The world was a very different place in December of 1933 when my mother was born. The Great Depression was in full swing and millions of Americans were out of work -- the unemployment rate was 25%.
Franklin Roosevelt had just taken office a year before, and launched the New Deal.
Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933.
It cost 3 cents to mail a letter in 1933.
A lb. of ground beef was 11 cents.
A new Plymouth was $445.
The 21st Amendment is passed repealing the 18th Amendment ( Repeal of prohibition ) on December 5, 1933.
My grandparents were in a bind, just like most of the other folks in America. My grandfather had been a professional baseball player since 1919, but in 1933 he couldn't find a job playing baseball. He was 37 years old.
On New Year's Eve, 1933, they nonetheless welcomed their third child and only girl, Elva Elizabeth Hasty.
My grandparents brought baby Elva home from the hospital and both her older brothers came down with whooping cough. Papa stayed upstairs and nursed the boys, and Memaw stayed downstairs with baby Elva. They lived in Marietta, on Powder Springs Road.
below, a clipping from 1932 when Papa played with the Birmingham Barons
My grandfather soon found work with companies around Atlanta who wanted him to coach and play baseball on the company teams, and gave him a token job to do the rest of the year, which he hated. He changed jobs so often when Mom was small that she never went to the same school twice until the family moved to Atlanta after World War II.
below, Papa playing on a team in Buford, Georgia - Papa in seated on the right, between the two men in white shirts
My grandmother, who had been raised in a wealthy family, found herself the mother of three small children, trying to manage a household during the Depression, when money was tight. She made aprons and dish towels and oven mitts out of flour sacks, and made clothes. We still have two of the flour sack aprons.
Everyone saved buttons. If a shirt had to be thrown away, the buttons were removed. Mom remembers being put at the table and told to "sort the buttons." When a new dress or shirt was being sewed, the buttons would be re-used.
At one rural school, there was no school lunch program. My grandmother had studied Home Economics at Bessie Tift College and she organized a school lunch program for all the children. Lunch might only be a bowl of soup and a piece of cornbread, but Memaw and the other mothers made sure each child was fed.
In the late 1930's the family left Smyrna and moved to Inman, South Carolina, then to a farm outside of Moore, South Carolina. The pipes were there for water but there was no water in the house - it came from a pump in the yard. There was no electricity in the house. It was during the war and when they built the house they couldn't get the wiring for the house because building materials were needed for the war effort. The family was put on a waiting list and eventually got wiring.
Mom recalls those times without electricity as not being so bad. After dinner, the family would sit around the big pine dining room table with oil lamps on each end of the table, kids doing homework and grownups reading or sewing.
In addition to trying to take care of their own kids, my grandparents often took in relatives.
My grandmother had 11 siblings and Papa had 7 siblings. Oftentimes, nieces and nephews were sent to stay with the family while their parents looked for work or if childcare was a problem. "Visits" lasting several months were not uncommon. Mother grew up with two brothers, but many cousins in and out, all the time. If they ran out of beds, quilts were put on the floor for the children.
Picnics were a source of fun, and long drives in the country. Ice cream was churned by hand, a great treat. Kids read comic books and played cowboys and indians. Mom played dolls and made "mud pies."
Mother remembers on the farm my grandfather would often pick broccoli out of the field and bring it home for Memaw to cook -- and she would throw it in the pressure cooker and reduce it to mush. My grandmother could also use her trusty 410 shotgun to shoot the head off of a chicken, pluck it, and fry it for supper. Everyone also worked very hard canning fruits and vegetables, and in South Carolina harvesting peaches. To this day, my mom and uncle Don love South Carolina peaches.
I feel very fortunate that my mother has an incredible memory and often tells me stories of her childhood. She describes people and events vividly and I can hold in my hand a flour sack apron that's over 70 years old, and light the antique oil lamps that my grandparents used. I eat on a table that was made by my great-grandfather more than a hundred years ago. History is a living, vivid, touchable thing, to me.
below, my grandparents and their children and grandchildren in March 1970 - Mom has on a red headband and I am wearing a red jacket