The Depression vs the Coronavirus: Reflections from My 90-Year-Old Grandparents

Coronavirus: Reflections from My 90-Year-Old Grandparents

My grandparents are part of a select group of individuals who were alive during the Great Depression. I’ve asked them to share their thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic compares to the Depression, and to offer advice to the younger generations. Here are their thoughts.

Depression in terms of the disruption to our everyday lives?

The Depression certainly did impact the lives of people back then, but not like the virus is doing. During the Depression, not everyone was impacted. There were a lot of people not affected at all, only those out of work and those that lost all their money, like my (grandma) parents did.

Depression in terms of the financial impact to the average American?

We’re afraid the virus will have a much greater impact on the average person today than the Depression did. That’s a tough one to call, in where it all depends on how long it will last. The Depression lasted many years but hopefully the virus will last just a short period.

Which would you say had/is having a greater impact on the average American

Well, that all depends on whether you are still working/getting paid or not. Life for people back in the Depression was pretty bleak, not knowing where their next meal was coming from. There was welfare but only if you qualified.

Which event has personally affected you more

That’s really difficult to say, being as we were very young during the Depression and now being older, we see things differently. We were too young to realize what was happening and being a child just went with the flow of things.

Has there been an event you’ve lived through other than the Depression

There was a period when I (grandma) was in high school when there was a polio outbreak. That was a scary time, as authorities didn’t know what was causing it. They thought it was spreading through swimming pools. I know a lot of the pools were closed.

What wisdom or hope can you offer to younger generations

Never give up! My (grandma) dad was a good example of that. He was originally a farm boy, learned music, and when the Depression hit, was totally unprepared for it. No money put aside in the event there might be a hard time.

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