Personal Legacies:
Surviving the Great Depression

Robin Edgar

CPCC Press, 2006. ISBN 1594940142.
Reviewed by Peggy Talley
Posted on 03/09/2007

Nonfiction: Memoir; Anthologies/Collections; Nonfiction: History/Current Events

Robin Edgar's compilation of remembered histories from those who survived the hardships of the Great Depression gives us a very satisfying look into the memories of those who lived in and around Charlotte and Mecklenburg, North Carolina, during the years of 1929 to 1939.

Realizing that the youngest of these survivors are now in their seventies and that their stories about these years will soon be lost forever if they were not recorded now, Edgar interviewed about ninety people. She edited their comments into stories about their families, their occupations before and after the depression, their lessons for survival and their advice to future generations. They share with us the stories of the grit, determination, and work ethic of the families who lived there during those years and who opened their hearts to those even less fortunate than themselves. Abundant are the stories of loyalty to family and friends during times when even food was scarce.

There is recurring mention of feeding strangers who came to the door asking for food. The men patiently waited for the availability of work of any kind, for any length of time. There are repeated memories of mothers using washtubs, washboards, boiling wash pots, bluing and Octagon soap. Families walked to church together and prayed together. Faith and caring for those in like circumstances were the only things remembered by all in abundance.

Edgar's experience as a creative non-fiction writer and in teaching reminiscence workshops around the country helped her isolate the heart of twenty-five of these stories of guidance, wisdom and self-worth. The book will serve well to inspire other writers to gather and record their own family or community life stories to share while we still have time.

Check out our interview with the author of Personal Legacies.

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