Survival Skills Of The Great Depression Era – What About The Next One?

Wow, life sure was quite different back during the Great Depression compared with today’s modern lifestyle. I mean, really different. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to try and compare the survival skills during the Great Depression era with those which are sorely lacking today (if it were to happen again).

However it’s good insight. Imagine how they survived, what they had to do, the skills needed to just get by. Today? Unless well situated with level 3 or level 4 preparedness, with a good working grasp of self-reliance and self-sufficiency – coupled with a good location, the rest will just collapse into chaos…

My dad was born during the end of the Great Depression era. His parents were in their 20’s and my great grandparents were in their 50’s during that time. It’s difficult to imagine what life must have been like back then. Especially given today’s modern world of conveniences being so stark in contrast to that period.

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s. It started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. If you’re interested, you can read more about the Great Depression on Wikipedia.

Being preparedness-minded, and given the potential for another Great (Greater) Depression in our own time, I think back to those days.

What did those people do to get by or to survive? What skills were better to have back then and what were they forced to do as a result of hard times all around them?

A few thoughts come to mind…

Frugality during The Great Depression

Perhaps the most learned skill during the era of the Great Depression was that of frugality. Frugality in all things. Use and Reuse. Little was thrown out.

People had no choice but to make do with very little. But they managed to survive. The things we throw away today or the things we take for granted would be treasured and used to its fullest back then…

Every scrap of food was consumed. Everything. Every part was used to its fullest potential.

You know how most people throw out what’s left of a ketchup or mustard bottle (for example) with maybe that last inch of stuff on the bottom that won’t come out? Well they would get it out… Add a bit of water in there and shake it up, and it will come out. Things like that… frugality. No waste.

When clothes became too worn out, they were mended or patched up, sewn. (How many people can actually sew today?) When clothes became too worn to wear, the materials were used as rags, mops, whatever.

There are a million examples. But you get my drift… Frugality was a necessity of life. Nothing at all was thrown out.

Homesteading and Farming Skills

Farms. There were lots of farms back then. Today in the United States, fewer than 1 percent claim farming as an occupation.

The farm was a place where resources and nothing went to waste. The cows, chickens, livestock were mostly fed from the food that was grown on the farm as much as possible. Old bread, corn cobs, apple cores, and other kitchen scraps were fed to the hogs. Then the livestock’s manure was collected and used to fertilize crops.

The farming lifestyle was self-sustaining. Gardening. Food preservation. Outdoor skills. Animal husbandry. Butchering. It involved many and countless hands-on skills from building fences to successfully growing foods to managing livestock, and everything in-between.

If you lived on a farm, and the farm was not indebted (or indebted beyond the ability to keep paying), then you could survive.

While my grandparents weren’t farmers, as a young boy I do recall their large gardens! EVERYONE seemed to have them. And nearly everyone seemed to ‘home can’ their bounty. It was common to see rows and rows of home canned foods on shelves.


Seems like it would have been valuable to be a “Jack of all trades” during the great depression era.

A good handyman, someone with construction skills. Someone who knew how to fix ‘anything’ so to speak, or patch anything up and make it work again. They would probably be more likely to find some sort of work, even if temporary. Subsets of a handyman might include carpentry, masonry, and plumbing, for example.

To become a ‘handyman’ requires practical life-experience knowledge and skills from ‘doing’. It is learned through action. Getting one’s hands dirty…


To fix machines, machined things, and/or vehicles. Someone who knows tools and has knowledge and skills using equipment like the lathe, the milling machine, the drill press, the saw, grinding, forging, welding, etc.. Knowledge of how vehicles work. Engines. Pumps. Hydraulics. And the tools to work with…

Health care

There always was and there always will be those who need medical care. The field of health care, doctors, nurses, etc… Was and will always be a necessary service and skill(s). The advancements in this field have been tremendous and extraordinary compared to the era of the Great Depression.

That said, without the technologies of today, there will still always be demand for those who can help others with their medical needs and conditions, emergency or otherwise.

Willingness and Ability To Adapt

Many people and families were uprooted from their lives as they once were. Many migrated to other areas perceived to have better opportunities. That’s not an easy or simple thing to do.

Adapt to live and survive with less. Not that there was much of a choice… There were no government safety nets back then, especially compared with today. You had to find a way. You had to rely mostly on yourself, somehow, some way.

I’ve listed a few of the great depression era skills above, and I believe that they would apply towards what would be valuable during life in a post-collapse world where we’re set back in time so to speak.

The Foxfire Books

A comment below reads, “People need to be familiar with the Foxfire series of books. Contains a ton of depression era type skills that have been superseded by today’s high tech world.”

Years ago I bought the set. For your interest, here are the links via amzn books:

The Foxfire Book 1
Hog Dressing, Log Cabin Building, Mountain Crafts and Foods, Planting by the Signs, Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing, Moonshining, and Other Affairs of Plain Living

Foxfire 2
Ghost Stories, Spring Wild Plant Foods, Spinning and Weaving, Midwifing, Burial Customs, Corn Shuckin’s, Wagon Making and More Affairs of Plain Living

Foxfire 3
Animal Care, Banjos and Dulcimers, Hide Tanning, Summer and Fall Wild Plant Foods, Butter Churns, Ginseng, and Still More Affairs of Plain Living

Foxfire 4
Fiddle Making, Spring Houses, Horse Trading, Sassafras Tea, Berry Buckets, Gardening

Foxfire 5
Ironmaking, Blacksmithing, Flintlock Rifles, Bear Hunting, and Other Affairs of Plain Living

Foxfire 6
Shoe Making, 100 Toys and Games, Gourd Banjos and Song Bows, Wooden Locks, A Water-Powered Sawmill

Foxfire 7
 A comprehensive history of the churches and church leaders of the area

Foxfire 8
Southern Folk Potter from Pug Mills, Ash Glazes, Groundhog Kilns to Face Jugs, Churns, Roosters, Mule Swapping and Chicken Fighting

Foxfire 9
General Stores, The Jud Nelson Wagon, A Praying Rock, A Catawban Indian Potter, Haint Tales, Quilting, Homes Cures, The Log Cabin Revisited

Foxfire 10
Railroad Lore, Boardinghouses, Depression-Era Appalachia, Chairmaking, Whirligigs, Snake Canes, Gourd Art

Foxfire 11
The Old Home Place, Wild Plant Uses, Preserving and Cooking Food, Hunting Stories, Fishing, More Affairs of Plain Living

Foxfire 12
Square Dancing, Crafts, Cherokee Traditions, Summer Camps, World War Veterans, Personalities

The Complete Set
A Complete Foxfire Series 14-Book Collection Set with Anniversary Editions (Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 plus 40th and 45th Anniversary Editions)

What about Survival Skills That Would Be Needed Today…

A rebuttal to the value of the Foxfire series type of information and skill sets, from another comment below reads:

Great blog and comments, but let’s move forward, like 80 years……everything you mentioned, all of the skills, will be needed, big time, but they are basically geared to the great depression era!

Skills for today, especially in a SHTF/ “One Second After” scenario, these are skills not covered in the Fox Fire series.

I agree 100% that there will most definitely be additional concerns and/or skill requirements. Particularly those tools/skills/preparations involving security and safety. Much of the nation had morals back then. Today, not so much. It’s going to be bad…if it happens.

Look how much has changed in the past 4 family generations (~25 year intervals). That’s nearly approximately how long it has been since the mid 1930’s. And it has been 6 social generations (~15 year intervals) since that time. Look how much has changed in nearly all aspects of our lives and lifestyles. Just look at the dependencies. We are going to need a unique set of skills (including some of the old ones) to get through it…if it happens again.

Mindset and Attitude

Someone else commented and said,

As an experiment, try going a week or more without T.V., Computers/Internet, a cell phone or a vehicle.

Try eating 1/2 of what you eat now. Then you might have some idea what it was like during the great depression for your parents and grandparents, and also what it might be like if it all falls apart again.

Look around your house, yard and barn. Do most of the things you have run on electricity, batteries or gasoline? Can you walk to work? Are you overweight? Take a look at the photos of the people back in the day. Most are thin.

My point is that their mind set and attitude was what saved them.

I originally published a version of this article a number of years ago and there are a lot of great comments below describing real experiences or accounts thereof during the Great Depression era.

Let’s hear your additional thoughts about what may have been ‘valuable’ skills back then. Or how it may be different today.

