8 Lessons Learned From The Great Depression

Great Depression Era Farmer
(image: United Sates Farm Security Administration)

The Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s was a reflection of high unemployment, staggering debt, and a collapsed stock market. The hardship that resulted has not been experienced by Americans since. Those at the time somehow lived through it, and will tell you lessons learned, including the following…


Find resources in unlikely places. Do not throw anything away. Find uses for things that otherwise would have been unnoticed. Pool your resources. Be practical about everything. Use space and resources wisely. Live and survive with less. Find multiple uses.


Generate your own food in gardens to supplement your diet. Consider unlikely places for a garden like rooftops and vacant lots. Learn to preserve your harvest.


Debt is a dirty word. Don’t dig yourself deeper in debt by using credit. Pay with currency that you have, and don’t borrow.


Many people moved to where there were better chances for work during the Great Depression. Any work. Some places will have higher unemployment than others. Some places will be safer than others. And some locations are better suited for living a self-reliant lifestyle.


Cut spending by looking for deals. Buy only what you need and spend wisely. Learn to repair what you have instead of buying new. Recycle it for another purpose. Save it.


You may have to change your business or your job. Learn skills that are more in demand for employment and those which can help you survive. Become flexible. Learn practical skills. Those which provide.


Communities that band together help each-other. There is power in numbers. Stick together for financial support, emotional support, better security and better production.


Try not to worry. It will get better. Somehow.
“Tomorrow I could lose everything, but somehow I’m not afraid. I really am not.”

The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

The Great Depression; Then & Now

I originally published this article during 2013. It was later re-posted in 2017. Today (2020) I’m publishing it yet again. Why? Because it may soon be relevant.

Our modern generations have lost so much of the sensibility, practicality, frugality, and “know-how” that so many people had back then… self-reliance, practical skills, civility, respect for others, morality. They had to depend on themselves to a large extent (self reliant) and few had a “lifeline” to .gov for handouts.

Could the conditions of a Great Depression ever happen again? Tens of millions are unemployed, right now, given the government shutdown orders of businesses due to Covid-19 fears. Horrible chain reactions are setting up right now in supply chains, and many people’s finances. The fan is spinning and something very brown is beginning to hit it…

A recent comment on the blog reads, “A well fed man may have many problems, a starving man only has one.” Don’t let that be you. Learn from the past. Be preemptive and secure your food supply and skill sets before the next, Greater Depression.

People might take interest in discovering how people survived back during the Great Depression. It may become relevant.

Your further comments are welcomed:

[ Read: Survival Skills Of The Great Depression | What About The Next One? ]

[ Read: Practical Skills That People Once Knew ]


  1. Several observations about the Great Depression

    Both the Great Depression hit as well as a Great Drought. The combination meant huge agricultural losses in the bread basket states like Nebraska. That lead to high livestock feed prices and therefore an inability to feed animals. Add in an inability to water animals and you had premature deaths and many livestock harvested prematurely. We could see all of that and much of that is happening.

    Soils became sterile as the humus (living layers of decay and bacteria) became airbourne. Those take huge amounts of time to occur over large regions unless the weather changes and special agricultural techniques are used. That soil resulted in Valley Fever, a transmission of the soil and bacteria and fungus into the lungs of the local inhabitants. Expect more cases of this.

    In fertile areas, because of the fall in the price of the produce grown, it sometimes was simply wasted instead of being shipped due to the lack of profit.

    Many tenant farmers lost their historical homes and livelihood. They were in essence forced to “bug out” in search of places to live and employment. Many became migrant workers and went out West, but many were turned away by vagrancy laws. We could see more and more homelessness, more tent cities, folks living in ramshackle thrown together survival shelters, but without any hope of employment.

    Railroads facilitated the movement of unemployed young men to the West. That option is largely out today by railroad bulls limiting “hoppin’ a freight”. Many such young unemployed men ended up working for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). They performed mostly untrained labor for a steady rate and received room and board, often in tent cities. Many of the state parks in your region were likely built and maintained by them during that time period. Lots of bridges and road projects were also done. Because something like 90% of US roadways and bridges are architecturally unsound, it is highly likely with the historical precedents of such things that some insane officials might decide to reenact such ideas of labor camps.

    Many men once losing their livelihood elected to abandon their families as they had no prospect of supporting them. I would certainly expect to see more and more of that. Expect for increasing amounts of homeless children with no parental guidance. That tends to increase vice in cities as their only ways of supporting themselves are horrendous ones.

    Food was significantly different under the Great Depression. One might eat a lard sandwich which is precisely as described. Corn pone was a common meal. The rich diverse meals that we possess today might completely change and with far less regularity. One might work for a meal instead of pay.

    Many wealthy folks bought up stocks for pennies on the dollar…in effect a planned implosion to consolidate wealth. Prior to the Great Depression, many investors had no business speculating in the stock market and largely bought on credit (margin). They lost everything.

    Despite many public work programs, the only significant change in the economy was when the US sold munitions to Britain to fight WW2 against the Nazis. Then when the USA entered the war, it put huge numbers of unemployed men back to work in the military, and since they weren’t running the factories, created the modern concept of women working in factories as “Rosie the Riveter”. That’s why things picked up and we can expect the lure of that to infect politicians once again.

        1. Not only is it closer than we think, the new inconvenient concomitant factor is the coronavirus. At least in the Great Depression people could gather, embrace and support each other through individual and collective effort. Now, every person is a potential vector for the disease, creating communities of isolation, government distrust and high anxiety about the future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren.
          As a result of this pandemic the world will be forever changed. Geopolitical circumstances will be shifted dramatically. The ideals of democracy will be surrendered to the relative security of authoritarianism just as they were in Europe leading up to World War II. The global economy will shrink and protectionism will grow. The one true slogan of the future will probably be “We’re all in this together and nobody has a clear answer to a way out.”

    1. It would surprise me if there wasn’t a combination of two or more things involved in a SHTF. It seems as though in todays world a lot of things intertwined together relying on other things in order for itself to function. Like if an EMP damaged a major portion of the electrical grid, computers control everything today, grocery stores track inventory by computer, order items by computer, the warehouse receives the order by computer, the trucks need fuel to run, that fuel is ordered by computer, refined in a refinery run by computer. When the electricity goes out, disease will be common place, because of no trash pickup, no working sewer, no clean water, etc. It is hard to believe but there was a time when computers didn’t control every aspect of the world, just like it is hard to believe that the world survived before electricity. Nowadays it is hard for most to believe that people lived without cellphones.

    2. Good analysis, except for one thing. The Dust Bowl was not caused by drought. It was the farmers that were plowing up the prairie grass and planting corn and wheat. Drought has always been a cycle in the west and the prairie grass was drought resistant. Corn and wheat are not, so when the drought came again, the corn and wheat died. With nothing to hold the dirt in place, when the winds blew, it picked up the dirt….. The Dust Bowl was the worst ecological man-made disaster in the history of the world.

      1. I want to add please, that Congress actually passed a bill that stated the top soil could not blow away. “The soil was given to us by the Almighty and nothing could take it from us.” Yet, just as another said, it was the greatest environmental disaster in history.

  2. Living as I do in Florida, I have a desperate fear of a mass migration to our area. Given the mild winters, I strongly suspect that many will try and come here because if one must live outdoors, this is the place to do it.

      1. Actually they taste like fish to me. Let everyone come to Florida. I have room in my yard for at least three tent living areas. It never gets cold enough to freeze to death, just enough to be a little uncomfortable. To my way of thinking, I and 3 other small families could band together and do better than any one entity alone. The group that works together survives together.

        1. For a Washintonian like me, your nights would probably be warm and not the least bit un-comfortable

    1. If it’s winter-time when TSHTF, your state will already have a $hit-load of migratory humans there… most of whom will be unable to fend for themselves due to their age. I suppose that most of them migrate to the southern reaches of the state? In any event, you should take that into account when considering your options based on the time of year, etc…

      1. ‘most of whom will be unable to fend for themselves due to their age’

        Which in itself lends a positive..they will welcome a family or others to help them….swap work for shelter is a positive any day of the week.
        At ages 67 and 69, this is on my mind daily. There are 4 bedrooms here; and who needs a computer room/ dining room?? Plenty of space for pallets on the floor and security for me.
        Of course two bedrooms hold stock and stores, but that can be moved easily/stacked in hallways/foyers, etc.

        1. I applaud your faith in mankind. If a supply chain is broken for any serious long term reason then people will panic. This isn’t the day of manners and respect for your fellow human. A father standing with his hat in hand asking for food / lodging for himself or a family for labor performed isn’t the way things work today. My Mother is a caregiver in Florida. She is in her mid to late 50’s. She has told me of the many, many communities of elderly/ sick/ retired people in her area of Jacksonville. once all the power goes out, and the supply chain of medical/food/water/fuel or whatever the needs are run out……. how many will be alive to except the “help”?
          Now add in the “help” that will arrive. Most likely it will be younger than 50 year old persons that arrive at your doorstep. As other SHTF that have happened in other countries ( i.e. Venezuela, Argentina) and we see on the web people lose their minds. at 67 &69 you have no options. Whether overpowered or out of ammo you lose you 4 bedrooms and your beds. I’m going north (ish). Winter will suck but less Riff Raff. Hope your Having a great day!

