Whitesburg KY
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‘30s and early ‘40s in Letcher County



I remember walking behind a plow pulled by an old mule all day as a young boy on our farm on Cane Branch.

All my family spent weeks clearing ‘new ground,’ removing trees, brush and piling rocks in large piles every few yards so we could plant our crops.

Most of my dad’s working years were spent underneath these mountains in the darkness of the coal mines. Mom’s days were spent in the garden and in the fields with my brothers and me.

These were known as the ‘Depression Years.’ People worked for pennies a day and felt lucky to be earning those few pennies. Our teachers were only being paid $1,227 a year then. Farmers were getting five cents a pound for their hogs.

Most meat in the stores cost 20 cents a pound. A pound of butter was 28 cents, a dozen eggs were 29 cents, potatoes were two cents a pound.

If you were shopping for furniture, you paid about $45 for a dining room set, $25 for a double bed and spring mattress, and a wool blanket cost just $1.

Washing machines sold for $46, and stoves were advertised for as little as $29. A Chrysler sedan sold for about $1,000. A Studebaker was a couple of hundred dollars less. A tire for those cars cost $6.25 and gas was 18 cents a gallon.

These prices and wages seem so unreal to the present generation, but I can remember when gas, tires, shoes, sugar, coffee and many other items were rationed by the government.

I can see everything very clearly as I sit here remembering.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.



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