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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Guest Post: Depression Era Lesson for Today By Stephanie Landsem

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About the book:

A story about the price of fame, the truth sacrificed on its altar, and the love that brings a prodigal daughter home.
As the Great Depression hits the Midwest, Minerva Sinclaire runs away to Hollywood, determined to make it big and save the family farm. But beauty and moxie don’t pay the bills in Tinseltown, and she’s caught in a downward spiral of poverty, desperation, and compromise. Finally, she’s about to sign with a major studio and make up for it all. Instead, she wakes up next to a dead film star and is on the run for a murder she didn’t commit.

Only two unwilling men—Oscar, a Mexican gardener in danger of deportation, and Max, a too-handsome agent battling his own demons—can help Mina escape corrupt police on the take and the studio big shots trying to frame her. But even her quick thinking and grit can't protect her from herself. Alone, penniless, and carrying a shameful secret, Mina faces the consequences of the heartbreaking choices that brought her to ruin . . . and just might bring her back to where she belongs.

Depression Era Lesson for Today

By Stephanie Landsem 

My dad, who was a child during the Great Depression, had a saying that still holds true today:

Use it up.

Wear it out.

Make it do

or do without.

Good advice, and after the upheaval of 2020, we can see the wisdom of that little ditty and take heed of it in our modern lives. Here are some ways our parents and grandparents put this advice to use in the hard times of the 1930s. We can do the same today.

Make it yourself. From clothes to knitting to bread to soap and cheese, if they couldn’t make it themselves, they often did without. There’s great satisfaction in taking a loaf of bread from the oven or making the last stitch on a knitting project—and an appreciation for the finished product that lasts longer than the thrill of purchasing something ready-made.

Grow it yourself. Anyone who had a few square feet of dirt planted seeds and grew their own garden. It’s what saved many families from both hunger and malnutrition. From microgreens to herbs to an all-out vegetable garden, even those of us in urban areas can grow something, whether on the kitchen counter or in the backyard.

Fix it yourself. In the thirties, clothes were patched or remade for younger siblings. Cars were held together with bailing wire and a prayer. Appliances in those days were made to be repaired and to last for decades. Shoes were resoled when they became worn, and many Depression-era folks cut new soles from rubber or cardboard, then stitched and glued their shoes together again. These days, it’s often cheaper to replace something than to fix it. But the cost to the environment, we know now, can be devastating. Buy the best quality you can afford, my dad always said, then keep it in good repair and fix it when it breaks. 

Use it up. In the dire days of the 1930s, household objects were repurposed out of pure necessity. Flour sacks were made into dresses and shirts. Worn-out clothing was made into rugs. Rubber tires were used for flower pots. Tin cans and jars were reused for food and storage. Before you throw something away, look at it again and see if it can be used for something new—saving the environment and your pocketbook.


Entertain yourself. Hollywood was big in the thirties, and going to the movies was a popular event, but plenty of people couldn’t afford the twenty-five cents to see a show. Board games became a thing, with classics like Sorry! and Monopoly coming out at the time. Playing cards was a common family activity. Picnics were a popular community activity, as were games like Red Rover and Blind Man’s Bluff, which needed nothing more than enthusiasm and an open field. Try turning off the TV and unplugging the WiFi for a night of old-fashioned fun.

Help your neighbors. As bad as people had it in the thirties, they knew a lot of folks had it worse. Whether it meant bringing extra food to the family next door or helping out on the neighboring farm during harvest, charity in hard times was the norm. It was the right thing to do, and everyone knew they could be the next family in need. In these times of isolation, reaching out to our neighbors can bring hope and healing for both the helper and the helped.


Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she's explored ruins, castles, and cathedrals on four continents and has met fascinating characters who sometimes find their way into her fiction. Stephanie is just as happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four adult children, two cats, and a dog. When she's not reading, researching, or writing, she's avoiding housework and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.


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Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8

Some of the links in my blog posts, tweets, social media posts, etc. contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link with my affiliate code and purchase an item(s), I will receive an affiliate commission. You won't be charged extra, I'll just receive a small percentage of the purchase price. See my disclosure page here.
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