    2. Florida has some unique post-collapse issues due to the high percentage of “snowbirds”(elderly retirees who have relocated there) and the prevalence of a large percentage of the US population who have at one time vacationed in Florida.

      While a lot of retirees are on a fixed income, with the increases in unemployment, and with some retirees working in a limited way part retirement, they have more disposable income and hence are wealthier than many other Americans. Hard to believe, but true. They also have a very high percentage of issues like arthritis and thus potentially pain medication which could be taken from their homes in robberies. Thus they are considered to be targets of opportunity post-collapse.

      Think if you’re an East Coast dweller and a collapse occurs. The main most factor in bugging out will be the weather. Many will seek the warmer climes of Florida and the perception of increased opportunities for agriculture on a more year round basis, less firewood needed, and seafood. Those who vacationed there have mostly positive memories.

      Many will push for Florida for these reasons. Other bugging out East Coast folks will head towards the West but that’s much further to travel.

      If retired and in Florida, how much manual labor can you perform? A lot of retirees are in poor health or overweight or have no stamina. That’s not isolated to Florida by any means, but the potential perception in many bugging out folks’ minds will be perceived weakness and a massive die-off of elderly.

      1. But then again, that could be a good opportunity – for those in Florida that are elderly but own property, if you’ll forgive the term, share cropping could be advantageous. If you can defend yourself but have lots of property and can’t work it all or, work at all, refugees willing to do lots of work for food and water security could be a godsend. I think once some people get passed the “I can take it” stage because, no, you can’t without hot lead flying your way, then those with arable land have really good chances to be ‘RICH.’***

        What’s really cool to me is that the sunshine is useful all by itself. Given a certain area that is swampland but has some bit of previous construction, building bridges from building to building for solar panels or even just solar steam run generators (if panels are no longer available.) The water is there all the time; no worries about running out. Florida could be a power provider for Georgia and Alabama. If you can’t generate the high voltages from small systems, use it to crack water and run hydrogen pipelines out to neighboring states. Yes, there is a good amount of energy lost but if one person’s work can generate enough living (not comfortable, just living) energy to 50 homes it could be a viable source of revenue.

        In fact, I’d say Florida has only a couple of drawbacks in my mind – Hurricanes, flat in most places, lotta swampland (even where you don’t want it…or is that especially), and not a lot of direct mineral to mine. When I think about it, the South really has a good chance (it’s agriculture and lower education/population levels) due to it’s seasons and the southern coast states really will have lots of opportunities. As mentioned, those that already work physically will adjust quicker and easier.

        ***Rich in the form that actual property and real materials; food/water/workers. When $ become worthless and workers no longer accept ‘credit’ but want actual goods, then those who haven’t put up materials will be destitute.

        1. USE IT UP
          WEAR IT OUT
          MAKE IT DO
          OR DO WITHOUT

          The mantra of those days.

        2. Hello Bertha, have you heard of cassava? Sweet Potatoes or Yams? Beans? Corn? All of the above are easy to grow and indeed provided the natives of Florida a steady food supply when the US Government was busy using the Army to kill and displace them to reservations.

          History does not always repeat but it often rhymes.

          NH Michael

        3. Many tree nuts including pine contain over 100 calories/ounce. There is also plenty of wild rice and I’m sure there are a lot of bulrushes around.

      2. I just wanted to mention that it’s a good idea to take care of the elderly because they will have knowledge about how to preserve food, how to fish, how to make things last, how to sew, how to stretch food, how to treat wounds and illnesses in natural ways, have knowledge whether an illness is serious or not, how to read weather signs without a meteorologist, etc. And, if they aren’t able to do the work themselves, they can teach. They can teach children the “Three R’s”. It might not be new math, but they will learn. And, most of all, hopefully, they know how to pray and some of the Word of God. I know not every senior knows all of these things, but they will know something valuable.

  3. All kidding aside though… we should take some time to better understand how people survived during the Great Depression. I believe that sooner or later we will be facing a Greater Depression. While I certainly ‘hope’ not, logic is telling me that it is inevitable.

    1. I’m afraid that the population of today is far less able to survive a serious disruption of food, shelter, etc. There are far fewer rural families now, unable to raise food. Less self sufficiency. It will be ugly

      1. Maybe so, but don’t sell the younger generations short. There’s renewed interest in gardening, urban farming, the keeping of small livestock for personal consumption, as well as food preservation, and repurposing rather than discarding & purchasing new. Don’t underestimate your successors. They are Americans and they will persevere.

        1. A couple months back I read an article about people retiring early and starting “farmsteads” – it was a hugely growing demographic. The sad truth is most of the people that are farming are older. According to the USGA figures from 2012 and compared to 2007, the average age of a farmer is 58.3 years. Only 6 percent of the farmers are under the age of 35. And 33 percent are above the age of 65. And, let’s face it, this is using modern equipment and going home to modern conveniences.

          Principal operators are older and male and it is their primary occupation. 2/3 of the second operators are women with 90 percent the spouse of s principal operator. And 75 percent had sales of 10k of less.

          The huge influx of new farmers is not from young people, but rather people who have seen life and discovered what they really want out of it. Remember the age breakdown of those of us here at MSB?

          We try to encourage those young and old in our circle, both friends and family, but most are looking for an easier lifestyle. They love the food, but don’t want to have to contribute to its growth. It is sad. Howeve really, I do believe When things change, people will change also because it will become necessary. They just don’t see it as being critical at this point.

        2. Yes, 80% of statistics can be skewed 100% of the time with a 50% chance of being wrong. And I am 10% sure that 80% of what I just wrote is total BravoSierra.

      2. I believe it will only be ugly for a short time. All those folks you say can’t farm,work,take care of themselves will die off pretty quickly. Th reason we had people survive in the first depression is we were not very far removed from an agricultural society. A lot of the people even in the city’s grew up on farms and could go back to that way of life much easier than the folks today. In a true SHTF situation I think 75% plus will be dead within 3 months and another 10% within a year unless the government figures out some way to continue to support them.

      3. But there are people who were children of one’s who grew up during the Depression.
        My grandmother was born in 1900, my father was born in 1929.
        They taught me how to survive.
        I might be a woman but think like my father in times of trouble.
        the water is leaking very bad at my house, don’t have $$ to get it repaired.
        It rained the other day, after I went out & gathered water from buckets outside
        & also from the holes in the ground that dog dug.
        I know my city neighbors thought I was crazy.
        but i had water

        1. if the neighbours should ever comment etc on your gather rain water from outside,

          say something like

          “I use it to wash my delicates in as rainwater is better for my skin”

          “I use it to rinse / wash my hair in as it gives my hair a nice luster”

          do you have a dog? cat?

          say you use it to bath the animal in


    2. I agree and we have been reading many books on it. A lot of great info to be found and it really comes down to, back to the basics and we have lost a lot of that in our society through services and others doing things for us because we are all too busy.

    3. Ken I think you are right about learning more about how people actually lived through this time. Does anyone know of any good books that give an indepth account of surviving the great depression?

      For my part I am a brit, and prepper brits are about as common as Hen’s teeth. Its pretty lonely over here. I am very aware of the fact that there could be lots of homeless children running about if things really go wrong so I am making plans to open some kind of orphanage if the need ever arises.

      I hope and pray that things never get that bad, but hope for the best and prepare for the worst I always say.

      Walking through the streets the other day it became clear to me that for many people TEOTWAWKI has already happened as I watched the homeless getting ready to sleep in whatever space they could find. I thought that I would like to do something to help them and I found that with my prepper knowledge I knew exactly the kind of things they would need. Hopefully this insight we all have is something other people can use when their world comes crashing down around them. Many of you I know are very experienced and accomplished in these matters and could be invaluable in the places where you live. Although I do understand that OPSEC is important too.

      1. The very best way is to talk to some old timers who actually lived through it. I was fortunate that my older relatives talked a lot about it and passed some skills on to us kids. Hubby and I have seen this coming and have moved and while fairly well started we have lots to do. I’m not sure today’s society will allow us that can do so, most have no idea of “teamwork”.

      2. I know it’s only a tv show but I recommend watching The Waltons

      3. I would suggest you read any book by John Seymour, espically The Forgotten Arts and Crafts. Since he is a brit also I think you will enjoy them.
        Regards, Danny

  4. Good list Ken. We have had some ups & downs in life & I think we have used all of these at one time or another. Use what you’ve got & diversify are so important but the most important is never give up. When you have hope you will find a way. Without hope you are lost. I see the loss of hope as the reason many we know are on welfare. If you have hope you are much more likely to see opportunities & see how to go after them. Practice these things now even if you don’t have right now & then if things go crosswise for you, you will at least have some ideas & planning in the back of your mind that you can call upon

    1. We are having a down moment ourselves as finding work has been really difficult. We have become very creative in finding ways to make some income but yes, you really have to get out there and hustle. Hope is HUGE. Got to have it.I think part of it to is your personality and the ability to never give up, which is just who I am. If I would have given up, I would have been lost many moons ago.

