Grandma & The Great Depression

I became interested in family history when I was in high school. I am so grateful that I started at such a young age, because so many of my family’s stories could have been lost if I hadn’t asked my family members to share them. I spent quite a bit of time with my grandmother, Mary Holsclaw Andrews, as she shared her stories. The very first thing I asked her to do was to write down her childhood memories. Born in 1919, she came of age during the Great Depression. She lived on the Near Northside of Indianapolis. She lived with her mother and grandparents and attended Indianapolis Public Schools. Her grandfather owned a hardware store in the front of their house and she often told me about this. Below is part of her story:  

“I grew up during the Depression. Even the ‘wealthy’ people had no extra money. But, not any of us knew, or felt, that we were “underprivileged!” None of my group had after-school jobs – all ‘jobs’ were held by men supporting their families. The Nancy Drew books came along during this elementary school time. The most fortunate of us became the owners of one book. This book was shared. Since this book was shared, everybody got to read all the series. My only ‘sitting’ job was three doors up the street. I arrived there about 6:00 PM, did their evening dishes, put three little kids to bed after the usual book reading, etc. The parents appeared back home at around 1:00 AM and, after calling my mother, she would watch for me to walk back home. For this I got 25 cents. No, not 25 cents an hour – 25 cents for the whole night! Even then, this was a bit ridiculous, so I (and my mother!) quit after about three times. After school we roller-skated, played cards, and with dolls, or drew.”

My grandma shared so much with me in our time together, and when she passed away in 2008, less than a month before my first child was born, I was so grateful that I knew her so much better because of my interest in her life story. I appreciated her, I understood her better. And I know she was grateful to have spent that time with me, too.

Have you asked your older family members to write down their childhood memories? Kids who are interested in learning their family history, their grandparents’ and older family members’ life stories, will benefit from the guidance in our free workbook. There are suggestions of questions to ask family, and help for kids to simply listen to their family’s stories. This workbook has been born out of my years of experience of listening and recording family stories, and my understanding of the importance of starting family history when still young. Writing Family History for Kids: A Workbook & Guide is a resource for kids and their parents to get started discovering their family history. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive your free copy.

Happy storytelling!

Katie