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Depression-Era Throw-Backs

Our country has been in the middle of a depression and there are some things we can learn from our grandparents’ and what they did to get through the depression of the thirties. We are so isolated from one another, busier than there are hours in the day, and have more responsibilities on a day-to-day basis than people from the thirties. But, I plan to take some of their ideas and place a twist on them to relate to the depression survivors of today.

Canned Food Trade Out – Most of us never use all of the canned goods that we buy. Whether it’s soup, vegetables, or fruit it can be traded amongst neighbors and friends. Get together a load of canned goods that you will not use and have a monthly trade with a friend or neighbor. The next month, they can bring you canned goods. This is a better way of using goods rather than throwing them out. Also, if you would rather not do a trade-off, take your canned goods to the local food bank so someone in need can use them.

Hire Your Neighbor – Times are hard and you may be looking for a job, or a friend or neighbor might be searching for pay. If you are in a position to help, hire your neighbor. You may need your lawn mowed, a baby-sitter, house sitter, or other odd jobs that you do not have time to do yourself. This is a great way to support your friends and neighbors in their time of need. You may be embarassed to ask someone you know to do odd jobs for you, but just explain you don’t have time and want to help them. You never know, the tables might turn and you may need their help in the same way.

Meal Swap – Once a week, you and a neighbor or friend can trade off making dinner for the other family. You could invite them over to join your family for a meal, or take over a casserole or dinner for them. This helps each other save on meal expenses and will create a great way to get to know each other better.

Free Stuff – There are some great websites available these days where you can list items you no longer want for free or for a cheap price. The best website is, of course, craigslist. Other sites are freecycle, swaptree, and the free site – these are all great ways to find items for free and share as well.

Trash-Picking – Some people are a bit put off by this, but you can find some great items this way. No, I don’t mean diving head-first into a dumpster to find some semi-clean vegetables. But rather, find out when your local area has trash pick-up days and drive around the night before pick-up. Preferably, the nicer areas of town have the best picks. You would not believe how many great couches, wicker furniture, mirrors, desks, etc. I have seen driving around on trash day. A lot of people do not want to hassle with dropping off their furniture at the thrift store and instead would rather set it out on the curb and say, “good riddance.” If you are a thrift store shopper, you shouldn’t mind finding good stuff on the curb. Many people even put a “free” sign, encouraging passers-by to go ahead and take it. It is better to drive around at night or early morning so you can check it out better to make sure it isn’t dirty or smelly.

Community Cookout – If you live near folks that you know somewhat well, you all should get togther to have a community cookout. Hot dogs, buns, and hamburgers are inexpensive and can feed a lot of people for a good price. Those of you who can give a little can, but everyone should be invited around your neighborhood. Set up a couple of grills, cook some hot dogs and hamburgers, chips and drinks and a lot of possibly hungry people could get a tasty meal and get to know each other.

Hand Me Those Hand-Me-Downs – Before tossing out or giving away quality, gently-used clothing, ask around to see if anyone might need them for themselves or their kids. I grew up getting hand-me-downs and I loved them – it was like getting a new wardrobe and getting to play dress-up all in one. If your kids have outgrown their clothes, ask a friend or neighbor if their kids need any clothes.

The moral of this story is to help thy neighbor. In the 30’s, people helped each other, did odd jobs, and shared what they had to make it through. These days, the depression is almost worse because we live in an isolated type of world where we don’t find the time or have the energy to help each other get through. Even though times are hard, it doesn’t mean we can’t share, have fun together and find creative ways to get by.

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