  5. My nana lived through the depression and having her live with us I could see how it affected her. She used up EVERYTHING until there was nothing left. Nothing was wasted. When the shampoo or dish detergent bottles were almost empty, she would pour some water in them and swish it around in order to get the last drop. In our present throw away society, we spend far too much money on either junk we don’t need or on things that we don’t use up. Also, for those who haven’t started yet, you need to start a food storage, pay off your debt asap (even if it means getting a second job) as well as save up for a rainy day (2-3 months worth of savings). That way if you lose your job, you will be able to keep afloat because you can still feed yourselves and pay your monthly bills. It is easier than most people think. They just have to get over their thought pattern of thinking that they deserve every new gadget on the planet or eating out and travelling all of the time. Having grown up on welfare and vowing to never have my own children go through what I went through, I live by this. I spend very little money on extra stuff, buy used clothes for myself and my daughter and I am debt free. I only use credit when I know I can pay it off at the end of the month and I save up for big ticket items like going on a nice trip.

    1. I agree Linda. If you have known survivors from the Great Depression, then you likely have either witnesses their family members teasing them about “hording” or teased them yourself. They didn’t throw things away, but recycled things over and over.

      For everyone else, how often have you thrown away leftovers because you didn’t want to eat that food because it was “old”. Or how many of you end up throwing away fresh produce because while you had good intentions of eating it, it got too “old” and so it spoiled or got moldy? I’ll bet most of you.

      How many of you purchased some gadget because you got tired of some aspect or even bored of your tech device…even though it was working just fine? Or purchased clothing to look better since your clothing no longer fit you?

      None of that will happen in an economic collapse. Equipment, supplies, and food will be precious. There will be minimal garbage for someone will need those items that you would have ordinarily thrown away.

      1. Leftover meat I store for making chili that way I can use chicken,beef or pork. Leftover vegies or ones going bad can be boiled to make broth for soup in the winter. If you look for it you will find many ways to save money and use things up. I just pretend I have NOTHING before I throw something out and you will be suprized how many things you will find use for.

        1. hi poorman, my 100 year old mom taught me to do these same things as you do. I find it gratifying not to waste anything.

        2. I’m the joke in this house…will eat it till it’s gone!!
          Yesterday, left over frozen diced beef ( from a roast)for veg. soup.
          Umm–Ummm good!!
          I can fix chili and use it for 3 meals and not really have left overs–taco topping, then macaroni added.

    2. This, now this is wisdom right here. We had all of that down and we were doing great with our preps, had money to spend, fix the car or truck when it broke with cash, had all debt down to just a card we used for gas (love my Cabela’s points) and about only $800.00 worth of debt. Then, my wife’s brother was killed by law enforcement (unarmed, in his own home with no hostages) and she went into deep depression and stopped working (me, I have held it together well for her and the family, I am a firearms instructor and never made my move no matter how hard it is not too, I dont want ot be like them killers). Now she is back to part time and trying to just live a normal life (whatever that is now as we are still dealing with crap but being there for eachother) and we now once again, have to start saving up our money to get back to the 3-4 months worth of savings, pay off over $5,000 in debt (we helped with burial cost). It was rough, still is rough and now we are wanting out of our home town. Every day I/We have to see these Military Police A$$’s around us. It makes my blood boil. If we do sell and relocate, we will take a loss on the house thanks to the way the market is (O’bamanation’s fault imo). So, I say all that to let y’all know a couple things. Anything can strike at anytime and cause a personal collapse, Anyone can prepare and pay off debt and start to feel good about what you accomplished, And that it is true, we are living in the worse Military Police State across this country than this country has ever seen. Be proud of who you are, make it work, learn some skills and be prepared for the worst even if you think ‘it can’t happen to me”! Thanks for reading.

      1. Dear Urban Redneck,
        My heart goes out to you and you family. Some rough times behind you. Seems that you all have pulled through and I hope these things have made you all close and stronger.
        God bless,
        A Friend

    3. Products are cheap now. And cheaply made. Cheap quality. Cheap labor. Life is cheap it seems. As long as we who work still have currency to use on cheap daily purchases of cheap food and stuff, that cycle will continue until TSHTF.
      And that is soon. No?

      1. Which brings up another topic….repairing what breaks.
        1) it’s so cheap, why bother?
        2) every dang thing now is cheaper to replace than try to fix…it’s called disposable products for a reason

        The only good thing I’ve even noticed lately are the razor blades that are costly. In the long run, more feasible, for Gene uses one for 6 months compared to the disposable that last for 3 days and he NEVER cuts himself with the pricey ones??
        I do try to shop at flea markets and have two of most things–just in case. Just bought a second hand mixer cheap for a back up.
        One day I went to Dollar Tree and bought one of most everything in my kitchen–two of everything.
        Well, I did end up with 5 measuring cups!! :-)

    4. Linda, my grandparents ( long gone) taught us some things about saving. When they passed they had new stuff packed away, guess for a rainy day. Things like clothing , sheets ect. Our grandparents reused as much as possible. My family laughs at me because I add water to dish soap and liquid soap. We as well as our circle of friends have began pooling things together to help each other. Now that we are older we can look back on the things they did and reuse. Its refreshing to see that you only buy what you need…… we are the same way. Some days I get tired of being mocked, but I have a savings account they don’t . Keep on keeping on

      1. I’m with you Agree. I remember watching my mother add water to milk and OJ. While at my grandmothers one day just before dinner, un-expected guests stopped in for a visit. I watched my grandmother go to the sink and get a quart of water and add it to the soup pot so there would be more soup with the un-expected quest. I now add whole milk to the cream to stretch it farther.

      2. Bingo!!! Your last sentence tells it!!
        Savings account–which I hope isn’t in the bank!

        My car is 14 years old–it had a cloth insert come out of the door panel, the a/c needed recharging(whatever that is called), and the car accelerated by itself..I have the funds today for these repairs since I recycle chili!!!

  6. One thing I might add: if you do find a smokin’ deal on something that you may not necessarily need right now, get it anyway knowing that you’ll need eventually. I’ve stocked up on good quality name brand boots and shoes knowing that they’ll be hard to come by although I don’t need them right now. A slight[y worn $150 pair of boots acquired for $6 at a second hand store is worth grabbing now while you can.

  7. get up early and hit the increasing yard sales in the morning.Buy only things that will be useful for you and ones that you care for.Stuff is so cheap at these yard sales.And any silver rings or coins are good to get also.

    1. That’s a great idea. You can find some real good ‘stuff’ from yard sales and estate sales. Look for practical things. Remember that lots of mechanical things that were manufactured years ago are often ‘better’ than today. Things made of metal, etc. Look for old hand tools, hand drills, the things that craftsmen used before today’s power tools. Same goes for the kitchen. Think ‘old school’. Thanks for the comment.

  8. Invest in yourself. Learn everything you can. Make friends. Distance yourself from trouble.

    When it happens you will know what to do. Others will trust and follow your lead

  9. “Cash is king” might not work with the devaluation. People always want cigarettes, booze and soap. When times are tough, you can trade with those. In the Depression, commodities were cheap but nobody could afford even those prices. I think Bernanke is making sure that we don’t get cheap prices. In gold terms, everything is pretty cheap. (Oil, corn, etc.) Pretty recently, oil was trading near the 1998 lows in gold terms. That was under $12/brl in 1998 dollars instead of closer to $100. This postponing the economic reset is expensive and keeps us stuck. Even Russia embraces capitalism in the good times but the bad times is when it really shines. We should have had a couple of years of really terrible and be done with it. Instead, the banks and crappy big companies are bigger than ever. This is sad for the well-run banks as they should have benefited from not have JPM, Goldman, and the other bank monopolies being given everything. Those books, None Dare Call It Conspiracy and Call It Conspiracy were dead on. They said the money center banks would always be saved since they control the Fed. I guess that means even if the whole country has to be sacrificed.

    Probably the thing that gets us through is a good sense of humor. Happy people are always happy even if in prison. Miserable people can stay that way even if living on Park Avenue. The Irish and folks in the South tend to laugh instead of cry. Folks in the northeast tend to get upset when you laugh at a major screw up. Hope we can laugh as this unfolds. We’ve had some chaos 6-7 years after global recessions, so 2014 and 2015 should be a lot of fun. Think about 1973 and then 1979/80, 1981 and 1987, 2001 and 2008, 2008 and now.

    Jim Rogers says people are amazed at changes 15 years later. I think 15 years from now will be decentralization of power. The 170-year civil war cycle supports that. Also in 15 years, the demographics of more people leaving the work force than entering will have ended.

  10. Many years ago I read a book on the Great Depression. In it, the author detailed several businesses and items that did well. As I recall, the main three were bicycles, shoes, and ethanol. The first two as means of getting around as many people couldn’t afford to travel by car, were looking for work, and wearing out far more shoes in the process of miles and miles of walking.

