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Better Deal

June 2024
1min read


This picture was taken in 1935, when members of my family were certain they could see the end of that dark tunnel we now call the Great Depression,” writes Mary B. Immel. “For the past few years we had coped by doing whatever jobs we could think up, during a time when NO HELP NEEDED signs sprouted everywhere. My mother, aunt, and grandmother made doughnuts, and I sugared them. My brother and uncles sold them on Wichita, Kansas, street corners at two for a nickel. My mother, uncles, and father turned the family automobile into a taxi service. ‘Anywhere in town for one thin dime’ was their motto. We ate a lot of navy bean soup or gravy on biscuits.

“Finally, when my uncle Ben landed a job as a bus driver for Santa Fe Trailways, his route took him West, and we moved with him. At first we all shared one large rented house. Then my father found steady work as a mechanic, and my mother was hired as a telephone operator. Now we were sure that things were really getting better. That was when we splurged some of our hard-earned money on a Midwest radio. There were no wall outlets in those days, so the cord dangled from a ceiling fixture.

“We knew who was getting us out of the mess our economy was in; we listened to his radio addresses, and his picture hung in a place of honor along with that of family members. (My aunt, my mother, and I appear in the photo on the wall at the right.)

“As I look at my grandmother, Julia Carney deVore, posing with some of those things that seemed important in our lives, I see the story of an American family. I don’t know if we were ‘typical,’ but I think we exemplified a hopefulness and determination in that period of our country’s history. To me, this photo symbolizes that time and our expectations.”

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