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Always Lend a Helping Hand, Sevier Country Remembers the Great Depression


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Sevier County Oral History Project

Listed here are twenty-four interviews concerning life during the Great Depression. Included are links to the verbatim transcripts as well as synopses created by the student interviewers. The synopses include photographs, when those were available.

I Remember: An Interview with Tom Abbott
Interviewee: Tom Abbott
Interviewer: Owen Peterson
Date: December 12, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

The government had a relief program that you could sign up for, and they would give you wheat and the purpose of this wheat was to feed the livestock. So, they would crush this wheat so as that it was supposed to not be able to sell or trade, but, gee, you could eat it. (While laughing) You could cook it into cereal and eat it. So, if you can't sell it, eat it.
The Great Depression in Sevier County: An Interview with Crystal Bell
Interviewee: Crystal Bell
Interviewer: Tiffany Black
Date: December 15, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

When I graduated in 1932—that was just right during the depression—Mother and Dad really had to dig deep to try and get enough money together so I could have a new dress for graduation.
Growing Up During the Depression: An Interview with Verla Breinholt
Interviewee: Verla Breinholt
Interviewer: Cicily Breinholt
Date: December 8, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

You would only have one good pair of shoes. You could afford two once in a while. My sister wore them out quicker then me, so they bought her a pair of more like boy shoes. Boy, did she scuff them up. I didn't have a boughten coat until I was sixteen.
Life in Venice: An Interview with Elva Cowley Davis
Interviewee: Elva Cowley Davis
Interviewer: Amber King
Date: December 7, 1997
Place: Venice, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

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.
Do You Remember When? An Interview with Joe Gentry
Interviewee: Joe Gentry
Interviewer: Leah Warner
Date: December 11, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

President Roosevelt helped out when I went through BYU. It was called NYA, National Youth Administration. You had to fill out a form and say your dad was pretty poor, and then I got a job as a janitor. Enough to get by. During the fall season, I'd help some of the students pick apples, help the farmers, and get a little money that way.
We Never Went to Bed Hungry: An Interview with Ruth Hansen
Interviewee: Ruth Hansen
Interviewer: Kami Christensen
Date: December 6, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

The thing that I noticed most, that I remember most, was how many people needed jobs. They call them bums that came on the railroad, and they bring what they had on their backs, and come and ask for a day's work; and if you fed them, they'd work for nothing, so you'd just feed them. You could hire all kinds of men for a dollar a day. And some of them would say, "If you keep me, I'll stay for the winter."
Hard Times: An Interview with Marvell Hunt
Interviewee: Marvell Hunt
Interviewer: Becky Bailey
Date: December 19, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

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.
"If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear": An Interview with Clara Anderson Jensen
Interviewee: Clara Anderson Jensen
Interviewer: Kimberly Jensen
Date: December 4, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

The government started PWA, Public Works Administration, and I do remember that they gave jobs to people in the town and they improved the water system and they also graveled the roads through town. They made the roads through town better during that time, and that was a government project.
Sharing the Past: An Interview with Lorna Jensen
Interviewee: Lorna Lorensen Jensen
Interviewer: Amy Naser
Date: December 4, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

We lived in Richfield at that time. We got along pretty good, but he was ill. He had a hard time with his brain tumor and problems with his health. Then, he finally got a job when we first got married with the WPA. That's when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. He had the big "New Deal" we'd call it. He got a job as time keeper and then we had a little bit better living conditions for a while.
How Life Went On: An Interview with Novella Mulford
Interviewee: Novella Mulford
Interviewer: Mariann Stubbs
Date: December 7, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

I remember my dad had an old white milk cow that we just adored, but she was getting old and he said we can't afford to feed her. I think it was because of a drought, there wasn't much feed and so he did sell to the government, I don't know something like twenty-five head of cattle or something. Literally, they dug a big pit, and they dropped the cattle up there and shot them.
Memories: An Interview with Cherril Ogden
Interviewee: Cherril Ogden
Interviewer: Christopher Allende
Date: December 9, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

Okay the first date I went on there were six of us; the cars, I don't know what make they were, but they had rumble seats. You've heard of rumble seats? [No, I haven't] You haven't heard of rumble seats? (laughing) Okay, there'd be room for, oh three, maybe, to sit in the front, and then the rumble seat was like you'd open up the trunk of your car, only just in reverse.
My Experiences: An Interview with Geneal Ogden
Interviewee: Geneal Ogden
Interviewer: Bryce Jolley
Date: December 7, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

Well, Morris worked for construction and helped build roads. So he got us a job. We didn't have any kids; it was still about three years before that so there was those three years that we worked construction. So we decided to go on the road to do construction from Price... St. George or somewhere down in that area.
"We Didn't Have Everything We Wanted, But We Got Along": An Interview with Marie Ogden
Interviewee: Marie Ogden
Interviewer: Elizabeth Lyman
Date: December 5, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

