Grandma Was A Prepper

Guest article, by ‘NRP’

I have so many fond memories of “going to Grandma’s house” in my younger days, the warmth of the home, the smells of something baking, all of the flowers planted outside and those in vases inside.

I remember the warm smile always on my Grandma’s face when we would walk into the small but ohhhhh so wonderful home. It was like walking back to post Depression Days, or at least to photos I have seen of when people were actual families.

I also vividly remember the Deep Pantry she always maintained…

Literally hundreds of canning jars full of everything from Meats to Peaches, plus everything/anything between.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition

I can still to this day see the piles of paper goods (Yes even TP hehehe) and baskets of Potatoes, Onions, and Garlic hanging from the ceiling for easy reach. I recall the feeling that if “something” happened, this is where I wanted to be with my family.

She had a small but always full freezer and one of those rounded top refrigerators that had to be defrosted every 2 months. HAHAHA, and yes, even a wood-fired kitchen stove that she cooked on during the winter, a summer kitchen for summer and canning. Ohhhh yes, No TV or Cell Phones (thank God), but always a book, a Bible, or a board game ready for use.

Many years later I had asked my Mother about why Grandma always had ‘so much stuff’; I was told “that’s because we lived during and through the Great Depression and WWII. The Family did not have much, we all lived in one small three bedroom house with one small kitchen during the war”, there were 4 families living there I came to find out later.

During those days, people knew how to survive and to live basically with little to nothing, to share and not waste a single thing. Since those days that made such a HUGE impression on my family and myself, all of us have learned to prepare, how to live the Lifestyle, to have the know-how to ‘survive’ with little or no help from the outside.

Yes, my Grandma was a prepper; as is most of my family (some are liberal Snowflakes and don’t have a clue), tis something I grew up with and have seemed to live with for decades (admittedly I lost 10 years living in a foreign Country called California). Thankfully memories of days past reminded me of what’s really important, and to regain the Lifestyle.

I have a question for all of you reading this; Do you prepare, do you know how to ‘keep’ food and essentials, Can you last if/when we have another Great Depression or whatever catastrophe you want to label “TSHTF” with?

I truly feel it is never too late to start your Lifestyle and be able to pass along that feeling of “going to Grandma’s house” to those that really have meaning to you.

Thank you Grandma for teaching me. Thank you for the memories of how life should be.


Related article:
8 Lessons Learned From The Great Depression


  1. I am 66 and also have fond memories of going to my Grandma’s and seeing the same things. Many times I wish I could go back for another visit. Thanks for the reflections of my past.

    1. I’m around your age and I have found myself reminiscing about the “old days” as well. I have similar memories and sometimes wish I could go back.

  2. We have lost a lot of good common sense with the passing of Depression era folks. Oddly enough I have two 90 year olds I try to ask about that time. They have very little desire to share stories and I suspect because that era was not as rosy as some history rewrites make it out to be.

    Sad to say we can expect to experience it ourselves pretty soon. Although I often tell my beloved lady that I would be overjoyed to pass on my “stuff” unused to my kin.

    Pray and prep

    NH Michael

  3. I had one of those grandmothers. My maternal grandmother taught me more about the world than anyone else in my entire life. She was the strength in our family. All of the family get-togethers centered around the home of my maternal grandparents. They had an old home that they restored by themselves. Their home was built from hard work, sweat equity, frugality, and godly principles. And they had several acres where they raised a milk cow, a few hogs, chickens, and bees. They both worked, but during the Depression, work was almost non-existent. They would work at any job if they were hired.

    During the Depression, it was their home that provided extra food for less fortunate neighbors. Many times they were taken advantage of but they felt it was the right thing to do. During my childhood, it was their home that gave me the opportunity to see and learn of a lifestyle that perpetuated abundance from hard work.

    In looking back, I can see how everyone in my family tended to defer to my grandmother’s strength, wisdom, and know-how. She was an excellent communicator and the keeper of family history. She was also the first college-educated woman in her line and became an elementary school teacher. She earned her Masters degree in History so that she could be an even better teacher. But she needed no ‘book smart’ education — she was one of those rare souls who had the gift of teaching. She taught me so much and she was just as eager to tell a family story as to tell a history lesson, or to weave them together. And I was the eager student, the listener and observer who took it all in.