And which skills might be valuable or particularly useful in a similar (but certainly much more dangerous) world of the next, Greater Depression…

How The Next Great Depression Will Be Different From The First

The Dwindling Percentage Of American Family Farms

8 Lessons Learned From The Great Depression


  1. My grandfather was a WWI vet and survivor of the great depression. He was the first prepper I ever met. Even though he lived in NY City he would store up food, canned goods mostly, and grew vegetables in the “backyard” which was a 15’X15′ piece of land. The entire area was filled with tomatoes, zucchinis and eggplants. He would make his daily rounds through the neighborhood and gather scrap metal to trade in or recover something that he could tinker with and make useful. I didn’t always understand it when I was a kid but it all came back to me as I grew up. He would say he never wanted to be hungry again, learned not to depend on others, and to make use of anything that was otherwise cast off.

  2. Just a comment. My grandparents both grew up through the depression and they were effected deeply. To the day they both passed they saved everything from rubber bands off the newspaper to twisty-ties and safety pins, you name it they had a box of them. It was amazing when we cleaned out their house what was found. People today don’t know what struggling is really all about. We also came across a couple wooden toys my Grandfather had made when he was a small boy from wood scraps he found, including a little truck and his idea of a guitar. If they didn’t have it they would make it. The human brain got humanity through the depression, and I guess the same could be said that the human brain probably got us into the depression as well.

    1. Many people in the small communities in northern Canada still live this way.

      They keep everything that may be useful and then some. It makes for a yard that will never make a magazine cover, and the seasonal cottagers complain about the locals and their junky yards.

      They complain until their boat trailer breaks an axle on a remote lake, and there are no stores or shops to get service or parts, especially on a holiday weekend. A tow truck will run to many hundreds of dollars, but, there is this guy that a local mentions……

      And low and behold he has a welder and an old axle from some unnamed machinery that will work, and is willing to help. He only wants some beer in payment.
      Suddenly junk piles are not so ugly.

      I married a man, a real one. He can hunt and fish and swap a motor, he can weld and is very strong, like lift your car strong. He can butcher and cut wood like a lumberjack. I garden, can sew, weave, knit and spin, tan leather, make pottery and can do it from scratch with a sheep or a shovel. I can make cheese, sugar from beets, brew beer and make bread from wheat I have grown.

      I have sons that can do many other things, including tech skills to fix electronics and code and produce electricity. We all can shoot, both guns and bows. We all can cook.

      We are poor, but we live well. Now I just need daughter in laws that have medical training, ha ha! I have no say in that!

      Poverty did not end after the depression, it is just not so obvious, and it not the majority. People still have to eat ketchup sandwiches in 2015.

      1. ah Woodswoman… ketchup sandwiches ….takes me back….never had ketchup sandwhiches, but I can recall my sister and I scraping up the money to for ONE order of toast at a restaurant, “to share”, asking for a cup of hot water each, and dumping the ketchup bottle (in those days it was most always on the table) into the cups of hot water….and making toast sandwhichs of anything on table (if one got lucky, the jams/peanut butter might be on table)

        1. I remember that! I also remember once being so hungry that I tried making a sandwich of what was about- – raw potatoes (YUK, not sandwich material, fried maybe, but not raw) and then I discovered fried egg sandwiches with ketchup! Still eat those for a late night snack! It’s like coming home again. Actually, think I’ll go make one now. That hunger still persists.

      2. @ Woodswoman
        I happened across your post and had to comment.
        You said “We are poor, but we live well” I have to say your a lot richer than 99% of the people I know, you have a good life, better than you could ever know. I know thousands of people that would gladly trade places in a heartbeat. You are one of the lucky people. I’m envious of your skills and the life you have. Wealth has nothing to do with money.

      3. My parents were older when I came along….so I had grandparents for parents, and the stories from the depression….oh my…..ketchup sandwiches dipped in hot bacon grease…I loved that did not care for fried mush (oatmeal). Moms favorite saying was “eat for the hunger that’s coming” and dads liked “necessity is the mother of invention” always felt like I could write a set of foxfire books myself. They were the greatest of parents miss them soooo much.

  3. Both my parents were born in ’34. By the time I was born two of my grandparents had already died and the other two died while I was too young to remember them. I wish I has the opportunity to learn from them. They managed to raise 14 kids on my dads side and 10 on my moms side, all during a depression. Both families had farms and one had a lumber mill. Like I said I don’t know much about how they did it their way, but one thing people are starting to relearn and I don’t think it’s a skill, but that no job is beneath them. Even now there are people with advanced degrees taking jobs as cashiers and grocery baggers. I imagine that during the Great Depression people would take just about anything that was available. As I’m sure they will in the next one too.

    I also don’t imagine a minimum wage of $15 an hour during a depression either. You’ll take the wage that’s offered for the job, or the guy in line behind you will.

  4. When I was young (40’s & 50’s) we never threw anything away. We saved buttons and string (had a giant ball of string; they didn’t have Scotch tape then.) We used baking soda for toothpaste, saved bacon grease, darned socks (do you know anyone who darns socks nowadays?) We passed down clothes to younger relatives. We got one pair of shoes two sizes too big in the fall, and if we outgrew them before the next school year, we went barefoot all summer. No scrap of soap was small enough to throw away; no article of clothing was too worn to patch; even a small bite of leftover food was saved. Dad bought whole wheat and Mother ground it to make our bread.

    We had a large garden (a vacant lot nearby that my dad rented.) We never hired a plumber, electrician, car repairman, etc. My dad fixed everything that needed fixing. Now everything is electronic and hardly anyone can repair it; they just throw it away and buy a new one.

  5. People need to be familiar with the Foxfire series of books. Contains a ton of depression era type skills that have been superseded by todays high tech world. animal husbandry, making molasses, carving bowls…Everything under the sun needed through the eyes and experience of some old timey Appalachian folks.

  6. As an experiment, try going a week or more without T.V., Computers/Internet, a cell phone or a vehicle. Try eating 1/2 of what you eat now. Then you might have some idea what it was like during the depression for your parents and grandparents, and also what it might be like if it all falls apart again. Look around your house,yard and barn. Do most of the things you have run on electricity, batteries or gasoline? Can you walk to work. Are you overweight? Take a look at the photos of the people back in the day. Most are thin.My point is that their mind set and attitude was what saved them.

    1. My father was born in 1929 grew up a sharecropper. He told me they ate pinto beans & biscuits. that’s all they had.
      lived in a shack on side of mountain HWY 181 in NC.
      He was the type if ANYTHING needed fixing around the house, he would do it.
      Miss him greatly (died in 2004)

      1. @ honeymom
        I just had the good fortune of visiting my Mom (94 years old) and we had several long discussions about what they all did to survive the depression AND the long aftermath of rebuilding.
        I would recommend that EVERYONE if they have a chance have a quiet talk with a Depression Era survivor, it will open your eyes.

        1. My father didnt talk much about it. I do know that my grandmother was a cook at a logging company. She taught me how to cook bread & how to can vegetables.
          . I wish she would have taught me more. we should have paid attention when shows like the Waltons were on.

  7. Every dining table had a large table cloth to be folded over left-overs to keep flies off (no refrigerator) and nothing left the table before the bowl/plate was empty. When the wild game played out, my grandfather would catch robins (yes, the songbird) off their roost in bushes, at night, by kerosene lantern light. These would be dressed, and the kids (my mother was one) were told they were quail.

    Most folks in their rural village had chickens, some had a milk cow, and when one “freshened” and the calf reached 3-400 lbs., it would be slaughtered and shared with neighbors as preserving the meat was problematic, even in winter time in the south. Same with hogs.

    PaPa worked 12 hour days digging and cleaning out wells for as little as 10-15 cents a day, when someone had the cash to pay him. Otherwise, it was labor for goods.

    My mother, until she passed away, considered “store bought bread” as a treat, as it was a luxury her family could not afford, rather, they had either cornbread or biscuits. She said “store bought bread” cost a nickle, but it was a nickle they didn’t have.

    Funny thing though, Mother (born in 1925) said she really never knew they were going through a “depression” because her parents never complained or spoke of the hardships in front of the children.

    1. My mother was born in 1921. Her father died when she was 6 months old. There were 7 children that lived. My grandmother had a bad heart. They had moved to Colorado from Minnesota because of her heart condition. She survived by taking in roomers and boarders. They would rent a house or an apartment — whatever they could afford — and the difference between what they collected from the boarders and what they had to pay for rent was what they lived on. At one point there were 13 people living in 3 rooms and a hallway.