    Those who can repair and maintain bicycles and build bicycle trailers will probably have useful trade skills should an economic collapse occur again. Shoes can be repaired be converting old rubber tires towards that purpose, something that folks in 3rd world countries have been doing for a long time. And ethanol production has always been around in some manner, though that’s usually a lot of materials that could have gone into bellies as food instead.

    1. My grandfather was a kid during the depression. One story he told me was that when he wanted some money, he would head to the edge of the city to the fields to work. The work he talked about was pulling weeds in the onion fields. In the mornings, the people who wanted to work would line up along a fence. The boss told the people to put their hands on the fence facing him. The boss would walk down the line and pick people at what would appear to be a random picking. If you weren’t picked, you didn’t work for the day. The bosses didn’t care if you had kids to feed or anything. My grandpa asked the boss after a few days why they had to put their hands on the fence.the boss said he was looking for calloused hands. That meant you could do work. If your hands were clean and soft then you weren’t going to be a good worker. If I remember correctly, he said the pay was 5 cents an hour.

  11. Lots of great comments here. Having parents who lived through the depression, I was brought up to do most all the things mentioned here. I find it difficult to throw anything that has any use whatsoever left in it away and in many instances I already use stuff that most people toss on a daily basis. An example is I took an old worn out washing machine and converted it to a smoker using items I just refuse to throw away. It cost me nothing and now I have smoked meats on a regular basis. People best learn some of these simple ways to exist because a time is coming when things wont be so rosey as they seem to be today.

  12. My deceased dad told me 50 years ago
    The us farmer rancher made out much
    Better than- village town people.had
    Chickens,eggs,cows(dairy-beef sheep)-
    Trade batter- .they were also used to having
    Less of everything.if you in town etc and
    Have fanm friend-do work for them vs
    What they offer. Next 10 yrs pols wall-street
    Big banks one world gov. Enslave all us.
    Start to prepare. Now.

    1. I dunno about you but trading guns and ammo during desperate times sure sounds like a good way to be killed.
      Never ever let on you have valuable commodities stored. If you look through the gun forums there is always a few there that say they don’t have to store food, that there’ll be plenty for the taking since they have their black rifle and a pack full of ammo.

  13. There is an increase in small homesteads that are getting robbed of their chickens, ducks and goats. A couple days ago in Monroe, Georgia a small family farm was robbed of all their animals. It is a sure sign to me when chickens are getting stole off their perch at night, there is a big problem already here folks!

    1. “It is a sure sign to me when chickens are getting stole off their perch at night, there is a big problem already here folks!”

      There is definite truth in that. An unfortunate sign of the times… I believe that we are on a slippery slope downward where security will become an increasingly important issue.

      1. Don’t know how true this is, but I have heard that the best animal to have
        for protection is the Donkey. The animal will fight.
        Also if I had space in my home, I would put chickens in the house for protection & for warmth in the winter.

  14. The government is putting people in a bad situation. People can NOT buy homes with out using credit first. It is so much cheaper to buy a home than to rent one. The government won’t let that happen until you get credit cards and run up a bunch of credit. The government even regulates home owners insurance. You get cheaper rates if you have a high credit score. People will have to save a boat load of money to buy a home with out a big credit number. But the government wants to put the ca-bash to cash sales to force the big credit number. Just letting people know what is going on so people can better understand what is really going on in the world of finance. Young people just starting out need a heads up on what they are in for when it comes to finance.

  15. A shocking revelation about ignorance of the educated…

    My boyfriend, a 35 year old professional, who is reluctant about my prepping interests, made fun of his mother for hiding cash in the house. I explained that its not just an “old people” thing… in the Great Depression most people lost whatever they had in savings at the bank. Much to my astonishment, he said he didn’t know they lost their bank savings, he thought it was just stocks that failed. He also said that we wouldn’t need to worry about that because of FDIC… that we are guaranteed that money up to $100,000.

    I asked him where the government would get the cash if the economy failed. He said, “hmmmm…good point.”

    wow. He’s lucky I love him..lol

    1. Have him read “Hard Times” by Studs Terkel. An oral history of the GD published in 1970 (thus many GD veterans still around). Best history of that event I have found.

      1. Thanks. I’ll order it and ask him to check it out!
        I did have him read “One Second After” but that seemed too fantastical for him to relate.

        1. Great book!! I got to read it while it was still free online…. I would love to get a copy….Got my husband on board with selling our suburban home. We are in the process of looking for a little homestead right now…. I feel like time is running out…

    2. Like my neighbor and her husband that don’t stock food/supplies because they have more pension and S.S. coming in than they need to live.

      However, you can’t insult these sheeple and make them think–what happens when you have more money than food on the shelf??

      Even a grocer made the comment about prepping to me–why bother?? And he put his hand out and made a circle of the store shelves to say, I have the keys!!!

      Geesh!!! This from a grocer??? Who SHOULD know JIT theories.

  16. My mother-in-law told many stories about the depression like shipping cattle & only getting a bill for the freight, throwing out ragged kids clothes early in the depression & then her kids had to wear much worse a couple years later, finally scraping enough money together to fix a leaky roof & 1 week later hail destroyed the roof again & having brown paper slides in the bedroom for the water to run down to the pails & not rain on the beds.

    Since people have more stuff today it may be easier to find useful stuff if we find ourselves in hard times but we will have to again learn not to waste anything. One thing I did when we went through hard times was never throw out water vegetables were boiled in. Save it & make soup, stews, biscuits etc. Lots of it. & min. in that water. I still keep a rag bag for cleaning clothes & badly ripped pants get the good parts cut out & used for patches or sewn into quilts or throws for cars or for grandkids to take & sit on the lawn. I know I waste stuff today but if times get tough again I am lucky enough to know how to reuse a lot of things. So even if you are living well today take a walk through your house once in a while & see how you can reuse things. Better to think of it now than when you are panicked by a crisis & your brain wants to shut down. Also read about how people did things years ago. Not only will you get some good ideas but you will probably appreciate more what we have today.

  17. It makes me feel so good to read these posts. We have preached it for years with very few getting it. Most think nothing is going to happen, we remind them that Noah took 120 years to build the Ark and warned people all along. You should see the blank look we usually get. We look back on how much we use to put in the trash, its kinda sad to think about now. When something breaks we salvage what we can from it then toss what is truly broken. I have a closet full of clothes I can’t wear but refuse to toss out or donate. Maybe one day someone might need them. ( maybe I have gone off the deep end) We have enough TP for almost a year. I know crazy , right? Any way, those of us who spend smart do way better. Even if nothing bad happens we live happier with less stress

  18. If things don’t go south before the new vehicles break down and can no longer be repaired, they certainly will when all the people lose their transportation before the vehicle is paid off. Add this to the student loans and personal credit, you have defaults all over the place. Can not end well.

  19. I must clarify that the vehicles can no longer be repaired because they are so complex and are now a replace item rather than repair.

  20. I imagine that people relied on one another during the Depression. Neighbor helping neighbor. These days people barely talk to their neighbors. Maybe that will change and neighbors would become partners in survival, or maybe they will kill each other for their resources. Hope we never have to find out.

    1. True. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and back then neighbors knew each other much more than today. One fear today is that the neighbors down the street could be drug dealers or have a grow op. Illegal drugs permeate all social classes and areas of town. Sometimes it is safer who you do not know. That being said, when I retire I plan to live in an area of older people so that I don’t have to fear my neighbors. Also more likely to talk to them. The urban yuppie only cares about him or herself.

    2. Me, we had a wonderful community of neighbors going here until the one guy next door remarried. The new wife has just destroyed it all. They will be ‘takers’ in the new normal. She has destroyed fruit growing areas on OUR property, and laughed about it. Their new trees they planted on the property line will overgrow our property and drop all their leaves (18 trees worth) in our pond. I had warned them 3 times they were planting too close to our fence, but they ignored us. Told us they can do what they want to OUR property. Then they told us not to speak to them anymore.

      They got their wish.

      1. DJ5280
        Find a friend who has a chemical applicators license,
        Get a product called Tordon, im pretty sure you can get it in pellet form, just spread a bit near each tree, end of story.
        If no tordon,
        You can buy a product called Garlon, mix it with Roundup, 1:1 then mix that with water 1:2water, spray it on the trunks every week for a month, same thing, trees say bye bye

        1. Kula, the laws here state we can trim their trees over our fence as long was we do it from our property. And we have Tordon; we use it clearing our land of overgrown cedars and junk trees. Hm. A little on those cut branches trimmed from OUR side…..hm. Hm………

        2. Just be snaky, i wouldnt touch them
          When anyone is watching, but a little tordon goes a long ways.

        3. Kula, DJ5280,
          Both Tordon and Garlon will work, but can be identified by chem analysis and you will have legal issues. How about the old trick of driving a couple of copper nails into the tree trunks where they can’t be seen, like an inch or so below ground.May take longer, but same effect.

  21. @Ken

    Ken I have been making a habit of reading your Site since I found a few months ago. I want to thank you for the good work you’re doing with the articles. You’re keeping a lot of people thinking and sharing thoughts. It’s good to see so many ideas and experiences come to light.