    From my grandparents, I first learned about homesteading and hard work, gardening and putting foods by. I saw the bountiful harvests year after year at their home. I went to their cellar and marveled at the shelves of home-canned foods. I saw the large applebutter brass kettle (which I now own) and the bee hives. I slept under the beautiful handmade quilts and wore a handmade apron when I helped in the kitchen. As a 3-year old, I ‘helped’ my grandfather build another home next to his own. And I listened to the endless stories of soap-making, lard rendering, hog butchering days, deer hunting, saving money, being frugal, and how school was held in a one-room schoolhouse. The ‘good ole days’….I often asked my grandmother to tell me a story and always asked for one ‘from the good ole days.’

    I am a Throwback, it came to me honestly through my DNA and by life experiences. It’s embedded in my soul. It just fits. And as NRP said, “Thank you Grandma for teaching me. Thank you for the memories of how life should be.” Memories to live by.

  4. they ALWAYS had more than enough stuff food and weapons, when i say weapons mean handguns shotguns rifles and AMMO OUT THE ASS, they even had old REAL native american bow and arrows, this was also where i was taught about WEAPONS AND WEAPON SAFETY, i was taught ALL the same rules about firearm safety from the military when i was five, i STILL remember all those rules 55 years ago, i remember my grandfather saying he could go pheasant hunting in the morning and have his limit before he went to work, every deer season we ALWAYS had venison in the freezer, rabbit all kinds of stuff, now around here you have a VERY hard time finding pheasant, the coyotes made that hard to find now

  5. This brought back memories of my grandma working in her kitchen with the same apron as the lady in the picture. She canned venison, elk, fish, chickens and all of the fruits we picked when in season. She had a garden I’m still trying to equal. She had a pantry in her basement that was unbelievable. Her cooking abilities were unbelievable and I shutter now thinking how we took it for granted as a kid. She cooked for my grandpas logging crew during the depression and new how to store and cook for many. This is a lost history that many country people lived. She had an old singer foot petal sewing machine I inherited and still use today. She taught me a lot that I have passed on to my grown children. Great memories and a great time to be alive.

  6. life is flying by,
    It seems there isnt enough time to do what we really want to do,
    The world is more nuts than ever in my memory,
    What the hell happened,,,,,

    1. Nailbanger

      What happened? Television, internet, computers, cell phones, battery powered everything, just in time goods including food, technology making repairs impossible, urbanization, factory farms, over regulation of everything, …. just try and sell muffins to the public in many states. It was not easy back in the “good ol days” but I think I would go back in a flash.

        1. 70’s heck I grew up in the 50’s and I remember large gardens, my father working on a farm for a share of a cow and pig at butchering time. A very large chest freezer full of meat and vegetables along with shelves of canned fruits and vegetables. Taking care of a large group of rabbits (30) does that we grew to sell as meat rabbits to the people in town.

  7. Great article NRP, brought back many good memories. As others have written, a lot of who I am came from both sets of grandparents. Both had pantries, one had a root cellar filled with garden harvest. Both canned, cooked from scratch. I learned many things from both sets of grand parents; many types of fishing, hunting, game cleaning/preservation, trapping. Small houses, workshop in the garage. I recall the icebox pre-electric fridge; when freezers came along it was an amazing thing.

    Everyone lived within few miles of each other, small town America I guess. I built wood duck boats (hunting, not the tourist duck boats) with one grandparent. One had a fishing boat rental with bait shop, was a carpenter, decoy maker. The other brewed beer, was a gardener and laughed everyday doing all the work to be self-sustaining; they enjoyed life and did not need much to be content. All were mean card players, one had wood heat, the other coal. Early to bed, up at the sun rise. Sunday was a day of family and rest, the other six days were to do things.

