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"Great Depression Interview"

The person that I interviewed about the Great Depression is Robert E. Dickey, my grandfather. Robert Dickey was born in 1928, just before the Great Depression hit. He was born on a two-story farmhouse close to Divernon, Illinois. He was the next to youngest child, born in a family of 12. As a young boy, he went through the hard times of the Depression and clearly remembers those experiences today.

During the Depression, Robert Dickey lived on a farm, where they used horses to farm. There he would work from sun up to sun down. Everyone on the farm did chores to help the family survive. Farmers were a lot better off than people were in the city because they always had food. Then there were a lot more farms and everyone had gardens, livestock, and grain. They either made or grew everything except for a few things that they had to get at the store like flour, sugar, and salt. They grew corn, wheat, oats, and raised cattle, sheep, hogs, and chickens. The family had to butcher their own meats. When it was warm out they ate fresh dressed chicken, but when it was cold they ate smoked beef and pork. They did not own lots of clothes, and what they had was homemade. When it got cold out, they burned corn because its price was so low. It was much cheaper than burning coal. Living on the farm was hard but they always ate.

American Society during the depression was very different than it is today. Church was a very important part of life; everyone went to church. Also, people were more traditional. Men were the head of the household and most all women stayed home with the children and did not get a job. Divorces were frowned on and very uncommon. Sports, radio, and movies were very popular forms of entertainment. People would attend high school games or listen to professional teams on the radio. They would huddle around their radios listening to shows like The Phantom, The Shadow, and The Lone Ranger. Radio also provided a source of news. Sometimes old movies were played in the park and other places, but most of these were silent films. For many people going to the theater was too expensive and a rare treat. The depression affected American Society greatly.

Even though my grandfather was just a boy during the Great Depression, he was affected by life's everyday struggle. He learned that to survive the Depression you had to work hard. Also, he learned the importance of money in order to provide for your family. People that lived during the Depression had to save their money and could not buy what they wanted. He remembers when the banks closed and people had little money for food and coal. Education was important to him because he saw it as a way to succeed. Not only did he complete high school but also he studied agriculture at the University of Illinois. Not many farmers at the time did that. He has always been interested in making things better. As an inventor he developed a planter monitor for grain and started DICKEYjohn, a company which makes innovative high-tech products for farming. Finally, Robert Dickey has always had a great interest in politics and history. From FDR's new deal he saw the impact of government in everyday life. Along with being active in politics, he is very patriotic.

I learned many great things from Robert Dickey about the Great Depression. During the interview he told me stories about life on the farm and how different it was from today. Besides these experiences, he shared with me these lessons that he learned. First of all, prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Also, work hard at everything you do. Then stay out of debt as best you can. Don't buy anything that you can't pay for. Also he told me to get a good education so you can get a good job. Last of all, he told me that it is your duty as an American to get involved in politics. Robert Dickey showed me how the Great Depression was survivable and how the things he learned could be useful in the future.

Seth Dickey