November 2, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression

A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression

Language: English

Pages: 384


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"A wonderful reminder that economic hardship can bring suffering but can also foster compassion and community." -The Boston Globe

In hard economic times like these, readers will find bestselling author Ted Gup's unique book uplifting as well as captivating. Inside a suitcase kept in his mother's attic, Gup discovered letters written to his grandfather in response to an ad placed in a Canton, Ohio, newspaper in 1933 that offered cash to seventy-five families facing a devastating Christmas. The author travels coast to coast to unveil the lives behind the letters, describing a range of hardships and recreating in his research the hopes and suffering of Depression-era Americans, even as he uncovers the secret life led by the grandfather he thought he knew.

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Places, but it is ailing. Once it was the most ornate edifice in the city. Even at ninety-six, Marjorie Markey, daughter of “Gray the Painter,” remembers the fabulous organ rising out of the pit, Banks Kennedy playing the keys. But today, at eighty-two, the theater’s plaster is falling, the tapestries are tattered, the furniture is broken, and the marquee has been allowed to go dark—deemed too expensive to feed its forty-eight hundred lights. An appeal to passersby for contributions to help with

United Commercial Travelers #41 of Canton would make a like proposition I would be in good standing again in the 3 Secret 7 Fraternal orders I once belonged & in some held office. Friend I am not complaining to you. You wanted to know my true condition. Here it is, all these facts above mentioned are true & real & you can check me up on same. You may read between the lines a few more things. My wife, family & myself had to forego aside from what I told you. No I don’t want charity, I want work,

number four. Edith Saunders would settle in the exclusive Bloomfield Hills suburb of Detroit and live in an expansive brick house with a manicured courtyard and a pool. (She would later marry the gardener, Paul Lemieux, husband number five.) “Nothing,” she had written in 1933, “builds morale and inspires self confidence and courage like money in one’s purse.” Edith Saunders became a bona fide millionaire, perhaps not entirely self-made, but a millionaire nonetheless. But it was not just about

forge onto their car and returned to the farm, where they melted a brass coat hanger and used it to reattach the pump handle. During the Depression, there was little money for others to provide a fix. You did it yourself, or you did without. But for the Long family and the Blythes as well, the Great Depression did not come to a neat end with the New Deal, or even with World War II. As it was with many families, the Longs and Blythes would know nothing else but hardship for at least another

wife’s death, as if her tiny added weight had pushed his wife over the edge. On May 20, 1941, six years after Harriet’s death, the Compher family dissolved. Son Donald and his sister Carol were placed in the Fairmount Children’s Home; the two other daughters, in the Alliance Children’s Home. Both were less orphanages than holding facilities for the children of the destitute. Those institutions would become the only homes the Compher children would know. Donald Compher was six or seven when his

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