    To your question: we prep, not as good as grandparents but working on it; have relearned to enjoy each day and all the stuff we choose to do. Also we seem to be aligning closer to the lifestyle of our grandparents; less is better, simple life focused on what we know is important to us. We are losing a pretty special generation.

  8. Yes, my grandmother canned. Mostly, I remember my mom canning. Dad was a carpenter and when a job was finished there was a wait until another job came open. Mom always prepared for this. We had huge acre gardens, and I hated hoeing and picking those long rows. I was the oldest of 7 children and had to grow up and take responsibilities. We had cows and dad always killed a steer and put it in the freezer. I remember hearing one of my classmates excitedly tell that they were going to have steak tonight. I thought, I have that all the time. I thought we were poor but I guess we were richer than most of my classmates in some ways. We always had good food, learned how to repair just about anything, and how to serve God. Mom made all our clothes except the boys jeans. She taught me how to sew and help her out. I guess I am just like her. I still do all those things and I taught my children how to survive.

    It cracks me up to see the commercial of these two teenagers who have a flat and don’t know how to change a tire. Another brags that their insurance covers someone to come change their tire. We had to learn how to change tire before we were allowed to drive a car. I feel sorry for this snowflake generation. They are not going to survive shtf.

    1. I forgot to mention the part about canning hundreds of quart of vegetables from the gardens from 13 on. I still can anything that I can get my hands on.

  9. Not many that I heard of used banks – there was a jar or tin hidden for the little money that came in. I must say that it was the mother that kept the home going – the milk money, the cream money, the mending for others, the selling of eggs, the nurturing of baby animals,…. endless work day with little complaint.

  10. Great memories everyone. My dad’s mom had rheumatic fever as a young woman & it affected her heart so I don’t remember her doing much heavy work but Grandpa told me that since he had to do the laundry ( with wringer washing machine) that he was going to beat all the ladies on the block getting his laundry out on the clothes line even if it meant doing the laundry Sunday night & hanging it Mon. morning. My maternal grandparents has an acreage with chickens, garden & fruit trees until they moved into the city. One thing I remember is their screened in shelves that hung on the shady side of the house & acted as a frig. I don’t remember if they had a frig but I do remember those shelves that held meat & many other food items. Their acreage was on the ocean & so there was always oysters in the winter months & fresh & canned salmon any time. Grandpa had a row boat to go fishing from… no motor for him.

    The one I learned the most from was my mother-in-law. She had 10 children, raising 8 to adults through the depression on 1 sandy quarter of land. She was a store house of knowledge on how to live on only what you could produce yourself. She kept a garden until her death at age 90. Milk cows, pigs, chickens all slowing disappeared as she aged. I watched her take 3 measurements of a GD & then cut out a dress for her with no pattern, just the tape measure & a pr. of scissors. We wouldn’t have survived our early days on the farm without her wisdom.

  11. Wow NRP, what a nice trip down memory lane. One of the things I remember was being at Gramma’s house one time and she said she would go out and get rhubarb to make a pie. She would come in with an armload. She lived in the suburbs so her yard was small. The footprint no larger than our house. From time to time she would head outside to get something for dinner. Curiosity finally got me and I went outside looking for this magical garden. I never did find it. She practiced stealth gardening. I guess living through the depression and tough times taught them to hide everything including what they grew.

    Also as a kid the only disposable that my parents used was TP. One day they were talking about a family reunion coming up, and my Dad said my Aunt was bringing the paper plates and paper towels. I remember thinking paper plates? Those will get ruined the first time you try to wash them. The same with the paper towels, I remember thinking how can you dry you hands on a towel made of paper. The concept of disposable was completely foreign to me. I have since gone back to non-disposable items, except TP of course. However even that will disappear someday, so I have portable bidets and washable family wipes for when that day comes.

    I have been slowly converting all containers to glass as plastics don’t last as long as I once thought they would. Also I question their safety. I have a set of four Pyrex glass bowls that were my mothers. They are more than 60 years old and are used almost daily. Pyrex makes a good quality product. Most plastics I have bought over the years lasted 10 to 15 years if I was lucky.

