Becky Bailey: This is Becky Bailey interviewing Marvell Hunt on her memories of the Great Depression. The place is Marvell's home. Marvell, how old were you during the Great Depression?
Marvell Hunt: Well, I was about nineteen.
Becky Bailey: When and where were you born?
Marvell Hunt: I was born on September 15, 1909.
Becky Bailey: Tell me a little about your family and your circumstances.
Marvell Hunt: Well, Don and I were married quite young; he was 18 and I was 17. We were married in the year of 1927, and we went to the courthouse here in Richfield to be married. Then we went to Sevier and we had a home there that we lived in for quite a few years off in the fields. It was an uncle of mine's. We lived there for a few years; then we moved again. It seemed we were always moving for the betterment of Don's work. He worked on all kinds of jobs to make a living for us because times were hard it was just difficult to get along without a job and help from others.
Becky Bailey: What kinds of jobs did he have?
Marvell Hunt: He had road jobs, he had building jobs, he had church jobs and jobs around home that were always important for a husband. Then he worked for the timber a lot getting posts and wood, helping the farmers on their farms, and it seemed he just had all kind of jobs to make a living for us.
Becky Bailey: What kinds of foods did you eat?
Marvell Hunt: Well we grew gardens. We had lots of nice vegetables, potatoes and everything in the garden, and we bought our groceries as we could. We just had about what we have now days, only we grew most of it ourselves. We had to do that because we couldn't afford much. We did as we could. We had about a year and Darrell was born to us there in Sevier, and two years later, Vonda came along and until we got all our children. He went to California; he was a tire builder too, the Pitcher plant in Los Angeles.
He was a boss in the potato sorting in Elsinore. He sorted potatoes for quite a while. He was a builder for houses; he fixed up houses for people. Like I always told him, he was a jack of all trades and the master of many. He just worked wherever he could get work to keep us going, and we were thankful that he was able to 'cause times were hard. The wages were very, very small. We only got a dollar or two; that was quite a bit of money. Now a days if you buy a bar, you don't get a bar for twenty cents, do ya? Or even five cents. You pay what, 35 or 40, almost a dollar for a bar and the other goodies that we like. So we had to make our money count as we could to send our kids to school to get an education as much as they did. We were a happy family; we did many things together. We were all church-going people. I had jobs of all kinds throughout my life and I took my family. I'd go teach classes and sit my kids down to the side of me through the lesson or the program or what ever we were doing.
Becky Bailey: What do you remember most about the depression?
Marvell Hunt: I remember it was awful hard times, and it was hard to get a hold of enough to buy a sack of flour and we made our own breads, cooked our vegetables, bottled our fruits, raised our gardens. We did most of our own cooking and pastry, pies, whatever. Did it all ourselves; we hardly ever bought anything. There was a lot of fun, but a lot of work. We also didn't have washers for a long time after we was married; we washed on the wash board. A lot of clothes to wash for that many kids. We worked awful hard for everything we had. We went to church as often as we could get there. We lived over in Sulphurdale a lot of years. Don was employed there as a mail operator. He just got jobs all over, and he could do them very well.
Becky Bailey: How many kids do you have:?
Marvell Hunt: We had nine kids, six girls and three boys.
Becky Bailey: Do you remember anything about what the stock market was?
Marvell Hunt: I really don't know much about the stock market. I knew of the stock market, but I didn't follow it like I should. But I think it was up and down.
Becky Bailey: What was the impact of living in the Great Depression and how did it affect you?
Marvell Hunt: We did pretty well during the depression, but it was hard times. We did a lot of sewing for my family and Don's. My mother-in-law and my mother helped me a lot; they were good seamstresses, which I wasn't the best. I did some, but I wasn't too good. I did all the cooking and a lot of things. but it was hard times. Everybody worked through it.
Becky Bailey: What advice would you give to young people if they were to face a depression?
Marvell Hunt: Well be careful of your spending, spend wisely as you can. If you can, raise a garden if you have access to a garden spot. It helps you a lot. And if you're a seamstress and can sew, it helps a lot if you have a family, and cooking as well.
[PLUG CAME OUT OF THE WALL!]
Marvell Hunt: Just whatever you could save. I saved the hard way. We ironed with the flat irons that we heated on the stove. They just had a handle that we clamped down in the iron. Have you seen them? Did your mother ever have them?
Becky Bailey: I am not sure.
Marvell Hunt: We heated them on the wood stoves, and on building fires. We did it on an ironing board like we do now. It really wasn't too bad. We had several flat irons, maybe six or eight that was heated for the ironing day. We also boiled our clothes in a boiler, the white clothes to help their color. There was many, many things we did, we practically made our own sports around home; they did have programs and things too in the schools and Sunday schools. We made a lot of our own fun and our families did. They had a school where we lived with one or two teachers. We got along pretty well. The kids learned to share; with that many kids we had to teach that in our home. There is probably some things I haven't mentioned. Well, there were a lot of things that went on in the depression. Don worked awfully hard and so did I. The family worked hard, too; the kids were able to get through school and get an education. But Don and II went through high school, but Don didn't. He had a lot of books to educate himself.
Becky Bailey: Did you know about other people around you that were worse off than you?
Marvell Hunt: Yes, and if we could, we helped. We would always lend a helping hand if we could see they really needed it and we had something they could use; we would always give it to them. I called it, "Lend a helping hand to others," a lot like they do now days. Many, many things they do for people all over the world we did at that time, but times were different then 'cause there wasn't the money circulation, food, and the travel.
Becky Bailey: Is there any experiences or anything else you would like to add?
Marvell Hunt: We used to go to a lot of chicken bake parties. When my family got big enough we took them. We went to dances, and we'd usually make a bed on the bench in the dance hall if we had one or two kids or whatever, and they would sleep and we'd dance. We used to have a dance hall up there in Sevier, kinda in a field. We used to have a lot of fun. We went sleigh riding, and that was a good sport then. We had horses and sleighs; we had a lot of fun. We had a lot of nice parties at each other's houses. We'd have supper and play games kinda a lot like they do now. They go and they have cars now and they can get around better. But it wasn't bad; we got along fine.
Becky Bailey: What are the chicken bake parties?
Marvell Hunt: Well, we'd fix our own chicken; we had chickens in our yards and we'd clean 'em and cook 'em and take them to the party with other foods; salads, all kinds of cakes, pies and pastries, what we could, kinda like they do now days. We'd stay, oh, probably till eleven p. m. Sometimes a little later but usually tried to get home earlier. We had quite a lot of good food. We did many things to make our own fun and give the family something to do. Of course, we were in that day and age when we didn't have bathrooms; we had a toilet out in the fields. Then we had a bath tub, one of these big number three tubs that we would use until we were able to get a bathroom. Later we got a bathroom. It was hard but we got along fine. We had two tubs and we got along good with two. I guess there are things I missed, but I've pretty much covered it, I think.
Becky Bailey: Well, thank you very much, I really appreciate you doing this for me, Marvell.