HOW GREAT WAS THE DEPRESSION?

I remember my parents discussing the Great Depression. Nobody had jobs. Food lines. Learning to save everything from string to fragments of soap. My mother ate soup made out of cabbage and water. My father walked the requisite ten miles to school in bare feet.

So now, our generation gets to experience almost the same thing. Ours is called a Great Recession, but there aren’t a lot of jobs, and I am sure that the cabbage soup diet is gaining in popularity for those who aren’t trying to lose weight.

There is some difference. Pundits say that our situation isn’t as dire. So I have been thinking about the similarities and differences between my parents’ depression, and the recession that is merely depressing.

First of all, I have to watch the prices at the gas pump. Good grief, it costs well over three dollars per gallon for me to run errands and get my nails done. It’s a good thing that my hair salon is within walking distance, because some day in the future, I may have to walk over there to get my roots touched up. My mother gave herself permanents in the kitchen.

Secondly, the prices of frozen entrees seem to be increasing, which is infuriating. My husband announced just the other day that “it seems ridiculous to buy Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese when your mother gave you a perfectly good recipe for it.” Again, my mother and her Great Depression are horning in on my recession! For the record, that Mac and Cheese recipe turns out a very dry and inferior product to the one produced by the Stouffer’s people.

Our property values are going down the tubes. My mother never had to deal with this, because almost nobody owned homes during the Great Depression. Our depressing recession has homeowners having to add on, rather than buying a new house with a three story entryway—and heaven knows, it’s very hard to have to live without two sinks in the master bath.

This recession has hit my dog kind of hard, as well. We have switched from Milkbones to the generic, bargain brand, and she finds them distasteful. I have tried to reason with her about this, telling her how Bernie Madoff’s dogs no longer eat Eukanuba in their little jail cells, but she has no sympathy for those ponzi pooches. My mother had a cat. During the recession, it “ran away.” Ahem.

Americans have all resorted to clipping coupons, shopping the sales, cutting back on luxuries, and tightening our belts (though, in my case, I will need Jenny Craig’s help). We feel a sense of camaraderie with our forebears, who made gruel for dinner, learned how to make stone soup, and used cardboard to sole their shoes. The Depression was indeed Great. Our Recession? It’s just a wannabe.

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