Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Brrrrr! Now that's scary.

Continuing my reading of The Worst Hard Time, I hit these passages in Chapter 9, titled "New Leader, New Deal":
Entire towns were broke, shutting down city services. In the string of communities that had sprouted up along the new rail lines, schoolhouses closed, unable to pay teachers or heat classrooms. Texhoma, just up the road from Dalhart, disconnected its streetlights. Couldn't afford to bring light to darkness.
In the capital, a whiff of genuine class warfare was in the air. Congress voted to raise taxes across the board on the wealthy to cries of "Soak the rich!" Others pushed for an estate tax, taking nearly half the worth of anything over ten million dollars.
Whew! Scary stuff! Glad that's behind us... Hey, just as an aside, have you read about Muncie's new money-saving plan?


Carteach said...

Rand might have had something there.....

Dwight Brown said...

I keep meaning to do a more comprehensive writeup on my own blog of these two books; if you can find copies of them, Fredrick Lewis Allen's *Only Yesterday* and *Since Yesterday* are also well worth reading.

*Only Yesterday* is perhaps the more famous of the two. When I read *Since Yesterday*, though, I noticed a lot of rather striking parallels to current events...

Joanna said...

Speaking as a Ball State alum, turning off the streetlights in Muncie might not be such a bad idea. Then they wouldn't have to see what a craphole the town is, at least while it's dark.

Anonymous said...

In the 1930s, paychecks from the Texas treasury could not be cashed until enough tax money came in to cover them. These paychecks were "warrants".

A company still in existence known as the "Texas Warrant Company" came into being. For a 1% discount, they would cash your warrant.

My mother spoke of paying down her bill at the drugstore. I was a sickly little twerp. She'd pay fifty or seventy-five cents against an eleven-dollar balance, even though it was a strain.

A symbol of the Depression which never left her memory was of visiting some reasonably well-to-do relatives at Hereford. A broken window pane had a small pillow stuffed into the gap. These once-well-to-do folks didn't want to spend the money for an 8"x12" pane of glass.

Men would hang around a courthouse, hoping to get on a jury for the $2 a day for the serving.

You might find a job in a grocery, arranging shelves and dusting the cans. Ten cents an hour, ten-hour day. Sit down to rest and you'd get chewed out, maybe even fired. After all, there were may be three or four outside, hoping you'd get fired and a job would open.

"Are we there, yet, Mommie?"
"No, but we're getting close."


Tam said...

"Sit down to rest and you'd get chewed out, maybe even fired. After all, there were may be three or four outside, hoping you'd get fired and a job would open."

I have often noticed that American sporting arms of the period are some of the nicest-finished weapons one can buy; I've seen hardware-store-grade Remington 31s that would shame most higher-end modern firearms in fit and finish.

And why not? If you didn't put your heart into your work, it's not like there wasn't a line of guys with empty stomachs out front who'd like a crack at your job.

Stranger said...

I was raised in Alta Tejas, Oklahoma, north and a bit east of Art's Herford.

I remember the Dust Bowl all too well. My after meals chore was to hold the skillet in front of the keyhole, until it was sandblasted clean.

One thing that often throws folks is currency conversion. A 2 ounce candy bar was a nickel, now a 1.8 oz bar is $1.09. Multiply the depression price by 25.7 to get an approximation. So that tax on a $10 mil estate would be on a $257 mil estate in todays minibux. Excuse me. Microbucks.

You might also want to consider reading "Wrong on Race," since it lays out the roots of many if not most of our societal problems.


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

On second thought, let us not go to Muncie. 'Tis a silly place.

Old Grouch said...

“In the capital, a whiff of genuine class warfare was in the air. Congress voted to raise taxes across the board on the wealthy to cries of 'Soak the rich!'.”

This time around maybe it'll be “genuine class warfare” targeting the “progressives” and their political enablers?

Larry Ashcraft said...

My grandparents left the drylands in 1935 or 36, when my dad was 7 or 8 years old.

They went north to Milliken Colo, where my grandpa said he could make $1.50 a day, but only because he had a team and a wagon.

Most of the little towns my dad would talk about, like Kutch (pronounced kootch), Hall Station, Rush, Yoder, Punkin Center, are either gone or mostly so.

Dad played ball at Kutch, the only thing left there is the dance hall, which is now a machine shed. Dad had a friend at Hall Station, which is just a sign now.

NotClauswitz said...

Class warfdare??? OMG-but-but- the "Progressives" are all just so smart and special, and... progressive! They said so!

Larry Ashcraft said...

OK, I stopped on the way home and bought a copy. (Well, OK, it's not on the way home, I had to drive across town.)

I skimmed it a bit tonight. This is going to be good! After supper, I plan on curling up and getting into this one.

Larry Ashcraft said...

Forgot. Thanks, Tam.

Anonymous said...

A very good story, I read it a couple of years ago. My Grandfather, who turns 100 shortly, was not as interested....why read about it when you lived it?

If you like that style of storytelling and subject, look for "The Children's Blizzard" (of 1881 IIRC), written about 4 or so years ago. An even better page turner...60mph storm front, temps dropping 70 degrees in under an hour and life on the upper plains of America.


Ed Foster said...

Old depression era joke (my old man was in the CCC).

Small town in Nebraska. Grocer gives credit to everybody, knowing he's coming into some money in 8 or 9 months. He keeps the place alive singlehandedly, but needs a short term loan to tide him over.

The teller turns him down, then the head teller and the vice-president.

Scared sick, knowing he'll lose everything, probably including his family, then see the town dry up and blow away, he asks for the President.

He explains his predicament to the man, and once more gets turned down. It hits him right in the kidneys, and he asks if he can use the men's room. The banker gives him a key to the executive washroom and he walks in to a palatial expanse of gleaming enamel and chrome.

While standing in front of the urinal, he sees an elderly black gentleman cleaning the room. A polite person even in the worst of times, the grocer compliments the man on how clean everything is.

Then he says "And cracked ice in the urinals. A classy idea putting that in there".

The elderly man says "Oh I don't put it in there Cap'n, it jest accumulates".

Ever notice the similarity between bankers and government bureaucrats? The primary difference is that, eventually, the banker has to face reality.

Anonymous said...

The book sounds interesting, but I think I'll just sit back, save my money, and wait for the State of the Union address.