February 12, 2004

“The Great Depression in Alexander, Maine”

(Names and other words that could not be transcribed are in italics. Unknown voices are referred to as “man” or “woman.” Comments, explanations, and additional names are in parentheses.)

Amanda McDonough: 1929. How old were you?

Mildred Holst: What year?

Amanda McDonough: 1929.

Mildred Holst: One year old.

Elizabeth (Hunnewell) McVicar: You need the month.

Amanda McDonough: Where did you live?

Mildred Holst: In 1929, I lived in Alexander still, but not very long.

John Dudley: Where did you move to?

Mildred Holst: Cooper.

John Dudley: Cooper.

Mildred Holst: When I was two. We lived with my grandparents when I was born and my sister was born in 1929 and when I was two, we moved to Cooper. And, I was two, and maybe another year (indistinct words) she was born in 1930, I’d guess.

John Dudley: Ok. But, life in Cooper wasn’t unlike life in Alexander.

Mildred Holst: No. Probably about the same. (Indistinct words)

Amanda McDonough: What was it like growing up in 1929 to 1935?

Mildred Holst: Well, I can’t tell you too much about 1929. And, I didn’t (indistinct words) until 1936. 1935, did you say?

John Dudley: Stretch that out to - stretch that out to - to ‘42.

Mildred Holst: We moved to Cooper when I was little and, Mama - we rented a house - it was right across from where the Town Hall is now (indistinct words) parents and grandmother and I can remember a little bit. I think my folks (indistinct words) and I can remember some things. I remember they all had a Model T Ford. And they owned a house (indistinct words) I think they probably all were. She was going to eighth grade. She was going to school when I was four. I don’t know much about this. She was going to school and I cried. I wanted to go with her. I wanted to go to school. (Indistinct words) And, “Well, you can’t go. You can go next year.” And, Bert said, “Well, you can help me push the car.” Because sometimes instead of cranking it, they’d push it to get it started.

John Dudley: Um hum.

Mildred Holst: So, a four year old pushing on a car. Of course they weren’t as heavy as they are now, but I helped anyway. That shut me up. We had an old Model T that someone had left behind the barn for a year or so (indistinct words) I played in that. Jumped - we thought - we jumped up and down like this and steering because we thought that the - that’s the way it was supposed to be because the roads were bumpy and that’s the way you went when you were riding in one. And let me see - then I went to school when I was five at East Ridge. And, my uncle had a big Buick, I think it was. It was similar to our station wagons now and it had the little jump seat in the middle. And, they didn’t have heaters in them, and in the winter time, although I don’t think we went to school much in the - you know, in the cold part of the winter. We went in the spring after the mud blew and then we went to school more in the summer than they do now. Different. We went 32 weeks then, too.

John Dudley: 32 weeks. Amanda, remember the East Ridge School is - is still there. It’s on the way down to Felicia’s school. It’s on the left. Remember that? That’s where she went to school. In Cooper.

Mildred Holst: In Cooper. Three years. I remember - and I had a cousin I grew up with. I think we must have got close from the time we were babies, but I was with Wanda, and then all of a sudden we moved. I probably was six - six or seven. And, we packed all our - when we moved we were only about 40 miles from where my cousin and her brothers and sisters and her parents lived. And, that was up on the other side of Breakneck Mountain - on the Cooper side. And there’s no road - well, there’s a road that you can get up there, but it’s not a - it’s not a town road. There used to be a road down there where - (Indistinct words) where the school house used to be. It’s right past - going down right after you go by Dyer Crosby’s. That’s where John’s mother grew up. And, if you go right down through to where the Cooper Grange hall is - you know where that is? So - - -

John Dudley: When you lived up there, where did you go to school?

Mildred Holst: We went up with my Uncle Clarence on the truck.

John Dudley: So Clarence would drive you to school.

Mildred Holst: (Indistinct words) I was going - I was there. As far as I can remember, anyway. I’m pretty sure he did. But, if it was like mud time on the main roads, because that was out on a side road - the main roads were passable, why he used to have to leave it down at what they called King’s Pond. (John Cooper’s Mill Pond)

John Dudley: Where the Grange Hall is

Mildred Holst: (Indistinct words) Yes, on the other side of the Grange Hall, anyway. And, so we walked down to his place and go with the other kids down to - which was three quarters of a mile down - a quarter of a mile from my house to theirs and then half a mile. And, get on the