Mary E. Wilson has been working at the General Electric plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for two years and is feeling pretty good about her life. Then the Depression hit and Mary has to face another disappointment, but she is growing up and developing her own social life.
The depression came and things were getting rough. I still worked at General Electric part time but took another part-time job with a chiropodist. Between the two jobs, I made out pretty well but my Mother demanded all my money and she gave me two dollars allowance a week. I also took a course in Swedish massage and I used to go to ladies homes to work on them.
I really felt wealthy because I saved the money they gave me and put it in the Morris Plan Bank. I believe I was able to save $100 and I kept the money a secret from my Mother which I suppose was deceitful. When the crash came, I lost my precious savings when the bank failed. I felt I was being punished for trying to deceive my Mother.
In the meantime, my Father had started to drink heavily and could not keep a job. He accused my mother of having an affair, which was stupid, because my Mother did not like men. She was so independent.
Both of my brothers were taken out of school and sent to trade schools. Eventually, Jim got a job in the garage and Arthur was apprenticed to a man to learn how to become a lace weaver. It would take four years. I think I was jealous because they were both given a chance to learn a trade and I was stuck in the factory.
An event happened which I will always remember. Charles Lindbergh flew his “Spirit of St. Louis” across the Atlantic Ocean to France. I think every woman was in love with him because of his courage and bravery. I think I read every article written about him. In later years his son was kidnapped by Bruno Hauptman who was later electrocuted for the death of Lindbergh’s son.
Work at General Electric was very hard but I had become used to it. I assembled rubber plugs to extension cords. In addition, I became very active with the group who represented the factory workers in any gripes they had. I also was active in a gym group who met every day after work. It was a diversion after a hard day at work.
I met a nice English boy who was my very first boyfriend. He was a year older than I was and he would come to visit me every day on our lunch break and bring me a Milky Way candy bar. He had no money either because his parents took all of his money, too. We seemed to have fun doing simple things.
Later, I met a young man who was a foreman at General Electric. I dated him for almost a year. He was a nice boy and got along great with my family but I was only 18 at that time and he wanted to get married right away. Mother really got upset. My Father would not work and she needed my money. Jim had a part-time job in the garage and Arthur was still in trade school. I guess I was really not in love with him, so it was easier to end my relationship with him than fight with my mother all the time.
Next week, I’ll be posting developments in Mary’s life during 1930 when she considers making a change.
This coming week, I’ll post letters written in 1941. Both Lad and Dan are concerned about their draft status, Lad in Trumbull and Dan in Alaska. Ced and Dick, also in Alaska, are not quite as concerned as yet.