When I was a child, we would visit my grandparents every week. One time I was looking for something to play with, so I opened up a closet. To my surprise, it was packed with food. Canned food, boxed food, bags of rice and beans and pasta, all kinds of stuff. This was surprising given that their fridge and pantry were already filled with food.
On the drive home, I asked my parents about it, and my dad said, “Well, your grandparents grew up during the Great Depression.” I’d heard of the Great Depression, but I didn’t understand what it was. “But why do they have so much food?” I asked. And he answered, “They were hungry a lot as children, so now they want to make sure they don’t run out.”
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I’ve thought about that conversation many times over the years. There have been very few times in my life when I had to go hungry. But for my grandparents, it was a regular thing. And it made such a big impression on them that when they grew up, they essentially became preppers (although that wasn’t a term at the time).
One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t spend more time talking to them and asking about their experiences. All I know is that they were very poor. So naturally, I’m always interested when I see articles and videos about wisdom from the Great Depression.
This one by Sensible Prepper is particularly good. He learned a lot from his grandmother and also did a lot of research on the Great Depression. Here’s a list of some of the things he talks about:
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- Families had to move in together, sometimes with three generations in one house.
- Some people were forced to sleep in their vehicles or in tents.
- In the summer, people would sleep outside to stay cool.
- People would go anywhere to find work. Farmhands would follow the harvest around the country.
- The more skills people had, the better their chance of earning money.
- Children were expected to earn money too, even if just foraging for free stuff.
- Having cash was better than having money in the bank. It was safer.
- People had to patch old clothes and sew new clothes. They would use rubber from tires to resole shoes.
- Having good tools was important so you could fix things.
- Knowing how to garden was crucial. People would trade their excess food for other types of food.
- Knowing how to cook from scratch was important. People would make soup from whatever they could find.
- Hunting and fishing got very popular.
- Knowing how to find wild edibles was very helpful.
Now look over that list again and ask yourself, What sort of skills should I learn or improve so I could take care of my family during another Great Depression?
Watch the video below for a more in-depth discussion of these lessons.