    My parents and grandparents all lived through the “great depression” and tried to teach “us youngsters” or “yah-all young-ins” as Papa used to say. They tried to teach us how to live “properly”. Unfortunately it seems we have lost many if not all of the lessons our families have tried to teach us. I could list hundreds of things that have gone wrong as of late or reasons to “forget”, but I know everyone here can also list the same. I’m just in the strongest hope they we (all of us) can listen to the others here, remember the lessons we seem to have lost, and take away a few things to better our lives some.

    Thanks again Ken and all of the contributors


    1. Thanks – and I’m happy that you’re participating in the conversations. The more voices – the more cross-section of thoughts and ideas…

    2. my parents lived through the great depression but they went a different route. they rarely talked about it and they thoroughly enjoyed being able to buy new instead of repairing and reusing. My mom refused to have a garden and bought everything canned and frozen at the grocery store. I learned nothing, not even how to cook properly…..

    3. NRP
      Found this early post of yours,,,
      Good to re read!

  22. More people as a percentage of the population are unemployed now than were unemployed during the Great Depression..and fewer know how to raise a garden, shoot a rifle, slaughter a pig, hunt a deer..or drive the G men off ones property..they can however google these things.

  23. If something happened so many would be lost. I was at a store where the card reader at the register suddenly stopped working. The employees had no idea what to do. Everyone just stood around. They couldn’t just get a calculator and transact business because they couldn’t even open the register and hardly anybody carries cash. They also said that would be against company policy. This has happened more and more. Everyone has blank looks.

    We are trying to get our gardening skills down and our debt paid off. This site has helped with a ton of information. I am very appreciative.

    1. Thanks Tg, and you are SO RIGHT regarding your example (of today’s risk) regarding reliance upon the electronic ‘digits’ to work. The system will grind to a screeching halt and most won’t have a clue what to do next…

      1. “reliance on electronic”


        our internet was down for ten hours, and wow…my gosh, we felt like we were “lost” without it…not good on our part.

    2. TG, I see a lot of the same thing in different areas. I worry that much of the ‘strong’ in our population are Gen X and Millenials who (generally) lack the resilience to “make do.” As others have said, many folks entered the Great Depression with a background in rural living. They had mindset of make-do. The very people the country will need if SHTF (the young and strong), have very little of that. They (and their parents) have grown up in the immediate-access, newest iPhone, instant food world. From what we’ve seen lately, their go-to response to a problem is to organize a protest march.

      That’s not going to help much, but might leave them in the urban centers long enough for rural folk to get ready once the protests fail and they’re hungry.

  24. Those that prepared back then became bus owners later. The same most likely will hold true now, as long as they show honesty, charity, but most importantly an ability to out smart the G men!!!

  25. Last week, there was a big fire in our county. I don’t know how this relates but for some reason we lost cable, internet,cell phones for about 6 hours. I didn’t realize how much we depend on computers. The local grocery store, gas station, bank, and other businesses had to close. They couldn’t conduct business. My grandkids went nuts without their electronics. I pray that SHTF never happens,because most people will be in a world of hurt.

    1. Just today I too saw a tiny example of what ‘could’ happen. We were at the grocery store, checking out at the register. After about 10 items were scanned, the register/scanner went ‘dead’. Everything ground to a halt (of course). The look on the face of the checker was telling – complete unknowing as to what to do. All she could say was that “it just went dead”, “i don’t know what to do”… Eventually someone else came over and was able to get it work again after resetting ‘something’, but it goes to show how commerce would grind to a halt. Even if you had cash, most of the stores would not be able to check you out. We sure are dependent on this technology (and electricity!)

      1. Even if someone did have a manual calculator (or GASP paper), they would not be able to check you out because inventory is computerized. Reordering is computerized. They would not be able to make change because the cash drawer is computerized. Anything done would have to be redone (manually) when the computer came back up.

        1. So true–but when this happened at Dollar Tree, even then the cashiers couldn’t check us out!!
          Company policy!
          Hey, my items were all $1 and no go.

  26. My parents were married in the depression in the UK and went into war. My dad worked in the morning and in the afternoon went to school. In the end it was a great idea as it increase his working later on.

    I have heard of some really bad things they had to do to make ends meet and put food on the table. One thing that came out of it was the vegetable patch and home made foods.

    My son works for a big retailer and I asked the boss what would happen if there was a problem in the world and she said they shop would be closed and all the food taken back to the warehouse. So there would be no warning to stock up on anything. So stock piling is a must and to be quiet about what you have stock piled.

  27. My Father in law is going to be 90 in October and he’s already said that we’re in a depression. Just look around and you’ll see how lots of people are already moving back in with parents or family. Also, it’s getting harder to drive to work for a paycheck when most goes to gas, bills, and food. My Father in law stated that while our depression isn’t like it was back then it will come to it if something isn’t done. Yes, I think we’re all agreed to the most part something will happen and SHTF will happen. It’s just a matter of time.

    Now, the thing is y’all are all correct, the problem is getting everyone else on board and thinking like this. There are still many folks that don’t believe it could go back to that. Some of us are ready, I know we are. If you are a jack of all trades and a master of none you’re going to do wonderfully.

    Gotta make sure you can produce food or work for food/trade. There will be the time when all comes down to begin with that it will be total heck all around and there will be so many to die. That’s just a given. Whether it will be old, young, or the ones that thought it would never happen, people will die or get killed.

    The thing to making it is to not tell anyone about what you have or what you don’t have. Don’t assume people are just going to be friendly because when it’s them or you, you had better think of you and yours. Most people think it’ll be okay and it’ll never happen to them. hmm..ok. I agree with all y’all’s posts. There are very good ideas. The main thing is to stay out of big cities. Get out of them if you can and find a place where it’s not going to be seen or found. If found defend. Go to places in the country or mountains or something. Just stay out of big cities. That will be worse than anything.

    Make sure you have alternate ways of dealing with sickness and diseases. Stock up on vodka and such for cleansing. Things you wouldn’t normally think wouldn’t be used might just help. Fish, hunt, grow. Those are the things that will need to be done. People need to be prepared and stop thinking all will be right in the world because it just won’t be. The solar will help. Don’t buy solar stuff so the a.c. can be on. You’ll need light and water. Those will be the most important things to make happen so make sure that that can be done. Then if you have the money (which most don’t) you can add more so you can be comfortable.

    Also, don’t make it so everyone sees everything you have. After something happens make sure your place looks like crap and no one will come in and bother it. Electronics might work, we might have internet, we might have phone, might not. Prepare as if there won’t be any of it that way the basic needs are met. Then, and only then you can add for comfort. I’ve seen where people talk about having comfortable stuff and I’m thinking it won’t last long and are you kidding?! You’ll be too tired to do much after having to do what needs to be done and the stress will be much more because you won’t know if you’re safe or not. You’ll have to be on the look out for people migrating to the country or to the warmer areas. Those are the ones you’ll have to deal with and you need to expect to defend what’s yours.

    If you are a younger person and grew up on electronics, I’ll say this to you, learn how to do things other than electronics. You’ll need to know. For example, if the grid does go out, not very many people know how to build anything from scratch. It’s all done by computers. So, figuring out how to make something that computers have taken over is going to be the biggest problem for people because people now a days don’t know how to do things with their hands. They know electronics but they don’t know how to build things. If you are one that is like that go buy the Foxfire books. All of them. Then get books on what plants are eatable or not. Those two will keep you alive. For Pete sake get the hard back books! Think ahead. That’s what will keep you alive. Put your feet in others shoes and think if I were them what would I do. Most people will be in a state of shock, then anger, then frustration. Once all that is over with they will then either be okay and figure it out or they won’t. The ones that will will be okay.

    You will only be able to rely on yourself/family and sometimes you won’t be able to with family because they will think they’d be better with out others to feed or what not. Just remember this. Safety in numbers no matter the situation. Never show your hand all the way. Sorry if I rambled but most of us are preaching to the choir. Y’all, are all correct. :)

  28. We can be as prepared as we know how, but what about the prescriptions we need for b/p etc. Will the drugstore still be operating and will our insurance pay if the shtf? We can gradually stock up but it wont last that long! what if anything can we do? Are there herbs one could take to keep b/p under control with so much stress to deal with? How to prepare ahead with medications????

    1. If the economy collapses, drug stores will not be open, and I doubt the manufacturers will be in busness. That is why many will die off. Learn to use natural plants and things for non life threatening illness. The Native Americans had a vast knowledge of natural medicine as do the tribes in the Amazon and other areas like that. You can stock up on many over the counter drugs.\

      1. Another IMPORTANT things is learn all you can about first aid in all forms and stock up on items needed for that. Keep all items as well as over the counter medicines in a air tight container,waterproof. Be sure to have heavy thread for suturing also. Learn how to make healing salves,for infections, burns etc. This is just as important as stocking up on food, etc

    2. Learn what herbs to use and start using them NOW. Get used to them, get used to the way they work. The transition will be hardest. For blood pressure cayenne, garlic, any of the alliums (onion family), dandelion and many others. But always remember that herbs and pharmaceuticals DO interact–get a good herb book or twenty and USE them. I like The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines because it has herb-drug interactions, but be aware that the authors are pushing pharmaceuticals–according to them, very few of the herbs work.

