What Else We Know, by Rich Paschall

In many ways, my mother, and her mother too, were products of The Great Depression. My mother was born in 1920. She was nine was when the stock market crashed and the economy went straight to hell. People all over the world lost their jobs. Many did not have enough money for food or rent or other expenses. People were literally living and dying in the street. The Republican administration did not seem to know what to do about it.

“Any lack of confidence in the economic future or the strength of business in the United States is foolish,” Herbert Hoover told the country in 1929 as businesses closed and millions were out of work.  The unemployment rate grew to 23 percent of Americans by 1932. As things got worse, the Republican president insisted in 1930  “The worst is behind us.” He did not see or refused to see the starvation and desperation in the nation. He did not believe in handouts and insisted people tighten their belts and get back to work.

My grandmother and my mother thought the Democrat who followed Hoover in office was the greatest of all presidents. He put America back to work and helped the poor and the elderly. There were many of the opposition Party who did not like the president and accused him of being a socialist. For those with jobs, food, Social Security, and the promise of a better day, FDR was their man and they gave him four terms. When Republicans again had control of Congress, they quickly moved to limit the terms of the President to two. What did we learn from all that?

“In those days we feared fear. That was why we fought fear. And today, my friends, we have won against the most dangerous of our foes. We have conquered fear.”  – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The Neighborhoods Changed

“There used to be a candy store there,” my mother said as we passed through an old and a rather run-down part of town many years ago. “I used to work there.” That was in the late 1930s. In the Uptown neighborhood, she would point out the giant Aragon Ballroom where the big bands used to come and play. “We used to go dancing there,” she liked to say. Ironically, the Aragon  Ballroom was making a strong comeback. A scene from Batman vs. Superman was shot there in 2015. Live concerts came to the Aragon, then came the pandemic.

Mom (right) with a younger sister and their mother           (ca. 1932)

Mom could point to many places in the neighborhood that had changed. As you know, change is inevitable. But it was the changes of the 1930s that stuck with her into the 21st century. Will the changes of 2020 stick with us?

Many businesses could not survive the long shutdown mandated by state and local governments as a way of fighting off the coronavirus. The city issued warnings and citations to those who violated the shutdown orders. Some lost their business licenses.

As I walk down Montrose Avenue on the north side of Chicago, I can see the closure of “Our Local Business,” the restaurants, bars, tailor shops, barbershops, a bike shop, and a cell phone store. Many of these will not return. Some old buildings that housed failed businesses are gone as well. Yes, changes would have come to the neighborhood over time, but all of these? All at once?

A mixed-use building was to go up here in 2020. Montrose Avenue, Chicago

We Changed Too

Just like the traumatic event that had affected the lives of my parents and grandparents, this long pandemic that tortured the soul of our nation will stay with most of us. Those who lived in denial since early 2020 will likely die in denial. Some of them have died already.

Many of my generation did not want to die of this virus. We had survived the 1960s and 70s, for gosh sake, we were not going to let this do us in before our time, whatever that may be.

Our only response to change was to adapt. We stayed home as much as possible. We washed our hands. We socially distanced. We wore masks in public. We changed our lifestyle because it was the only sensible response to a virus we knew little about.

If you are young, let’s say under 25, perhaps COVID-19 will just be a blip on your radar. For most of the rest, we will live a changed life. While you run out for more toilet paper, we will stock up on soap and hand sanitizer.

Our Essential Workers

It is easy to say doctors and nurses are essential workers. Firefighters and paramedics are too. Nursing home workers and school teachers are also essential. Everyone who showed up to work in a hospital ravaged by the coronavirus was essential, attendants, receptionists, everyone willing to walk through the hospital door and go to work.

Bus drivers and subway drivers were needed to take other essential workers to their jobs. While many stores and restaurants closed, grocery store clerks willing to see people all day, some not properly wearing masks, were essential.

