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Wednesday, April 2, 2014


My parents lived through the Great Depression and had many stories to tell. In fact, there were times when I felt I had lived through it with them from their numerous tales.
According to my parents, most everyone was poor. Wearing flour sack dresses and shoes with cardboard in the bottoms to cover the holes was not the walk of shame it would be today because it was the usual attire of the other classmates.

Meat was not eaten often since it was expensive, if it was available at all. So people stretched the meat by combining it with cheaper foods like pasta, rice or potatoes. I remember growing up we had roast beef every Sunday by my dad's request. Since he was deprived of beef during the depression, he wanted it every Sunday after World II and my sister and I came along. I had no idea how grateful I should have been.

My maternal grandmother was a scented soap hoarder. She had a dresser drawer filled with her treasure trove of delicately scented soaps. She seldom used them because she was saving them for a special occasion. Instead, she used Sweetheart soap. Personally, I liked it's floral scent, but I don't think they make it any more. I'm not sure they make Camay, Life Buoy, or Cashmere Bouquet either.
She used lye soap to wash clothes and it really made her white sheets super clean ( a thing of pride for her when she hung them on the line), but it made her hands raw.

My mother made most of our clothes. She enjoyed sewing and aspired to be a designer. Unfortunately, when she was 14, she contracted rheumatic heart disease from untreated strep throat. They didn't have antibiotics the way they do now. People didn't go to the doctor unless they were dying. Patients stayed at home in the care of their families.

My novella, FLY AWAY HEART takes place in Wyoming during the Great Depression. Of course it involves bootleg liquor and a speak easy since Prohibition occurred during the depression. Bartering was part of every day life since there wasn't a lot of cash. My hero takes a broken down WOW plane as payment for a job. He has always dreamed of flying.

Lilith Wilding can't remember a time when she didn't love the English born Robin Pierpont. But she knows he loves another so she hides her feelings behind a hard veneer for self protection.
Robin Pierpont dreams of flying airplanes and winning the heart of the woman he loves. When he becomes involved in illegal rum running to help a friend, those dreams may be lost. When he is called upon to face his greatest fear to save Lilith' s life, his fate may be sealed in death.
Price: $2.99 in e-book   Also available in paperback

Please note:
I apologize for the lack of picture, but I wrote this from my Kindle.
Sarah McNeal


  1. I am so happy that I discovered how to post pictures on my Kindle. It was tedious and complicated (that's why there's only two), but I did it. Yea me!

  2. I'm always fascinated by the Great Depression era as well. Both my folks suffered during this time. My grandfather, who lost his business, became a painter and he ended up painting for Mrs. Winchester (the Winchester Mystery House!) in San Jose. In fact, he used to say if he had a dollar for every stoke, he'd be a wealthy man! I have also written about this time period; I wrote a script that takes place in CA during the has placed as a Finalist in several screenplay contests but no sale yet. I've learned that for scripts set during the '30s is a "hard sell" because it's not yet considered "historical" -- it's still stuck between a historical and contemporary time period. So, congratulations on using such an inspiring and important historical point of view!

    1. Congratulations Gail on being a finalist in several screen play contests. That's wonderful. Items are declared antique when they become 50 years old. I am an antique by that account. I think, because there are people still living who survived the Great Depression, we just don't think of it in the same historical context as we do events like the American Civil War, but yesterday's news is now history.
      Cultures evolve over time and, the culture during the Great Depression was very appealing to me. I have more Wildings to write about who lived through the Great Depression and who have now come home from World War II.
      Thank you so much for coming by and sharing part of your family history, Gale. I wish you every success with your screen plays.

  3. Sarah, the Depression was such a horrible time for the people and our country. My parents were the poorest of the poor. They had to resort to migrant work in order to live. They traveled from one part of the country to the other following the crops. My mother told of having to live in an empty chicken coop once. And when I was born in 1948 we lived in a tent with my parents and four siblings. I didn't know what it was to live in a house until I was about six years old. Very desperate and dark times. It would kill people these days to have to go back to that. Few would make it.

    1. How amazing that you experienced part of those desperate times, Linda. I think you're right in believing people in today's society would have a very difficult time living through the deprivation of a depression like that. Of course,now there are safeguards like food stamps, section 8 housing and medicaid to prevent the kind of disaster your parents lived through. Your family must be strong as steel and filled with determination. How proud you must be of having such character in your parents. That's the American spirit.
      I really appreciate that you shared your family history.

  4. Sarah, I love me some Wildings! LOL Fly Away Heart is such a wonderful story, and really brings to life the rough times--you did a great job with that!

