The good 'ole days of the depression

Published 8:12 pm Saturday, December 28, 2002

By By Lloyd Albritton
I used to live in The Good Old Days,
I thought,
Until I sought
The opinion of an older man,
"You know naught," he scolded,
"About the hardscrabble ways
Of The Good Old Days."
"Of course I do!"
I protested.
"Why, I've been tested
By hardship and dearth,
From which I've wrested
All the ways
Of The Good Old Days."
You don't know nothing!"
The man retorted,
"Unless you've snorted
Homemade wine and moonshine brew,
And other assorted
Tasty trays
From The Good Old Days."
"Oh, you mean that Great Depression?"
I humbly replied.
"When good men died
From drinking and fighting,
And fatback fried?
And the violent ways
Of The Good Old Days?"
"I sure enough do,"
He said to me.
"And you would see
f you weren't so dumb
That you can't be
Wise to the ways
Of The Good Old Days.
For those were the days
When men were bad
And times were sad
And there wasn't much good
To be had
From the desperate ways
Of The Good Old Days."
We hear a lot of talk in the news these days about the economy, stock market losses and massive job layoffs, which naturally arouses our fears of recession, inflation, stagflation, conflagration, constipation, or God Forbid, another Great Depression. Only the oldest living generation today, most of whom were mere youngsters during the Great Depression of the 1930's, has firsthand knowledge of that experience. Those who lived through that era as adults, that is, those who actually had the primary responsibility of feeding and caring for their families, have passed on to that great big vegetable garden in the sky. Still, there are plenty of elderly citizens around these days who lived in that time and are knowledgeable enough, and more than willing, to give personal testimony to the hardscrabble character of life in those times.
Frankly, I have found myself, in isolated moments of insanity, secretly wishing for the opportunity to live through another Great Depression in my own lifetime so that I might be able to have a "conversation of equals" with my father. My father, you see, is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, thoroughly indoctrinated in the principle that the Democrats are for the poor and the Republicans are for the rich. Just as the American Negro was for many years devoted to the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, many poor people who survived the hunger and destitution of The Great Depression raised their children to follow after the Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt. My grandfather, on my father's side, was one of those men.
My father has told me numerous times of the barrels of salted pork his family received from President Roosevelt and has assured me on more than one occasion that my rationale for favoring Republican economic principles is nothing but the misguided foolishness of those who were either born rich, are too young to have lived through The Great Depression, or are just plain stupid or immoral.
"If you had lived through the Depression," my father insists, "you would understand what I am talking about. If we ever have another one, you'll see that the Democrats always look out for the poor, humble, God-fearing folks and the Republicans always look out for those greedy, rich, heartless, robber-baron bastards!" Indeed, my father is quite adamant and passionate on this topic, as are a great many others of his generation, particularly in the rural south.
There are, however, some exceptions to this observation. One such exception was the case of my grandfather on my mother's side of the family, Preston "Press" Tullis, who also lived through the hard, frugal times of The Great Depression, but voted Republican and raised up his only daughter to do the same. The difference in the attitudes of these two worthy men might be that my Grandpa Albritton had eight children to feed and really appreciated the salted pork that President Roosevelt sent over, while Grandpa Tullis only had one child and never got any pork from President Roosevelt.
The influence of The Great Depression on society at large produced many peculiar and colorful characters, both good and bad, both Democrat and Republican. No doubt the influences of our own times are molding the minds and loyalties of future generations which will be as different from the past as night is from day. One thing that never changes, however, is that no matter what the times are like, the political loyalties of the individual men and women who live in them are not determined by the larger good, but rather, by "what's in it for me!" Every politician and marketing expert knows that self-interest will always determine what we buy and who we vote for and that a little pension and pork will buy a lot of votes.
Lloyd Albritton publishes The Albritton Letters on the Internet at He can be contacted at

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