Doing Without And Making Do


Little Red River Journal, November 18, 1981

e were married in 1932 during the Great Depression and if ever love was tested, it was back in those trying times of "do-without and make-do." We were determined to start housekeeping for ourselves, even though it would have been cheaper to just live altogether with our folks, but we were brave as well as being a little foolish. So my folks let us have two rooms of their house and we furnished it as best as we could, and I doubt that anyone, rich or poor, was happier that first year than we were.
Our kitchen stove was a tiny little four-eye wood stove from Sears. We paid $7.50 for it and it cooked like a dream. We also ordered a handsaw and claw hammer from Sears and although I don't remember what the saw cost, the hammer was 23 cents. I know that sounds incredible, considering today's prices, but our country was still reeling from the effects of the bank closings of '29 and the great drought of 1930. Materials and labor were cheap, as were wages, so the finished product could be sold cheaply. My husband worked at a mill in Pangburn for as little as 12 ½ cents an hour. Yes, we had to figure carefully and skimp to live on this, but we came through and I really believe the experience was beneficial to us.
When the time finally came that we could do just a little better, I think we really appreciated what we got. A new set of dishes to replace the odds and ends our family donated. A pressure cooker to can the surplus produce we grew. It didn't take much to make us happy in those days.