It was 1937 and we were on relief. I was standing in line to get the stuff and hanging on to my mother’s hand. Listening to the endless stream of bitching and complaining was the only entertainment in this boring situation for a four year old kid. I knew from the previous weekly walk and wait routine that the beans always tasted good and somehow made my impatience more bearable
Beans, rice, flour, sugar, salt; commodities that were considered to be essential to being alive and well nourished by the planners and producers of Mr.Rosevelt’s New Deal. Pay some people to grow the stuff, pay others to distribute it and give it away to the people that couldn’t buy it for lack of money, then put them to work building and rebuilding public places, public roads and facilities and pay them for their expertise and experience. Everyone would then be gainfully employed and paying taxes that would in time pay back all that federal spending.
OK, these are not the ruminations of a four year old, but what the hell; as the Spsnish philosoper, Santyana once remarked, “He who can’t remember the past is condemned to relive it.”However, it wasn’t the food that eventually came back to haunt me.
Maroon and gold corduroy was also part of the governmental giveaway. Poor folks standing in line could get the cloth and make their own pants, shirts or dresses. Maybe even make underwear, but that’s a different story.
I remember that the gold corduroy pants my mother made for me became a vivid symbol and badge of my childhood poverty. Anyone who saw me wearing them knew we were on relief. It wasn’t the yellow Star of David, but for a four year old it might as well have been.
In time Mr.Roosevelt’s New Deal evolved in slow motion through three elections. The reconstruction of the Supreme Court took some time to accomplish and the results of which is yet to be evaluated. With a push from the need for global responsibility a new Project for Prosperity began
An economic policy of Produce and Destroy began by jumping into the fray of what has been euphemistically referred to as World War II. It turned out to be a classic proof of the Fifth grade notion that, “When there is more of us than there is of them, we can make them do any thing we want.”
What it meant for me was that we were no longer on relief and the yellow corduroy pants became a miserable memory I needed to forget.