Depression era life lessons from my Nana




“ Grandparents can have a profound influence on their grandchildren. Their time is generally not as encumbered and busy as the parents’, so books can be opened and read, stories can be told…Children then obtain a perspective of life which not only is rewarding but can bring them security, peace, and strength.”

Ezra Taft Benson

We all remember growing up and spending time with our grandparents when little. Sometimes during those moments our grandparents would talk to us about life and things they knew. If you were one of those children born with an old soul as they say then you were one of those kids who listened to that advice from our past generations.


There is nothing really new under the sun and even though technology can grow all around us there may or may not come times when technology fails. During those times we have to go back to basic life principles, at least until the switch gets turned back on again. Kind of what we are all going through together right now with shortages and lock downs.

Technology will never completely go away and when it comes to technology when it pertains to medicine and science there are some pretty amazing things being discovered to help us all. At least that should always be the intentions but there are some bad apples out there not really following the Hippocratic oath.

Instead they are following the green trail that leads to greed. I wish this wasn’t the case, but there are many intelligent minds that are being exploited right now and turned into machines themselves to keep the green machine going. People want to heal, they want to help but sometimes they are manipulated into following someone else’s set of rules. I hope this changes soon, I really do. We all need to trust the ones we put lives into their hands with.

Looks like I got off track there for awhile, if you are one of my followers, you know I tend to do this sometimes. Anyway back to Nana’s lessons. I know technology is good but those basic lessons from the past are important too. My Nana taught me things when I was little, but it wasn’t just my Nana. It was many older people in my life as a little girl that shared their knowledge with me. The older generations are so precious and we need to remember that about them. Thought I share some of that with you all. I know your grandparents did the same with you all as well, so if you have any good tips about life and doing things yourself then please share in comments below.

Nana as a young woman.


Lesson 1. Conserve.

Nana was never wasteful. When she prepared food she made sure to save left overs to be turned into other meals.

Nana with me and some of my cousins. I have over 20 first cousins in my family. My Nana had 5 children and my grandmother (father’s side) had 10 kids. I am the older one in this photo in the first row.

Fat from meat became gravy mixes, old bread was turned into stuffing, croutons and even french bread for later. Old clothes were turned into rags for cleaning and older children’s clothes were put away to be shared with younger children, New babies were born and some neighbors and friends would have a need for clothes later. Nothing was wasted and thrown away.


  1. Use what you have-

Back in the day everything was kept and stored away for car repairs, and home repairs. If clothes got damaged or a buttons fell off we were taught to repair the shirt and sew another button on. People made their own furniture and used throw away items like oatmeal containers and meat foam trays for craft projects for the kids. Somewhere down the line we were taught that doing these things, being self reliant and taking care of the things we have were bad, like we were bad if we lived like this. Children were taught to sneer and bully the ones who had clothes they mended themselves, or people were picked on who lived a more frugal way. Yet these same people that judged and sneered at others were also trying to convince everyone how great they were with protecting the environment, when all along they themselves were the most abusive with the planet with their wasteful ways of always trying to keep up with the trends they were indoctrinated to believe were the right ways to live.There is nothing wrong with being frugal and using the things we have, of mending and trying to repair those items ourselves. Our dumps are already filled to the rim, do we really need to add more to them?.


  1. Share with others as much as possible.

If we had something we no longer needed before dropping it off at the thrift shops we would see if someone else in our family, friend circle or neighborhood needed it. Now days some people don’t even donate some of these things, they just toss them into the garbage to be taken to the dump but back then things were given to others before anyone even thought about wasting something by leaving it somewhere to waste away. When anyone needed something we would ask someone else if they had it first before heading to a store and then when we borrowed sugar or items from others we always made sure to give back some as well. Cookies were shared, and meals were left with others as thank you gifts.

  1. Learn from others

If someone was really good at something, whether it be cooking, car repair, home repair, sewing, whatever it was, we all tried to share those skills and knowledge with each other.Everyone did this, everyone knew who to go to for different areas of problems or things that needed done. When you know the ones who surround you in your community you learn where to go to for help. My father was a roofer and some of my uncles were plumbers. There were many times they did these services without getting paid. Many church roofs were done by my father.

  1. Always have something growing

In my Nana’s garden she had lots of citrus trees, aloe, and even peppers. Most of the neighbors had gardens back when I was little, at least the older neighbors did. The ones that grew up during the great depression always had two things happening in their backyards, some type of food was always growing and there were always chickens around.

  1. Save for rainy days.

Mostly this was money. Nana would save her money because you never knew when you would have those days when you would need more. There were times when more money was coming in but it wasn’t spent foolishly because there was more of it, no instead it was put away because everyone knows storms are always waiting around every corner.

  1. Have a menu plan

When you stick to a budget and write out a meal plan you don’t go out to eat or buy fast food as much. Buying a lot of meals outside the home can add up. Back then, it was always about being smart with the money you had and trying to stretch those dollars to feed and cloth people in the family. During a pandemic it is always nice having the skills to cook something yourselves. Going out to eat was a special treat in my family. We would go out once a week and we always enjoyed that but it wasn’t something we did every day.


