Child of the Depression


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Also called fool's gold"


Child of the Depression
by Sallie Naatz Bailey

This is about growing up in Syracuse, New York during the Depression years. It's a much expanded version of what I had previously posted as a blog - with many more pictures from the era.
The photograph of the dog in the doll carriage is one that I posted in my former blog. It captured the attention of many of you - and those of you who read that blog may remember this introduction:


The Depression. It’s always capitalized – and aptly named. The economic misery certainly caused untold mental misery. I won’t dwell on that. This is about what it was like growing up in the 30’s & 40’s.

This is the Foreword that I included:

"Many, many years ago—when I was a little girl—I would travel with my parents to Oswego, NY where my Mom grew up and Chittenango, NY—where my Dad grew up. We would drive through areas where they had lived when they were children and they would point out various houses and recall places and people they had known and things they had done. Most of the time, my reaction ranged from complete disinterest to not even listening. After all, I’d heard it all so many times. I seldom asked questions.
Now they are all gone—everyone of that generation. There’s no one to whom I can address my questions. There is so much more I wish I had asked them about the way they lived—the way things were. So that’s what I’m doing here. Remembering the fact that my parents’ history is—sadly—beyond recall, I will try to tell you the answers before you even ask the questions— about the past that I can recall and what it was like growing up during The Depression and The War Years.
Originally begun as a project for my own family—and posted online as a ‘blog’ - I found that others—friends and strangers—found it interesting. Those in my age bracket immediately identified with it. What I thought unusual—were the younger people who reacted. All urged me—variously—to have it published (oh right—that’s easy) - and to add the other decades that I omitted. One person said it inspired him to write his own ‘history’ - though he’s only in his 40’s.
This is not a ‘memoir’. It is a history. It’s my story and the story of an era, as well. Perhaps, after reading it, you’ll feel as though you’ve visited a different time and place."

This the first car I remember - a Buick coupe - c. 1932 - and NO - all of those pictured did not ride in the car at the same time. My Mom drove, I sat on my Dad's lap - remember - no seatbelts - and my brother rode in the 'rumble-seat' with the family dog for the entire 3 hour trip to the Adirondacks. (Today it takes 2 hours).

My brother and friend - Army Air Corp Basic Training in Miami Beach, Florida - April 1942

 The photo below, of my father, brother and me, was taken by an itinerant photographer on Salina Street in downtown Syracuse - probably 1939 when I was 8 years old. My brother was carrying a box from the mens' store Wells & Coverly - probably a suit for his High School graduation.


Out-of-work men tried to eke out a living by this means and such things as selling shoelaces & apples on the street and traversing neighborhoods with a large wheel on their back to sharpen the scissors of householders. Many just gave up and 'went on the bum' - traveling the countryside by boxcar - begging and doing small jobs for pay or food where they could. Many people of the era remember men showing up at the back door and asking for 'hand-outs' of food in exchange for doing an odd job or two...