      Dandelion, for example, says “Do not take with prescription blood thinners,” with the warning that taking them together may cause your blood pressure to go TOO low. Then it says there’s no proof that dandelion works to reduce blood pressure. :)

      But as a companion to a good comprehensive herb book it’s invaluable because they’re very thorough and have a lot of information that other books skim over or ignore entirely.

        1. Anony Mee, If blood sugar or blood pressure i s an issue according to the southern herbalist.. huckleberry tea used 2x a day morning and evening will control it… takes several days for it to kick in… go to you tube video’s.. the southern herbalist Darryl Patton… and huckleberry… blueberry is also in the same family and can be used with modifications.

        2. Just Sayin’…thanks for the tip. I know someone could use info.

          I looked for his website, Southern Herbalist, and he has the videos listed there as well.

        3. Hi Just Sayin’

          I ordered the book based on Lauren’s recommendation. Looks like a great addition to the bookshelf and for evening reading.

          But nope, no bp, sugar, or cardiac conditions to contend with, just a cranky kidney.

          I hope you’ve been saving copies of your comments on MSB. They are quite a compendium of thoughtful, caring advice.

    3. Check online for b/p or afib medications. If you know people that go to Mexico, they can pickup most of those there, and a lot cheaper.

    4. Gene told me about a Mennonite acquaintance using Hawthorne berries so I stocked up on those.
      Considering how many he takes daily, I have about 6 months to 2 years in store.

      1. 1 to 2 cups of Sassafras tea a day will do wonders for high blood pressure. Sassafras tea is made by boiling the root bark of the tree in water and then add sugar to taste. Leaves and twigs can also be used but it will not be as strong.

  29. I remember this Article well, and honestly it had a HUGE impact on me, I bet I read this several times and even discussed this with my ‘Sharp as a Tack’ Mom (95 years old and is willing to talk about the Depression).
    2+ years ago when I found this Site I was making the motions of preparing and living the lifestyle, Now I have 600 rolls of TP stored up… HAHAHA
    Yes I’m 95% Crazy, but I still thank Ken for kicking me in the butt.

    The main differences I now see in the two worlds are simply we as a People have gotten Lazy and Soft. Now before someone gets offended by that allow me to explain. I look at the Photo Ken has chosen for the Article and see a HARD working Man with a worry on his face, Honestly this could have been my Grand Papa. The people of the Depression were intelligent, VARY hard working people, most knew how to make something from nothing, they had skills they used to survive and prosper. Yes they were poor as all get out, but IMHO they knew what life was all about, were not afraid of work, knew how to enjoy the ‘simple’ life and had hope for a future.
    What do y-all see now? Mass production of everything, a failing education system, violence and hate is running ramped, criminal politicians and .gov, there is zero trust in the future as in one’ self. I see a broken ‘system’ of community, religion, responsibility, and honor. Read any news source you want and it’s all violence and corruption, hate and destruction, honestly it’s discussing what society has become even to the point that many MANY want and are welcoming a Civil War to ‘teach the others’ their lesson. We-the-People have gotten Soft, “More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. More than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are considered to be obese.”.

    Ken ask “Could the conditions of a Great Depression ever happen again?” I whole heartedly believe we are in the beginning stages of the collapse NOW, As discussed a few days ago, look at Gold and Silver, look at the Stock Markets (22,000 Really?), and the BDI. Look at the ‘health’ of Americans.
    Fact; less than 30% of Americans have $1000 worth of Savings. We have 41MILLION on Food Stamps, 164MILLION receiving some sort of “assistance”. Ohhhh and let’s not forget the $19,973,097,025,404 in the US National Dent.
    How can anyone not believe we’re heading for a depression style crash and worse?

  30. JJ
    Just read your comments and smiled Ear to Ear……
    Love it, you my friend are exactly why I still have hope for this country
    Thank You

  31. Great information. The point you made about respect for others causes me the greatest concern. We could make it through hard times and work together if most people in our society had that sense of respect for each other. The mindset of, “You have, I don’t, I take” would be a huge challenge.

    1. That is going to be a huge challenge, especially since that mindset has flooded through government at all levels, government no longer views the people as those they work for but as a resource for revenue.
      The lack of respect within our society today will be the cause of unravelling. It really is a shame, we really have gone down hill.

  32. Yes, I think we could face another great depression – absolutely. And it could be much worse than the last, if for no other reason than we (as a nation) have so many more people here now. During the Great Depression our population was less than 100 million, now we are somewhere around 330 million – more than triple the number of mouths to feed and house.
    We’ve talked about financial collapse scenarios, contributing factors of which include:
    – Extremely overblown stock market values
    – High unemployment hidden by misleading .gov reports
    – Skyrocketing national debt
    – Lack of personal savings/excessive personal debt
    – Migration from rural/agricultural areas to high density cities
    – Turbulent world events
    – Insane number of people on .gov handouts
    How could we not be facing a financial disaster?

  33. My maternal grandparents, and great grandparents were farmers in NW Pa. before, during and after the great depression. I remember my mother saying she hardly remembers the depression because they lived the same way before, during and after. They were totally self sufficient in that way of life and not affected by the dust bowl. She, and my uncle, never really wanted for anything. They re-purposed, grew and raised everything. My grandmother made two 1/4 acre vegetable gardens. One was strictly for sweet corn ! Half of the 80 acre farm was forest, streams, the rest was for orchard and grain to feed the dairy cattle, pigs and chickens.

    I remember spending weekends and summers helping out (hard work, long days) and learning from my grandparents. I also remember when they got indoor plumbing. Nothing more energizing than a trip to the outhouse in sub-zero weather. ;-) I remember, too, when my grandfather got his first tractor. He farmed with horses until his later years. Any excess veggies, grain and milk was for barter, or sold to buy what they couldn’t provide themselves (tools, clothing, etc.).

    They got by pretty well during hard times and were helpful with the neighboring farmers. When they could no longer farm, they sold the place to an Amish family and they work it to this day. Some folks know how to make it work, and it is a fine example of the Amish way.

    Unfortunately, today, more than 90% of the population have little, or no, knowledge of providing for one’s self and family, especially in the city. Your website, and others, are very helpful in regaining some lost knowledge and self-sufficiency. Keep up the good work.

    The wife and I are in our early 70’s now. Started prepping 15 years ago. Relocated from the city 7 years ago. We live in a small gated community (150 homes) with two year round streams, several springs and two wells. We have no debt, own a 1/4 acre lot, a 1500 sf home and I have a small orchard and I still make garden (2000 sf) here in central AZ. You’d be surprised what you can do with just a 1/4 acre. Some of my neighbors raise grass feed beef and free range chickens. I grow fruit and veggies. We barter any excess.

    It’s a simple way of life, but it has worked for centuries. Maybe industrialization wasn’t such a good thing. Too many people can’t fend for themselves. When SHTF, it will be ugly if you haven’t prepared and can’t defend yourself. Grow something, prepare, stockpile , acquire knowledge and make it available to others.

  34. I’d suggest getting a copy of a book called, “We Had Everything But Money” to see how these depression and dust bowl era people survived. Pay particular attention to the chapter on when the banks closed.

    One day, the banks just closed and every person who thought they had money suddenly lost it all. Can it happen again? You’d better believe it could. The Federal Reserve does these kinds of things to punish presidents and manipulate societies.

  35. My parents both grew up during the depression. Both were raised in rural NE Texas, I’m sure the experiences they shared with me were in a different context and were much different than those reared in urban areas at the time.

    They never spoke of any shortages in the stores, just the lack of jobs/cash income to buy those products. They had agricultural land (small farms), but no market for their crops. All their neighbors were in the same boat, with the exception of a few who had family members with county jobs such as deputy sheriffs, clerks etc. This was about all the cash that came into the community. The rest, being poor farmers prior to the depression, where already self sufficient to the extent of raising and preserving much of their food. Someone slaughters a calf? Everyone in the community got a share, Most folks had their own flock of chickens and a hog, again, they shared the bounty when they processed, due the difficulties of preserving the meat. Manufactured goods were treated as irreplaceable, never abused. Kids walked to school barefoot, carrying their shoes to be put on once there. Clothes and clothing were passed down to younger children to be recycled until no longer usable.

    My maternal grandfather made his own gill nets, fishing the local small river, to supplement their food supplies. His small size made him in high demand to repair and deepen the shallow wells everyone depended on for water, sometimes resulting in a payday of a quarter, sometimes in a barter item.

    My paternal was also a farmer, but also was the community blacksmith. His skill with a forge and anvil made him able to bring in more cash than others, but the inability of many to pay resulted in a bunch of iou’s that were never cashed in.

    My parents impressed on me how everyone tried to pull together, helping each other through bad times, with no guarantees they would ever end. I could go on and with all the stories they told me, knowledge imparted. I hope that if those times return I am half as resilient as my forebears.