      My grandmother had a little jewelry from when times had been better and every so often she sold a piece of it until it was all gone. Then they moved across the street from a little grocery store (Steel’s Market) in Boulder and the store owner gave my grandmother credit. She owned a little piece of land in Minnesota and she kept telling that as soon as she sold her land she would pay him. He didn’t believe her; he just thought he was giving her charity. But finally the land sold and she paid him the approx. $600 she owed him. He bought a brand new car with it. Then my grandmother had no more assets and so she had to farm out all but one of her children to relatives. She took a job as housekeeper to a widower and kept my aunt with her as a chaperone. My mother was raised by her aunt and uncle after that.

      Neither my mother of grandmother ever complained about their hardships. In fact they talked about that period as though those were happy times.

    2. My mother was born in 1925 too and she raised all eight of us kids (six of them boys) with a knowledge of survival skills. (Some of my brothers are real “RB” sexists, but they can cook) When I became very ill some years back, it was the cooking skills she taught me that saved my life and helped me to develop the foods I needed in order to survive. I know many of my friends who would not have made it through such an illness, as they could not even cook. It scares me to realize that nowadays so many of our children are not being taught these survival basics – – sewing, cooking, gardening, budgeting, etc. She made use of everything and passed that on to us too. And, I’m so sorry to say, that this LOVELY woman (despite my attempts to educate her to the contrary) passed on thinking she had not given anything of value to her children. So many times neither I, nor my children, would not have survived but for what she taught me.

  8. My parents were teenagers during the depression , both grew up on farms so they ate better but times were still rough . My grandfather lost his money to the banks and never again trusted one . He had mason jars around the back yard to dig up when the need was there . I’ll be 70 in two days and I well remember having gravy bread as a meal when I was small . Times were tough all the way into the fifties , by the sixties the wages really picked up but dad always said history repeats itself be ready for it .

  9. My parents and Grandparents all lived through the Great Depression.

    I never heard a single word about how “bad” it was or “oh poor me I lived through the Depression”, Never.

    Unlike the people now that have nothing “good” to say or always complain on how poor they are and the government should give them more.

    As far as skills go, I wish whole heartedly I know 1/100 of what my relatives knew. Although I’m trying to regain those skills as I go along.

    I truly believe there will be very few that can survive on their skills alone when TSHTF. It’s often asked what would “you” do if TSHTF right now, this very minute. I would think that 95% would not even have the skills or the resources to make it home 20 miles.

    Prep well my friends, learn something new everyday, it will only make you stronger.

    As far as skills we might need to survive the SHTF, I agree with Anonymous, turn everything off for a week or three. even lock the freezer and ref. No electric lights or cooking, no hot water out of the tap, just what you heat on the old fire. Heck even turn off the water main so you have no running water, make it a weekend with nothing from the outside. Indoor camping at it’s best so to speak. You will soon find the skills you will need and learn to life less dependent on “modern conveniences” and more on ourselves and family.

    I guess I really feel for those sheeple that aren’t even thinking on how to survive when (not if) but when this modern world come’s crashing down on us all.

    Prep, learn skills, be one with your family, live to a ripe old age, and most of all…… Be Happy

  10. My parents grew up during the depression and so they learned to use everything up and never threw anything away. Old clothing that was too worn to be used for wear was either turned into rags, saved for quilt making, or made into rag rugs. All clothes were handed down until there were simply worn out. We each had two pairs of footwear. One pair for special events and the other were for everyday wear. If we ruined them, we went without until the start of the school year where we would get our new annual pair. So during the summer we went barefoot most of the time in order to save our shoes. We always thought this was normal and never complained.

    So little was thrown out that we only had two small trash cans to be put up on the street every week. They were only 3 feet high each. This was from a family of six.

  11. I enjoyed reading the experiences and how people overcame the depression. My parents were kids during that time, and their parents never complained about the depression. My dad’s parents had farmland so there was plenty to go around, but they were always frugal. My mom’s parents owned a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis and her dad was state game commissioner during the crash and hired a lot of people who needed work.

    He headed a 75 manned search for a man and his son in 1930 living in extreme poverty who shot and killed his friend, game warden Norman D. Fairbanks, when he suspected they were poaching. Fairbanks knocked on the door to their cabin in the northern wilderness of Minnesota, they opened the door and the older man took an automatic revolver from under his pillow and shot at him, and a firefight ensured with no questions asked. Times were hard for people and this man and his son were so desperate they shot and killed a warden.

    The clothes worn by the men were in rags, their feet were wrapped in improvised moccasins fashioned out of untanned hides and over 30 porcupine hides scattered about the front of the cabin showed that they had depended upon the meat for sustenance until they shot a deer, half a haunch of which was hanging in the cabin.

    Will this be the way of our economic crash? Desperate people do desperate things.

  12. Frugality

    A great comment in the movie “The Book Of Eli ” When asked what it was like before the war he answered. People threw away what they kill for now.

  13. All of my grandparents lived through the depression. Dad’s mom taught me a lot. Most important, she & Dad taught us how to think. Today’s dumbed down generations don’t know how to think. They couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag with a map! I find all of the posts about homemade cleaning products interesting. We used soap for everything. Dish soap mostly. There was hand/bath soap, laundry soap, dish soap & shampoo. Some people thought we were high falutin because we had shampoo. No – we were not remotely well off. Even now, a roll of paper towels lasts me for months. I save all old holey washrags & hand towels for cleaning rags. I have a hard time throwing away empty glass & good plastic containers. Hubby & I have had quite a few arguments about empty containers.

    1. Nice to know there are other container savers out there. When people need empty containers, they come to me.

  14. I love reading of people’s experiences in life and do my best to learn from them. From these and documentaries and movies, I don’t recall seeing anything about what is expected this time around with the violence from the entitled and unprepared. The people were definitely more resourceful and civil. Of course there are a lot more of us and most did not live in the big cities like today, and gov’t. wasn’t as big. Funny, they brought SS into the fray then, and now the lack of it, food stamp and welfare, will make it far worse.

  15. I find it interesting from the above comments that we all seem to be of a relatively similar age!

    I had the good fortune to have all of my grandparents for the bulk of my life…many of them living past 95 and a couple past 100.

    I don’t believe I ever heard them complain about their lifestyles, though I remember as a little girl the addition of a toilet and tub to the house! We used to use an outhouse under the willow tree, and dance under the willow tree after a rain pulling on the bows for shower!

    I grew up in a fairly affluent household. I was lucky. With ten kids we got the usual two new outfits at the beginning of the school year , with one pair of go to church shoes, and one for everyday wear. If you outgrew your clothes, you met grandma at the sewing machine! She did not create or fix the clothes you wanted, but she would guide you how to do it.

    We canned everything that one could possibly grow, and honestly, we had a good time doing it! One year a pig that Dad had brought home to grow for Rotary uprooted my mom’s favourite apple tree full of fruit! Everyone pitched in, grandparents down to the youngest 3 year old. picking, cleaning in a galvanized tub in the sunshine, peeling, smashing and cooking into apple sauce or slices to be canned. we worked all weekend together. Told alot of stories and some great lies too. This is what holds folks together!

    Keep the old arts alive, even if you have to learn them yourselves at 60!

    1. For years I would not eat veal cutlets, gagging at even the thought of them. When I was a kid, my mom made something she told us was “veal cutlets.” It was something seasoned, breaded and deep fried and it was God-awful, smelled like you-know-what and tasted about the same. One bite and I was gagging. Well, years later she told me what it was. My dad had brought home some chitlings and she had no clue what to do with them, so . . . “veal cutlets”

    2. I’m younger–in my forties–but I have an advantage. Both my parents were raised by their grandparents, so I’m essentially 30 years older than those my age. We save and reuse everything (I have a bottle full of once-used ziplock bags on the counter in front of me) and Mom even cleans out the eggshells.

      It’s interesting to look up and down the street on garbage day and see multiple garbage cans at nearly every house, while our single can is barely half full.

  16. My Mom was born in ’29, just a few months ahead of the Crash. Grandma raised cabbages and kept a goat in the backyard. She took in boarders too. When taking about politicians and the state of the world, my Grandad would always say, “If you are going to steal, steal big.” They were salt of the earth people– I miss them.

  17. Both of my parents lived during the 1st depression & even though my mom’s family was fairly well off by comparison she was also very frugal & was a great seamstree & cook turning little in to much in our eyes.

    When I got married we lived in mill camps & scrimped & saved until we went farming & then we had to scrimp some more. I had a great home ec text book that had a chapter on frugle eating & I followed that. At one mill camp it froze ever 3 weeks in the summer so very little would grow but from the home ec. book I learned that pea pods & carrot tops when cooked & put through a sieve make a nutritious soup. I also learned to never throw out the water that veg. were cooked in. Add it to bread, biscuits, soup etc. Lots of vit. in that water.

