Amber King: This is Amber King, and I'm interviewing my great grandma, Elva Cowley Davis, on the Great Depression in Venice, Utah.
Do you want to tell a little bit about your family life?
Elva Cowley Davis: Starting when I was younger or about that time?
Amber King: About that time.
Elva Cowley Davis: Well, you see, I graduated from high school in '25 and Stan and I got married in November of '26, but in '25 the depression was starting because I can remember I wanted a graduation dress and my father owned the store, and he borrowed money and the store in Glenwood had gone broke on account of this depression, you see.
Amber King: Mmm.
Elva Cowley Davis: And then my brothers gave me enough money to buy me a graduation dress and I worked in the store, my father's store, after that till Stan and I got married, but in the mean time the banks of the United States went busted, a lot of them. There was a state bank in Richfield and my father had stock. He had bought stock and Stan's father had a lot of stock in it; they both lost stock in that bank. When it went bankrupt, they just lost all their money that they had in that bank. Why the stock went (cough) I don't know (cough again); but I do remember that after we got married, we got this old home and we had out in this chicken coop out here chickens, and we would sell the eggs. Utah Poultry would buy the eggs from us, but when the depression hit so hard, then they had no money to buy the eggs, so we had a hard time selling them eggs. Sometimes they'd give us fifteen cents and sometimes we would have to almost give 'em to 'em. Stan would milk 'cause there was a cheese factory, and they had a milkman come around and they'd milk the cows and put them in milk cans and the milkman they'd come around and pick 'em up and take them to Monroe, take the cream out and make cheese. When they couldn't do that, sometimes we had to just throw our milk away 'cause we still had the cows, and a lot of them used to. It wasn't too hard on us out here because we could grow our gardens and then we had meat, we had cows and pigs, and all those things. The people that bought their things at the stores, they just got to where they couldn't buy anything 'cause there was no money to buy it with. How long it lasted I can't remember, but I know it was called The Great Depression of '29, and it was something to do with after that first world war.
Amber King: How do you think it got started, 'cause how much we spent in WW I?
Elva Cowley Davis: Well, I can remember in WW I things didn't cost as much as they do now. I remember the dress that graduation from the store cost me fifteen dollars.
Amber King: That's not a lot.
Elva Cowley Davis: It wasn't very much for now.
Amber King: It was a lot back then. Did your family lose a lot of money?
Elva Cowley Davis: Did we? Well I don't know how much my father lost and I don't know how much [Stan's father lost]. It runs in my mind that they had stock, about five hundred dollars worth of stock, which is what they used when they were making money. Each year the bank would make all this money for the year. Then each person who had stock would get so much every year and they lost that and they never did, neither family ever got the money back and they had a state bank over in Richfield.
Amber King: Was it hard bringing up your family during the depression?
Elva Cowley Davis: Well, see, at that time, '28, Raymond was born.
Amber King: And then Grandpa Davis came two years latter. Were you worried about how you'd get by?
Elva Cowley Davis: Yeah. We wondered what was going to [happen]. Farmers, people who just farmed, we got by. They couldn't buy machines. See Raymond was born in '28, then well Farrell was born in '31. I didn't go to the hospital. They was born at home; the doctor cost about twenty-five dollars, and we had a mid-wife come in and take care, as I remember, 'cause I remember on the first we didn't pay 'em very much money. Then I had some of the girls. I had one or two different girls come in and do the work 'cause in those days you didn't get out of bed in three or four days; they kept you in bed for two weeks. Then you couldn't stand up 'cause you were so weak.
Amber King: They didn't have painkillers and stuff like they do now?
Elva Cowley Davis: No, not a lot. I don't know whether they did or not. I don't remember, we must have had something. One thing I know we did do was with the colds; if you ever had a cold, they'd get mustard plasters, which they'd get mustard and mix it with flour and water and stick it on a rag and stick it on your chest and about burn you to pieces trying to get rid of your cold.
Amber King: I don't think I'd like that.
Elva Cowley Davis: And they didn't have any, they didn't have much of those things In 1933 I guess things were just changing then because see I ruptured my appendix. (Talks about her appendix, stillborn daughter, and her married life. She goes and gets her photo album and shows me pictures of her life from the time she was three or four.)