Friday, November 21, 2008

Depression and all that jazz

One reason I run, do yoga, pilates and lift a few weights is to escape depression. I firmly believe that if I take care of my body my mind will follow.
I'm told that we're in the midst of the worse financial crisis since the Great Depression that my dad experienced in the 30s.
Well I know I have it a lot better than my dad did and maybe we will end up in some weird depression but I can't imagine anything worse than what my father experienced.
My boss at work asked me to write a witness piece about my dad's experience and I did that and here it is.

Maybe I'll lose my job and have to run for a living?
Oh well, it could be worse, I actually enjoy running and none of my running buddies have ever asked me for any money so I have to say I've got it made.

WITNESS-This is no depression like that one
By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO,xxx (Reuters) - The country was in the throes of the Great Depression. It was a time of upheavel, of personal challenges and a test of the nation's mettle.
It was under these circumstances that dad, Clarence John Nelson, better known as Bud, decided to leave Scandia, Kansas, for a job in Chicago.
It was 1936, he was 19 years old, without a job and getting desperate.
Kansas farm life was in shambles because the deteriorating economy made worse year after year of dry weather that turned the sunflower state into part of the Dust Bowl.
Bud was recommended for employment at the Homestead Hotel in Evanston, Illinois, by the pastor of the Swedish United Methodist Church in Scandia. "Gosh I remember in the thirties, going up there to work at Evanston (a Chicago suburb), at the Homestead Hotel washing dishes, we didn't have a darned thing and there weren't any jobs, so away I went...took a bus," he told me recently.
Dad is 92 years old now, living in Kansas and looking at the country going through another period of financial chaos that is being referred to as the second Great Depression.
This time around, he's doing it from the confines of my sister's home, where he has lived after his wife and my mother passed away in 2005.
But memories of the 'first' Great Depression remain etched in his mind, especially those six months in Evanston.
"I'll never forget one time I took the L (train) downtown (Chicago) and some guy tried to get me in a store and sell me a suit, so I got scared and took the L back to Evanston," he said.
Built in 1927, the Homestead Hotel still stands in Evanston. And like many businesses today struggling with the financial and economic turmoil, the hotel went through a few challenges of its own back then, according to its website
"After the 1929 stock market crash, the inn carried debt from being built when land and materials were at a premium," the website said. But owners -- Philip A. Danielson and wife Ruby Larson -- were able to keep it from falling into the hands of its creditors.
Dad's heading to Evanston and working at the Homstead Hotel, apart from getting paid, had a second objective -- to be able to earn enough money to be able to attend college.
But those plans went awry as he began missing home about six months into the job.
"The idea was I'd work and go to school but there wasn't anytime for school," he said.
"Mom wrote me a letter in the spring and talked about planting garden and I got so darned homesick. I just quit, took the bus back home," he added.
Dad found out quickly that there were no jobs in Kansas, but he got lucky.
"There still wasn't any work around here. Farming was no good, but I was lucky and got a job as an oiler on a dragline.
"They were going to dredge and straighten out the river, but that was another scam because that river had a mind of it's own," he said. "When that job ended they asked me to go to South America with them for some other job.
"But I met your mom here, she was teaching school and we started farming, boy it was one had a damned thing," he added.
"I've often wondered what would have happened if I would have stayed there in Chicago."

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Samuel Nelson
Reuters News