    After we went farming I lived near my mother in law & she was an encyclopedia of ideas as she raised 8 kids through the depression & this was on sandy soil with little rainfall & on the cold Canadian prairies. I have been truly blessed to had parents & in-laws who taught me much without complaints.

    I now volunteer at the local museum because I learn a lot there. Got place to visit or work at if you want to learn about pioneer days.

  18. My grandfather was contracted to build a house during the Depression. It was to be built with used wood. As they were clearing the land, they came across a huge rock. It was too big to move, so they built the house around the rock. He later bought the house from the man he built it for. We used to spend summers there with him. He had a huge garden with a black walnut tree in the middle of it. He was the first man to give me flowers. He used to pull a stalk of rhubarb and give us a bowl of sugar to dip it in as we walked about eating it. He taught me to dig for worms, bait a hook, catch fish and get them off the line – – clean and cook them. He was wonderful. Eventually, of course, the state cheated him out of his (prime lakefront) land. There are now two houses and a marina apartment complex sitting on it.

  19. I grew up poor in the 70’s & 80’s. I remember going without electricity for more than a year. Turned the water off if it got close to freezing because we couldn’t afford a plumber & my stepdad couldn’t sweat pipe to save his life. For years I struggled to ‘overcome’ a packrat mindset. Now I find myself saving useful stuff & reusing what I can for financial benefits. I remember the stories the old folks would tell & I believe we as a society will soon have to relearn the lessons we’ve forgotten. Its going to take a certain mindset to survive & prosper the coming hard times. There are people in EVERY generation who grow up learning those lessons. Those people will be in a position to influence other people. I hope they’re up to the task of leadership…

  20. Recently, I reminisced (briefly) in a blog-post about my childhood in the Australian bush in the 1940s – specifically, the absence of choice. A simple search for the title “Hobson’s Choice” with the name “Barlow’s Cayman” in front or behind, and Google will take you right there. An extract: “… not only was food simpler than it is now: so were menus. Our mothers’ menus at every mealtime were quintessentially simple – namely, what was on the plate. The choice was Hobson’s choice: eat it or don’t eat it. Actually: eat it all or don’t bother turning up for the next meal.” Many commenters here will identify with the content.

    Thanks to Ken Jorgustun for his excellent article. We all need to be reminded of the way things were.

  21. I can’t say how things where during the Great Depression, but I can say 10 years ago I got out the USMC, within a year, I was jobless and homeless. I scraped and dumpster dove for a good 6 months before I got back on my feet. 3 years later, I had a house and car, andeverything I wanted. Then I lost everything in a flood. Now I married and have a great job, but I make sure I have a year worth of supplies on hand to deal with the next challenge. Good luck and keep your powder dry.

  22. I heard that the Chinese and the Russians are raising carrier pigeons again in case something happens to their communications ability. Makes sense doesn’t it? My problem is that people feel ashamed to talk about it for fear of sounding paranoid. I’m rather alone in my pursuit of prepping. My husband, an excellent auto and diesel mechanic and electrician as well as a welder is so talented but he works two jobs and doesn’t have time. We have no bug out plan. We have no plan. It’s up to me to do it and so far I have a bit of food, water in containers, first aid items, seeds, legal guns and ammo. If the grid goes down, will ham radios work?

    1. @Jassime, You have taken the first major steps in your preparing, you have started. That is the most important thing. Sometimes it takes time to prep, but do what you can when you can. Don’t give up.

      You said “I have a bit of food, water in containers, first aid items, seeds, legal guns and ammo.” that’s means you have 100% more than 95% of the sheeple that have nothing stored and ready. Also you have a husband that is very talented, that may be very important if/when something does happen.

      Lastly, “My problem is that people feel ashamed to talk about it for fear of sounding paranoid. I’m rather alone in my pursuit of prepping.” I know a lot of sheeple that refuse to even think or act on getting prepared. Well I know Ken here is very very helpful. He or someone will answer about anything you need help on. This Blog is probably the best one on the net IMHO. It also has a huge amount of info stored.

      Very best of luck in your pursuit of being more independent and ready for when TSHTF.

    2. Jassmine, you are on the right site to learn what you can do to feel more secure. And it appears you have already started. Review some of the older posts and you will be amazed at what you can do on a budget. Welcome!

    3. @Jassime
      Often times couples only have one doing the preparing. There are a lot of reasons for this. Work, not believing, medical etc.
      My road and relationship wasn’t always smooth with it either.
      As others have stated: Your doing very good. Keep it up.
      When your husband comes up for air from work and y’all get a date night go to the range. One of our local gun clubs even has a date night package with an on site restaurant.
      Go fishing or hiking together and use the time wisely to not only bond but prepare.
      Many couples have issues with preparedness when one of the couple can sometimes go to hard with it for the other ones comfort. Talk about local weather events or current events instead of the zombie apocalypse, alien invasions or clandestine government ops.
      When you shop say I put back a few cans of …. rather than I just filled the entire hall closet with chorizo spam. (Though it is delicious)
      The forum is an outlet to openly discuss preparedness. There will be opinions good, bad and ugly. There are smart, well versed and experienced folks on here. There are idiots too but I don’t post that often anymore lol.
      Preparedness is a journey that’s better taken with someone so continue on while balancing the relationship.
      Good luck

  23. I’m in my 60s now and every day I thank God I had the sense to learn from my grandfather. He was a construction electrician, retired in the mid-1960s, and a firm believer in the old ways. My grandparents’ small house had a tin-shed garage full of what today would be called junk but, surprisingly, Grandpa could always find what he needed, or close to it, in the garage if he needed to fix or improvise something. He taught me those skills and even today I can’t help but look at a pile of junk and think, “what can I make out of this stuff?”

    My grandfather is why I became an electrical engineer instead of a lawyer. I would rather create things than argue about them.

    Here is some advice for you young folks: talk to your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents if they’re still around, about what it was like when they were growing up. Ask them how they coped with hardships and how they dealt with problems. Just get them talking and they’ll take it from there. Listen. Learn. Repeat.

    My grandfather passed away in his mid-70s and I miss him to this day. Whenever I have to jury-rig something, modify or re-purpose something, or turn a piece of cast-off junk into something useable, I always think, “Thanks, Grandpa, for all you taught me.”

  24. ” After crosses and losses men grow humbler and wiser” And ” When the well runs dry– we learn the value of water” From Poor Richard`s Almanack. It may also be helpful to ponder ” the wealth of poverty, and the poverty of wealth”.

  25. My father was born 1906 and my mother 1916, they married in 1933. I was born 1943. Both my grandmothers and three of my aunts lived in our house until I was 16.

    We were always poor but I though “poor” was what my parents went through during the depression. The great depression was a common subject when I was growing up (as was WW II).

    I remember struggling with what the history and civics classes taught and what my parents and other family members told me about it. One simple thing my mother said once stuck with me. I was asking why they didn’t do more, didn’t prepare better etc. She said that the government always told them prosperity was right around the corner and with the next program everything would be fixed,etc and that they never believed it could last for over ten years.

    My father, his two brothers and four sisters (all adults) lived on an acre with their parents and a few spouses and children. They all worked the land and canned what they grew. Additionally a couple of the women would go to the city hall everyday and stand in line for a food handout. Everyday they had “something” to handout. It could be a bag of apples, or cabbages or bread or rarely canned food. This supplemented their garden. They raised chickens and rabbits but not enough.

    My father would walk the railroad tacks picking up coal (whenever he couldn’t find work. When my parents got married they converted an old 12×16 chicken coop to their home. They made their own soap and even laundry soap. Actually the laundry soap was just pieces of lye soap that were too small to use anymore so they put them into a mason jar full of water. When they wanted to wash clothes they put a couple spoons of the liquid from the jar into the wash water.

    No heat except in the kitchen, everyone slept under a pile of handmade quilts to stay warm. They all did OK considering the times and what little that had. It was because the family stuck together and worked together to get through it.

    I remember as a child in the 40’s that the same strong feeling of “family” was normal and created a great environment to grow up in. All of us kids were born at home in my mothers bed and my grandmothers where there and often one or two of my aunts. I think because of this all of us kids (my brother, sister, and cousins) were all treated like siblings and my aunts, uncles, and grandmothers were more like parents to us all.

