Friday, February 6, 2009

Holy Folders Give Students Insight Into Great Depression

Jean Koon explains what a typical meal was like in her home while Kitty Robinson looks on.

“We survived and so will you,” was the statement echoed by seven ladies, called the Holy Folders, who told their stories about living through the Great Depression to fifth graders at Kedron Elementary in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Over and over again the group, known as the Holy Folders because they meet every Thursday morning at their Lutheran church to fold the church’s programs, compared the worldwide economic downturn of the Great Depression to that of today. The group said times were more difficult then than for students today. Many of them had to walk long distances to school and then return home for lunch because they had no money. But in spite of their financial difficulties, they spoke fondly of their childhood experiences.

“I lived a happy life. We didn’t have a lot of toys so we made up our own games. We are living through a depression now but you’ll get through it just fine. All of us did,” said Hope Dunlap who was living in New Jersey at the time of the economic collapse.

One by one the ladies, ranging in ages from 80 to 102, shared their childhood memories with the students who, over the past several weeks, have been interviewing people who lived through the Great Depression. Following a presentation to all of the fifth grade, the Holy Folders and students broke into small groups to have a one-on-one question and answer session.

Students were inquisitive about what life was like back then and wanted to know everything from modes of transportation and energy sources to the types of toys available and food that was eaten. Many were surprised to learn that most children had one or two toys, if they were lucky, and that meals were not as elaborate as today.

“Our food was very simple, mainly staples like eggs, bread and milk,” 94-year old Jean Koon told her group.

When asked about dessert, the students were surprised to learn that it was not a regular part of a meal. Koon said when they wanted something sweet, her family would take a piece of bread, spread it with butter and sprinkle sugar on the top. The students frowned at the idea.

“It’s really good. You should try it sometime,” said Koon.

Fifth grade teacher Lynne Tait organized the Holy Folders’ visit to the school. After the presentation and talks with students, the ladies were treated to a tea reception complete with china and table linens.

The Holy Folders are Nancy Burnett, Lorraine Davies, Evie Bowman, Hope Dunlap, Jean Koon, Kitty Robinson and Fran Knotts.

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