My name is Elizabeth and I am ten years old. I have a brother named John who is 14 years old, and I also have a mother who never smiles anymore because my father died of Influenza. Mother works in a factory as a seamstress, and John, my brother, works at a car building company. Each morning my mom wakes me and my brother up, makes us toast, then drives away in her Model T- Ford to her factory. Then, my brother walks me to school and then to his job a half mile away.
It was Tuesday, October 29, 1929 when it all started. When I came home that day, I found my mother and John, my brother at home before their shifts were over. My mother seemed sad. I asked her what happened. She said we would not be able to get candy or newspapers for a long time. After that, she drooped into her room. John seemed to swallow up with answers,” Our….my job……..assembly line…..crash...Stock market…good night,” he muttered in anger.
“I’m learning about the stock market, it’s a place where you buy ownership of a part of a company. If that crashed, it means that some of the companies went bankrupt or became very short in money. Is that why you lost your job John?” I replied. John nodded and muttered, “I guess so”. After that he slugged up into his room and closed his eyes for a long night.
The next morning, Mom woke me up and I thought that last night was all just a dream. I got buttered toast and waited at the door for my older brother, John. But, he didn’t come to the door and he stayed in bed. “Where is John?” I asked. “He is not feeling well today, you will have to walk yourself to the curb. Sorry sweetie.” My mother said. As soon as I left our building, I could already feel the memory overwhelm me and I began to cry.
After the watery trip to the curb, I said to myself, “Good bye John, see you tomorrow.” When I got to school, there was only one topic on everyone’s mind: the Stock Market Crash. No one could pay attention to the lesson that day and it went away in a blur. When I came home my mom was looking at a newspaper from two weeks ago. “Where did the car go?” I asked in confusion. “Well I pawned the car, put the house on mortgage, and found you a job. But, the job is every day from 6 AM to 12 PM.” With this news, I went to my room and cried.
No one slept much after that. We moved into a gloomy one room apartment, I got a job as a student seamstress, and we only ate stews or, if we were lucky, we got to eat at the mission. My mother had the same job as I did, but she worked more hours for low pay. John got a job as a banker which he kept until 1933, when his bank closed from bankruptcy. By then, I had no more tears to cry. Finally, if that wasn’t bad enough, my mother got so exhausted she stopped eating, then died in 1934, from malnutrition.
Luckily, though, my brother was 19 and allowed take care of me. The next few years only got worse, and I had to make up for two salaries instead of one. I couldn’t have done it if it weren’t for my sewing neighbor who gave me a dollar extra of her salary. Even then, we ate watery stews and cheap fruit. John found a job and I asked my partner, Alexia, to stop paying me her salary.
More years passed and, in 1939, I was 20 years old and John was 24. One day, when I took my usual trip to the store to get our dinner, I noticed that the prices were dropping! Luckily, I had a dollar left! I ran to the candy cart and got a piece of licorice, John’s favorite, and a creamy caramel square just for me. After that, I still had 50 cents left, but I decided to save it for later. The economy was finally improving and the Depression was ending. When I got home I told John everything that had happened and then we both had a party and inhaled our fabulous treats. Things got much better from that point on.