    When I came home from school my mother and father might be working but one of my grandmothers was always there and usually one of my aunts too. I grew up thinking this extended family was “normal”. My grandmothers never let me get away with anything, no talking back, no being late, no missing homework nothing.

    My mother was a great mother but her punishment for any wrong was instant. The only time I ever heard “wait till your dad gets home” was when I really screwed up.

    We heated the house with wood but if my father had some extra money he bought a couple tons of coal. Wood furnace heat meant a warm house in the morning but by 10 am only the kitchen with it’s kerosene stove would stay warm. But if my dad started a coal fire in the morning it would be warm until after lunch. Coal was awesome.

    Being “poor” is relative. Being happy is a choice you make not a circumstance outside of your control. Family is everything. Surviving hard times requires hard work and working smart. Meeting the challenges and surviving them will create another “great generation”. Most will do it some will fail.

    1. “Being happy is a choice you make, not a circumstance outside of your control.”

      …very well said, and I agree entirely.

      1. yes..

        similar saying I heard long ago..

        “Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want.”

  26. My father was 13 when the depression started. I asked him what it was like. He said if you had a job like at the postoffice it didn;t really effect you . People with money were able to buy farms and renches that others lost and many ended up wealthy if they had the money avaliable to buy land.

    1. Good point, Charlie. My maternal grandfather was a barber, and a good one. My mom’s family scraped by on certain things, like putting cardboard in their shoes when they got holes in the soles. But, they always had enough to eat. My dad’s family was worse off, but they survived. They main thing in listening to their stories was the constant mantra: “There was no hope”. And, things did not improve until WWII was on the horizon and the Europeans were knocking on the doors of Lockheed, Douglas, et. al. for warplanes. That is when my SoCal relatives went back to work and made a living wage.
      We would also do well to think about the mindset back then as opposed to today. When, not if, an “economic correction” happens, it will be Rwanda times Bosnia on steroids(H/T to Matt Bracken). The clueless sheeple in the Blue Hives will go nuts. When they cannot have their Pepsi, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Happy Meals and other delights, they will go hunting for them. Plan accordingly.

  27. My granparents raised me and they were depression era survivors. My granny was part of a large family who farmed and really didn’t know the great depression because she and her family worked hard. My two grandpas suffered most and strangely enough, were eager to participate in WW2. yes, they saw some horrible combat but I think they were relieved to have shelter and food in exchange for putting their lives on the line. Memorial Day is special for me for their participation and sacrifice but I also learned a lot from them. How to repair things, how to be humble, how to support your family with very little and thrive.

    I can recall my paternal grandmother telling a story during the Great Depression where she and her brother were going to be paid 5 cents to bury a farmers horse who died. It was so cold and the ground so frozen that once they rolled the horses body into the grave they had hammered out for hours that the horses legs were still sticking about ground so her brother sent her to the farm and she retrieved a hacksaw. They cut of the legs and threw the remains in the bushes.

    at family reunions she and my great uncles would share these events with us and we would all laugh as hard as the first time we heard these tales. We appreciated them and loved them for their hardwork and ingenuity.

    My other grandmother would tell of the time she worked very hard and saved enough money to buy a bolt of cloth that she saw advertised in a JC Penny catalouge and had to wait a week for a Model T ( or was it A ) to hitch a ride into town with a well to do farming family so she could make a dress from scratch.

    No matter how strapped or poor my family was for money they always had perseverence and humor.

    The old timers have seen good and bad times, Hunger and drought or crop failure. The fools who threw themselves to their deaths in the great crash had no perspective on the values and worshipped their paper money more than what their ancestors had built. Selfish.

    Now I find myself in tight times financially and rely on the wisdom, humor and hard work my grandparents had imparted to me. Thier Great Depression experiences stuck with me…… frugal, prepare, hope for the best but prepare for the worst no matter how much cash you have. Reuse everything you can. My prepping makes me secure. Everything else will fall into place and I’m not desperate or dateless unless it’s Friday night! :)

    Just got back from a Memorial Day cook out with my neighbor and his family. This guy ( 36 YRO and a father of 5 ) and he is old school. Works 12 to 14 hours a day, saves lumber, heats his home with 2 wood burners, and participates in all his kids sporting events yet still finds time to purchase and repurpose just about anything he can lay his hands on. He reminds me of my Grandpa who fought in the aluetain Islands is WW2 because he doesn’t throw anything away unless it is complete junk.

    That’s what we need to appreciate about our Vets and the Great depression era folks. We have less capital to spend ( yes inflation is real, have you been grocery shopping lately?) so we really need to get back to tinkering and skills like darning socks or gardening like our relatives. Quite simple isn’t it?

    May G-d blees you all!


  28. Regarding food inventory and worksheets and taking workload and nutritional needs all comprehensively into account, while I am not a member of the LDS community, those folks have spent the most amount of time to scientifically calculate those needs. That work has also been done by the military. For a family’s needs, one can find them online or even in free LDS handbooks as it’s considered basic practical knowledge.

    Since soldiers burn up a ton of calories far exceeding the traditional nutrional needs of say the average working Joe or Jane, that’s why you see massive calories in MREs rated for soldiers. It’s reasonable to think that people would be very lean from burning up many more calories due to hard labour and lacking what is considered ordinary caloric intake today. Vitamins would certainly be a rotating stock for preppers for this reason as it’s the least expensive mechanism for ensuring adequate nutrition, however ordinarily the body won’t absorb many vitamins because of adequate nutrional intake, and as such they’re excreted.
    There are archive sites of historical information, say pioneer handbooks, that explained to “greenhorns” (look up its historical origins) who arrived in America and moved West. These concise manuals contained useful practical knowledge that form the skills needed by modern day homesteaders, preppers, and survivors.

    If you teach a child what plants in their neighborhood can be used for cordage and baskets, then you’re not only passing along ancestral wisdom about such things, but keeping their hands busy, and teaching them that even the youngest could do practical things to help their families.

    Way before there was recycling, our ancestors “recycled” everything because why spend a penny when you could repurpose what was already in your home.

    Spend an hour a week reading some practical book on how your ancestors did some task, and then see if you can do the same. What tools do you need? What plants do you need to know? How can you take what has been learned in the last 150 years and combine that with ancestral knowledge to cope with post-collapse?

  29. Great article. My grandmother lived through the great depression.
    She saved toilet paper rolls… You name it. I remember the toilet paper
    I inadvertently picked up her hording skills.
    Grateful for it now.
    I see treasures everywhere.

  30. I have read y’alls comments, and wow such inspiration, but they have also made me sad. My mom and grandparents all died when I was young (20’s) and too absorbed in me to learn from them. I didn’t learn any skills other than a little crochet from my mom. I push buttons on keyboards and so does my husband. Neither one of us know anything about having survival skills. I say all this to ask, if there was one survival skill you would suggest for a woman to learn, what would it be? I am already reading up on prepping, and buying what we can.
    Thanks for your suggestions!

    1. I would suggest “situational awareness”…lots of info on this and other blogs..

      -will help keep you safe while learning further info
      -will help you assess other humans
      -will help you avoid dangerous situations
      -will help you assess who is safe to ask for help/rely on

    2. Learn to cook from scratch. And I don’t just mean women, men too – – maybe you and your husband learn together! My mom began teaching all eight of her children (2 girls and six boys) how to cook from the time each of us was two years old. We didn’t order out, go to restaurants or buy convenience foods – – couldn’t afford them. When I became very ill some 30+ years ago it was those skills that kept me alive. Same thing when I have had some rough moments and months with little or no funds for food and my two growing kids or myself to feed. I could still put a nourishing meal on the table. My mom passed away thinking she had not contributed anything of worth to her children, but I thank her and God every day for what she taught me and all of us. Food is the very basis of survival and knowing how to cook, prepare, preserve and such is integral to that. Then you can expand to gardening and working with the results of that, etc. There is so much to delight in! I wish you both well.

  31. WONDERFUL INFORMATION. Luckily being raised in an intergenerational family made a big difference, I had a lot that I learned from one grandmother, so that was good, as well as her sister. I stayed close to them till they both died. I am less concerned about my when the world changes from how we know it, than many others. I think it will be a middle of the road scenario. It is good anyway to know canning, gardening, and basic skills with non-electrified tools and gadgets. As well as being an imaginative ‘problem’ solver. Well anyways wonderful comments and reminisces.