  36. Most in here agree that hard times will come around again for all the rational arguments – urbanization, lack of skills, moral and ethical decay, complicated technology and robotics, doomed National monetary system, unmanageable personal debt levels, retirees with no financial resources, ….. the list is almost endless. BUT I think I know what the final straw will be, the “cashless society” pushed by the monetary controllers. Then it will be barter or nothing. Since 90% have nothing worth trading, the death toll will be staggering in this country. The Afghan herdsman and the Chinese person with a rice paddy will be fine.

    1. hermit us,

      Cashless society? Sort of scary that we are at a point already that requires a bank account to receive your social security, arguably your money paid in. If you are not willing/able to pay your taxes, utilities, etc. face to face, you must have a bank account.

      If I bury cash in my backyard and return to find an empty hole, I know I’ve been robbed, and I might be able to track the thief down. If all my money is on a digital silicon chip in the computer system that belongs to someone else, takes a dump, or is intentionally erased, what are my chances of even proving it was ever there?

      Total control of everyone.

      1. Which is why the day I receive my SS check, Gene takes it out and hands to me…yes, folks, with the Medicare deduction, it is that small!!

  37. Excellent article. I had Depression Era Parents.. I know about T.P. and tomato sauce. Lots of food fried and lots of soups.

  38. Ken,

    I just clicked on a “recent comment” that I felt needed a response, only to be carried to the original story instead of directly to the comment. I scrolled through all 101 comments unable to find the comment to reply to it, much less know the context of his comment. Tried three times with same results.

    While on the subject of navigating the new format, Under the old format, you just clicked on the comment icon and it went straight to the “post comment” box. Now it seems I must scroll through all previous comments to the bottom of the page. Some topics like today’s, that have a large number of old comments already posted, require a lot of scrolling in order to post a new comment. Am I missing something?

    1. Ken, disregard the fist part of my comment. Tried again and it when straight to his comment, like always.

  39. My ancestors immigrated to this country after the Great Depression, so there were no stories of it to be passed down to me. I have read Grapes of Wrath several times, which I believe has given me an idea as to what people went through at that time. I will check out some of the other suggested reads as well. What happened with the banks is especially intriguing to me right now.

  40. My children have parents that are livin’ during a great depression. We just paid property taxes on our land that was paid off for quite some time. I guess its like paying rent for something you own. That’s depressing! 😵

  41. We are living at a great cross road in our country’s history. In one direction is a country divided politically, socially and spiritually. On the other turn a nation that is broke financially and close to bankruptcy. What will come first, civil war or economic ruin? I fear one will beget the other and it is a question which will come first only. No matter we must show the faith, hard work and determination I saw in my grandparents and parents to survive. They never lost their faith in G_D their Nation or their ability to roll up there sleeves and get it done. I fear we are no longer these Americans.

    1. Southernman

      I noticed in your comments the following…. “G_D” …. we do spell it GOD here, I do not believe anyone will say a word or have a problem, I know I do not being Buddhist. And honestly I would feel a lot more comfortable knowing that everyone here is not bashful about their beliefs, And guess what, if someone has a problem with others saying “God” than that’s their problem and they can leave….


      1. NRP, some Christians choose not to use vowels in the spelling. My understanding is that it has to do with 1) not taking the name in vain, and 2) distinguishing between the God and a god. My Jewish friends tend to use YHVH or Adonai. I’ve seen some Christians use YHVH, but only when it has been made clear that they are writing from a Christian perspective, not a Jewish one. The relationship between those two traditions is complicated.

      2. I also have a problem with G_D…it is GOD wherever –I pray GOD knows my full name and speak to him often to help Him remember!!!
        I researched this one day–it’s about reverence……but, in my book, it’s about disrespect.
        Begun by Jewish religion by the way.

  42. The financial box we find ourselves in can not be solved so collapse is inevitable. We could probably survive that catastrophe but what is worse is the cancer of hate growing in the country that will lead to some kind of civil war. Too many swamps for the remaining good people to fight. Hope? Faith? not at all.

  43. My grandparents and parents lived through the Great Depression within California. Like over 50 % of the population, My grandparents were farmers. They could not speak English very good and could not afford to go to school so they did what they knew how to do in a new land where the locals spoke in a strange tongue: they farmed and raised vegetables. Grandpa also took on some part time seasonal jobs that paid cash money for hard dangerous work.

    During this time, as the children were being raised, he also did a lot of trading with other residents such as vegetables for beef from a local rancher. Giving of vegetables to the school cafeteria such that his children could attend the public school and the children could eat fresh produce with their lunches that day. Decades later, I was told of these trades when I asked for permission to hunt on a cattle ranch in exchange for helping at round ups. Nobody in that community, at that time, had large quantities of cash laying around.

    Being of Asian Heritage, the forefathers who raised us also forbid us from going into farming after high school. They wanted all of us farm children to go to college. I attended a state college and majored in Economics in the hopes that I can see and prepare for the next economic melt-down. I worked my way through school as a firefighter, ambulance driver and police officer. To this day, I still work in the health care field.

    Today is a different day and age. Rather than grow vegetables, I can see myself growing marijuana during truly difficult times. The old truck that was on every farm may be replaced with a new model hybrid power sedan. Many of the people out there trying to purchase the organic gardening magazines are not trying to grow their own food. Many out there are trying to grow their own marijuana and selling off their cash crop.

    As many on this site have started already: adapt and overcome.

    1. It speaks volumes when this country is heading the way of countries like Afghanistan and Mexico where the cash crops are for drugs so we can all escape reality. But if we look at how it worked out for the growers of poppies etc, they are still in poverty/slavery while the overlords grow wealthy.

  44. A great depression will happen again with different root causes.

    Most of the great depression generation I was aware of are gone; gone with them are experience, responsibility, wisdom, ethics, morals, determination and courage. The WWII generation is almost gone, they too will take with them what was taught to them by the great depression generation and also humbleness. They leave behind an achieving generation (boomers) that chucked a lot of the morals, ethics, responsibility, courage, humbleness to pursue affluence, personal gratification and bucking “authority”. The following generations are only an output of the previous generations teachings, if teaching at all. Not all following generations individuals are portrayed, I am bombarded by media pushing the outliers of a generation at me; which I have decided to let have at it until the dust clears; they won’t stop anyway.

  45. People out there and on this site talk of the Great Depression as if it was the last time people within this country experienced hunger, hardship and poor job prospects. That is not so. All 3 exist today though not as widespread as it was during the Great Depression. My teen years were spent watching the Stagflation of the Carter Presidency. There were foreclosures on farms in the midwest and people taking up arms against the “Big Banks” back in the mid 1970’s. I saw buildings change hands and people trying to start businesses along my Main Street of my home town. Most went under within 2 years. One building became a landmark in that it changed hands so frequently that us kids called it : “Repo Depot”. I saw the price of real estate rise and fall in about a 10 year cycle. I calculated the price of my fathers consumption of cigarettes and pointed out straight financial cost of cigarettes alone. ( I was the kid that was handed a $20.00 bill and told to run inside and pick up a carton for Dad. I would return with the carton and change.). The place I lived in, I watched and tracked these cycles for years. That is why I eventually majored in Economics.

    In 1987 the market crashed again due to over speculation in the stock market. Unlike the market crash of 1929 when brokers were jumping out of windows, People who lost big went into their brokers office and shot their brokers. Time of year of the crash: Mid October. The last crash we had in 2008 was due to over speculation on housing and homes and the speculation was worldwide. As I get older, I am getting better at spotting the oncoming changing of conditions and the “irrational exuberance”. ( coined by former Fed Chairman A. Greenspan.).

    My advice, read the paper and try to stay current with conditions out there. It is tempting to be disconnected when you are in your grid-independent cabin in the hills. Say connected and informed to avoid being blindsided by the economic train that may be coming down the tracks.

  46. Get some suspenders now. Hard to keep your pants up with just a belt when you are packing and have lost weight. Foam type glue for shoe repair and bailing wire (concrete rebar wire) for repairs is a must have. Getting a needle and thread now along with bic lighters would be a good idea, too.

  47. I believe we are on the road towards food shortages, unemployment and war unlike anything ever before.

  48. Wow and I do mean Wow.
    I just spent several minutes reviewing the Article and Comments.
    7 years ago this came out on Ken’s BLOG, than 3 years ago.
    And IMHO we are now on the threshold of living exactly what we were talking about.

    Sometimes I truly wish my Mother and Father were here to help teach, on the other hand, maybe tis better they are not here to see what has come to be…. AGAIN.

    I will admit there is a lot of optimism in the air, people are ready to get back to work, to their lives, to get the black cloud called government off their backs.

    I am concerned if this Lockdown last much longer, we may truly see what many have talked about many times, A Civil War, I sure hope this never comes to be, but there may be a point where people see no other choice.

