IMG_0364 I bring you another glimpse of the past, the house that I grew up in. Probably its not too interesting to anyone who never lived in a Midwestern town, in a house that was built by my father during the Great Depression of the 30’s.But as time goes by the old memories seem to be coming back to me and I marvel at how resilient my parents and their friends were.
The Great Depression affected everyone, at least in the world that I lived in. The pictures of men standing in long lines waiting for a chance at one job where thousands were hopeful are a haunting memory that shows up on the internet even today. If you were extremely lucky you might get hired for the WPA, but often you had to leave your family behind and go to another state to use a shovel or drive a truck.
In Michigan there had always been numerous factory jobs and that is where most young men started their work life. But after the stock market crash in 1929 work began to disappear. Jobs that had always seemed safe no longer existed. My father was one of the ones that lost his job. There was nothing to be had anywhere. He had always been a hard worker and couldn’t stand to stay home and have nothing to do.
So he decided that he was going to build a house. He and my mother and I lived in an apartment upstairs in my grandparents home and my mother had the patience of a saint, I do believe. My grandmother was an extremely religious woman of her time and she didn’t believe that women or girls should wear slacks or pants, and she didn’t mind telling you so. My mother was young and modern but she was a stay at home mother like other women, and so she was under watch all of the time.
My father borrowed $200.00 and decided that he was going to dig the basement himself. The house must have been about 24′ by 24′, or so. In Michigan you need a deep basement for your furnace and your water heater. Our basement also had to hold a coal bin. So he started digging, and digging, and kept at it until it was accomplished. My parents are no longer here to tell me how they got the money to start the actual house, but somehow they did. It was a two story, and they finished the lower level, where there was one bedroom, but the upstairs had to stay unfinished. So my brother and I had the whole floor to ourselves. The two by fours were up to show where the walls would be later on. I was on one end, with two younger sisters showing up eventually. And my brother had the little room on the other end because it wouldn’t do to have boys and girls together.
So for years this was my bedroom and I spent many hours, reading under the covers late at night, with a flashlight sometimes. I would also sit by the window where there was a streetlight that helped out some. Since my parents were downstairs I got away with it a lot. My sisters were 8 and 10 years younger so they had cribs and youth beds in our room and I hated that.
After growing up, getting married and going with my husband to Ft Carson, Colorado where he was in the Army, my dad put on a big new addition to the house and all of a sudden everyone had a lot more room. He was so proud of that room and being able to do it for his family. Eventually he built a much larger house for he and my mother, but this time he didn’t have to do any digging.
Looking back at how all of our lives have changed, I marvel at how people like my parents, Marjorie and Truman Strong, were filled with resilience and pride in their accomplishments. Our generation has much to be proud of, and I hope that we can pass this on to our descendants.

2 thoughts on “THE HOUSE I GREW UP IN

  1. Debra Rider

    Very interesting! I like hearing these stories from the past. We have it so easy today in comparison to then. I hope the younger generation can realize all that we have and not take it for granted. I feel grateful for all that I have. I never want to stop feeling grateful for all I have – not just material things but the wonderful people and experiences. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences Verlie.


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