Thursday, February 11, 2010

More reading

Only recently did I begin to wonder about coincidences. Like, how does last year’s Memorial Day Parade in Vermont fit in with a book I just read last month? Things just seem to fit together. Bits of information, like puzzle pieces, are coming at me from many directions.

In January I read about the Dust Bowl in The Worst Hard Time, learning a little more about the Depression. The entire book was fascinating, but one interesting point was that the government would buy dried beans to give to the folks in the Midwest. They could not raise crops due to the erosion of the soil and lack of rain, so government provisions would travel by rail and be given out at the station for those in need.

The book I’m reading now, Memories of the Ups & Downs of the Island Line, was from the library book sale in Vermont, held on the day the town has the annual parade. (The grandstand is set up directly across from the library, and the book sale does well with folks waiting for the parade to start.) The book is a compilation of oral histories about the railroad, which was a very important factor of life in early rural VT. One narrator tells of how the farmers in the northern part of the state would grow and dry beans to sell to the government for money during the Depression. There was a building where they would sort and clean them, and bag them to be put on a freight car. Knowing the area, I imagine the farmers bringing wagonloads of beans to the rail yard. It is fascinating to think that the beans grown in the northern regions of Vermont (my home for 24 years) might possibly have helped feed families in the Midwest.

There are so many more resources for first-rate information on the Depression. What I need is the time to read them!


MyStory of HiStory said...

Seems like you often manage to find some very interesting reads. Thanks for sharing about them & what you learn from them here :)

Wendy said...

Several years ago, I became fascinated with Depression-era literature. It started, ironically, when I was co-teaching a class based on the American Girl series for my children and their home schooled friends, and we were reading the story about the Kit character, which is set in Ohio during 1930s.

Then, when our current economy started its downward slide, I picked up the pace with reading about the Depression, and Egan's book was one that I read. What struck me was the similarities between the boon times of the late 1990's/early 21st Century and the 1920s, both of which, have apparently resulted in an economic Depression. What remains to be seen is if this one will be worse than the last one.

Next on my list for Depression-era stories are Little Heathens (non-fiction) and Steinbeck's Cannery Row.

Anonymous said...

I am fascinated by the Great Depression as well. Thanks for the reading ideas!

Maria said...

I am also fascinated by the Great Depression (My daughter had the "Kit" American Girl Doll and we read every story over and over). My favorite TV show was the Waltons....still love it, although it isn't on any longer. I am the product of a dad who was raised by his grandmother (and parents) during the depression.....I love the stories! Thanks for the book ideas.

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Hi MyStory,
I know you've been interested in that time frame, too!

Hi Wendy,
It's great that the girls are introduced to history in a way that's appealing to them.
Yes, the book really surprised me by how similar we are now to what happened them (gov't intervention, etc).
I read Cannery Row many, MANY years ago. I may re-read it this summer.

Hi liveonce,
I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Maria,
The Waltons was a great show. The script paid attention to details.
Do you have any stories from your father about life back then? If so, please post! I'd love to hear!

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

looks like some good reads....i'll have to check them out...

i'll be back soon

Scattering Lupines said...

Those sound like very interesting books. It's an odd thing, conincidence :)

And if you haven't read the Grapes of Wrath, you might appreciate it, too. It is set during the Depression and Steinbeck's social commentaries every couple of chapters are poignant. I'm reading it now for teh second time.

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Hi Lupines,
I have always wanted to read Grapes of Wrath. I don't know why I just haven't gotten to it???! It certainly looks like I'll have lots of books for the summer :)