Hard Times by author Studs Terkel, and I quote…

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From the book:    “Hard Times, An oral portrait of the Great Depression” by Studs Terkel, copyright 1970.

Pick up a copy or download it to your eReader… revealing given our current economic situation…a series of interviews with all sorts of people talking about the Great Depression; how it affected them, those around them and the world they inhabited. Some were at the top and fell to the bottom. Others were already at the bottom and got pushed lower. The spirit of decency, strength and survival prevails, while all around people saw ruin and failure.     So if you care to, some excerpts, at random:

“It was a mood of great bewilderment…No one had anticipated it…The innocence of the business leaders was astonishing…”

“We saw bank failures everywhere. In my county, all but three of perhaps a dozen failed. The most valuable think we lost was hope. A man can endure a lot if he still has hope.”

“The struggles people had to go through are almost unbelievable. A man lived all his life on a given farm, it was taken away from him. One after the other. After the foreclosure, they got a deficiency judgment. Not only did he lose the farm, but it was impossible for him to get out of debt.”

“These beautiful yachts that cost a half million dollars were sitting around with barnacles on them. These are the people who had jumped out of windows. Who’s gonna buy a yacht? A man came up to me and said, “Hey, any of these yachts for sale?” I said, “Are you kiddin’? They’re all for sale.” This guy was a bootlegger. So I sold half million dollar yachts to bootleggers…for five or ten thousand dollars. And took my six per cent commission on them. Beautiful.”

“Back in the Thirties, when it was really tough, and nobody was working, we divided whatever we had with each other.”

“If it happened today, I don’t think the country would be able to stick together like they did in the first one. I think the whole place would just fall apart. And America’d be completely ruined. Everybody seems to be just out for themselves…back then it seemed like everybody tried to help each other, now it’s hard to get a relative to help you. Because today everybody’s all to themselves.”

“Everyone was emotionally affected. We developed a fear of the future which was difficult to overcome…there was…this constant dread; everything would be cut out from under you and you wouldn’t know what to do. It would be even harder, because you were older…”

“I went around trying to find a job as a salesman.They wouldn’t hire me on account of my age. I was just like dried up. Every door was closed on me, every avenue. It looked like bad luck had set its hand on my shoulder. Whatever I tried, I would fail.”

Do you think another Depression might be good for us?”   ” No. I wouldn’t say that. What I do say is we are not all deserving the sympathy some of these bleeding hearts have for the people. A great deal of their misery is self-inflicted. These people are constantly looking for assistance. What would happen if we all had this attitude?”

“Hardly any of the observers of the Thirties sensed a revolutionary mood among the people. Almost all describe the same sense of dismay and disorientation, futility and shame. People who talk of revolution today (this interview took place in the 1960s) underestimate the capacity of American capitalism, its resiliency and inventiveness.”

“Those punks, they never felt the Depression. Look at the things they are doing.”

Don’t underestimate “…the tremendous power of struggle to awaken both the consciousness and understanding of people.”

“You know, when you get down so low that you can’t get any lower, there’s no place else to go but up. You do either one of two things; you either lay down and die, or you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and you start over.”

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The writer is a 68 year-old young man engaged as an active REALTOR (associate broker) with Keller Williams, in real estate sales and management in the Santa Fe NM market area. My career has been in and around the real estate industry for more than 35 years, ranging from mortgage lending (interim, commercial, residential); residential property management and leasing; shopping center development and leasing; real estate sales; sales training; title insurance as an executive and an escrow officer; various management positions; consulting and other related activities. That plus a bunch of banking experience including our family-owned Bank of Santa Fe in the 1980s. Where has the time gone?
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