The jobs of some of my co-workers and myself may be necessary, but we were not as essential as some of our colleagues. We were told to “Pack Up and Go Home,” while other office workers and warehouse staff had to stay on-site as drivers and messengers came throughout the day to keep freight moving.

If you did not know whose job was “essential” before, you may have discovered it was a lot more than you were thinking.

“America will not forget these recent years, will not forget that the rescue was not a mere party task. It was the concern of all of us. In our strength, we rose together, rallied our energies together, applied the old rules of common sense, and together survived.” – FDR. “A Rendevous With Destiny” 

See also: “OUR PANDEMIC LEGACY,” What We Have Learned So Far, SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com, May 10, 2021.
PACK UP AND GO HOME,” One Year On, SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com, March 15, 2021.
OUR LOCAL BUSINESS,” The Pandemic Legacy, Sunday Night Blog, rjptalk.wordpress.com. May 9, 2021.

Categories: Family, Medical, quarantine, Rich Paschall

Tags: , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Thinking back, my mothers sharpest memories were also of the 1930s. She remembered everything that happened under Roosevelt, the good and the bad. It’s why I have a lot of her memories as part of my own. She warned me about a lot of things and she was surprisingly prescient.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The only President we had when I was growing up was FDR. The first one I could vote for was Truman. Those were productive years as I remember. Certainly, major changes in our lives have happened over the last few decades. Our future may seem rocky at times, but I still remember ” Fear knocked on the door. Courage answered, and there was no one there.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was listening to Roosevelt’s Renedevous With Destiny speech (1936) this week. His oratorical style aside, it is a great reminder of how history repeats itself. He gave us a lesson of the time and it applies to today. By the way, my father thought Truman was the greatest president.


  3. I’m still sorting out how this affected us. More than I thought at the time. I think we are gradually beginning to surface, but I am not there yet. I don’t think Garry is, either. Everything feels different and I can’t even explain exactly how, but it does.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have made a couple attempts at explaining it but I just can’t nail it down. Things are different. After over a year of staring at a computer screen alone all day to book freight without enough flights, I am just worn out.


Talk to me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tish Farrell

Writer on the Edge



Light Motifs II

Paula Light's Writing Site | The Classic Edition

Touring My Backyard

Rediscovering Singapore

Our Eyes Open

Come along on an adventure with us!

Travel with me

Travel snapshots from Toonsarah

Thoughts & Theories

My Personal Rants, Ravings, & Ruminations

France & Vincent

Writing Magic, Myth and Mystery

Barb Taub

Writing & Coffee. Especially coffee.

This, That, and The Other

Random musings on life, society, and politics.

Keep it alive

A look at life, achieving good physical and mental health and happiness

Covert Novelist

Light Hearted Mysteries

Salted Caramel

Blogging, Motivation, Lifestyle and much more.

Sarah's Attic Of Treasures

Making My Home A Haven is important to me. Sharing homemaking skills. Recipes and food. Bible Studies. This is a treasure chest of goodies. So take a seat. Have a glass of tea and enjoy. You will learn all about who I am.

Green Screen

The Environmental Movie Podcast

bushboys world

Photos of my world and other stuff I hope you will enjoy too. Photos taken with Canon PowershotSX70HS Photos can be purchased.


Independent views from someone who offers some historical context

My Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

National Day Calendar

Fun, unusual and forgotten designations on our calendar.

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Trent's World (the Blog)

Random Ramblings and Reviews from Trent P. McDonald

Views from the Edge

To See More Clearly

serial monography: forgottenman's ruminations

wandering discourse, pedantic rant, self-indulgent drivel, languorous polemic, grammarian's bête noire, poesy encroachment approaching bombast, unintended subtext in otherwise intentional context, unorthodox unorthodoxy, self-inflected rodomontade, …

draliman on life

Because sometimes life just makes you stop and think

The English Professor at Large

Posts about old Hollywood, current concerns

Sparks From A Combustible Mind


Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

Welcome to the Anglo Swiss World


Your Source For The Coolest Science Stories

%d bloggers like this: