FDR's youth program helped pay the' 'bills

Memories of the 1930s:

Thanks to President Roosevelt's National Youth Administration, I was able to graduate from high school and get a good job (which turned into a long career). NYA paid $6 a month; it provided me with lunch and money to pay for graduation expenses (cap and gown, yearbook, etc.). For this money, I worked in a school cafeteria.

Nobody had any money If you couldn't pay your rent, you moved, so we lived in a number of different places.
My clothes were hand-me-downs; Mother remodeled old clothes and coats for me. Our shoes, ugly and ill-fitting, were distributed by the Relief Office. We grew some vegetables. We picked elderberries and Mother made elderberry potpie - good and filling. We never had meat The government gave us sugar,
flour, cheese, beans and rice.

John and Grace Strachan of Moxham on their 50th wedding anniversary in 1969. They had five children: Betty, 1920-1988; Marion, born 1921; Jack 1925-1989; Bill, born 1931 and Jane, born 1943.

The government gave free milk to children who were 25 pounds under weight. I qualifled. I picked up my free milk at a local garage.
One Christmas Eve, a bushel basket filled with all
kinds of food, and kids' socks, was left on our porch. We never found out who put it there, but we were grateful.
My older sister Betty had a talent for doing hair; she set Dr. Bantley's wife's hair every Saturday morning to earn a little money Daddy worked on
the roads, under Works Progress Administration, and cleaned the pool hall at Eddie Wehn's barbershop. Wehn would send candy home for us kids.
We used oil lamps and an oil stove when our electricity was shut off. A kind neighbor ran a wire from her house to ours so Mother would have electricity to wash clothes.
This was especially important when my brother Jack became very ill and took convulsions.

Marion Strachan Miller formerly of Moxham, resides in Lititz Lancaster County.

Flying aces, Dad were our heroes


I was 12 years old in 1930, and 7 when Charles Lindbergh was the first to fly across the ocean.
I witnessed the transition from the coal stove to the gas and electric stove; the coal to the gas furnace.
I learned to drive in a Model-T Ford. We cranked the cars to start them. We washed our clothes on “washboards” until we got a washing machine we had to
power by hand.
We ironed clothes with heavy irons heated on a coal stove. We dried clothes on a line. We scrubbed floors on hands and knees. We listened to records on a phonograph wound by hand. We heard serials like “The Shadow” on little box radios. And I remember a time when Dad put wires and tubes on a small board having one ear piece through which we were amazed to actually hear music.
We laughed at Dad, who read Buck Rogers comic books and who actually believed we would put a man on the moon some day
I saw Amelia Earhart land her small airplane on the Johnstown Air Field in Westmont. She looked like a young boy with short-cut hair and leather helmet One day we were astonished to see a huge zeppelin fly right over our house, dropping leaflets.
These were Depression days, no work, no welfare. People raised chickens and had backyard gardens.
We walked two miles to Johnstown Senior High School - when we had no nickel for a streetcar check - when I graduated in 1935. Then came the flood. The water came over Sheridan Street. Food cans we opened had no labels, so we didn't know what was in them until they were opened.
Men came to America from many countries Italians, Poles, Germans, etc., worked in the coal mines, steel mills and sent money to their families for passage over
Neighbors cared and shared with each other despite their ethnic background, which was very prevalent at that time. We children played together and became fast friends. Without animosity, we called each other wop, dago, Hunky and kraut, and we learned from each other.
We seldom locked our doors and were not afraid to walk down the street at night.
In Garfield school, the Bible was read first thing every morning. We lived the motto on our money: In God we did trust. We lived in peace with each other.
The 1930s were selfless days, but they were golden days.

Helen Gehosky is a resident of Johnstown.


This JAHA archives photo by James duPont shows a 1936 soup kitchen in Johnstown. The Depression took its toll on the city's population. Between 1930 and 1934 alone, an estimated 5,000 people left, many for steel mills in Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Cleveland, others for the auto plants in Detroit.

We didn't realize we were poor
Memories of hot summer days in Johnstown in the 1930s:
Stifflers' ice truck delivering in Oakhurst. As the iceman would take the ice into a house, we would jump on the truck and help ourselves to the chips that fell as he used his ice pick.
Swimming in Fitcher pool from 9 am to noon This was city owned and free in the morning. We were home for lunch and if it was very hot, we could go in the afternoon for a dime, if we had a dime.
If we didn't have a dime, we could to the Cambria Water Dam above Oakhurst and wade in the spillway or in the creek that led into the dam.

On the way home, we would stop at the watering trough on Decker Avenue and have a cold drink.
In the evenings, we would all gather in the street and play games till it got dark.
No cars. Only one family in the neighborhood had one.
Dad worked one day a week and my parents lost their home. But we didn't realize we were poor.
Mother made all our clothes and we had a huge garden. We kids had to help with the garden and the canning in the fall.
Dad made our toys, stilts, wagons, baseballs and bats.
We were allowed one bought toy a year I remember getting a pair of roller skates from Hornick's Hardware on Strayer Street;
Our parents never bothered us with their financial problems, It was just a way of life.

Sara (Rippin) Wirick is a resident of Johnstown.

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