The Great Depression: Time of Financial Distress and Calamity
The 1930s was a time of hardship and despair. The Great Depression brought economic troubles throughout the whole United States. Right after the Stock Market crash in October of 1929, the Great Depression occurred because of the economic struggles which led to panic and fear. Those who were already in financial troubles struggled even more, and many of those who had jobs lost them. This event ultimately left individuals to encounter hardships. It affected families’ lifestyles and weakened and strengthened family bonds. The 1930s was a dark time for the United States and caused fear and panic for how the future would look like.
Most families during the 30s faced privation and encountered poverty. Individuals indeed endured times of hardships and suffering. “But I’m a 16 year old motherless girl that has to work for all she gets […] working day labor for a living and don’t get much of that to do […] haven’t even enough furniture […] bedsteads, a stove, or cabinet. [..] I thought you might have some old clothes, coats, and shoes […] I know if you have any you will send them […] Address to your loving friend Miss D. H.” (A sixteen-year-old girl) As the quote mentions, a sixteen year old girl from Royse City, Texas wrote a letter to one of her friends, trying to get some help, or resources that she and her family can use. Unfortunately, The Great Depression caused children and their families to beg for food, clothes, money, etc… Being in poverty caused adolescents to work, even though they would barely earn money. They would do anything to be able to try and support themselves and their family.
Notably, The Great Depression altered family roles and affected family life. Many children who were in school had to quit school and find a job. Their roles were altered because at their age they should be in school receiving education and learning new material. With the financial struggles families’ faced children had no other option than to go out and work. This caused them to be more mature, and take on a role that usually adults hold. “I am a boy of 17, I quit school 2 years ago in order to find a job. Since my dad died 3 years ago we haven’t been able to do so good […] we are behind two months in rent and the 3rd falling due this Wednesday, the 13th […] there are 5 of us, mother, 3 boys and myself […] I can’t see ourselves evicted from our house […] It would be all right if it was only me because I could take care of myself one way or another […] My mother can’t get work because she just recovered from tuberculosis and must rest […] I am afraid that if nothing comes up I will turn to crime for financial help […] I was wondering if you could loan us about $35.00 or more, we could get on our feet and once again hold up our heads […] Will you please be so kind as to answer this letter in some way […] Thanks Ever So Much, V.B.F.” A seventeen-year-old boy from Cleveland, Ohio wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt, the First Lady at the time, seeking help, implying that anything would help. This boy was forced to take on a role higher than what he should have and had to work and supply for his family with his brothers since their mother was ill, and their father had died. Unfortunately, situations like these made adolescents take a higher role than usual, and had to sacrifice their education to support their families and themselves.
Certainly, it can be argued that family bonds were both strengthened and weakened. Bonds in many instances were weakened because families were separated. “The Depression had a powerful impact on family life. It forced couples to delay marriage and drove the birth rate below the replacement level for the first time in American history. The divorce rate fell, for the simple reason that many couples could not afford to maintain separate households or pay legal fees. But rates of desertion soared. By 1940, 1.5 million married women were living apart from their husbands. More than 200,000 vagrant children wandered the country as a result of the breakup of their families.” (Hardships of the Great Depression) Clearly, in many instances family bonds were weakened. Many families were “torn apart” and that brought tough times in many households. In many cases bonds were strengthened because all of the family members may be working to keep their family stable, which makes their bond stronger. “My little sister and I tried to help my father in a way which we thought best. My little sister thought of helping the lady next door by taking care of the lady’s baby while the lady went shopping. Thus she earned fifty cents. I tried to help my father by having a paper route after school hours. Thus I received my salary of one dollar and fifty cents per week. My little sister and I gave our salary to my father in order to keep our home that we loved since we were very young. ” (A 13-year-old boy) As mentioned in the quote, a boy and his sister would do anything to get money and then would give it all to their father. By this they showed they cared and love their family and their house. This strengthened their bond because they worked as a team to try to keep their home and a stable relationship.
In particular, The Great Depression was a time of financial distress and calamity. Clearly, individuals encountered hardships. They encountered financial troubles, lack of resources, and overall a rough lifestyle. Most lives of families’ were affected and many family roles were altered. When there wasn’t enough money, children’s roles in the family were altered because now they too had to go out and find jobs to be able to earn at least a couple cents to survive. With all this chaos, family bonds were either strengthened or weakened. Many parents separated causing children to wander around the country alone or either kept their families together and created a strong bond with each other. Regardless of the situation, the 1930s was a tough time for everybody. It was hard for some families to have a stable life and many people unfortunately died. The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn and recession of all time.
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