Winfred During the Depression

Reader Contribution by The Mother Earth News Editors
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This story is from Vickie Evans, submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear.

My grandparents lived in a small town; Winfred, S.D., as adults during the Depression years to the late 1970s where they were both entrepreneurs and farmers. They were both from longtime farming families and knew their land well, growing beets, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, etc., every year. When my siblings and I were all quite young we spent a lot of time in Winfred and I have many memories of the way things were done there.

Grandma owned a small café that fed the locals and the farmhands. My grandfather had a hardware store next door. They also maintained a mini farm during those years. They raised chickens and sometimes geese and sold the eggs and the meat. Grandma had an area near the barn where an old tree stump served as the chopping block. There, many chickens were made ready to cook, freeze or sell. The best fried chicken I’ve ever tasted!

A more humorous habit of hers was to freeze paper money in old candy boxes in her deep freezer. (Coins were hidden in candy boxes or other containers in the storeroom upstairs.) I’m not sure, but this was probably due to a distrust of the banking system that was prevalent after the Great Depression. When she needed a “withdrawal” from her freezer savings account, she would remove the amount she needed from the candy box and iron the bills until dry. Now that’s pretty resourceful, wouldn’t you say?

Photo by Fotolia/GOL

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