I'm a “survivor” but have no desire to go back to the old days.
But it was much better then because crime was very low
- young people and older generations got along just fine. I loved to go to Grandma's. I still chuckle when we get a thunderstorm, because when my cousin and I visited, if a storm came up, we had to sit on chairs and give God time to do his work.
Grandma had a garden and chickens on the loose, and they would get into the garden. She would go to the porch and order them out of her garden and they would run.
My family lived in Bakerton. Dad worked for Sterling Coal Co. Mom took care of the home.
The coal company owned the houses and rent was taken from Dad's pay. There was a company store and your job depended on your patronage. Most miners did owe - not their soul, it's God's - their paycheck to the store.
Homes had electricity, a hand pump and wells in back yards. Coal-burning stoves were used for cooking, baking, heating water and heating irons for ironing.
Every home had a broom, mop and scrub bucket. Yellow soap was famous for hard jobs. There were no bathrooms. Outhouses or toilets were placed at an end of the yard, along with a coal-and-wood storage shed.
Cars and trucks were not common; airplanes were rarely seen. There were no refrigerators. The upper class had ice boxes. Radios were owned only by the upper class. TV didn't exist.
Bakerton was divided by a stream. A small foot bridge gave access to both sections of town. There was a school, which is still in use, and a small store was across town. The churches, doctors' families and mining superintendents were all uptown; also the company store was there.
In 1936, a strong storm came. It rained, the stream rose and the bridge washed downstream. We were in school and many classmates lived across town. School was dismissed and miners lined the banks of the stream and carried the younger children across to safety while assisting older students, They were our heroes.
I remember coming home from school one day for lunch and our furniture and even the baby in her crib were sitting in the yard. We had been evicted. Dad had been hospitalized and had been unable to work. No rent was being paid. We moved to a farmhouse in Chest Springs and spent the summer there.
When I started school, it was one room and one teacher for first through eighth-grade. Just like you see on TV. We walked the hill from home to the top. A bus picked up schoolchildren along the road.
Dad got another job, in Cardiff Mine, and we moved to Red Mill. At that time, there was no electricity, no water, no bathroom, no furnace We had a radio, run by car battery, so we had to limit our hours or the radio would be off
We raised chickens for eggs and Sunday dinner and holidays. Chickens would fly up to the banister, cock their heads and listen to music. They loved it.
The living room was kept for special occasions and occasionally used as a funeral parlor. It was quite common back then. My mother was laid-out at home.
Sometimes we had a pig. We planted a garden and picked berries and fruit. Our menu consisted mainly of soups, beans and spaghetti. Meat and potatoes were Sunday and holiday meals.
Edith Smith is a resident of Nanty Glo
Fire brought 'Depression' early
By HELEN KALWASINSKI
For our family, the Tribulskis, the Depression began Feb. 18, 1928, when the farmhouse we were renting outside Ashville (northeastern Cambria County) went up in flames. Then, there were no telephones and certainly no fire companies or snowplows. We lived a couple miles away from town so we did not look for any help. I was just past my eighth birthday and the snow on the hillside came up to just below my knees.
When the neighbor boys - teenagers - burst into the house yelling, “Fire ... your house is on fire,” Mother told them to run to the barn and tell “Mister.”
Father brought out the ladder and he and the two boys carried water from the nearby spring to pour onto the flames. But what effect could the buckets of water have on the fire that had already burned out a 10-foot-square area of the roof?
Since no one was there to carry the clothing and furniture away from the burning building, these things were consumed by the fire, and all of us walked away with only the clothing on our backs.
Our parents gathered up the family and took them to the Frank Kalishes', who lived on the next farm, about a mile away from the farm where we had lived.
I don't know how long we lived on Kalishes' generosity I do know Mother was very happy when Father came from work at Macaroni Mine, which was going out of business, and said we could move into the office there, since we had lost all our possessions in the house fire.
The office was changed into a kitchen. The adjoining room served as the parents' bedroom. The shanty about a hundred feet from the office but also along the township road, served as the nursery There were, again, two rooms.
Mother had much to worry about. She had only three fingers left, all on her right hand, because she had picked up some discarded blasting caps, thinking they had already been used. She thought she would find a way to use them.
But they exploded.
There were clothes that had to be washed by hand on the washboard. There was no electricity By the time we girls were 10 years old, we were pressed into washing the clothes, though ours were hardly ever boiled. We were too young to be standing by the cook-stove. Mother found it rather dangerous for us, as the copper boiler stood at least 18 inches above the stove top, if not higher.
Mother did all the cooking. We mostly had lima bean soup. To this we always added browned flour gravy in which tomatoes were smothered. If we were short of tomatoes and lima beans, we had macaroni or “za-cher-key” (Years later, I heard a man refer to it as dribble soup.) if a person had potatoes, these were cooked for soup.
When spring arrived, Father spaded up a piece of ground behind the shanty. Lettuce, carrots and were among the first produce we planted.
Helen Kalwasinski a resident of Portage
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