ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A 97-year-old : The 2008 economic crisis was not another Great Depression

Updated on June 25, 2014

Tough TImes

Outside banister of a foreclosed house.
Outside banister of a foreclosed house. | Source

Someone who lived through THE Depression

I have a new friend. Or, one could say he is an old friend, because he was born in 1915. So he is old by my reckoning, and older than I; but the friendship is relatively new.

Mack has been around. He served in the “Big War,” as those veterans call World War II, and he youthed through the Great Depression. Mack knows that the economy is rough right now and that able-bodied, willing workers struggle with the lack of jobs and all that goes with that. But, he vehemently declares, “this is not like the GREAT DEPRESSION.” One hears the capital letters in his voice.

His Childhood Was Cut Short

Boston shines tenderly in Mack’s heart as his hometown. Born there into a family of four, he enjoyed growing up and playing during the halcyon, giddy turn of the century, before any inkling of stock market crashes or bank failures burdened the brow of our nation. Nevertheless, his family’s path presaged the country’s because his father died when Mack was twelve.

No life insurance, beneficial association fund, or substantial savings existed for such a rainy day. Mack’s mother tried to keep the family going by renting out rooms and running a modest gas station in front of their capacious home. The house was a child’s delight: large, with ten rooms, its grounds occupied half a block. To a child, it felt like a castle. Pear trees bordered the yard on all four sides. These were not ornamentals, such as the modern Bradford pear tree dotting our suburban neighborhoods. These were the complete package – fruit-bearing trees with glorious, fragrant white flowers greeting the world every April. Their beauty fed Mack’s soul and the fruit filled his belly.

One did not talk back or question one’s parents in those days. So, when the pear trees were chopped down, Mack grieved and seethed silently. They had been his playhouses, his friends, his sentinels at night. They made the house a home. We can only make suppositions – that perhaps his mother needed the wood to heat the large dwelling; or that she needed the money from the sale of that wood to feed or clothe her brood. Whatever the reason, it sits bitterly and indefensibly in Mack’s memory.


Circumstances got worse. Bills grew; income did not. In desperation, Mack’s mother made the sort of Sophie’s choice that no mother ever wants to face. She gave Mack ten dollars to put his younger brother on a train to relatives in Connecticut. She took him to a disagreeable and very poor second cousin in Brookline. Then she said goodbye and disappeared. The house no longer theirs, the family dispersed, Mack felt utterly on his own.

Life with the imposed relative did not work for Mack. Without fuss or warning, he ran away. With a penknife and ratty coat, Mack made his way to the Boston Common.

Survivor and Thriver

With the right attitude, a fourteen-year-old boy finds plentiful beds in the Boston Common. The barrel of a cannon monument provides protection from snow and rain. Many slept on and under the wooden benches. Bushes in leaf give shelter and the foot of a garden bridge or the back wall of a Swan Boat shed were choice spots. Everyone else had troubles of his own – no one stopped to delve into the particulars of a dirty little ragamuffin seen frequently in the park. Or, a gang of ragamuffins, because Mack found he had similarly situated peers. Together, they formed their own Fagan’s gang, without the adult Fagan. Yes, Mack admits, “we rolled drunks.” They also worked together distracting vendors so that they could steal food.

It was 1929. This was an era when children left school to go to work. There was no mandatory public school attendance. No child labor laws prevented eight-year-olds from supporting the family. Survival was what it was all about, whatever it took. Mack lived in the Boston Common for two entire years. Then he finally found work which provided meager room and board.

We Cannot Begin to Imagine It

So, if hard circumstances tempt us to think we are undergoing a new economic depression, think again. Are you sleeping under a bridge at a riverbank? Are you wearing your one and only pair of shoes? Has the permanent dirt on your body become so thick that it is an effective sunblock? Must you steal to eat? If you have computer access to be reading this hub article, I am guessing not. Things may be rough; they be different and challenging but, they are not approaching the GREAT DEPRESSION.

Photo and text copyright 2012 Maren E. Morgan


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Sueswan, it feels like rough times for a lot of people!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Maren,

      This may not be a great depression but I feel for people who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own.

      Voted up and awesome.

      Have a good evening.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      910chris - I added you to my prayer list. Can your kids start doing babysitting or anything??? If you belong to a religious organization, maybe you can alert them to your fears and needs.

    • 910chris profile image


      9 years ago from North Carolina

      I agree with your reply and appreciate it. It's a shame what is happening in this country right now. When I sit and think about how me and my wife and three kids are going to make it untill summer I start to cry, because I have no easy answers right now. No one does and it scares the hell out of me.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      AliciaC, thanks. We have a lot to learn from them.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      9 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing the story of Mack, Maren Morgan. It's sad but important to think of the people who were in such a terrible situation during the Great Depression and of people today who are trying to make ends meet.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      @910chris: I replied. Hope it shows up.

      @Tams R, I agree. And they survived!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      910chris, I have no easy response. I know that the unemployment statistics are highly manipulated-- a friend in the business told me that the gov does things such as dropping out of the numbers anyone who has been unemployed more than 2 years, etc... Also, welfare programs exist now that were not in place in the 1930's. It's apples & oranges. Mack was later in the CCC. I wish we had that again today.

    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 

      9 years ago from Missouri

      Very nice story and well written. It reminds me of an elderly man in my neighborhood who just turned 110. He can't hear but he can talk, boy can he talk. He sometimes goes on tangents about how hard it used to be and I love to listen, because it makes me feel better about what I have today.

    • 910chris profile image


      9 years ago from North Carolina

      After reading your Hub, and with the knowledge I have of what people are going through, that are no where near as well of as I am; are you suggesting that we are not in a Great Depression? Because I do not listen to the mass media and I am on unemployment that runs out in 2 weeks. I know that in North Carolina alone, unemployment is really at 16-19%, and we are not the hardest hit state. I have met people who would love the luxury of sleeping in the barrel of a cannon since the homeless shelters here are full. I am currently renting out a bedroom to make ends meet. Please do not let our technology fool you, things are way worse than people are told in newspapers and TV.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)