While I was out in Idaho, Jesse Posey gave me a sketch that he had written about growing up there during the depression years. It was a very interesting piece about habits of gratitude coming out of a hard beginning.
Since this piece has been published in a magazine (Jesse couldn’t remember where), I’m not going to include the whole thing here. If I do find the reference I’ll add it.
Downward comparisons can be very useful for enhancing gratitude. That means thinking about how things could be worse, or were worse, or are worse for someone else. Jesse’s gratitude comes partly from thinking of the hobos who showed him that having a home and enough food to give some away was something to be grateful for. It also comes from remembering being cold and working hard. According to the poet, Robert Pollock, “Sorrows remembered sweeten present joy.” These experiences from more than 70 years ago have cast a very long gratitude shadow.
We came to Idaho from Tennessee in 1935 when I was 6 years old with hope of finding a better life. … All that we brought to Idaho with us was what we could cram into the car. It must have been so hard for mother to have to leave so many treasured things behind. 5 of us made the move, my mother, an aunt, an uncle, a cousin, and myself. Years later I asked my cousin if we camped out. He laughed and said, “No, we just drove and picknicked with a loaf of bread, bologna or cheese and crackers.”
We moved to Kimberly, Idaho that fall and into another one room house across from the railroad tracks. Being close to the tracks we had our share of hobo’s knocking on our door looking for a hand out or anything to eat. Though we had little I can remember that my mother always found something to share with them.
Our house was just a framed building with no insulation and the winters were really cold. I would walk along the tracks looking for coal that had fallen off of a coal car and sometimes a hobo would toss coal off.
Kimberly had a dance hall called “Shadowland” and several name bands played there. After a dance I would get up early the next morning and walk around the building and hunt for beer bottles which I could sell. Once in a while I would find some change or even a bill. I sold the Saturday Evening Post and the Grit magazines and mowed lawns with a really hard to push reel mower with a grass catcher. The money earned was turned over to my mother to help buy groceries.
We made our own entertainment by playing basketball, baseball or football when we could find a ball to use. … We also played what we called field hockey. We would use a Sego or Morning Milk can for the puck and what ever for the stick.
It was a hard life but I think it was a good time to be growing up. I’m sure it made us appreciate anything that we were able to obtain later in life.