  1. Use natural remedies in your home

We didn’t have magic pills for every little element we would come down with. Antibiotics were never overused. If we got sick, we mostly stayed home in bed away from others until we got better. Now I wouldn’t go doing that with the bug we have now, that red monster is a bad one that we have in the world. If it was bad of course we would head to the doctor but in the early stages of all illnesses we would try to take care of it on our own first. Coughs were soothed with hot tea and honey. Cuts and scrapes were always kept cleaned and wrapped everyday. Aloe was used for everything, for bug bites, burns and even cuts. We spent a lot of time outside getting fresh air and sunshine. We played outside a lot in fact and we ate fruit everyday. Mostly oranges because we have so many here in Arizona. Something there with Vitamin C.

  1. Be clean and separate the sick from the healthy

I remember watching Nana boil silverware when ever anyone came down sick in the house. I was always afraid of the boiling water, watching as she used tongs to pull out the hot silverware after boiling them. She would talk to me about germs, almost desperately in a way, making sure I was paying attention. I never understood this as a young child when she would talk obsessively with me about this.

My Nana was a heavy drinker and sometimes when she would drink she would talk about one country over and over, sometimes she would even get in arguments with my father about how dangerous their government was. My father would go on about another country and how they were the ones to really watch for.

Nana and I.

Later the next day I would ask my dad why he would argue with anyone who was drinking, what was the point and he would understand what I was saying but he was just as passionate as my Nana when it came to her politics. This was back in the 80’s and everyone had their own theories because of the world they grew up in as children themselves.

My father as a child had to go through nuclear drills as a student in his classrooms and my Nana was around during World War two. Anyway, those two would get into arguments all the time and I would just shake my head staying away from their ridiculous ideas, and least I thought this as a kid.

Then later when everyone went to bed (my mother and father) and I stayed up to make sure my Nana put out her cigarettes and got to bed safely she would look at me the same way she did when she was sober and teaching me about germs and say “ You believe me don’t you.” and I would said yes and then she would be able to sleep I guess.

My dad is sitting in the far back of the room. As a child, him and his identical twin would switch places in school, trading classrooms to see if they could trick their teachers and it worked according to them. Just having fun with being twins.

I of course would always pray for world peace as a child because what my father and Nana always argued about really freaked me out. So my Nana always told me to separate the sick from the well. Put them in their own rooms she would say. Wipe everything down when there is sickness in the home and wash your hands… always. She worked in the food industry so I figured she was like that because she had to be extra clean at the country club she worked at. A really beautiful golf course here in our state.

One time Norovirus hit our home, actually many times, but one time I got to it before it took over in our home. My son was little and sick. I closed off one of our bathrooms and told everyone that our son was the only one allowed to use it until the virus was out of his system. I was the only one allowed around him, to treat him. I had a mask to wear when I cleaned up and helped him through it. I washed up and wiped down everything daily. No one else in our home got sick and that included me. This is not always the case of course, moms are always the first to get sick.

  1. Always find things that make you happy.

What would life be if we didn’t have passion and happiness in it. What are those things that bring you Joy. Is it reading, writing, helping others, watching sports?…doesn’t matter how small it could seem to others. It is your happiness and you know where to get that hopefully. I love doing arts and crafts projects. This has always been where I am most happy, just creating and working in colors. All our grandparents, all the older generations were wise to this, that happiness keeps you wanting to live everyday, looking forward to what happiness that day will bring. If we get stuck in those sad moments in our life you have to fight your way out of that before it takes over.

Find a new hobby, join a club, learn a new skill, volunteer helping others but whatever you do find your happiness.

Hope these are all helpful tips for you all. Please share any you have in comments below. Our older generations lived through tough times. Every little line and wrinkle on their skin has a beautiful story to tell. We all need to listen to what they say and then pass this on to each and every generation out there. Some of the younger generations being raised now are not being taught how important the older generation is to us all…we need their knowledge. To the ones with the great memories, you know who you are out there, please start writing this knowledge down so we can always leave it for the younger generations to read. I would have loved to have had a journal like that from all the older people I once had in my life. God gave me a very detailed memory for a reason, and now I try to share what I can with my own kids hoping that some of it sticks.

Nana as a little girl.

“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”

Deuteronomy 32:7


35 Comments Add yours

  1. Gersom Clark says:

    Thank you for this post, Our little red house. This is timely because, some economists would say that we might be heading that way. I browsed into the main bullets and I will read tomorrow the detailed lessons. It is still 2:04 AM in the Philippines.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re very welcome. Hope everything is okay over there and you and your family are safe and well. Have a beautiful Sunday.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gersom Clark says:

        Going back, thank you so much again for posting this; very helpful. Thank you also for your concern. We have an extended lockdown here but with GOD’s grace we are staying home. Thinking of quails sometimes. GOD bless Little Red House. -Moses Kent Borinaga aka gersom clark

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good words of advice. I grew up with these too. Both my parents were children of the Depression and WWII.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jeanne, they had great lessons from long ago.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They sure did. If only people would listen and learn from those lessons today, the world would be a much better place.