    Okay I got a little sidetracked there. I could go on and on with all the examples of what I remembered from my parents, and grandparents but I don’t want to fill up Ken’s blog here.

  12. My grandparents were the first generation to come here from japan. They were in the internment camps during WW 2 so they encouraged their children to raise us (3rd generation) to be “all American” no japanese schools, no japanese spoken within the home. Raise the kids on english language and american food. Make them go to school and excel. The second generation obeyed their parents and us 3rd generation are pretty americanized starting with our names at birth.

    There was a gulf between my grandparents and us grand children. I learned by observing what they had and what they did. First and foremost, they were farmers. they raised vegetables and helped establish a cooperative with other farmers. They worked hard even when they came off the fields and were at their homes. Their yards contained a mix of ornamental flowering plants and edibles (herbs and plants used in Japanese cooking) and I will never forget the prized persimmon trees of my grandfather that continued to kick out bags of good fruit years after he passed away.

    I was a skinny teenager when I was sent to cut their grass and take care of their yard. My grandmother was always trying to feed me apple pie and popsicles. She did not realize I was running track and cross country back in those days. They always wanted the best for us children and I found that out years later when our high school graduation came and I heard all of the scholarships and endowments made for graduating students founded in the name of my grandfather.

    We never had long talks about anything growing up. We gave each other gifts of food and prep items. Us young boys would deliver the rice to our aging relatives 1-2x/per year. I would bring a jumbo surf perch or lunker trout to my grandpa fresh from the water on ice. THAT got them excited. In turn, they taught me how to grow an edible landscape and to put away for the future.

    I had to learn how to hunt from other people within my community. That is another story in of itself.

  13. My grandparents died before I was old enough to remember them. My Dad always raised a garden and my Mom would can and freeze everything that she could. They both tried to teach me those things but I would not listen. Now I wish I had paid more attention. Thank God enough of what they taught me sunk in enough to get me started. Now I have a small garden, strawberry patch and trying to get some fruit trees going. I live on a small city lot so I don’t have enough room for everything I would like to raise, but I do the best I can with what I have. My Dad was the original car guy. He not only fixed cars, but could fix just about anything. He taught me how to fix cars and anything with moving parts, thank God I did pay attention to that. My Dad only had an 8th grade education but he was one of the smartest people I have ever known. He was a man of honor. A quality that is getting hard to find in many people these days. I strive to live up to the example that he set for me.

  14. NRP, what a lovely article….
    That is a keeper my friend a heart felt memory rich with wisdom…

    Glad you had such a great Grandma….

    Peace to you friend :)

  15. Yes my grandparents were preppers their whole long lives in rural Louisiana. They raised a big family on their farm and still fed countless people and strangers during the great depression and afterwards. They farmed, canned, kept a pen full of hogs and a smoke house for the meat. They always had a milk cow for milk and butter, a hand dug water well, chickens for eggs and meat and last but not least a mule to pull a plow and wagon. they heated and cooked with wood. They worded hard all their lives, had a lot of happiness and lived to their late eighties and early nineties. When they died they still had a good store of can goods and food.

  16. The grandparents that are teaching me about preparedness is YouTube and websites like yours. Thank you for all you do to help me learn.

    1. T in TX,

      I’m with you. There is no extended family for us – anywhere. My wife, me and two grown kids, just the four of us in this world. It’s always been this way.

      YouTube, MSB, and a few others are where I am drawn to. My great hope is that 50 years from now, my grand kids will post nostalgic stories of all the useful things they learned from me and Mrs.

  17. Holy Moly, some fantastic responses to the article; Thank You all for participating, and some GREAT stories, WOW.

    Truth told I was kinda worried about sending to Ken for posting, one never knows how well ideas and thoughts will be received when speaking of times gone by…. especially when talking about the past on a Modern Survival Blog.

    When writing I wanted to bring forth the thoughts of how our ancestors lived and how did our lives get changed from ‘the old days’, what can we do now to enrich our lives and to better prepare by remembering, I just wanted to take a little time from all of the hustle and bustle of what’s going on now-a-days and reminisce on how we would live 50-60-70 years ago and what we can learn from those that lived, truly lived as a family and not as just a few people under the same roof.

