It is one of the inadequacies of current research that we know so little about what happens to families from the time they lose their income to the time they appear on the relief rolls. Certain evidence is available, however, and the story runs like this:
• The income stops and the economies must be made.
• No new clothing is purchased (recall the effect of this on the women in the clothing industry).
• The food budget is cut down and those things disappear from the diet that are most necessary for growing children and to the health of adults - meat, milk, eggs and butter.
• The next step is to cease keeping up a 'front' and move to cheaper quarter, if the family lives in a rented house. As this downward revision of spending is made, reserves are progressively exhausted.
• All the family savings are withdrawn from the bank.
• Insurance policies are borrowed on until nothing more can be had and then dropped.
• Partially paid for furniture being purchased on installments is returned to the store, and any valuable property owned outright is sold at a fraction of its worth or pawned.
• The family automobile, if perchance there ever was one, is 'laid up' early in the story and eventually sold.
• As resources are exhausted bills begin to mount; the doctor and the dentist go unpaid first, followed by the grocer with whom credit is protected as long as possible.
• Finally no more money can be borrowed from friends and relatives and loan 'sharks' smell decay. If relatives cannot 'take in' the family, the only resort is [Federal] relief.
The time the process takes, in many cases, goes far toward explaining why the relief rolls are still rising today.
CLICK HERE to read another article about how bad many women had it during the Great Depression...
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Click here to read about the effects that the Great Depression had on the clothes we wore...
Below, you will find one woman's account of her days in
poverty during the Great Depression: