Jack Simpson - America may have to relearn lessons of the Great Depression

The Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot and the campaign gets uglier and more bloody. The economy is in decline and the dollar is worth less and less. The resulting economic crisis cannot help but bring back memories from the past.

I've written before about some of my childhood recollections. I was just a child during the Great Depression when I watched tears in the eyes of my grandfather and his family as the stock market crashed in 1929. As the nation plunged into suffering and hardships, my grandfather was caught in bankruptcy. The bank where he was an officer failed and he lost his home and businesses. Members of his family lost their jobs and debts were burdensome.

The nation needed change. Just as people today share some of the same feelings, what was needed then and now is new leadership able to restore hope and confidence.

People were suffering, some in bread lines and some losing their homes. We experienced back then a dark moment in our history. Life savings disappeared.

People were careful not to incur new debt. My grandmother said, "If you cannot pay for it, do not buy it." We were all pennypinchers and we were frugal. Credit cards were unheard of.

Today, some among us think nothing of seeing something they want in a sale paper and then buying it on credit. They carry a heap of debt all of the time. Credit cards were not in favor during the depression because people already in debt could not carry any more. Excessive borrowing now may well be responsible for some of our present crises.

The current crises may turn out to be worse than expected. Let us hope we do not have to revert to Grandmother's way to economize. She used to grab two kitchen knives, take me into the field to help her dig for dandelion greens for a lunch salad. And, then, she sent her sons into the woods to hunt deer, rabbits and squirrels to add to the menu. Trout was popular when it was in season. We all claimed to be fishermen. No doubt about it, my grandmother could stretch available food to serve the entire family.

Brand-name shoes and $100 jeans were not in our wardrobes. In fact, hand-me-downs were popular, and we were happy to receive them. Our news came over a small Philco radio. No televisions were in our homes. Four-dollar lattes were unheard of, and we had ice cream once a year, on Christmas day!

During the Great Depression, thrift and hard work became our watchwords. We learned the real meaning of tightening the belt.

The state of today's economy may cause this generation of Americans to relearn lessons of the past. We pray that whomever is elected as our new president will operate under law and the Constitution to improve America and solve the problems facing average citizens.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and law enforcement officer. His column appears each Sunday.