Hard times, hard times, we sure got hard times now!
Times is hard, y’all – and plenty of folks are feelin’ the pinch. Recession’s a word that thankfully,
we’ve been mostly protected from – Austin has retained a blessed bubble of prosperity through
a rough spell that has affected many nationwide, but given this scorcher of a summer, and a spring
with little rain – well, it feels like Dust Bowl era all over again in lots of parts of Texas. Now, some people
have looked at us cross-eyed when we told ‘em that the next theme for Vintage Vivant was going to be
The Great Depression. They squinted and scrunched their eyebrows together and asked us,
“Well, but – isn’t that just going to be a bit…depressing?” Heck no, say we! I mean!
When I think about the Great Depression – an era that lots of our ancestors lived through –
I get crazy-inspired by their resourcefulness, their creativity, and their straight-up spitfire and spunk!
True grit is what we’re talkin’ about here! Bootstraps and floursacks and pickled okra! Hominy grits!
People who had nothing but dust and moth-spit in their pockets and still managed to get through it,
and despite those rough times – find a way to flourish in the bleakest of decades. The 1930′s ruined
a lot of people – a bunch of millionaires jumped off skyscrapers, and plenty of regular joes found themselves
suddenly in soup-kitchens and breadlines. Folks found a way to make do with a hell of a lot less than all
of us have today, and managed to do it in a way filled with so much dignity that my heart almost bursts
when I find a dress so mended and patched and darned and worn and loved that it’s almost a quilt. I feel
like that when I come across an old wire soap-saver, or cracked and chipped china plate with flowers on
it that somebody’s Granny glued back together – that generations ate off of. Every tin can, every bottle, every
scrap of fabric could be used, could be useful. While it was an era that possibly spawned hordes of hoarders,
it was also a time before planned obsolescence, before the age of convenient disposable culture.
So, with all that in mind – we’re going to get together in our best hobo tatters and mended gladrags,
and have a big hollerin’ hootenanny to celebrate the strength and grace of our forbearers, to clink our
glasses in gratefulness for all that we have, and to get some (non-perishable) food together for those
less fortunate than us! Get ready for dusty, brave faces, for wind-blown locks, for handsome wayfaring
strangers in soiled suspenders, and to kick up your heels to some of the very best music of the 1930′s!
This is your chance to wear that sweet frock hangin’ in your closet that’s so eaten up with dry rot that
this night may be its last fling! Consider yourself lucky if you don’t go home naked after it shreds into
bits. (Consider us lucky if it does! Ooh!) That cute feedsack dress with the big stains under the armpits
and the tear near bosom? Give the old girl a whirl! Fellows – tired of takin’ baths and wearin’ deodorant?
This is the party for you? Wanna be a hobo and ride the rails, drinkin’ Wild Irish Rose and never shaving?
Well, you’re welcome with us! Gals, we’ll be doing a post all about feedsack dresses soon – they’re so pretty!
Don’t forget: this month, we will be holding a food drive with admission, to be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, to help out our brothers and sisters who are trying to get back on their feet.
Healthy, non-perishable food
Items with intact, un-opened, consumer or commercial packaging
Items with non-breakable packaging (no glass, please)
Food within the expiration date on the packaging
The most-requested items:
Canned meats like tuna, stew and chili (pop-tops preferred)
Pasta & pasta sauce
During the Great Depression, men waited in Bread Lines for soup and bread – food was generally donated by charities to help those without jobs. It’s always amazing to me that no matter how down-and-out the situation got, men still wore 3 piece suits.
While the Depression was hitting hard in urban areas, the Dust Bowl ravaged the Great Plains and parts of the South, making dirt farmers out of once-prosperous families.
The storyline of Carnivale may err on the side of the supernatural, but the set design, slang, and costuming of the era is spot-on. To give a sense of the dry and dusty environment of the Dust Bowl, smoke and dirt were constantly blown through tubes onto the set. The actors’ clothes were ragged and drenched in dirt and sweat.df
Charlie Chaplin (above) and Paulette Goddard (below) in Modern Times from 1936. I always shut my eyes during the rollerskating scene – it’s just too unbelievable!
The Soggy Bottom Boys in dungarees and dust from O, Brother, Where Art Thou?
Ukulele playin’ in The Purple Rose of Cairo. Watch this clip with the young Jeff Daniels – this is such a great movie about a movie star brought to real life. So sweet!
Joan Blondell sings “Remember My Forgotten Man” from Golddiggers of 1933, one of the most heart wrenching songs of the time – it perfectly captures a lot of today’s sentiment.
Great Depression Cooking is hosted by Clara, 95, who lived through the Great Depression. While she is cooking the dishes, she will tell stories about surviving during hard times, and what items are cheap, delicious and nourishing. It’s one of my most favorite shows on youtube. Even though her stories are about a difficult period, the way she tells the stories, highlighting the small moments, give a complete sense of the time.
Fried Mushrooms – how a quarter back then could tell you if mushrooms are poisonous!
Poorman’s Feast – a three course meal featuring lentils, rice and meat.
Cooking Q&A with Clara – things you can’t learn from a history book!
Gettin’ ready mix on 8track, compiled for your listening pleasure