The Sweet Speak | Growing Up in the Great Depression

Just to be Alive was an Adventure | Al: Growing Up in the Great Depression

The Great Depression and the challenges that it brought is hopefully something our children will never have to experience. We’ve seen no major poverty, experienced no drafts, and all wars that have happened during our lifetimes have been well outside of our backyard. As my kids (and I) struggle with life during this COVID-19 outbreak, I try to remember to put everything into perspective.


This is an extra special Sweet Speak, because it’s about my father, Al. The youngest of 7, Al was born in 1932, just a year before the Great Depression’s lowest point. My dad is easily the most adventurous person I know. When I asked him where he got his sense of adventure, he need not look too far outside of everyday life for an explanation.

The Cookies

If you got up in the middle of the night, the rats would be there. So people didn’t do that very often.

rat great depression royal icing cookie

Cooking with limited resources and food is hard, but cooking on a wood stove takes extra talent.

Growing your own food during the Depression didn’t always produce the intended results. Thievery was common, especially in gardens.

garden royal icing cookie

Ice boats gained popularity in during the Great Depression as an inexpensive way to pass the time, especially in the Midwest where there are many small bodies of water that freeze.  Many old timers today have fond memories of riding or watching the ice boats.

ice boats royal icing cookie

The GI Bill allowed many veterans to attend college that wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity.  The GI Bill was signed into law by President Roosevelt in 1944.

GI bill graduate dog tags royal icing cookie

All his older brothers had served in the Navy.  Al wanted the same.

navy seal logo emblem royal icing cookie

Geology brought him places, alright.  Just not the places he expected.

sahara desert royal icing cookie

Thank you, dad, for sitting down to talk with me. I painstakingly pared down 2 1/2 hours of audio recording down to 15 minutes…I just couldn’t stop asking questions.

The Sweet Speak is a video series that uses cookies to share stories of everyday human amazingness.  If you have a story that you would like to tell,  Contact me.

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