    Finally, I see HUGE shortages in the supplies, I’m one of those that makes “List” of things I would like to have, mainly from the Food Stores and places like Lowe’s.
    Wally World, was shocking…. As per conversations here I wanted a few more dozen Canning Lids. I was able to get 2 dozen regular and 1 dozen wide. Really? At WW?

    Ok this is getting long, sorry. I will finally say, if you’re needing something, you have better get it now, go read Ken’s last article about the “Second Wave of C-19 coming” it’s NOT going to be pretty If/When.

    1. I was in Costco day before yesterday and I shocked at just how much food they did have, no shortages on any kind of meat, eggs, cheese, 20 lb bags of rice , fruit ,vegetables etc. They even had lots of toilet paper and water. I expected to see shortages but did not.

      1. – Per DW’s business, I have been in about 4 stores this week. Wally World, or China Mart if you prefer, was pretty well stocked. Still short on paper goods, although some (high-priced) TP was available. Paper Towels, etc., are still available here locally.

        Shelf-stable milk, no. DIL bought some almond shelf-stable stuff, so I have added that to our stores as an alternative. I do have about 6-8 liters of whole or 2% shelf stable, but have had no luck adding to that particular item.

        All the stores had some amount of TP, generally over-priced single rolls of what I can only call the “cheap stuff”. Meat, vegetables, available, at least in limited quantities, although probably better than some comments I have seen. The small chain store had a dozen 50# bags of white rice and several similar-size bags of pinto beans, which are a staple for our Hispanic population here. Water, readily available at all four.

        Garden seed, well picked over and the farm store has taken down their display. When I asked the clerk, she told me it was just too many people trying to crowd around it, right in the way of the front door, and the manager told them to take it down. If you were a regular, you could still ask for garden seed, but not to be surprised what they had or did not have.

        Basically, we have shortages (ammo has been hit hard) but in general, things are available, although not as good a variety or lesser brands than what you might want. We do have a pretty good selection of fresh fruits and vegetables at the moment.

        – Papa S.

        1. – Looked at some of what is offered for growing your own. If you are happy with plums, Red Delicious apples, or Niagara grapes, you are in luck. Anything else, Not So Much.
          – Papa

  49. Great article Ken. I fear if we see just half of what the great depression was, today, half the people out there will not survive through it. Hell, half the people out there wouldn’t survive living like they did before the great depression. Good luck

  50. Ken, another great article. NRP and Blue, I agree that we had better be adding to our food stocks. We already had a good amount of food stored plus our freeze dried food supply, but the first of March my wife and I went to Sam’s, WalMart, and Kroger(all in central Mississippi) and got things we were missing. We’ve been picking up things like milk, eggs, and bread from Kroger pickup but have not been back in a store. I decided today to put in a pickup order from our local Sam’s. I was shocked by the amount of out of stock items. If you think you may need something in the next several months, I think it would be wise to get it now while you can.

    1. Since the quarantine started, i have been able to add about 5 million calories to my food storage. That should be enough to feed an additional 7 people or so for a year.

      1. Butr G;
        The question becomes with the addition of basically 7 years of food add, do you have the remaining “stuff” that goes along with the Food?
        Water. 7 years of water.
        Fuel to cook with.
        Disposal area for Trash and waste.
        and so-on
        And of course the big question, “Is 600 rolls really enough” Meaning TP

        1. Should be good on all. And i reckon i am at about 2000 rolls. Better than cash in the bank. :)

  51. Interesting to read this article and all of the comments from years ago. And here we go once again…… I think we are very removed as a society from the Great Depression. Back then many people either lived on a farm or in a rural area or had relatives who did. Now most live in an urban area or suburbia and haven’t a clue how to raise their own food, fix their own stuff or do anything much beyond ordering take-out or paying someone to do a job for them. A huge percent of the population is overweight or obese; exact percentage depends on your locale. A large number are addicted to drugs or take prescription meds that may/may not continue to be available.

    Most of our young people are tied to their phones and expect an app for everything. Far too many aren’t really interested in working hard and breaking a sweat.

    We will have a lot of jobs available harvesting veggies/fruit and in livestock operations and processing, especially if illegal(and legal) immigration is curtailed. I’m not holding my breath for many of those now out of work to take these jobs. In fact as the readers of the NYT and similar ilk always like to point out, we need illegals to do all of the dirty jobs that Americans just won’t do! So our citizens will pressure the government to keep unemployment and other benefits coming so they can sit around, stream Netflix and not work while the jobs they refuse to do go begging or end up being filled by non-citizens.

    I’m seeing lots of help-wanted signs in stores here right now(grocery, hardware, farm/garden supply and other essential businesses) but it seems people aren’t applying for them, preferring to sit back and wait for a check to arrive.

    While I think that looking at what people did to survive the Depression can be interesting and perhaps valuable on an individual level, as a guide for how our country might handle it I don’t think it’s at all applicable any more. Sorry to be such a downer about all of this but it doesn’t look promising to me.

    1. Ani, I agree with your assessment. It is such an entirely different “world” now, as compared to then. How our country might handle it as a whole? Well, it’s not going to be good… Thanks for the comment.

      1. Along with just one issue that I mentioned which is the unwillingness to take jobs that are available, preferring to get a check from the government, another telling difference to me is how people cook9or don’t). Reading accounts of how people back in Depression times or in other times of poverty stretched their food supply, one always hears stories of adding water to the soup to make it feed another person or other tricks to create filling nutritious soups, stews and casseroles. I don’t hear much of this anymore among those in need.

        In my state(VT) the Food Bank has teamed up with the National Guard to distribute cases of MRE’s to those looking for food! The largest food shelf in the area that I know of keeps looking for those pop-top ready serve canned pastas and canned soups ready to eat. Sure, the homeless or people living in a car or motel room could be expected to need these but not people living in a place with a kitchen! It’s so frustrating to me as if one has beans, split peas, lentils, some veggies etc they can make a filling nutritious soup that will provide many servings for not much more than the cost of a single-serve can of pasta or a can of soup! I donate to this food shelf but I know the futility of trying to get people to learn to cook and change their eating habits. I swallow hard and buy the canned pasta and soup when it’s on sale and donate it.

        I know from experience volunteering at a food shelf that mostly the dry beans, rolled oats, etc just sits on the shelf as no one wants it. So without a sea-change in people learning how to cook from scratch and prepare simple nutritious food, we’re going to continue to have hordes lined up to get their ready-to-eat pasta, MRE’s etc handed to them.

        1. Mrs. U, we already have it, in healthcare too. Its called the VA and Tricare.

        2. Ani,

          MRE’s? Oh no, those are really bad when eaten daily. They actually cost around 8-12 bucks per package (purchasing cost to the government from the vendor). Any idea how many tax dollars are there to pay for this? Yes, the treasury has no excess funds…I think cooking and householding ( new word I have for this ) should have been mandatory in middle and high school. Practical stuff. In Europe, those classes are mandatory. I miss that part of it a lot here in the US. At least my kids know how to run a house, still learning tricks from me.

  52. I guess I am the modern version of a great Depression Thriver…
    For the last 3 years my wife has been hounding me and asking why I would keep 2 outdated (10 Year old laptops laying about in a closet.. Just recycle them she said…

    Now with the kids home and enrolled in online home schooling – I busted out those old laptops wiped the hard drives then installed Ubuntu (linux os – or like a mac operating system or windows except ubuntu is fo free!) Now each boy has their own computer that operates more or less. BTN better than nothing.

    Neighbors now know to text me if they are going to throw out scrap piles of wood or other building materials. I am starting to fill the backyard with lots of free sh_T!

    Living the life style already baby!

  53. I grew up with great grandparents, Grandparents, parents and lots of aunts/uncles….I was lucky.
    We worked hard together as a FAMILY to supply and educate all. I doubt seriously that many of my siblings remember much (based on their behavior), mostly because of all the “education” the family received. I am the odd one. I remember most if not ALL the old arts my grandparents taught us. Again, I am fortunate.
    I have a daughter coming down this weekend with her family. She wants me to break out the sewing machine and help her sew masks for the whole family. She called last night to relate how very brilliant she is, but feeling “useless” as she can’t do many ordinary things. I heard some true regret in her voice. It almost made me cry. Then she asked if I thought it would be “fun” to teach her and her daughters to sew. I agreed that it certainly would be and was glad she is finally interested. We WILL use the opportunity to have “fun” as well.
    Actually, she has many talents and abilities, and I will use the weekend to point them out to her. She knows how to field dress and butcher deer and fish. She grows a terrific garden. She knows how to budget and search for deals. She is a great cook. She is a voracious reader and willing to share her knowledge. She is a CRACK shot (distinguished graduate from FrontSight!) I laugh at her for thinking she is “useless” but understand her frustrations….soooo. Mama will spend a little time reassuring her that she has what it takes to make it through these changing times.
    I share this story only as an anecdote to those who are just now getting started on a lifestyle. Never too late!

    1. @ Pioneer Woman

      I can so relate to that. My son grew up on a veggie/fruit farm but had zero interest in doing any of it. Appreciates good food but that’s the extent of it. Now he’s thinking that growing food might be a good thing to know how to do and will I help him do that? Of course!

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