A Life in the Great Depression


Guest Author – Ankush Tipparaju (11)

I am privileged to have guest authors who like to contribute to my blog, and enrich it with their thought. Here is Ankush Tipparaju (11) who wowed me with his depiction of the great depression times from his writer’s eyes, that truly moved me, and wanted me to get out my writer’s block, via this amazing write up of a “fictional account of a real events from the great depression era” as he calls it, a small moving story of a boy’s survival against odds, friendships formed in adversity… and an inspiration for what we have now, and don’t truly value enough….THANK YOU, writer Ankush…I salute!!!

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“How much for the apple?” A gruff man came up to me, with tired red red eyes and an unshaved beard.

“15 cents,”  I said, confident that the man would buy the apple. After all, not many people would buy an apple from some kid on the street.

He slapped some coins on the table, and they summed up to be 15 cents as I did the math in my head. Suddenly, he grabbed two apples instead of one. “ Keep the change!” he yelled at me, and just like that, he bolted of. 

“Hey!”  I called after him, “Give that back!” 

I was just about to run after him but two reasons stopped me; the first reason was that if  I left 

my apple stand, someone else might steal my apples. The second reason was that it just started to rain, so I had to head home anyways. 

I sighed, realizing how easy it was for people to steal my apples. The sky darkened with a gray and gloomy look. It perfectly represented how everyone was feeling right now. I headed back home, carrying my apple stand with me, thinking; Why do I have to be in a time like this? A time of such depression?

It was these thoughts that I had as I was running past all the stores once in good business but now out of business, people trying to sell things like me, and also some people simply… begging for food. No matter how much it rained, nothing could wash away everyone’s depression. I continued to run, seeing once rich coats now being worn with holes in them. I splashed in the puddles the rain had made, and saw that all the tall buildings I once thought were nice were now shut down. Everything in New York had a past. Everybody had a lot on their mind, especially ever since the stock market crashed. Because of the Roaring Twenties, people used credit to borrow money for stock market. They ended up just wasting money. People had spent so much they were now in debt! People didn’t buy, so companies didn’t thrive. Companies didn’t thrive, so the economy failed, causing the stock market crash of 1929. That put everyone in the position they are now-Depression. 

If you are still confused, let me explain some more. Because the economy failed and borrowers couldn’t pay their loans, banks shut down. The thing that scared people the most was that there was literally less money to go around, and the Federal Reserve wouldn’t do anything about it. People rushed to banks, trying to get their money while they still could, but the banks closed so everyone lost all their life’s savings. Now you get an idea of everything that is going on. As I ran through the rain, I continued to think about what people could have done to stop the Depression… what people could have done to stop everything…

I arrived at my house, my ragged clothes dripping. I panted because I had ran really fast. Our house was pretty much a tent tied to a tree, and it was made of some old clothes and scraps. Also some logs to strengthen the tent. I head inside, my bare feet squishing against the wet mud. I saw my parents in the dimly lit room, each holding dirty newspapers from the trash, reading intently. You could definitely say that the Depression had taken a toll on us. “Steve, can you come here for a second?” my mom said to me.  She motioned towards her newspaper, trying to get me to look at something. Her eyes were beginning to fill with tears, and my dad’s eyes were sorrowful and solem. “Sure,” I said, coming over.

What I ended up seeing made me so scared I knew I would never be the same. I was looking at a news article with the headline; DEPRESSION HAS AFFECTED PARENTS: THEY ARE ABUSING THEIR KIDS

Here’s what else it said; The stock market crash is affecting parents. They cannot feed their children, and because of this are shipping their kids to the road.

I looked up at my mom, and I could now see tears in her eyes and her lips were trembling. “I-I’m sorry…” she said shakily.

Sorry? I thought, wondering what she meant. Then the horrible thought struck me — she was going to ship me away!

“There’s nothing we can do,” my dad began gravely, and also added,”Steve, you’ve just gotta understand… there just isn’t enough food to go around…”

I took a step back from my parents, now slightly afraid of them. “B-but where are you going to ship me to?” I asked my parents, now more terrified than curious.

“The street,” my mom said, now sobbing. 

I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran out of the tent, wanting to get away from everything. Once I started to run, I didn’t stop, and I didn’t think I ever would. No matter how much it rained me, I would still run. I was a hobo now.

I started to cry, feeling more abandoned than ever. I stopped running as I found myself in a alley. It was dark, and I was hungry. I didn’t know what to do, and as I was plotting what to do next, I yawned. I suddenly realized how sleepy I was. I saw a dumpster in the alley and, having no where else to sleep, I leaned against it, sat down, and relaxed. I thought about what mess I had gotten myself into.  Although I knew how the rest of my life would be, (it would be difficult), I didn’t regret running away from my parents. I guess where I was now would be no different from where I would have been shipped of to. I just did what I did because o just couldn’t handle the betrayal of my parents. Despite the horrible conditions, I drifted of to sleep, my teeth chattering and body shivering.

                                                                                       . . .

I woke up the next morning, more hungry than ever. Although the alley was lit with the morning sunlight, the wretched place looked more gloomy than ever. I suddenly heard someone whispering and muttering at the end of the alley. I got up, stretched, rubbed my eyes, and tried to adjust them the the light of the sun. I went towards the direction that the whispering was coming from. Unfortunately, the whispering stopped, and the source of the whispering obviously heard me coming. A few moments later, I heard running. I started running to, not letting the thing get away. It appeared I was chasing a very slow runner, so I caught up with it with ease. I found the thing to be a boy, about my age, and he was in no better condition than mine. 

