Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, is reputed to be a student of the Great Depression. I hope he’s read Jeff Guinn’s book, Bonnie and Clyde.
In 1932, Texas was hit with dust storms that choked people and animals alike. Women put wet sheets over windows and doors to try to prevent the dust from coming into their houses, and still they’d wake up with inches of the stuff covering every surface. It went on for years.
In an effort to escape “the laws,” Bonnie and Clyde traveled north that summer. If they had the money, they slept in motor courts. If not, they slept on the ground. Often they sought shelter in isolated farmhouses. “… in rural areas during the Depression, it was considered almost mandatory for those lucky enough to have roofs over their heads to share their food and homes with passing strangers. There was a pervading sense that, except for the rich, everyone else was caught up in a common struggle to survive.
“Though Bonnie and Clyde were clearly on the run, farmers struggling to protect their property from foreclosure generally had a low opinion of the government and the law.” (Guinn, page 132)
My mother’s step-father committed suicide that year. July 20th, 1932. The bank in Emmitsburg had gone belly-up, and he’d lost his life’s savings. He got up early that day, went into the pantry, put a single bullet in his gun and ended it.