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The Great Depression: Life on the Farm


Last time I told you about all the things that I sold. They were all good things, not like those bottles of liquids the medicine men had to sell."

"Medicine men .. is that like a doctor?"

"Oh my no. They were not doctors. There were about a dozen of them. They came through our town about once a year. All the people came for miles around because they put on a terrific program. It was a very long show. It lasted all day and into the night. They were good actors. I guess they were good salesmen, too. Between acts, they would tell the people about all the things their bottles of medicine would cure. They sold a lot too. Our folks had warned us not to buy any. I never heard of anyone ever getting sick, but I'm sure no one got well either.

Seems like it was always on a hot day that the medicine men came. Everyone always bought a lot of popsicles from the little store, which was next to the empty lot where they set up. Ice cream cost a dime, but popsicles only cost a nickel, and people did not have a lot of money to spend. Popsicles came on two sticks so you could break one popsicle in half and share with a friend. Later, you could use your nickel to buy another popsicle and share again.

By morning, there were hundreds of popsicle wrappers on the ground. That empty lot was simply covered with wrappers!

That's when I got this bright idea. I got a paper bag and gathered up all those wrappers. If anyone had come by they were probably thinking, isn't that a nice little girl cleaning up that lot! Now I hadn't even thought about that. I wanted those wrappers to send off for super toys! The popsicle company offered a list of toys you could earn by saving popsicle wrappers and mailing them in. It was a pretty smart thing to offer because most people could not afford to buy many toys. It took a lot of wrappers to get anything really good. But then, I had a lot of wrappers, a whole field full! Wasn't I a smart cookie?"

"What kind of toys did you get, Grandma?"

"It was a long time ago. I really don't remember. Anything would have been exciting. We rarely had store bought toys. Just about everything we had was homemade. I remember one toy, though. It was a tiny harmonica, just like the one I have in the drawer for you to play with!"

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