The Great Depression

Contrast between 1930's and today; 2010

... travel wasn't so easy in the 1930's

by Len Dalton

Generally, it is great to live in the early 21st century here in Melrose. Roads are in good shape, {most of the time} automobiles are in good supply and able to carry folks anywhere they want to go. To make the most of it, there are loads of places to visit; mainly shopping malls and restaurants. It is a time of relative luxury as compared to back in the 1930’s when I was coming up! Not that I had to walk all that much to either school or downtown. School was about a half a mile either to the D.W. Gooch School or to the Roosevelt School. One half mile each way--to school early--back home for lunch--back to school after lunch and then back home at 3:15 when school was out. Two miles each day but nobody measured!

When my folks moved to 311 Upham street in 1936, I was allowed freedom to explore. During the time of the Mount Hood Winter Carnival in February, it was amazing how many people WALKED either from Main Street or from the train stations all the way to Mount Hood! Today, were you to confront an individual with the walk that distance, they would ask, “Are you serious?”  Not so in the day of the horse and buggy which were heavily evident in the 1930’s! Most families did not possess an automobile in spite of the fact that an operating auto could be bought for $5 in those days. New cars sold for $500 to $1000 or more. Not many then had those resources.

The prospect of seeing a World Class Ski jump at Mount Hood was all it took to get folks to walk 3 miles or so to the event. Others took advantage of the otherwise World Class toboggan slide; an all wooden chute which went from the “Clubhouse” above the road and down the first fairway. That was a thrill even for seasoned adults!! I never witnessed drinking of any kind in those Carnival days.  Evidence of the popularity can be found in unused wooded areas even today where carefully crafted fireplaces can be found, albeit, abandoned. Yes, indeed! Walking was BIG in those days in Melrose.

Winters were cooler in those days, too. Those cold winters produce winning Melrose Hockey teams one after another. Vernal ponds in the Fells offered skating and we often skated from morning to dark, playing hockey. We never got cold as we were working so hard! After all that, we had to walk home; no ‘Daddy come get me’; no cell phone help! Yep! Somehow I suspect the better environment was back in the 1930’s!


January 1, 2010


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