  32. Hi. I am a disabled person who has gone for prepping practices but on low income is very difficult, but managed to get water storage, some foods but only month’s worth, and some gardening skills and seeds. My dad’s fther grandfather was a farmer and grandmother canned everything from their garden. Unfortunately this was before I was born. They move west after I was born so didn’t get the chance to talk to them about this kind of thing how they survived the depression. Grandfather had cows, chickens, and our home was on his farmland half of it in sixties. He grew everything from corn to strawberries. Dad knew just where all the crops were grown on our wonderful land. I was so sad when that land was sold by my parents where we grew a huge garden and I raised goats for awhile when a teenager. Now trying hard to get things so I can maybe survive awhile is difficult me, and three dogs, two cats and no family left. I stored food for my furry family too as much as I can but only have a month’s worth. Not sure what to do since they say maybe a war in two three months’ time, wwIII. love those comments and read all of them!

    1. KB, you are welcome here…thanks for sharing from your life…lifting a prayer for you now for wisdom and provisions for your needs including your furry family God bless u! :)

    2. KB;

      I will have to tell you something, you’re an inspiration to many us us, think about it, you stated that you have a months of food and water, PLUS taking care of the critters….. I know of hundreds of people that have Nada, Zero, Zilch, NOTHING more than today’s food on the table AND have no clue.

      As far as war in 2-3 months time? Do you have ANY idea how far ahead you are of the Sheeple? But, let me ask you, will it do any good to worry? Will it stop a war? Is there anything you or I can do to stop it? Sure I’m planning for TSHTF but if it does or does not, again there is nada I can do, so why worry.

      PS; please keep commenting, everyone’s ideas and adventures are welcome, and here is a hint. Watch out for that crazy old fart NRP, he’s kinda off a little HAHAHAHA. Is 600 rolls of TP really enough? If you do hang around ask me sometime about why the 600 rolls of TP, it’s not about Toilet Paper BTW.

  33. I happened on this site from Pinterest and find it so interesting and encouraging. At 71, I recently left a 22 acre place because it is too much for me to keep up myself. I Now live In the city, work full time, and am still trying to prep and be self sufficient. I would happily move back to the country if someone would share the workload. My kids talk a good talk about prepping and survival but have no interest in investing time or energy. Thank goodness for your site.

  34. Worked for the PO. One day’s delay in a benefits check, esp in urban areas, was anger and panic-ville. Of course, now it’s all by elec deposits. Point is, and at 72 I am still out in the real world daily, and the level of dependency on govt assistance is overwhelming. And it is all races, ages etc. I always said: why do our foes need cruel weapons? Shut the ATM’s down at noon, Fri, on a long weekend, chaos beyond belief. Keep it going for 2 weeks, martial law. Hard rain’s gonna fall.

  35. shame= a feeling of worthlessness, distress, powerlessness.
    despair= complete loss of hope

    Shtf, no matter the cause, when hard times hit, when survival means scraping and scrapping, more people will die because of shame and despair, than any other one thing.

    Mental attitude, the will to survive, coupled with hard work and dedication to the task at hand will overcome the obstacles.

    My grand parents raised my parents through the depression. They never knew “easy times”, even prior to the great depression. “Hard times” just became harder, that’s all.

    Whether we admit it or not, most of us grew up, most of us lived our lives, during “good times”, many times over and above the lives our grand parents lived. That will make what appears to be coming much tougher for us to accept and face.

    Get your mind right, right now, while you have time to dwell on it. Don’t succumb to shame and despair……… bad times head on, determined to overcome them.

  36. Ken, that kind of info is why I read this blog. Lots of discussion this past week, woodgas, citygas, steam power, etc. Lots of solar/wind info on this site too.

    In today’s society, many jobs are very specific. Lots of folks have limited skills beyond their area of expertise. Most are secure in what they know. Problem is, many of the skills in today’s world, will be worthless in a grid-down or depression.

    Do I have the knowledge or expertise to survive? Maybe, is all I can say. None of us will know, until we know. Seems like all the “old depression stories” involve big families and/or extended families. Back-to-basics will be labor intensive stuff. We’ll all have to earn our way, even the youngsters.

    In the winter, I still sleep under an old quilt, made by my great-grandmother. Something about the weight of that blanket, or maybe it’s the “caring” that’s sown right in there.

  37. Ken,
    good article to highlight which skills would be best in another modern day depression. The thing that I see has changed, and you touched upon this, is the rural/urban population ratio. In 1920 the urban population surpassed the rural population, and never quit growing. The urban population is what 85%, rural 15%?? each of these groups is going to need a special set of skills to survive where they live. The needs of people will be the same, like having/maintaining fresh water and food, housing and heat. But for people in urban settings this, will require a very different set of skills as opposed to those living in the boonies. I see urbanites will need to have the skill to ‘obtain necessity items’ from others in order to survive, as opposed to the rural bunch who will need the skills to “produce” those items for themselves. I think you get my drift here.
    Truthfully, if/when we have another great depression, I think you will see a reversal of the last great depression where folks will be moving out of the urban centers into rural areas. This move has already started in a small, but noticeable way.

    The best skill I can teach my kids, and grandkids right now for whatever the future holds??? I can’t possibly teach them everything they need for the future. But I can teach them the ability to identify the knowledge they need, where to look and find it, how to apply it, and how to adapt it for changing times. I can also help them develop a strong relationship with GOD, and that more than anything I can do, that will get them through rough times.

  38. my grandfather was a ww1 vet as well one the memories i have of him was when he would say better to have something and NOT NEED IT THAN TO NEED IT AND NOT HAVE IT the same can be said for knowledge
    we grew up dirt poor i learned fast how to improvise here i am 65 years old and still learning a LOT of old ways we live in a apartment right now so im learning how to dry foods rather than can em im learning ways of how to use space to the max like putting boxes under tables keeping old plastic coffee cans for storage and keeping every survival magazine and book i can get my hands on

  39. Mom grew up in the “bad” section of Chicago during the Depression. She was a witness to the murder of a ” Bootlegger” by a rival seller of homemade booze. They slit his throat in front of her. She never got over that, or the fear of being poor again .

    She said often ” You will eat anything if you are hungry enough”.

    1. My sister has a cat that loves green beans and asparagus. Another sister has a cat that will eat absolutely anything, up to and including junk mail. My own cat died at 25, and he had a habit of eating potato peels–but only if they had pepper on them. He also liked other vegetables.

      The thing is, all of these cats were strays, used to living wild before they were “domesticated.” They knew how to survive, and they had learned to survive by eating anything and everything that they could find.

      In a time of true hardship, it won’t matter WHAT you eat as long as your stomach is full.

  40. Depression era people mostly were already used to hard work even in good times , good shelter ,food , were always the main things. Most men were fix it yourself no so much.I,ve said many times the majority of Americans are too soft.present company excluded of far as city dwellers trading for goods or services most will have nothing tangible to trade with.yes I agree with all here, that any skill you have or can learn will be of use . But above all knowing how to grow food,hunt if there are any animals left to hunt after the first months,or otherwise scavenge what you need will be the main things. I feel for the masses who will not survive long term because of their buy anything anytime lifestyles. Stay vigilant.

  41. My mom and dad were both born during the depression. They never talked about it with us kids, but when the Aunties and Uncles got together, that was when the stories came out.
    My parents grew up dirt poor in West Virginia and Ohio, respectively. Both families immigrants from elsewhere. Big families were the norm back there. My dad had to quit school at 12 to work the mines. He was one of 13. My mom was one of 15 and her family farmed. Only briefly knew my paternal grandparents, but maternal grandmither moved out west with them when they came.
    Lots of things taught to us kids, all 11 of us, growing up. Both boys and girls cooked and knew how to work in plumbing and electrical. And my sisters and I could even change out the motor of whatever car needed it.
    Thank God for the things my parents taught us, and try to pass it down to my kids also. Some listen some just shake their heads and say, yeah sure mama, you bet.
    Happy Veterans day to all

  42. I had an interesting discussion with a lady in the neighborhood maybe a year or two ago. We were talking about what would be needed in an emergency, specifically in an earthquake. She said she had no skills.

    I told her she’s a marathon runner and we’ll really need communications between our neighborhood and the “operations center” two miles away. She lit up and agreed to be communications in that situation.

    Everyone has skills, whether they believe they do or not. Many people will sit around and moan about how they don’t have any, but it’s all self perception (and I would add, self deception). In a major depression they’ll either use what they have, learn new skills, or die.

  43. Both parents grew up during the Great Depression. I see their teaching in many ways I do things even now. Gardening, canning, reuse, re-purpose, etc. All of these have their place.

    I would have to say the biggest thing that will be different to those who experience a severe depression now will be the moral issues. Many more don’t have any compared to the 1930’s.