    For those that are living the ‘Lifestyle’ you seem to understand more what it means to sometime just sit on the porch watching the Dogs and Kids/Grandkids playing in the yard or maybe standing in the Garden watching the tomatoes grow and know how much joy comes from the ‘simple life’, it’s so different from the fast paced life that’s now invoked most everyone with its instant gratification, self-indulgence and JIT everything..

    As Nailbanger asked “What the hell happened,,,,,”. I wish I knew, what I do know is the world is not slowing down, it seems to be spinning more and MORE out of control, where does it all end? Personally I sometimes want to just go fishing with my late Father and talk about the weather, or maybe if the moon is going to be full tonight or not. ‘Hermit us’ tried to answer, I believe she almost got it right, I believe we (you and I) did this to ourselves by letting go of the truly important things we have to share with others and tried to replace it with thousands of other ‘things’ all the stuff we can now buy and get.

    Time and heart-felt-Love; Time we have to share with others in our lives, and the true Love of life that’s so easily overlooked for search of that allusive gratification that always slips through out fingers are we tighten out grip.

    Take time to smell the roses my friends.
    And maybe have a cup of really nice Tea.

    1. NRP

      I guess what I was getting at with Nailbanger, is that we have let ourselves be put on a treadmill to support all that stuff that is distracting us from what I call real life. It is so tough to get away from it and just sit on that porch. How many emails do you get a day?

      1. @ hermit us

        “How many emails do you get a day?” a LOT, and phone calls, and visits from the Superintendents that I have running jobs, and visiting projects, and bidding work, and all the rest of the stuff that goes with being a Project Manager and Estimator, yes I have a full day and run that treadmill all day long.….. BUT!!!!

        When I get off work, my time is my time and I sit on the porch every chance I get…. Well or stand in the Garden watching the snow melt… LOLOL

        FYI, 400 days, 1 hour, 13 minutes, 19 seconds till full retirement…. Hehehehe


        PS; I was agreeing with your assessment with Nainbanger, even though it may not have sounded like it….

        1. NRP

          Its been my experience that “project managers and estimators” are never off duty. Pressure job with endless expectations to never fail. Even ten years after a project, you still wonder if all is satisfactory.

        2. I have recommended people like yourself for major projects and see the same moral values in their work habits – the need to do a perfect job while fighting against the need for a life of freedom. Being conscientious does not end at 5:00 pm, you fibber.

  18. @ hermit us

    Ohhhh Grandma had a wicked aim with the wooden spoon as ya tried to sneak a dip of cookie dough, that’s for sure. Of course she would also sit and enjoy a few baked with a cold glass of fresh milk when done, telling stories and laughing like there was no tomorrow.…. HAHAHA

    See I thought I remembered 0ldhonesteader driving that buss…. :-) :-)


  19. My grandmother talked about moving about West Texas in a prairie schooner, and told a great story about the first-time her and her sister saw their first car!

    I wish I could have learned more from her, but alas I was an idiot from the city who could not sit still long enough to enjoy her greatness.

  20. My Grandmotherwas an amazing woman, too. For a few years she lived on the prairie in a sod hut. Water was brought in by the barrel. Several years without rain and they had to leave. My mother told me how she remembers her father slapping the horses on the rump and sending them off on their own.
    After my mother was born and a couple of years old, my grandmother gave birth to premature twins. So small they could be held in the palm of one hand. She took a wooden box, lined it with canning jars of warm water, put in a down comforter and laid the twins in it. She then covered them with the comforter. She fed them milk through an eye dropper every couple of hours and did this for months. The twins lived and grew to be very tall women (almost six feet).
    What endurance and courage she had!

    1. I really enjoyed the article. Great to remember how it used to and still is for some of us.

      My only living grandparent was Mom’s Mom. She was born in 1876 and passed away in 1970. I loved going to grandmas place. She followed cousins to Florida in 1920, bought 9 city lots from them and built a nice 2 story home for herself and my Mom and my aunt who were teenagers. They had some help but the three of them built the most of it. Then they added a garage with a workshop and a big storage room where grandma kept all the jars of food they canned.

