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July 2009: Remembering the Great Depression
Part II: Looking Back
Photo Album: Maugerite Owen I
Above: Marguerite Goodner Owen on January 31, 1932, witting on a bench along Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

There are many oral history interviews in the Archives which include memories of the 1930s in the United States, such as the sample below from Owen's interview. The Bulletin Board this month is a companion to the May 2009 Bulletin Board, which contained contemporary documents from the same period. At the bottom of this page is a link to additional excerpts. With each excerpts are links to the audio file of that excerpt, the complete of the interview which was excerpted, and the biography of the person who was interviewed.

"Between the time I went to Moody, when there were one thousand students until December, the break, it dropped to five hundred."

Marguerite Goodner Owen (1909-2002) 2 minutes, 39 seconds. Audio Clip. Complete Transcript. Biography. Collection 534, T1.
Marguerite was a student at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, 1931-1932

So, I had this forty-five dollars to pay my first board or so. And then I got a job as a waitress, I worked all through college as a waitress making money, my spending money. I wrote back to Daddy and said, "Oh, this is fine. I got this nice tearoom up on Clark Street." And I got my evening meal every night. And $1.50 an hour which I thought was terrific, you know, and then tips. Because I'm outgoing, I suppose, I always got good tips. And I thought, I said to Daddy, "You won't need to worry at all." But, in a month or a month and a half, the lady said to me, "Marguerite, I'm sorry, you're very good but you're the last one on and we've got to close down." I knew that, customers weren't coming to pay for dollar and a half or two dollar dinner, I mean they were too poor. The Depression was just hitting, terribly. In fact, between the time I went to Moody, when there were one thousand students until December, the break, it dropped to five hundred. They just couldn't come back, they couldn't come back for the term. So, then I got a lot of different waitress jobs that were very poor and didn't pay much. For instance, the last one I had was at the "Five and Ten" on Madison street. And I worked two and a half hours a day, five days a week for two dollars and seventy five cents a week. But, I was allowed, of course, fifteen cents was to eat and fifteen minutes to eat it."


OWEN: What?


OWEN: No tips at all. You know, they didn't put tips on the counter. That was it. You got the.... And I was getting thinner and thinner and tireder and tireder. I...I.... And Daddy would've had to borrow to send me home, he was still having a struggle time. So, at the end of the year, he borrowed the money to send me home, to take me home.

INTERVIEWER: So, you were just at Moody that one year?

OWEN: Just one year. But I really appreciated it very much.

INTERVIEWER: Why is that?

OWEN: Well, I appreciated it because it was...I learned a lot about praying there that I hadn't done before.

INTERVIEWER: How did that happen?

OWEN: We.... One of the classes on prayer was very good and also, some practical things. They said, "You say, 'I can't pray very long.'" Said, "Do...How long do you know how you pray?" I didn't know. "Put a clock in front of you and if you haven't prayed long enough, keep on praying, think of something else." And I did that very thing, that was my first experience of praying a half an hour, you know? And I can still remember the room, you know.

Click here to read and hear more excerpts about the Great Depression in North America.

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Last Revised: 7/01/09
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