    The entitled mindset will have a major breakdown that will result in riots and societal violence. Together with the socialist movement this may mean a real revolution that we won’t like at all.

  44. My childhood memory of my big extended family, now largely lost to old age, is that they lived quietly. Worked hard, stuck to their priorities, wasted nothing, loved well, laughed easily. They were the survivors.

    1. Anony Mee I hope and pray MY next generation (post SHTF) can say such of my loud, happy extended family and loyal adoptees.

      What an awesome legacy your family holds.

      It’s not enough to merely hide and survive, one needs to thrive as our Great Depression Parents and Grand Parents did.

      Skills can never be taken from you. Knowing skills that meet REAL Needs like Shoe Repair and Seed saving-seedling starts for others will always be valued by those NOT Criminally Insane.

  45. I feel very blessed to have grown up how i did, to live where i do and where i work and all the practical bullshit i know.

    MOST, have no clue

  46. ……and it won’t be called the Great Depression 2.0
    It will be called the Greatest Depression.
    Those in the 30’s had the knowledge.
    Those in the 21st century have no survival knowledge, no hands on skills.
    Knowledge of great grandparents, grandparents have been forgotten, the current generations didn’t want to be bothered by such skills… a world as great as it is.
    Re written History has covered up, forgotten the bad times.
    It’s gonna be big time bad 10 fold and worldwide, if and when it should occur.

  47. Believe it or not, my dad was born in 1899, fought the entire world war 1, and of course lived through the great depression. I was born in 1947, sort of a late addition to the family. Anyway, I got first hand knowledge of the depression, and how tough it was. I also was gifted with the opportunity to learn a lot of my parents skills and how to get along with what you have .I was taught not to waste, to save everything that may be useable, and to try to be self sufficient. I’ve got a little lazy in my old age though, but still garden, and save a lot of things I shouldn’t. Catch hell from the wife for saving all that junk, so I have to throw a lot of it away. Oh well, not too worried about hard times again, just the people who may try to take what you have.

  48. My parents were both born in 1930 and remember some things about the Depression. My grandparents were the ones who managed the households during that era, though. One grandfather was a Pharmacist and back then, medicines were compounded — often without a doctor’s order (prescription). I wish that I knew how he worked within a rural community where there many have been very little money to buy medicines.

    My other set of grandparents were partly employed. My grandfather worked at Intl Nickel and the corporation divided up the job-hours so that the employees worked just long enough to cover health insurance. My grandmother was a young teacher and had part time employment. She would also take on any extra jobs to earn another 25-cents or $1….they did what they could. They lived on a small farm and had a milk cow, pigs, and a garden. They helped their neighbors, often without barter. They never spoke about having to ‘support’ others or being ‘used’ — it was the way of life back then.

    Fast forward about 80 years, to the Fourth Turning, and we all acknowledge that we live in a very different America now. We live in a culture that has enabled illegal aliens to enter the US, we have cultivated a ‘gimme dat’ entitlement class of people, we have too many gangs and violent people, we have a drug sub-culture, and we also have a segment of people taking medications for psychological issues is worrisome.

    We’re not terribly worried about the skill set from our yesteryears. There aren’t many hand skills or ‘old timer’ ways that my husband and I aren’t familiar with or use at this time. Work doesn’t scare us.

    We are worried about the LARGE segment (hoard) of people in the US who will become a threat to our well-being and lifestyle. The dopers, nut-jobs, gangbangers, and gimme dats will prevent most of us from living sanely and securely when the hammer drops.

    1. Modern Throwback, “Work doesn’t scare us “. That is the problem I find in most anyone that want’s me to show them what and how I do thing’s the old way. Too much work, take’s to long. I tell them to turn off the phone, throw the TV out the window to do these way’s like making your own charcoal for blacksmithing, soap, buckskinning hide’s, growing a garden without store bought fertilizer. That phone and TV, I have never seen cut a cord of wood. Most people I see are scared to death of hard work and cannot see the satisfaction of the end result.

      1. I understand, TXDAN. Many of us find a peace and joy in working with our hands, and we value the results of our work. I personally enjoy solitude — it is meditative and curative for me. When my hands are in the soil, or at a cutting board, or stitching with a needle, I am happiest. I seek quiet, not noise — so for me, a phone or TV running in the background is mind-clutter. Even when out shopping, I find too much noise-racket and chaos. I guess these are a few of the laments of a recluse. When I am at the gym, I had real issues with the crappy “music” being played. Ear plugs solved that problem for me. LOL

        I used to teach a variety of fiber arts classes on-the-side, many were quilting classes. When students would look at some of my quilts, their first question was always, “How long did it take to make that?” And more than half of the students would say, “I’ll NEVER be able to do that.” So many people say “I can’t do that” or “I don’t want to” — that’s so defeatist!

        Many people worry about the “golden horde” and migration from urban to suburban to rural. I don’t believe the majority of citified people will go more than a mile, MANY won’t travel more than a few blocks. Some are too obese to walk far, but for most, they have been conditioned into dependency and apathy. They’ll wait for someone to help them…

        1. Modern Throwback, I too value my solitude more than anything else, relative’s and other’s tell me that I cannot just stay on my place and work, not socializing. I tell them the heck I can’t, I have everything I want right here! The thing that peeve’s me off trying to teach someone who will not even try to be self sufficient is that I have wasted my time. Time that I could have enjoyed more solitude. I do enjoy the elder folk’s who drop by to see what I am up to because they tell me how their folk’s did this or that and wished they had paid more attention to how thing’s were done. I just stop what I am doing and listen to them because once they are gone it’s like a book that was never written, will never be read. These elder folk’s came from horse drawn day’s to now. They are going fast, very few left and you realize that soon you will be the old guy with no one to tell thing’s to. I will just keep on keeping on and be content with my doing’s as a recluse, when something goes wrong I will ask myself “What’cha gonna do now” and I will come up with a solution. As far as quilting, the patience required and skill has always amazed me, have quilt’s from both side’s of the family,usually made for the newly married couples. Not only works of art, but for someone to take the time and work(There’s that word again) to do this for you make’s them invaluable, priceless heirloom’s.

  49. I believe the main difference is a lack of curiosity so people don’t know stuff. They don’t need to. Humans are very adaptable creatures. Few want to die. Most avoid discomfort more than the plague.

    We live in an age where information is more important to many. It isn’t actually knowing how something is done that matters in many cases, it’s the ability of finding out how it can be done, deciding if it needs to be done and when, and then finding someone to do it.

    Same was true 100 years ago. Probably the same will be true 100 years from now.

    We keep focusing on the “someone to do it”. There will likely always be sufficient quantity of “someone to do it” because humans are adaptable. Sure, ratios of “someone to do it” might be too awry but I fret not. “The ratio of people to cake is too big.”-Milton Widdams

    If you are are blessed with the ability of knowing how, what, why, and when to do something… And being capable of executing that something… You will be fine as long as someone doesn’t fancy changing that and are successful at changing that. This is because you know stuff and you are adaptable… And because of those two things you learn more stuff. Which makes you more adaptable.

    I suspect most of the people here will be fine. As long as someone doesn’t change that ability.

  50. Hermit us
    I’m not thinking the so much the rich part, or growing seasons, community maybe.
    Wish my parents and grandma was still around to ask of those questions as they mean of such more now.
    Both sides of grandparents were poor. But made do of the depression. A little set back, but life no different than the norm, during that era.
    My grandma traveled up here in a covered wagon. My Gramps would walk miles to hitch a ride to work 50 miles away from home to provide for a family of nine + the farm.
    Grams saved everything. Bread ties, rubber bands cooked, canned, butchered , etc.
    I could write a book, but bottom line is those well off will never know what to do, in a time of crisis.
    Pampered, snotnosed persons will fail.

    Those that have been through battles. Kept the family knowledge passed down-. though not asked, but observed, within our lifetimes. Those of them that were ashamed to teach, recall, reminisce of their tuff times, thru certain eras, as they wanted better lives for their children, wanting better than they had it.

    We are well above those that have everything.

    1. Joe c

      Grandparents who survived the wars and depression that I talked to and my parents talk to, really did not have a lot to say about just making it day by day. Work in rural America was from sunup to sundown, hunger, sickness, poverty, farming failures, … large families to do the work necessary to eat.

      Some communities were more supportive of their neighbors that other more poor areas. I was fortunate to be part of some group co-operation, chicken processing, hog butchering, branding, haying, horse drawn mowing, stooking, threshing, … by people working together.