      When I was born grandma was 70. When we’d visit she would tell me about the ” old days” on the farm in PA and how they lived totally self sufficient. She and grandpa planted Many acres of apples when they were first married in 1897. They always raised calves and pigs to butcher in the fall when it got cool. They smoked some meats and the rest was salted down in layers in big barrels. They sun dried some fruits and vegetables and canned a lot. When the apples were finally producing they had harvest crews and big meals for everyone. The apples were shipped to markets across New England by train.

      1913 grandpa bought a brand new Ford car. The salesman showed him how to operate the car. On the way home he couldn’t stop it and ended up in a ditch. My Mom who was just 9 had watched all the sales pitch and instructions got the car out of the ditch and drove them home. At 9 she became the family driver. Grandpa went back to his mules and horses.

      Grandma told about building a cool stone springhouse to keep milk, cream, and eggs. She was proud that at Christmastime she had eggs to bake a couple of nice cakes for the church dinner. Once she showed me how she made dandelion wine and the rock candy in a bottle of whiskey. One was to calm nerves or help her to sleep. The other was for cough syrup. She didn’t believe in drinking. It was medicine.

      Her yard was a thing of beauty. There was a nice sized garden out in back but the many flower beds were just as full of edibles.

      She became the local women’s club president for a few years. She was also garden club president for many years. But she was most proud of being the Bible class teacher at her church for 50 years.

      She and Mom raised my aunts older son after his father was killed. Grandma stayed home with him and raised a big garden, canned and cooked for them. Mom was working for and older couple with a local grocery store. They paid a small salary and anything broken and unsaleable they gave to her if she could use it. When unpacking bars of laundry soap there were often some that were damaged. That sort of thing went home with her.

      Amazing memories and instructions.

      1. Clergylady,

        Your grandma sounds amazing! What a gift to you and your family. I really enjoyed reading that – thank you.

  21. NRP, loved reading this!!!

    I have no kids, and so will never be a grandma, but I am known among friends as a “feeder”. I love to cook, and I love it when friends or family come for dinner and walk in saying “Wow… that smells great!”

    My grandparents passed when I was young, and they owned a couple of diners/small cafes over the years long before I was born. Although they never made a lot of money doing that, I understand my Grandma in particular was a great cook and a professional baker – baking and decorating amazing desserts. Sadly, none of those recipes made it down to my generation, it seems all of that knowledge passed when she did. But, I got a little bit of the DNA, so at least I have that going for me.

    NRP, thanks for sharing! :)

  22. I was raised by my grandparents. I guess I learned to do things a little differently than my friends did. Our home was more strict and we knew we better follow the rules. At the time I thought it unfair that my friends had much more freedom than me but like most things I now appreciate it. Thanks NRP for a wonderful post.

  23. Great article NRP.
    That said , now I am the grandma in the picture. My dad’s Mom passed at the wonderful inquisitive age of 106. All of the orthers were 99-102. WOW. THIS is why I am still working at 62….I have 40 years of retirement to plan for LOL

    Truly though, I have terrific memories of eating fresh veggies ( I liked beets) complete with dirt on them with my Grandpa….helping both Grandmas can fruits and veggies, and clean birds and other meats….Being taught the value of a deep pantry, etc. Thanks for the article….brought back SOOOOO many wonderful memories.

  24. What a great article. That’s the kind of grandma I want to be. I was raised by older parents that came thru the depression but never talked much about it. They lived the life they learned from living then. We always had a full cold cellar . Mama never knew how many she would feed that day, but no one ever went away hungry.

  25. Thanks for sharing, NRP. I enjoyed reading all the comments.

    All my grandparents came from farmers, but the tradition of my family preparing for the unknown future stopped after me and I was the only limb of the tree. Even though we have a rich and colorful ancestry full of knowledge and hardships they overcame, my family’s kids these days don’t care for anything but their twitter and Utube dribble.