  3. Eliza Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal and commented:
    Grew up this way… yes, I’m older, LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eliza, me too. I am 52 so we know a thing or two when it comes to life. Always good to pass on that knowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Eliza Ayres says:

        Mother used to save rubber bands, paper clips, nuts and bolts in small jars. Etc. Saving lots of reusable items.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. My family did that as well. My husband saves egg cartons because we have chickens and now we have discovered there is a shortage of those as well. I think he said they were selling for $3 . It is so strange what shortages show up like toilet paper and now paper products are becoming rare. This is what happens when all the factories in the world are in one area.


      3. Eliza Ayres says:

        Yes, not a wise thing to do… Globalism is dying as a result as people wake up to this little problem.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jane Fritz says:

    Nice post, Little Red House. Your Nana gave very good advice. I think those of us who started out in that kind of environment, in a world before credit cards and easy credit, have an advantage over those who came after, when it became too easy to get what you want before you can afford it. The banks’ encouragement hasn’t helped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jane, so true. We always saved for anything we wanted and that included appliances and new television sets. We try to live a frugal life.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cheri, have I told you lately that you’re one of my very favorite all time people and blogs,
    I love everything you write, every story told, every adventure you take us on, every artful idea? You’ve simply done it again, given us another great post …..AND, girl, you can preach this all day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my gosh, this is so sweet, thank you so much Laura. You and I are very similar. I am feeling a little down about the older generation that is suffering so much right now with this pandemic. . They are lonely, and they are scared and they have so much to teach us all. I wish more people realized how truly important every soul, all ages really are but it is the ones that have been alive the longest that have the most knowledge to share with everyone. We all need to really respect that. I know you are doing your part, you hold a lot of good advice and memories from your life, just pass that down and hopefully there are others in your family that can continue that too. We all need to start keep journals to leave with our families.


      1. I completely agree with every word! We should be so much more like the cultures who revere their elders and reverence their wisdom and experience.
        If we don’t, so much will be lost with them and we’ll be lost because of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know, I agree with you 100%.


  6. Talitha says:

    Reblogged this on Talitha's World and commented:
    “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.” – Deuteronomy 32:7

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Talitha, that is so kind of you.


  7. simplywendi says:

    Thank you for this lovely post……….it brought back some very fond memories of spending time with my beloved grandmother……..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome Wendi, I miss my Nana so much right now. I wonder what she would say about all of this.


  8. cheriewhite says:

    Awesome advice! Our older should be respected and not tossed aside like so many people shamefully do. And like yours, my grandmothers were also kids during the Great Depression and they didn’t allow waste either. My Uma was very wise with money and always-ALWAYS taught us to save, save, save! And luckily she past that little nugget down to us and it’s how I’ve gotten through the toughest of times. I miss both of them so much!
    Thank you for posting this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww…I bet you Uma was so sweet. I miss my Nana and grandma too.


  9. I like your sunny optimism. Thanks for the practical tips and for sharing your process.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this post! Besides all of the awesome tips and ideas, it was lovely remembering some times with my grandparents. Hugs ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grandparents are the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. rachelward11 says:

    I’m 29 and now I’m wondering if I’m secretly older than I thought. Except for the drinking and smoking, I could check off everything on your list that your grandma did. People think I’m odd too, but I try to re-purpose and re-home everything too.
    I loved reading this ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rachel, you are what they call an old soul. I am also an old soul. Sometimes people think we are strange and too serious sometimes but the world would not be balanced if we all did the same things. I like the savers and recyclers of the world. They (we) make great teachers too. And it is so nice sharing the knowledge our older generations taught us. So glad you enjoyed this post, think this would have made my Nana really happy knowing that her lessons would be shared with others.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is awesome…
    Keep up the good work…
    Very well expressed..

    Liked by 1 person

  13. rothpoetry says:

    Your Nana was a very smart and wise women. Such good advice. Much needed today!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I miss her in person wisdom that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. ruthsoaper says:

    I was blessed to learn and appreciate a lot of Grandma’s and Mom’s frugal ways. I love reading books about people who lived during the depression era and earlier.
    The one thing I wish is I had the energy that my grandma had. I remember her being up well before the sun and we would usually wake up to the smell of bread or chocolate chip cookies baking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, they seem to always have so much time and energy to get everything done. My aunt told me a story about my great grandma that still shocks me. She said that she went into labor, went inside to have her baby, then a few hours later was back out on the tractor to finish the field she was working in. That is a hard one to believe but it might be true. My family from my father’s side were all farmers and they came from Ohio. They are the German side that came to this country in the 1700’s.

      Liked by 1 person

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