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Mother and the Gypsies by Esther Bonilla Read

My mother was a product of the Great Depression. People of her era know exactly what I mean. For those of you who are younger, allow me to elaborate.

Mother knew what it was not to have one cent in the home. She knew what it was to have a husband come into the home and say, “I lost my job, and so did everyone else at the business.”

Not only did Mother know what it was like not to have any money, but she also experienced having hungry children waiting to be fed and not understanding why a bowl of oatmeal was not forthcoming. She had neighbors who were also hungry. 

But, she told me, she had friends (comadres) who lived out in the country and came into town in wagons from time to time and brought her vegetables and some meat from a recently slaughtered pig. My mother and father even moved out to a farm for a while during the Depression to try to make a living out there, but Daddy, a former city boy, couldn’t tolerate it.

And in a few years the Depression lifted like a dark cloud that mysteriously disappears.

Daddy was called back to work and life became normal for the small family. Then the war came and again, items were scarce, but at least everyone seemed to be employed.

But my mother never forgot her experiences. She saved all things every opportunity she had. And she was resourceful. She made her own lye soap. She saved feathers when a chicken was slaughtered and made pillows. We were taught to mend clothes. Everything was used and then recycled before we knew what the word meant...


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