Chapter 4

lifetime3

“Did you find a new job?” Jeffery asked George.

“What?” George’s thoughts had been disrupted.

“What did you do when the factory closed?”

“What factory closed?” Betty asked. She had come around the house to find her father and found her son and grandchildren as well. She had a yellow carnation in her white hair.

“Well, hi there. You were alive when the factory closed, but I don’t know how much you remember of what those years were like. My poor parents, they couldn’t get rid of their children. Dorothy moved in after Henry died, and when the bank took our house, Mary and I moved back in too. It all didn’t happen immediately. I took on odd jobs wherever I could. We kept working however we could. Mary grew food in our garden. We did our best. But then we lost everything.”

“You never lost everything, Father,” Betty broke in. “I’m still here. You’re still here.”

George nodded, “Of course. I just mean. You don’t remember what happened. You were a wee thing. There was a bank run. Bank closed before I could get my money. I lost everything we had managed to save. Part time work wasn’t enough to pay for everything. The bank took the house.”

“And you’ve never been without a home to live in,” Betty reminded him.

“How’d you get to be so good, Betty.” George asked his aged daughter.

“Must have been Mother’s influence,” Betty answered with a wink.

George smiled and closed his eyes.

May 15, 1931

“Welcome home, Son.”

“Thanks, Father, “ George said. “Thanks for taking us in. It’s back to square one, isn’t it? But I’m going to help take care of things. We won’t be a burden on you.”

“It’s not a burden to care for your own family. In fact I was thinking we could celebrate today. Let’s go see the new skyscraper.”

“You mean the Empire State Building?” George asked.

“That’s the one. Let’s drive into the city. It’s supposed to be more than 1000 feet tall. We’ll ride up the elevator and then you’ll be on top of the world again.” Father gave George a pat on the back.

“Is it safe to be up high in the building?” Mary questioned. “I’ve heard that people fell off the building and died.”

George reassured her saying, “The people who fell were working on the outside, building it. We will be inside. We can’t fall off. And the building can’t fall down. It’s a mountain of steel. That’s what all the skyscrapers are made from. It’s incredibly strong.”

“All right,” Mary said. “We’ll all go. Lord, help us.”

February 2, 1934

“Mary, I’ve found some work.” George sat down on the sofa next to his wife.

“That’s wonderful.”

“I hope so. It’s one of the jobs President Roosevelt’s New Deal has created for the able-bodied man like me. I’ll be doing some construction on buildings in the city. I won’t have to leave home which is what we’ve been looking for.”

“Thank you, Lord, for taking care of this family,” Mary prayed out loud.

“I am trusting the good Lord to take care of this family. No more trusting the banks to take care of me.”

“They never were the ones taking care of you. God gave us each other, Betty and little William, this job and all the other good things we’ve received in this life. You know what they say, ‘Life is a bowl of cherries.’ Maybe it’s all for the good in the end. Maybe God even gave you that bank run.”

“The bank run? A gift from God? How is that one of the good things I’ve received in this life?”

“Well,” Mary explained. “It made you realize you need to trust in God and not in men.”

“Wife, you are wise beyond your years.”

“I don’t know. I’m feeling my years today,” Mary responded with a laugh as she stood up.

October 30, 1938

It is reported that at 8:50 p.m. a huge, flaming object, believed to be a meteorite, fell on a farm in the neighborhood of Grovers Mill, New Jersey, twenty-two miles from Trenton.

The report came in over the radio. Mother was cleaning in the other room when she heard the news and came into the living room where George was listening to the radio.

“Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed. “I can’t believe it. That’s not so far from here.”

“Mother, it’s a radio show. It’s not real,” George explained.

“The radio is playing a musical show.”

“The music is part of the show and the news reports are part of the show.”

“How do you know?”

“They said it was an adaptation of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds.”

The music stopped on the radio again and another news report came in.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed. . . . Wait a minute! Someone’s crawling. Someone or . . . something. I can see peering out of that black hole two luminous disks . . . are they eyes?

“Are you sure it’s not real?” Mother asked for reassurance.

“I’m sure.”

Several minutes later a neighbor came rushing to their door. Dorothy answered it and asked what was wrong.

Their neighbor entered and asked if they had heard the report that forty people had been killed by aliens in Grovers Mill.

“Grovers Mill?” Dorothy repeated. “I thought you told mother the radio show was War of the Worlds? That book takes place in England.”

“I’m sure it’s based on the book. They changed it for radio. They only have an hour show. They can’t just read the book to us. They changed the story to make it more exciting for us.”

“It’s all too much excitement if you ask me,” Mother said. She put her arm around their neighbor. “I do believe George that it’s just a radio show, not a news broadcast. Let’s not panic.”

“Famous last words. I’m getting my family out of the area.” She left quickly and Dorothy closed the door behind her.

“Are you sure it’s just a show?” George’s mother asked.

“I’m sure!” George was emphatic.

“Unbelievable. They’ve scared the whole world. This has got to be one of the best Halloween shows ever.” Dorothy started to laugh at Mother who was pale.

*****

What I know…

  • Expressions: back to square one, famous last words
  • The Empire State Building was finished in April and opened to the public on May 1, 1931. For a long time it was the tallest building in the world.
  • Civilian Conservation Corps was brought into existence by a bill passed on March 31, 1933. Three million single men, from 18 to 25, found work in road building, forestry labor and flood control. The FERA or Federal Emergency Relief Agency was also created and provided work for unemployed men who were able to work. Special care was given to creating jobs for white collar workers as well. There were jobs for women, but women were expected to give up their jobs when they married. It was assumed that the man working would have the money to provide for his family.
  • The adaptation of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds did play on the radio on October 30, 1938. It did cause widespread panic. They did repeatedly say that it was only a show, but as people changed between channels they missed that announcement. People did flee in cars, call the police, etc.

Other news in the world…

1931

Al Capone arrested

1932

Amelia Earhart flew the Atlantic

1933

The atom was split

1934

The dust bowl
Monopoly
Cheeseburger

1935

Anti-Jew laws established in Germany

1936

Hoover Dam built

1937

The Hindenburg exploded on its trip from Frankfurt to New Jersey

1939

WWII began

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