3.3 Looking Backward-5

Levenson’s Market was my first experience with dress codes even though they did not apply to stock clerks.  Pop and Harry wore white aprons, white shirts, and ties every day.  Pop wore bow ties and he is the only man I ever knew who could tie one.  Simple as it looks, I never mastered the bow tie.  I have tried but I was born with two left thumbs.

I am so awed by anyone who can tie a bow tie that I would have voted for Paul Simon in 1988 had he secured the Dems nomination for Prez.

Pop worked 50-hour weeks in his store and, somehow, had energy left over.  Every two or three years he re-painted the house.    In the summer he had a vegetable garden.  I wonder if the idea was left over from the Victory Gardens that many people had during WWII.  No 20-foot plot for Pop, he had six or eight rows of vegetables that ran the entire width of the lot the house sat on.  There were corn and beans, squash and watermelon, peppers and cucumbers, and, of course, tomatoes.  When harvest time arrived, he picked a couple of bushels of fruit and vegetables every day.  During those weeks if you drove by while Pop was working in the garden, he flagged you down, filled a shopping bag of his bounty, and pressed it on you.

Pop worked harder every day of his life than any day I worked.  I don’t care to analyze that because I am afraid of what I’ll find.

Something else I surmise about my parents.  They must have been optimists beyond fault.  They were married late in October of 1929, right after the stock market crashed.

9 Responses to 3.3 Looking Backward-5

  1. Dave L says:

    After the big slide, there was no where to go but back up the ladder. I can remember about as far back as 1936, around a bit earlier, and my sense today is that folks, while struggling, where happier then than today. A sense of sharing pervaded our neighborhood, if not the beans on the table, at least the notion that we were all in the same boat. Most ran a tab at the local grocery that saw them through their shorter tough times and enough paid cash to see the propietor along. Some finked on the bill, but not many, as virtue was all there was left to hang on to. Church attendance was way up – a sort of no-cost entertainment – but the influence was felt and invaded behavior. Until well after the “big war” people acted responsibly, were fugal with funds as they lavished good feelings. My dad had a “B” gas sticker because he had a job (blue colar) that was “critical to the war effort” but never displayed it out of wanting to be with those not so fortunate. Oh yeah, the good old days were actually good.

    • allevenson says:

      I agree, Dave. I believe we had what some these days call “bedrock values”. Values which dont seem as universal today.

      Your comments reminded me that Pop did have charge accounts although I dont know exactly how they operated. I dont recall bill being mailed out. I also dont ever recall hearing that anyone stiffed him.

      AL

  2. David Bauer says:

    Dave raises an interesting point that bears both on this topic called looking backward and on the whole idea of hitting the road. That is, as Dave L pointed out, during the 1930s and 1940s there seemed to be an attitude in the country of being together in the face of hard times created first by the depression and then by WW II. Along this same line thought, in one his books, University of Pennsylvania professor and anthropologist Loren Eiseley recounted his own experience of life growing up in the depression. Things were economically so challenging for him and his family that he, along with many others of his generation, left his mid-western home in his late teens in order to take his part of the burden off his family. In Eiseley’s book titled All the Strange Hours: Excavation of a Life (Scribner, 1975) he recounted some of his experiences in the 1930s while riding the rails as a hobo traveling on various freight trains throughout the country in search of work. Among his reflection on that period of his life, Eiseley pointed out that because so many other young people having a home life similar to his own became his traveling companions, he felt that he was not in danger at any time, except for those times when attacked by security personnel who were hired by the railroads to keep riders off the freight trains. Eiseley observed that he would not feel as safe riding the rails in the US of the 1970s when he was writing of his experiences.
    Thus, in retrospect, Roy’s solitary lifestyle on the road may be a safer one than one in which he would be interacting with others who are also living the life of the 1930s in the 21st Century.

