TEN LOST YEARS 1929-1939: Memories of Canadians Who Survived the Depression by Barry Broadfoot

TEN LOST YEARS 1929-1939: Memories of Canadians Who Survived the Depression

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Like Studs Terkel's Hard Times this is an oral record of the Depression but instead of Arkansas and Chicago and Maine, the voices remember what it was like to be a farmer or a fruitpicker or a hustler in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg and Montreal. It was tough. Tougher even than in the States, if we are to trust the subjective realities of the people Broadfoot interviews. For many it was such a painful, degrading experience that ""a conspiracy of silence"" seems to exist about those years, or, as the now-prosperous businessman said, people prefer to keep it out of sight ""like the pregnant and unmarried daughter at the Christmas feast or the retarded son when the priest comes to call."" Yet once they start remembering, the recollections are extraordinarily vivid: the ""dull, dull food"" which prompted recurrent fantasies of steaks and fruit and overflowing Sunday dinner tables; the bartering of dental care for firewood or apples and butter for beef. And in one extraordinary case, the bartering of kids -- ""Doreen, she was born in August so we swapped her for vegetables."" Pitiful wages, the dole, job lines, no shoes, no toys for the children, stealing just to keep even, the hurt pride of the men, the stubborn endurance of the women. Broadfoot had edited and sifted skillfully to bring that lost decade with its shattered dreams and foreclosed mortgages into affecting focus.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1974
Publisher: Doubleday