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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Doing more work
has helped us overcome

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
With splurging in America on the ropes and a few of the worst hitting the panic button, "those more conservative" merely tighten their belts another notch and go right on surviving. My father, who survived the Great Depression used to say, "I've never seen an individual or a business that couldn't take up a little slack if need be."

It seems to me, for more than 40 years the focus has been entirely on getting more wages for working fewer hours, and the amount of work performed for those wages didn't seem to matter. My father also said, "The best way to solve almost any difficulty is to start a little earlier and stay a little later." This old adage has served me well all my life.

My grandfather, who survived the Great Depression and Dust Bowl plus another recession or two before that, often said, "I blame most of the average person's problems on a family named Jones. Trying to keep up with the Joneses is always a losing proposition."

During a recent Barbed Wire Collectors show in Shamrock, a few old-timers sat together and talked about their memories of coping with hard times. Here is a sample.

One man said just after he started school in the second grade, morning and evening on his way to and from school he fetched the milk bucket off a neighbor widow's porch and milked her cow, returning the fresh milk to her back porch. He received a dime per day for this chore. He also said he was the only kid in his school with a steady job.

Another man down in Collingsworth County earned 10 cents per day as a first-grader by arriving at his country school early enough to carry out yesterday's wood stove ashes and build a fire to warm the building for the students arriving later.

A 15-year-old girl played piano for my father's dance band in the 1930s, earning 50 cents per night. Not much pay for four hours of dance music, however, she was the only girl in the school with a paying job and therefore the richest young lady in her class.

I have written before about the mail carrier at Dime Box, Texas, who would leave you a can of snuff if you left him a dime clamped in a wooden clothes pin. The reason for the clothes pin? His hands were so crippled from arthritis he couldn't pick up a loose coin.

A collector from Nebraska, just turned 85, told of his little sister contracting scarlet fever during the 1930s. She spent several days at the doctor's house, the only hospital facility within 100 miles.

To pay the medical bill, his mother baked an egg-custard pie each Friday afternoon and carried it by walking two miles to the doctor's house for delivery. He wasn't sure but thought this barter deal went on for more than a year.

The reason for the pie, most patients of the doctor had fresh milk, cream, butter and garden produce, more than the doctor and his family could eat. But, a fresh-baked egg-custard pie was a different matter altogether. No matter your problem, there is always a way to solve it if you want to bad enough.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
July 16, 2009 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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