of her pleasantness with his lunchtime customers.

Small businesses were the backbone of the country in those days. A butcher shop usually had two or three employees. The local hat shop had one or two. The garages employed three or four mechanics. Many men opened filling stations and each also had a garage and mechanics. The local farmers displayed their fruits and vegetables in the back of small trucks and drove up and down the streets, delivering freshly picked items right to your door. There were vegetable stores, with displays of fruit on stands out front. Dress shops had two or three employees. There was seldom a vacancy in the stores, as someone always wanted to go into business for themselves, a typewriter repair shop, a shoe-maker, an Italian grocery, a German grocery, a baker (German in our area), and all of them usually had their children behind the counter, learning how to handle the business and treat customers.

Many men, with lots of free time on their hands, tinkered and came up with inventions, then sold them out of their garages. Others took jobs they might not have considered before the Depression, but that often opened new vistas to them, opportunity was there if you sought it out. This was free enterprise. After all, this was America.

We read about the coal miners who were out of work, the farmers in the Dust Bowl who lost their land, the auto workers in Detroit who were laid off, the people living in tenaments in New York who were evicted because they could not pay the rent, it was all there in both story and photo in the newspapers and magazines, so we knew what was going on. The coal miners? They had it rough, but I never did think that God created a man and said that he could only work in a mine. Or that he should not travel a hundred miles or two to find a new type of employment. The farmers in the dust bowl suffered enormous privations and thousands of them migrated in pitiful condition to the west coast, to California. Along the way some people would not even give them a glass of water for their children. They suffered, but many built new foundations in their adopted state. Walter Knott, who would build Knott's Berry Farm, was one of them, but he came up with a new berry, the Boysenberry, and from there came the beginnings of his fortune. (Read the story of Knott's Beery Farm; it is as exciting to me today as the first time I read it.)

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Young boys in those days often turned to a trade because their families lacked the funds to provide them with a college education. They prepared early, and so Dad, somehow at around twelve years of age (in 1913), obtained a job in a music store and by age 16, he was on the road selling the latest records and also machines to play them, known as Victrolas, for a major company. These phonographs were hand wound and played records that were about 1/4" thick, using steel needles, which seemed to wear down rapidly and had to be changed regularly. At 16 he was considered mature enough to travel from Connecticut to Texas, to open up that new territory for Victor Talking Machine, a big responsibility for a young man. He became the manager of the music department in the largest department store in Ohio in his early twenties.

My uncle Harry, also at around 12 years of age, became an apprentice in an optical shop and learned how to grind lenses for glasses. later, he was able to get a job with Bausch & Lomb, in New York, the largest optical company in the country, having learned his profession well. This is an illustration of how people thought in those days, and then, eventually, he founded his own business and continued as an opticion for the rest of his life. Child Labor, can be as beneficial for some (or many) as it can, for others, seem detrimental.

There never is a lack of opportunity, but there is a decided lack of people who understand what opportunity is.

Both Howard and Harry, while in their early teens, were preparing for their future, not lolling around on the beach or sailing on Long Island Sound. They had developed a work ethic at an early age and neither one of them lost that edge during their lifetime. It persists in our family to this day, thank the Lord.

Dad was born in 1901, and uncle Harry in 1904. Their sister Helen, I believe, in 1907. They were raised as Catholics, and I still have Dad's Missal, with his name in gold letters on the cover; it is in German. Both of his parents were born in Germany, so they were German immigrants to this country and they not only had to learn the language, which they did fluently, but they had to fashion a life for themselves in a new country. Not only that, they had to live through World War I years, when German immigrants often felt the effects of discrimination, and when German accents, once detected, might cause problems as well.

My cousin relates how Grosvater (Grandfather in German) sold his farm when the Klu Klux Klan singled him out in the late 20s because of his German accent, and paraded past his farm home in New Jersy, white Klan outfits, torches and all. He moved to Philadelphia from there. The Klan operated in many states and they were not only white supremists, but held other grievances as well, such as an anti-immigrant attitude, Germans in one area, Irish in another, Polish in yet another. If you believe in Darwin's theory, Survival of the Fittest, then you should have some understanding of these attitudes, if only a smidgen.


Thursday, February 12, 2009


My Father had a strong work ethic, that, he had learned from his parents, and my Mother had the same work ethic that she also learned from her parents. Throughout his life he was known and respected for his honesty and integrity, as was Mother for hers, as well as her sweet and pleasant disposition. Such principles were more common then, as was independence of spirit and self-confidence that youngsters had.

Such codes of conduct were found in every western film made from the first days of the movie industry, as they usually are to this day. He did all he could to pass those principles on to his three children, as his parents had done with their three children. Greed was not part of this heritage, but a good honest work ethic was. He never drew an unemployment check in his life, as he always had the desire to work, so it was natural for him to find another opportunity if the present job did not work out. If there were no jobs available, then he created one for himself. His brother Harry did the same. Except for a few years during the worst of the Great Depression, he did well for himself.

His father had emigrated from Germany in the 1880s, and he had to start his life over, in a new country with a new language. His first work was akin to slavery in a way, as he had to work off the cost of his passage to the U.S. as an indentured servant to a farmer, a man who mistreated those in bondage to him. My Grosvater terminated his servitude rather suddenly because he refused to be mistreated.

He married in 1899 and took good care of his family by working hard and saving his money all his life. There was no unemployment law in thos days, so if you lost your job, then you had to figure out how you were going to survive and do it right away. Most everyone seemed to be more resourceful, perhaps because it was simply necessary that they be if they were to survive. There were no real surpluses of food and shelter, nor government organizations that offered such things free. In order to survive, you looked to find someone who could use your work skills.