      I don’t see the skills, ability, motivation, equipment, knowledge, physical condition, … of many born in this century to survive under depression circumstances.

      The grandparents wanted a better life for their children and it helped many achieve it. But as conveniences made life easier people forgot the basics and certainly did not ever want to go back to working the land. Too late now.

  51. My parents grew up during the last Great Depression. My Grandparents farmed through the same time raising the children. Being 1st generation Americans that had very little skills speaking English, there were few options for them at the time. That is what they did to survive.

    I got my own taste of good times/bad times by working seasonally for a number of years. Later I tried for the coveted 40 hr a week job with health care benefits. I chose to go into health care at the low end of the tech spectrum in long-term care. It was and continues to be a steady provider of regular employment to this day. The stories that the old folks shared with me through the years are a side benefit of the job.

    Working on my skills in self reliance is my primary hobby away from work. Everything from cooking my own food to fishing, trapping, reloading ammo that goes BOOM every time it should, simple workshop gun smithing projects to keep a rifle or shotgun up and running.

    Hunting goes without saying when you grow up with many relatives that are farmers. Rather than hike the high ridges scanning for the trophy rack to hang on the wall. Hunting around farms and ranches meant setting up a hide and taking out crop raiders, agricultural pests and vermin that killed livestock. It made more sense to take out that skunk before it killed 5 chickens versus my glassing the high country many miles away.

    Working 40 hrs a week prevents me from doing some things at home: Raising fruits and vegetables in my yard, canning my own produce or surplus from grocery store, raising my own livestock both big or small. This may change after I retire but for now, there is high demand for me to work. There are folks at work that will trade jobs for a dozen eggs so the barter economy is still alive and thriving.

    My wife is an only child and is not on board with getting ready for hard times. I was youngest of 4 so there are stark differences in our outlook on life and definition of hard times. For the record, being from a large family, we never considered ourselves to be poor or lack for anything we needed. Some people had more than us, some people had less. It was the way of the world then. I save. My wife does not.

    My hobbies tend to pay for themselves. If they do not, I find something more sustainable. That is why I like to read about people’s postings about gardening projects, permaculture, raising crops with less water and minimal amounts of soil amendments ( from non-organic sources ) This site is one. of the better ones to go to.

  52. Honestly, I don’t think many would want to survive a great depression… Ken, you ask who can sew? Better yet who can cook? I know people who can burn water..LOL..
    Most people won’t survive because they don’t know how to “adult”… Sad really..

  53. A little bit from foxfire #5 page 15:

    The, fact is the county that is being passed on to our young people is filled with adults who feel powerless, and the young feel powerless in turn. Its has all happened too fast.

  54. I’m going to have to brush off the dust from my Foxfire books, although the information on MSB is more relevant, up to date.

  55. I think much of what is covered in the Foxfire books is still relevant for many folks, like anything else it is all relative to where you live. Our AO will be an ok place to be, extended family and old school values are still prevalent, yes theres lots of recent transplants and younger gens that are going to be miserable, lots of folks it wont even be noticeable honestly. I doubt a one second after scenario will be the deal,
    It will suck but people will manage.
    Heavily populated urban areas will be hardest hit but thats nothing new.

  56. Ken,
    One of your top 10 articles imho! Thanks for running it again. I think one reason that God has kept all us “old Fogies” around is for us to teach the younger generations about these basic survival operations. Who knows what catastrophe awaits before us. What if all electronic media is wiped clean? Books (like Foxfire series) will be worth their weight in gold. But so will the knowledge we Old Prepper Farts hold in our heads, as well as all the experience that goes with it. I am finding through my kids that there is a great interest in being able to “do” these things, not just have an electronic reference. They and their friends call to ask me how to do things, and I am there for them to learn. (Will be teaching my 20- something DIL how to weld on their vacation over here this summer). We owe it to our kids and grandkids to stay alive and pass on “the knowledge” of survival.

  57. books will be important after the grid goes down. i strongly suggest also having a good set of encyclopedias. that’s what we used before the internet. i have a good set of encyclopedia Americana and World Book each. with cell phones and internet being what it is today a person should be able to get a set for little or nothing at a yard sale or craigslist. information will be invaluable. i have books of all kinds everywhere in my house.
    although not in print anymore that i know of is the 1881 Household Cyclopedia, free to download and print in PDF-
    i printed it out and have it in a binder but it took several ink cartridges and a package of paper. its great how to information.

  58. So many ‘dead eyes’ with no conscience. Many more now than the ‘old days’.

  59. Spare headlamps and all exterior lights for your car or truck. Double your spares if you travel off road or on bumpy pavement. I expect many of us will travel by night when the time comes. This probably wasn’t a big deal in the last depression.

    1. Tmac,
      bumpy pavement?? What pavement? Get out of the cities. Tough choices, I know.

      1. When I worked on an airport, some of the maintenance trucks had a big bar magnet mounted to the front or back bumper to pick up any metal pieces that were dropped onto the flightline. If you go to Harbor Freight and buy some of those bar magnets that they sell and mount them under the front bumper, that could/would solve that problem. Just thinking out loud.

        1. blackjack22 – I think you are talking about a FOD sweeper. I don’t know if that would lift caltrops or spikes out of the ground. If someone goes to that much trouble, I’d be more worried about mines.

  60. In the Military, the saying was : Accept, Adapt, Overcome.

    “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”

  61. Ken – Truly timeless post. I read personal accounts from this time period and am always inspired by their character and ingenuity. One thing different today is the absolute overabundance of stuff with related consumer debt. If one can find a safe market to barter, many things could be gotten in terms of general goods and clothing.

  62. Just watching the NATO press conference on SkyNews. Seems trouble a brewing as some 300,000 military personnel from many different countries are going to the borders with Russia.

    My canner is singing in the background as I can 70lbs of potatoes from the garden.

    Prep your souls and prep your pantry!!!

    1. I’ve suspected from the beginning that Americans were being lied to about Russia “losing” the war in Ukraine (as we’ve been lied to on just about everything). I fully expect a shooting war in Europe as well as the South China Sea.

      We as a nation are in about the least prepared state that we’ve ever been. The military runs on oil, we have depleted our reserves and hobbled our producers. Most don’t realize how dependent we are on China for everything from replacement parts to munitions. China now runs many of the ports we rely on to refuel our naval fleets.

      Our politics are tearing us apart, our economy is in tatters, folks on both sides speak of civil war. Don’t think for a minute that Russia and China (who have publicly strengthened their ties) don’t realize this may be an opportunity they can’t let slip away.

      As for 300,000 troops massing on Russian borders….we’ve had more unvetted folks cross ours in the last year.

      Other than those few things…we shouldn’t be worried.

    2. Grandee and all,
      I just finished reading an article over at cons treehouse that talks about this very thing. The troop build-up, addl deployments and plenty of quotes and sources. It ties together the green crapola and the positioning that Putin is the reason people will go hungry – that he is weaponizing food.

      This may tie in to what was shared here just a few weeks ago by Joe C, as far as folks being sent to areas but unable to tell even their parents where they are going.

      Ken, sorry to quote another site here, but I think this article is a really important read.

  63. Those people of the depression were tough minded and disciplined. Imagine being hungry and having a root cellar with potatoes in it, but not touching them. They were needed for replanting in spring. How many today would do that?

    1. If it looks to get that bad, I plan to plant the potatoes in the fall so they won’t be where I can see them. Not sure that will work at this new location, but it’s the plan.

  64. A good Friend told me when she passed that she wanted me to have her collection of the Foxfire books. It is time I start to read these now before i need the skills.
    Also yesterday we came home from a doc appt in the big city- a 320 mile round trip and found our land line, cell service and internet was off- which included our TV. A 200 pair cable was cut. It felt worse than when the electric goes off. It was supposedly fixed around 8pm but for some reason ours was still out. I was constantly thinking about what if there was an emergency with one of our family that are all over the US. I have a single sister in Phoenix, not a good section and another who is retarted and ill in a nursing home. Also what is the weather going to be? Is the rain going to continue? Is the heat coming back and I have to get out early to work? And what if the SHTF while I have no communication. We turned on the ham radio which was unusually quiet. Radio is almost non-existent where we live. Even CC Crane has a hard time here.
    It was just an odd feeling, even though relatives don’t call that often but to be without any contact was difficult. When the phones and internet came back, no one called and nothing special happened!

  65. It is important to understand that the “ Great Depression “ did not happen by mistake, nor will the next economic collapse. We need to quit depending upon government funding and other support. It may purposely be removed!

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