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A Journey Back Through Time―The Great Depression & Benny Goodman

Updated on September 20, 2011
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A Fictional Story

Last year, my United States' history teacher asked us to write a piece of literature resembeling aspects of the Great Depression. I think that writing a facts-filled paper will make such a significant issue seem tritely over-repetitive. Therefore, I decided to research a famous figure through that time, Benny Goodman, and write a fictional diary entry from his point of view. Please note that Benny Goodman did live through the depression's era, however, not all details are true. Enjoy!

January 17, 1937

Dear Diary,

Life during the Great Depression was certainly horrible for us as it were to many others during that time. Even though, we are the great great grandchildren of the notable Cornelius Van Der Bilt, the richest man greatly known for his genius in shipping and railroads, we never felt unaffected by the Great Depression. Since I was five, I remember we lived in a big mansion where servants were under our commands and wishes. However, about 3 months after the depression struck, dad got very ill and died. After that, we had to move to a house that was much smaller, but capable enough to fit 12 kids. The new house we moved to suddenly made us feel packed, especially since we had to share rooms. The depression affected us greatly; first, we moved to a smaller house and got jumbled up in smaller rooms. Second, after dad's tragic death, the first action I did was quiting school. Sadly, our life in Chicago during the depression was a nightmare. Chicago was buffeted greatly with the depression since it had a heavy reliance on manufacturing. The only gift that saved my life was my exceptional talent as a musician.

At 15 years of age, my school mate Dave Tough and I were both into music. Our plan was to stand in streets and play our instruments just to get enough money to sustain a living. Sometimes we made little money, while most times we didn't. Everyone in my family had to work in order for us to live. My mother, for example, started cleaning rich people's houses during the day and she would spend her night sowing clothes. Sometimes, when jobs were not available for mom, she would stand in breadlines waiting and waiting and many times, her long waits gained her nothing.

Nothing changed until one afternoon, Ben Pollack (the "father of Swing") hired me to work for him in LA. I was very elated to hear such news. I worked for him for a couple of years, then when the depression get even worse, I headed to New York to work on recordings and radio shows. I joined Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey at the studios in 1933 and worked with the jazz promoter John Hammond and drummer Gene Krupa. I was making some money, but not enough to support my poor mother with 11 of my siblings. Mom was able to sustain living mainly through the Works Progress Administration, one of the New Deal programs. Along with the money I sent from New York, the WPA was the largest and most ambitious program that fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. It employed millions to carry out public projects, including the construction of public buildings, roads, and parks. My brothers in Chicago were employed by this outstanding program and were able to help me with house expenses.

Source

Unfortunately, not long before the depression ended, mom died. Since I wasn't home with her, I didn't witness the causes of her death, but my brothers told me that she was saving food for the younger ones while she worked day and night to keep them alive. My life felt worthless without mom. I had no one to send me uplifting letters like she did. I didn't have anyone to witness my success as much as she did. There was no more of "I'm proud of my Benny boy," letters, hugs, and spirit lifting. After her death and not long before the viral depression ended, I composed a band and became the first jazz band in history to play in Carnegie Hall in New York. From that point on, I wasn't the little boy who played his instrument in the streets, I was "the king of Swing," Benny Goodman.

Benny Goodman Live Performance!

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    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Great story for the times. Our depression is just as bad and just as long. I hope something good comes of it,

      Peter

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 5 years ago from new jersey

      very well written.

      good hub

    • LailaK profile image
      Author

      LailaK 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Peter: thank you so much for stopping by to read my hub! And I do hope that something good comes of it as well!

      Shea: Thank you for the uplifting comment!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

      Wonderful hub. Voted up and awesome. Though not based during the Depression era, there is a new show called "Boardwalk Empire" airing on HBO soon, based in the Roaring 20s...you might enjoy it!

    • LailaK profile image
      Author

      LailaK 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you soo much for visiting, Kitty! I will definately look into the show! Thanks for the suggestion!

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      My mother who lived through the depression had a wonderful gift for survival. The part about the mom saving food for the little ones, show her priorities were her family as well. Great hub!

    • LailaK profile image
      Author

      LailaK 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      2besure, thank you very much for stopping by and reading my hub! I am glad you were able to relate to it!

    • Jason Sanchez profile image

      Jason Sanchez 5 years ago from White Plains, New York

      beautifully written! up'd !

    • LailaK profile image
      Author

      LailaK 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Jason, thanks a whole lot! I am looking forward to reading more of your hubs!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Some things were just meant to be and this seems to prove it. Great and interesting hub.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Some things were just meant to be and this seems to prove it. Great and interesting hub.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Some things were just meant to be and this seems to prove it. Great and interesting hub.

    • LailaK profile image
      Author

      LailaK 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks Jackie!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Gee, I am triplets!

    • massingill profile image

      massingill 5 years ago from we make our home in Petal, Mississippi

      Great Hub on "journey through time..." LailaK!!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      this is excellent.. I love how you made this a true life but let us know some of it is fiction.. You did a great job..

      Good read and love the video

      Debbie

    • LailaK profile image
      Author

      LailaK 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks a lot, massinggill!

      Debbie, I appreciate you stopping by! And yes, some of this is definately fiction, but the family history and Goodman's job journeys are all true. Only the conversational and emotional aspects of this hub are fiction. Thanks!

    • profile image

      C.R.9 5 years ago

      This hub is great and interesting

    • LailaK profile image
      Author

      LailaK 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      C.R.9, I want to thank you for the time that you took to read my hub!

    • ajwrites57 profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Very nice! I really like Benny Goodman and the Dorsey brothers! I think Mr. Gooman would enjoy what you wrote about him!

    • LailaK profile image
      Author

      LailaK 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you for stopping by, ajwrites57!

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