    My parents lived through the Great Depression in the Oklahoma Dustbowl. Both born in 1922, and both the eldest in their families, I think they had it a lot harder than the younger siblings, because they understood the worries of the adults better and felt more responsible for the younger kids in the family. Even into adulthood, my mom rarely sat down and ate a meal with us, because she was up and down, up and down, making sure everyone had everything they needed while we all begged, "COME SIT DOWN AND EAT WITH US!" but it was just so ingrained in her! The stories she told me, I'll remember forever. Dad didn't talk much about it, but Mom was full of stories of her growing up years.

    I can't wait to see what you have in store for us with the Wildings yet to come!

    And I'm really proud of you for being able to post pics to the blog on your kindle. I wouldn't know where to begin.

  5. Thank you for posting about blog today, Cheryl. I figured out how to post pictures in a log, but not to email. And thank you for constant support and positive words about my work. I really appreciate it south.
    Don't you wish you could have asked your parents more questions? I loved listening to my parents talk about their past, but I had no idea how much I wish I could know more about their histories now. My dad was the one who talked the most about how those times. I wish I had thought to write them down.
    Thank you so much for all you do, Cheryl.

  6. Sarah, the Depression is a very touching -- and touchy -- subject for people our age. My parents lived through it, too, and I grew up listening to their stories. My dad left home at age 17, "hitting the road" so his folks would have one less mouth to feed. They lost their farm and became sharecroppers. Meanwhile, Daddy traveled all over the western states, picking fruit in Arizona, became a fry-cook, and did door-to-door sales work to support himself.

    My mom grew up on a farm in Minnesota. She used to tell of having nothing to eat but potatoes and milk some days. Somehow her parents managed to hold onto their farm, possibly because my grandfather was a hunter, fisherman and a fur buyer during winter. He kept his family together and under a roof, but it must have been hard.

    Your story sounds very intriguing. It's going on my TBR list. Best of luck!

    1. Your family's experiences were not only interesting, but so much like the rest of us heard from our parents. My parents talked about gardens quite often and I know for my dad, gardens were a thing of pride as well as survival. No need could come for a visit without my dad dragging them down to the garden to show them his work. My sister and I still have a vegetable garden and we do some bragging, just like our dad. We learned some great practical skills from our depression era parents. I'm grateful for the knowledge they passed on.
      Thank you touch for coming by and sharing your history, Lyn. And thank you for the compliment about FLY AWAY HEART.

  7. Both of my parents lived through the Great Depression, too. My grandmother liked to tell how my dad, worried about how quickly they were going through the food, hid a bag of potatoes in the cellar. Sure enough they ran out of food, but were able to get by because of that sack of potatoes. He was 5 years old.

    1. Wow, Livia, your dad was pretty smart, especially for a five year old. I know how busy you are, so I truly appreciate that you took the time to come by. Thank you.

  8. The Great Depression is something younger generations will never understand. I was born just as WWII was ending, but my husband is several years older and was closer to the Depression. Even if there wasn't a depression, I don't think his family would have been any better off.
    One president during the Depression--can't recall the name, although I saw this just the other days--but he had one leg crossed over the other, and the sole of one shoe was visible--he had a big hole in the sole, and of course he had cardboard inside. Something, huh.
    The Depression citizenry and those of WWII era were strong and were survivors. They helped each other--no one was on the dole, except for bread lines. Thanks so much for all the memories and photos. Very good.

    1. You are so right, Celia, the depression was just an end result of so many unfortunate circumstances. There was a huge gap between the poor and the rich (and there weren't that many rich). World War II leveled the playing field with the growth of the middle class. People did seem to help each other out more in those days. According to my parents, who BTW came from very small towns in PA, the church was the center of the community serving as spiritual guidance, festivities and charity.
      I wish I could have posted more pictures, but getting just two on this blog like to have worn me out using a Kindle. Thank you for kind words and for telling some of your stories. I always enjoy them, Celia.

  9. The depression is still such a picture in out minds eyes. People either made do and did without.
    Post was most interesting. Growing up in a farming community I don't think they were as affected with lack, but...sometimes those folks didn't want to talk about it. Doris

    1. I guess those who farmed on land unaffected by the dust bowl were pretty DANG lucky, Doris. To have land at all was a good thing so people could at least have gardens. It must have the worst of luck to live in an apartment in the city.
      That's amazing that the people in your community don't want to talk about the depression . Most of those I knew loved to talk about it and how they invented ways to survive.
      My dad said a man in the valley near Numidia, PA didn't raise vegetables in his greenhouses. Instead, he raised and sold flowers. He made a lot of money because people bought the flowers to feel cheerful. I was amazed to know that.
      Thank you so much for your comment, Doris. All the best to you.