    I will keep on carrying the torch of my ancestors wisdom until it goes out, but it will shine bright for all the knowledge I get from it.

  26. Many have referred to grandparents who raised their family during the depression as preppers. My grandparents were preppers prior that period to the extent of stocking up during a good year to help getting through a bad year. They were poor farmers even in the “good times”. Their preps were for the inevitable bad crop year.

    The reality of the extended depression made them “survivors”, struggling everyday to provide food, clothing, and shelter to their children, my parents. No way were they prepared for the extended depression. I submit that their true “prepping” came about after WWII, hoping to temper the pain of any future experience with a similar economic collapse.

    Folks in my age group (baby boomers), probably because of the stories told about the “Great Depression” by our parents and grandparents, grew up with a healthy respect for “what can happen”, even though we have lived our lives in relatively prosperous times. The stories related by our parents and grandparents, coupled with being raised under the constant threat of nuclear Armageddon, has instilled the prepper attitude in many of us.

    My mother, until the day she died, bought a loaf of what she called “store bought light bread” every week when I took her to town to grocery shop. I questioned her why, since sometimes she would only 2-3 slices a week. She responded “because I can”. She then shared one of her childhood experiences during the depression. She recalled going to the store with one of her cousins whose father had a steady job and that cousin buying a loaf of bread, sharing a slice with her as they walked home. She said that was the best thing she had ever tasted (she was about eight years old at the time). I asked her why she didn’t buy a loaf back then. She said “bread cost a nickel a loaf, we didn’t have a nickel to spare for a treat”.

  27. NRP, you brought back many fond memories of time with one of my grandmas. Mine was born in the late 1800’s in Kansas and migrated west about 1912 . She was pretty self-reliant , especially after Grandpa died . She always had a garden,I remember weeding and spading it,splitting firewood and presto logs for her as a young boy . She also canned up foods for the rainy day . She was not about to rely on welfare or handouts , she had upstairs rooms she rented until her death . Fond and pleasant memories, thanks.

  28. Great article NRP. My grandma told me the family made it through the depression by hiding coins under the mattress and fixing soup each week that they would keep adding to whenever they got something more to add…canning was a major part of life, and she even taught me how to bake bread which she did weekly. They made it through and I believe we all will too.

  29. To NRP and Dennis:

    Learning to hunt using Depression Era training methods:

    Each of us boys were assigned to shoot 5 ground squirrels that inhabited a large wood pile (actually a collection of tree stumps and scrap lumber.) We were given a single shot rifle and 5 rounds of 22 long rifle. My uncle was the one issuing us the rifle and 5 rounds. we were given an unlimited amount of time to do the job and the prize was a buck per tail. We were 14 years of age when we were “tested” in this manner.

    My cousins and brothers would invariably blow off all 5 rounds within 30 minutes and either ride motorbikes or play basketball. My uncle told my grandfather and father about going out to pick me up 4 hours later and finding me still glassing the woodpile with 3 squirrel tails and 2 rounds left. I was actually taught to shoot by a local traffic cop and I took time to sight in the weapon. Still, my uncles, grandpa and father thought this was highly unusual.

    From that day on, the task of hunting, trapping and tracking of game or agricultural pests on our farms fell to me. I still do not watch sports on TV, play golf even though my father paid for lessons for me, or participate in any games that involve a ball. The grandparents talked among themselves and with other members of the community. We did not find out how much they talked about us until we were much older. Since mine spoke Japanese, I did not find out until I was well into adult hood.

    My relatives and the people who taught me these skills lived through tough times and their pleasures were simple. The good ole’ boy from Alabama is the one that taught me how to prepare and fry a bluegill so it tasted really good. He also taught me to hit a quarter from 20 yards out with an iron sighted 22 rifle. He also taught me to aim for the head so I save the most meat and the critter will not move after being hit. These lessons come only from those that grew up with little to call their own.

    To this day, they are with me in spirit when I pick up a rifle whether I am doing a job on a small farm or going on a varmint hunting trip. They were not at all surprised when I came home from a competition with a trophy or plaque. They have long since passed away so i am passing on my knowledge to other young people out there because it is too valuable to go to the grave with me.

    and so the cycle continues..