“What’s your name?” I asked the boy. 

“Sam,” he replied. 

He didn’t say anything else so I also asked him,”Why are you here?”

“Same as you, probably,” he began, and added,”My parents couldn’t feed me, so they decided to ship me away. Don’t have any siblings, so I’m all on my own now. By the way, what’s your name?”

My name’s Steve. Also, you’re right. I did get shipped away. I also have no siblings like you do. Now that I think about it, you and I are pretty alike, being abandoned and all,” I replied.

It felt nice talking to someone who understood what I was going through. 

“What are we going to do now?” I asked Sam. 

We?” Sam asked, confused

“Yes, we,” I answered, and also said,”Neither of us would last another day without somebody else, so I guess we’re in this together.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Sam replied.

“I think that we should find a shelter or at least salvage materials to make one, to answer your question.”

 “That’s a good idea. You go and find a shelter, and I’ll go and find some food and water. Let’s meet up here again before dark and discuss what we found,”  I said, saying my plan. 

Sam nodded, considering my plan. 

“Sounds good!” he said, and just like that, he was off. 

The sun began to beat on my face. My stomach growled, begging for food. I went off in the opposite direction of Sam, looking for food. I found myself on a dry and dusty street, and I think this is how it was in the Dust Bowl I saw in the newspapers my mother read. My Mother. Thinking about her made me think about the sad times again. I still wished none of it ever happened. I pushed my thoughts behind and continued to look for food. I walked down the street, not seeing a soul insight. I saw an old run down market, and decided to start my search there. I opened the door, and stepped in. I looked around and all the food racks were empty. I walked past the aisles and headed into the storage room of the market. In the storage room, there were lot of books and maps racked on shelves. I took out the maps, my curiosity of what was on them overcoming my hunger. I layed the maps on the floor, and inspected each and everyone of them. One map in particular caught my eye, and it was a map on how to get to the nearest town. The reason it caught my eye was because it was an immigrant town. It said the town was called Mundhank. The town was also known for good crops and lot of water. Maybe the depression affected all of this, but there was still hope that there was something there. I looked up from the map, over joyful of my discovery. I rolled up the map and ran out of the market. The clouds began to darken, and I knew I had to be heading back to the alley. I sprinted to the alley, clutching the map as I went. I made my way back past the way I came, and eventually made it back to the alley. I saw Sam waiting there, and I panted, catching my breath. 

“What did you find?” I asked Sam. 

“Nothing …” he said sadly’ and added, “I mean, I’m sorry, but there isn’t even a single roof to safely sleep under nowadays.

“ What did you find?” he asked, noticing the map in my hand. 

“This!” I said excitedly. I showed him the map. He took a moment to process what is said, When he finished reading it he looked up at me with slight excitement but said, “This is great! But-what if everything is abandoned? Or if everything is not there?” 

“I guess it a risk we have to take” I told him. 

“Besides, we don’t have any other options.”

He nodded, knowing that I was right. Just then, I heard a train tracks, but I could just hear it distantly. 

“Hey!” I exclaimed. 

“What?” Sam said, suddenly alerted. 

“The train! We could take that train and go to the immigrant town!”

“Not such a bad idea!” Sam said, now hopeful. 

Sam and I ran over to the sound of the train. We saw it and jumped into a compartment. It was was full of hay, and we panted because the jump was intense. I yawned, and my stomach growled. Sam’s stomach growled too. 

“I guess we’d better sleep,” I told Sam.

“I just hope we get there soon,” said Sam. “I’m starving!”

With that, we both lay on the floor, eventually letting sleep overcome our hunger.

                                                                                                 …

I woke to the sound of the captain saying, “Town Mundhank! Your stop!”

“Sam!” I exclaimed, shaking him vigorously, trying to wake him up. 

“What, What!” he asked groggily, waking up. 

“We are here!” I told him. 

He smiled, and said “Well then, Let’s go!”

We both jumped out of the compartment and landed on lush green grass. It was morning, and we saw small homes surrounding us. In the middle fo all the homes, there was a well with a pail.

“Water!” we both exclaimed in unison. Sam and I ran to the well and lowered the paid into the water. We both drank fast. Once we had our fill, we noticed that the place was crowded. Although everyone was poor and effected by the stock market crash, there was an excited buzz all around the town. We found a small unaccompanied house as we slipped through the crowd. We entered the house, and found it to be an empty but cozy house. It seemed that whoever used to live here has moved out. I though for a moment how far away from home I was, how many miles the train the driven overnight, and how lucky Sam and I were to find a place like Mundhank. The house was mainly a square shaped, and was very small. I was grateful we found this place. I found a single chest in the room, and I opened it. Inside, I found something amazing. It was chestful of apples and I knew that everything was going to be fine. 

“Hey Sam! I found some apples!” Sam came running over, exclaiming with delight when saw them. Each of us grabbed one and happily ate them. As I sunk my teeth into the apple and swallowed it’s juice, I figured that the Depression wasn’t so bad after all.  

EPILOGUE….

A child truly is the father of the son….I remain a fan of Ankush’s brilliance of penship, a trait he acquired from observing and admiring his brother/writer and artist, Dhanush Tipparaju…I am truly blessed!

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