photograph showcase

Photograph Showcase: On the Cusp of the Great Depression

PETERSON, Rulon, Naomi, Ronald and Janice, 1929 by the car
Rulon, Ronald, Janice, and Naomi Peterson, 1929

This has always been one of my favorite photos.  I love so many things about it!  The car is fantastic.  My cute Grandpa standing on the running board in his overalls is so adorable.  My great-grandmother, Naomi, looks especially beautiful and a little bit fierce.  Her hair is so awesome.  Baby Janice, is just being a baby, totally uninterested.  Great-grandpa Peterson looks so relaxed, dapper, and self-assured.

And yet, here they are, a young family, just beginning and about to endure the Great Depression with the rest of America.  Rulon and Naomi would go on to have four more children during the decade of the 1930s.  Rulon would make some brave and risky employment changes that would pay off and keep his family fed.  Naomi would sell eggs and work hard to be frugal both in expenditures and in efforts to bring in a little money.  They would weather the storm well.

But in the Spring/Summer of 1929, when Great-grandpa was working as a car salesman, and they were a young family of four, Rulon and Naomi had no idea what they were about to face together.

No one did.



18 thoughts on “Photograph Showcase: On the Cusp of the Great Depression”

  1. Hi there. I’m popping up from my rabbit hole to catch up with everyone. I think this is a wonderful confluence of events. I will be posting about the Great Depression, too. Nobody expected what was to happen. Your Grandmother doesn’t look fierce, I think she has a determined presence about her. It’s too bad the word “fierce” has been overused for fashion and entertainment divas so that now it’s kind of lost its edge.

    Your Great Grandfather sounds like his temperament helped him to survive. One had to have an inbred sense of humility to accept the drastic changes that took place after the crash. A person could be on the top of their game before the crash and then after that so desparate for work they took up any kind of a menial job to survive.

    Look forward to your postings about what your Great Grandparent’s lives were like.

    1. Thank you EmilyAnn. I suppose I did use the word “fierce” much like the fashion industry does. Too much “America’s Got Talent” got to me I suppose. Here is the background – my Great Grandma was terribly insecure. She didn’t like any attention. She wrote in several letters that she just wasn’t any good at certain things and felt bad about that. Those things were pretty much always to do with Great Grandpa – not good at entertaining groups for him, etc. When she was young, she wrote in a few letters about how she didn’t understand why Rulon (her future husband) would ever want to marry her. She didn’t think she was pretty or talented at anything. When I opened this photo in Photoshop to clean it up a bit, I zoomed in and noticed how determined she looked. The set of her jaw, the angle of her head, the look in her eyes – I was so surprised that she didn’t look at all like the shrinking violet she was. I suppose “fierce” may not have conveyed what I was really thinking. Either way, I love this photo and I especially love that for once, she looks confident and independent. And for the record – she was amazing and very talented even if she didn’t see it.

      Great Grandpa was quite the businessman. He was a hard worker and very humble. He was a cattle rancher.

  2. It’s like a time-machine, don’t you think? You are these people’s future, a future most of them couldn’t know. I love this photo, and it’s always a little jarring to realise that a child in the photo was eventually a grandfather.

    1. Thank you, Katie! Not at all – a suit for everyday wear would get really old. I have started wearing dresses more frequently throughout the week, but that is because I found a handful of really soft dresses that are great for casual dress. They are comfy and cool and I am always hot. But Great Grandma’s dress is definitely not a casual, comfy, summery dress!

      1. I used to like wearing dresses when I was younger as well. I’m not really opposed to them at this point either, but they just don’t feel incredibly practical for what I do on a daily basis. Also, I feel like a cow on stilts when I wear heels! :))

    1. Thank you, Cathy! I wasn’t planning on it, but both you and Amy asked, so I suppose I should do that. Not just for the two of you, but it would be great for my family to have a shorter version of how they got through the depression. My Great Grandpa wrote a personal history that is around 80-100 pages or so. The sections to do with the depression are fascinating and much shorter. It would be worth my time to pull those sections out. 🙂

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