    • allevenson says:

      Clearly there are fraternities and common interests groups on the road, some so large they are communities. Together they make up something that might be thought of as a society. I hope to discover how big this society is and what is its state on the evolutionary ladder. Surely, tens of thousands of people are living on the road in every sort of vehicle home. What if we discover there are hundreds of thousands, or a million or more. I suspect the number will surprise me. I cant wait to find out. And report.

      AL

      • David Bauer says:

        Hi Al,

        I did not mean to imply that what you are doing does not involve community. Yvonne and I have close friends who lived/traveled in their motor home for several years. And, as you report, they told us of the many friends they made who were also on the road. So, enjoy your adventure. I think that the dangers lurk for people who are riding on freight trains. On the other hand, I have had students who told me that one of their weekend hobbies was to jump on a freight train in Sacramento and ride over Donner Pass to Reno. They would then catch a ride in the reverse direction.

        At any rate, I am enjoying your reports and your blog. You are certainly a talented writer, and you have captured Yvonne’s interests as well as my own. Incidentally, as children and young adults, both Yvonne and I regularly passed through Bridgeton on our way to Wildwood and other points on the South Jersey Shore in the late 1940s through the 1950s. Also, your dad’s garden reminded me of those tended by my childhood neighbors who were immigrants from Italy. Like your dad’s, their gardens were phenomenal, and they tended them after working all day in a job of some type.

        These are sweet memories, indeed. Thanks again for sharing.

        Dave

  3. karen wittgraf says:

    I think, in fear, people group together for survival. Think of Steinbeck’s characters and the human need to take care of each other. I hear my Grandma used to invite the “hobos” into her house to eat- not at the kitchen table, but in the dining room with the family.
    Something like that may be happening right now, with the Wisconsin protestors…demonstrating for the rights of all.
    I would have liked knowing your Dad.

  4. Carol F. says:

    Hi Al,
    Your memories make me think of my Dad, who was a Rutgers man, too, and proud of it. He was brought up on a dairy farm in New York where they grew their own veggies. When the four of us kids where growing up, Dad had a vegetable garden everywhere we lived……and, we lived lots of places because he was in the Air Force. One of the reasons my sibblings and I went home frequently was to eat Dad’s fresh veggies. Nothing tasted like his tomatoes, corn, zuccini, beans, squash, etc. We always left home with bags of extra veggies to share with our roomates and neighbors. I miss those days standing with him in the garden surveying his “labor of love”.
    Thanks for your wonderful stories.
    Carol

  5. AL PEDERSEN says:

    HI, BUDDY, AS I READ YOUR WELL-THOUGHT-OUT OCCURRANCES I REVERT TO THE DAYS OF MY YOUTH AND THE SUBSEQUENT YEARS WHEN I WAS IN THE PROCESS OF GROWING OUT OF MY PREPUBESCENT YEARS. MY DAD, FRED PEDERSEN, SEEMED FAIRLY OLD WHEN I WAS QUITE YOUNG. HE MADE HIS WAY ACROSS THE ATLANTIC FROM NORWAY TO OUR SHORES IN THE 1920s TO MEET WITH A LADY IN CONNECTICUT WHO WAS IN SOME WAY RELATED FROM THE OLD COUNTRY. TO COMPLICATE THE STORY FURTHER, MY MOTHER WAS A YOUNG WOMAN ON A GEORGIA FARM. THUS FAR, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT I SHOULD NOT BE HERE. HOWEVER, THEY SOME HOW MET IN FLORIDA, MARRIED AND HAD FOUR OFF-SPRINGS. THEY SOMEHOW MANAGED TO KEEP THREE BOYS OUT OF JAIL AND INCREDIBLY ALLOWED US TO MATURE DURING A DEPRESSION. THIS IS A MOST IMPROBABLE TRUTH. WHO SAYS THAT THERE IS SENSIBILITY IN THIS EXISTANCE? I ONLY HAVE QUESTIONS…NO RATIONAL ANSWERS. CHEERS, BIG AL

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