Chistmas in the Depression

Two little girls in blue night gowns. Daddy rocking them in an old wooden rocking chair, singing about two other sisters in blue, “the Red River Valley”, and “about and Indian Maid named “Little Red Wing” who had lost her Indian Brave in a Battle far away – Down in the Valley” and about “Far away beyond the Starry Skies”, where the lovelight never dies, gleemeth a Mansion filled with deluxe Sweet Happy Homes so bright.

We did not have Money for extras – Sometimes it seemed not enough for our needs, but we never went hungry even if we didn eat Corn Meal Mush for breakfast with the milk & butter the cows gave for breakfast & after school for supper we had left over mush for sliced & fried with burnt sugar syrup to drench it in – Dad was not there that week. – It was during the Depression and jobs were hard to come by, so there were times he could not afford to come home from a job that was distant. I don’t ever remember either of them complain, but I know I heard Mother Thanking God for the food we did have – even when Cornmeal was all we had for a straight week Morning & evening. We at least had Milk & butter from the cows & still had enough sugar left for burnt sugar syrup to sweeten the corn meal with & Mother Thanked God for that.

Christmas was always special – we always had a good Christmas Dinner and lovely gifts under the Christmas tree Dad & the boys had cut down & we had decorated it with popcorn strings & paper chains we made at school. We also made more at home, but we had to color those w/ crayons. We didn’t have construction paper to make them from at home. And we pasted them together with paste made from flour & water.

It was many years later that I found out the Dad’s sister, Aunt Bess who had married well always made sure we had a good Christmas. We lived in a house Dad, my uncles and brothers had built. There wasn’t enough lumber to make the inner walls separating the rooms double until some time later. So there were knot holes we could peek through & see into the room the tree was in. That was the year my sister and I got lovely baby dolls. My sisters doll said “Mama”, but mine only cried. I was probably a little jealous of her but we each loved our baby dolls.

Betty Jane & doll.

  • Niki and I found this handwritten when going through moms stuff. I’m sure it was written as she thought of it, in her cursive script with pencil on a piece of note pad. I tried to keep her original writing, substituting & for the word “and” as she did in the note, and not modifying punctuation from it at all.
  • See for a rendition of the Little Indian Maid song. I remember mom and grandpa singing it.