Initially published in 1970s, Stud Terkel’s collection Hard Times records a nostalgic and melancholic accounts of the lives of many Americans during the great depression. The stories, in general combine the lifestyles of the average American citizens who were profoundly affected by the economic depression. Some of the accounts record a fall from grace to grass. For this summary, I will write on the story titled Peggy Terry and Her Mother, Mary Owsley.
This is the story of Mary Owsley from Kentucky. The family moved to Oklahoma after oil was discovered in the desert in 1929. However, the booming economy was destroyed by the dustbowl that made farming difficult. In this story, Perry gives a personal account about how families were depressed because of lack of knowledge about when the hopelessness was going to end. A lot of people committed suicide while others hard to find means to survive. Peggy’s father made friends with people who helped them in the greatest times of need. However, at one time, he was forced to steal oranges from the exact family that helped him. The people in the neighborhood stuck together because of their understanding that this was not their fault but that of nature. However, this story is much more that, it is also a story of race relations between whites and blacks and Mexican Americans. It points out the nothingness of racial hatred considering the lifestyles of people during the depression. For example, “ the story in Homerville, the slum town constructed for poor people is a realistic depiction of how life was horrible for most people (p.50).
In this account, the great depression took away people’s pride and allowed human suffering to take center stage. This is a story of life, and of human devastation and suffering.