    1. Calirefugee,

      My dad taught me to shoot with his pump Winchester .22 “gallery” rifle. It had very fine iron sights. His favorite trick (skill) was firing a round into a wood fence post from about 15 yds out and taking the .22 hull and inserting it into the hole, then driving the hull into the hole with his next shot. I was always taught that anything but head shots on small game was a waste of meat and any more than one shot to kill an animal was a waste of ammo. This teaching resulted in my developing good stalking skills to make sure my shooting abilities and weapon were up to the task of making humane and effective kills. I never use a larger weapon than needed for the task and never try to make the weapon do more than it was intended for. One of the incentives for this was that .22 long rifle ammo cost 50 cents a box of 50, .22 shorts were 35 cents a box. Since the shorts were just as effective for head shots on squirrel, rabbit, and yes sitting game birds (probably illegal even back then, but there wasn’t many game wardens chasing pre-teens hunting for the table), the shorts were my go-to ammo of choice. I still have an affinity for .22 shorts for small game table fare.

      My Dad bought me my own Winchester .22 pump, a model 62, after I mastered his accuracy test (stacking bullets in same hole at 15 yds). I passed down that rifle to my son some 10 years ago, when he mastered the shot.

      1. Dennis, I also learned to shoot pre-teen with a Remington model 12C pump 22, hex barrel, open sights, very accurate rifle. Squirrel hunting, sit under a tree, quietly, wait until they moved around, or do the two quarters call trick (I did have a squirrel call). This rifle would take 22 shorts or longs, no LRs (they were not out then). Still have the rifle.

  30. @NRP, Luv your article and all the wonderful responses. I never knew my Grandparents on my Dad’s side. Grandpa was in his sixties when my Dad was born and my Dad was in his forties when I was born. So, sadly all I have are fun stories told by my Dad to me.

    My Grandparents on my Mother’s side lived on a small farm. My Grandpa was also a carpenter. I have fond beautiful memories of my Grandma. She was always in the garden, at the sink or at the wood burning stove. Best biscuits I’ve ever eaten came from her kitchen.

    Luv ya’ll, Beach’n

  31. My parents lived through the depression, my mother on a farm and my dad in the city. They had great stories. My Mom with 15 brothers and sisters were raised by their mother and brother after their father was killed over a card game. They were totally self sustaining. My mother said she didn’t know they were poor until she was older. She thought they were well off because their hand water pump was at the end of the porch so they didn’t have to go out in the yard for water like others. They didn’t wear shoes during the summer and she would sit in the fields watching her brother work the crops. My dad was entrepreneurial in the city and after serving in WW2 started several businesses. They passed on so much information from different ways of life that has served me so well. It was easy to see how what they had lived through had made them the way they were. Even as a child we would go out to eat and my father would say, “get anything you want, you want a steak? I’ll have them cook you a steak”. My wife and I have vehicles that are 16 & 17 years old. We can afford new cars but why waste the money. But we eat steak at least once a week and I always think of my Dad.

  32. Thank you NPR for the memories. My grandparents were the bulwark of the family as well. Many a summer weekend I and the sibs would be playing in the backyard with the cousins while Grandma,my mom and her sister would can up the food we would eat for the next year. Both sets of Grandparents continued their “Victory Gardens” well into their 70’s. I have been “re-learning” the “Old Ways” and as I’ve learned, I taught both my boys what I learned. BOTH my boys know how to cook decent healthy AND tasty meals from scratch,sew,do laundry “properly”, clean the house and take care of the kids. My daughter in laws thank me all the time.

    1. @ granny

      “Victory Gardens”, there is a term one does not hear much anymore….. Talk about bringing back memories, WOW!!!

      The hours and days spent with my Father in the Garden, or with Mom in the kitchen canning or cutting corn from the ears to freeze……

      Where did those wonderful days go? Or as Nailbanger said “what the hell happened”?


      PS; BTW, I fully intend to continue my Garden till it’s time to plant me….

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