I am doing a presentation later this month about the Great Depression. In researching this project, I have read a couple of books and watched several documentaries on the subject. Considering all that happened, massive unemployment (25% at its peak), over 9,000 bank failures, labor unrest in the face of horrible work conditions, the inaction and downright ineptitude of goverment, it’s a wonder anybody got through it. On top of all that, there is the dust bowl that wiped out so many. For the life of me, I don’t know how they did it. I doubt we would fare as well.
I feel very overwhelmed. I have an hour to do this presentation and there’s no way to do it all justice in that span of time. It would take me an hour just to explain the causes of the dust bowl alone and that doesn’t include the aftermath. This was one really tough generation. They fought WWI, got through the roaring twenties, suffered far beyond reason through the thirties only to watch their kids march off to WWII. I don’t know how they did it. I really don’t.
Fortunately for me (and all of us), that generation had enough sense to get a lot of it on paper and in film. I will be able to explain, at least some of it, in the words and pictures of those who lived through the Great Depression. I’ll be able to tell the true stories of the hobos and Hoovervilles, the constant search for work, ANY kind of work, and the despair they felt that scarred their soul. Their words and the pictures left behind will do the job for me. I hope I can do it justice.