My mother finally had to give up. She burned her leg badly and could barely hobble around. She called my grandfather, and he and my grandmother drove from San Diego to Oakland to pick us up. We put our few belongings in the car and moved in with my grandparents. We first went shopping and were outfitted with everything the well dressed child needs including two pair of shoes, one for dress and one for every day. Then we started school. Because I knew how to read I was quickly advanced to the grade in which I belonged, despite the fact I had never been to school. Every meal the table was covered with a white tablecloth, serving dishes, silver flatware and food. Things like roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, two veggies and dessert were the norm. It was all overwhelming to a child who just a few days before made a meal off of creamed carrots over a slice of bread. And then there was Christmas.
The first Christmas I remember having was that first year at my grandparents. There was no money for Christmas before then, no tree, no presents and no special dinner. Well, this Christmas my sister and I saw the tree going up. That was an eye opener. Then we started hearing from our friends about the gifts. Hard to believe, but we had hope. Then Christmas morning we woke up, and there under the tree were the presents. I will never forget. I got a bright red bicycle, skates, a child size roll top desk, a doll, books and clothes. I didn't know where to start. It was too early and too cold to ride my new bike, but my grandmother said I could roller skate on the kitchen linoleum. Of course, I didn't know how and had to hang on to everything in the room, but what joy. All this splendor was followed by the most memorable dinner I have ever eaten.
When one studies the depression one sees pictures of soup kitchens, ragged and hungry children, the desperately poor. Anyone might get the impression that the entire country was suffering and out of work. Such was not the case. The farmers were hit the hardest, and many others lost their jobs as well. However, there were many people who were working. There were government work programs. There were huge construction programs like Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. Many people just kept the job they had always had, went to work every day and thanked God for their good fortune.