I very seldom, well, I remember when I got my first boughten dress, I was about twelve and I'd gone to pick beans. We had to pick the beans and put them in gunny sacks we'd drag it up the road to the bag drop hole and a man would come and pick them up and load them. We made twenty-five cents a day.
Growing Times: An Interview with Morris Ogden
Interviewee: Morris Ogden
Interviewer: Bryce Jolley
Date: December 7, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

We bought a car once, before we went on the road, for four hundred and forty-two dollars. The cheapest you could get at that time. But when you have somebody to keep their eyes out for sales, you'll always have a chance to save money on something.
No Trouble At All: An Interview with Leo and Hazel Peterson
Interviewee: Leo and Hazel Peterson
Interviewer: Logan Heaps
Date: December 11, 1997
Place: Glenwood, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

We moved about five or six times. We would get a place to live and then on account of depression, either their son or their daughter would lose their jobs wherever they were. Then they would come back to Manti, so then we would have to move again and find a place, and that happened seven different times while we lived up there three or four years.
Remembering: An Interview with Luzon Peterson
Interviewee: Luzon Peterson
Interviewer: Cory Dalton
Date: December 18, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

We all wore hand-me-downs. My mother was a good seamstress and made a lot of the clothes. Some of the under-clothes were made out of 100 lb. flour sacks and 100 lb. sugar sacks-if you could imagine that. They were 100 percent cotton and after being laundered a couple times, they made pretty good underwear for mostly the younger boys and girls.
The Way Life Was: An Interview with Vonda Peterson
Interviewee: Vonda Peterson
Interviewer: Jalizabeth Brown
Date: December 7, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

Well, I guess the thing that I remember more about the Depression was the Stock Market crash that caused the two banks in town to close. I remember that was the first day that the Depression had started when the two banks in town crashed.
Appreciating the Past: An Interview with Jean Anna Rowley
Interviewee: Jean Anna Rowley
Interviewer: Lori Brown
Date: December 4, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

The stock market break took so many people by surprise. My father knew that the stock market would come back up, so he put everything up on margin and that's why we lost everything. Mr. Shirley jumped from a three story window and ended his life. Several of my father's friends, bankers, committed suicide, shot themselves. It was a very traumatic time.
Life During the Depression: An Interview with Jay Spencer
Interviewee: Jay Spencer
Interviewer: Tina Spencer
Date: December 7, 1997
Place: Aurora, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

Well, when I got old enough to work, a dollar a day was big money. At one time, after I was married, I got paid a silver dollar for a day's work that I did. I was showing it to my wife Emma, and dropped it on the porch. There was a crack in the porch and it went through underneath, so we tore the whole porch down to get to that dollar. (Laughs) That's how rough things got.
No Dreams—Just Get Through It: An Interview with VaNiel Taylor
Interviewee: VaNiel Taylor
Interviewer: Shane Greenwood
Date: December 9, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

I remember my mother did not have a lot to cook with, but she fixed our meals and she was a good cook. Our main meals consisted of milk, bread, and sometimes beans. We didn't have a garden, so we could not grow any of our own food. We had to buy it. I remember my mother used to make water gravy and it was good.
Hard Times: An Interview with Lynn Waters
Interviewee: Lynn Waters
Interviewer: Jacob Henry
Date: December 12, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

When we went into the CCC camps they paid us a dollar a day. To work in the CCC camps—working in the timber or whatever kind of project. I worked at building dams in the cricks and things. One summer I was in Salina Canyon. We made the biggest dam that they made in this part of the country right in Salina Canyon.
"We Couldn't Even Afford a Dime": An Interview with Angie & William Elwood Wight
Interviewee: Angie & William Elwood Wight
Interviewer: Christian Shiverdecker
Date: December 11, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

[Speaking of his childhood] We lived in a shack by the railroad tracks in Phoenix. It was so bad that they couldn't rent it to someone else, so they didn't even charge us rent. We scrounged for food, I'll tell you we scrounged for food. At about that time Roosevelt came in and started the WPA program.
"That's Just How It Was": An Interview with Rhoda J. Winkel
Interviewee: Rhoda Johnson Winkel
Interviewer: Bethany Bean
Date: December 5, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

I received both a high school and a college [degree]. At that time, one could teach school with two years of college but during the summer I went to summer school and took some correspondence courses up at the University of Utah.
Memories of a Young Woman: An Interview with Revo Young
Interviewee: Revo Young
Interviewer: Megan Wilson
Date: December 6, 1997
Place: Richfield, Utah

Transcript  |  Synopsis

My mother was of course the head of the family and the cattle were already selling for seven cents a pound for steers and the government had us call the cattle they had us kill them and they gave us three cents a pound for them. That would be a big steer [that] would bring about thirty five dollars. It was really bad.



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