Family gave up plumbing, electricity in Depression

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series on the Great Depression and World War II based on recollections of those who lived through the era.

There are a few people who can remember life during the Great Depression.

If you don't fall into that category, then you may want to hear from those who lived during this time and how it is now remembered in the history of the United States and Milam County.

Ruby Murray Harris, a former resident of this area, who now resides in Hico, has shared her memories of how the depression affected her family.

The family lived in Rockdale and were privileged as they had running water, electricity and paved streets until the depression hit.

Ruby's recall: "Our country really began to change in the 1920's. Pioneer hardships were behind us and modern inventions were making life easier."

These were the days of women being given the right to vote, and to learn how to drive cars. Rockdale lost its oil wells, one railroad and half of the coal mines.

"The town survived but barely." Ruby said. "If you survived you were made stronger by having done so."

People lost their jobs and their homes and used up any savings they had, if they could make it to the bank before they closed the doors in bankruptcy.

Some people stood in food lines to survive.

The Murray's moved to the country, gave up indoor plumbing, electric lights, gas and paved streets.

They went back to drawing water from a well one bucket full at a time, using coal oil lamps and burning firewood to cook and stay warm.

Another family who lived in the country during the depression talked about the trials they endured, as they only traveled into town once a month, and that was to purchase or barter for staples such as sugar, flour, and coffee.

One such family spoke of being privileged to having a "little sugar to sprinkle on their milk clabber."

Even with the economy failure, people in Rockdale obser ved Veterans Day with a big celebration.

People gathered in Fair Park with picnic lunches, played games and heard inspirational speeches.

The day ended with a big dance at the park.

Research: "Recollections from Ruby: Ruby Murray Harris."

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2009-09-03 digital edition

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