Eagle Archives, May 9, 1933: $5 Seems Big to Many Local Unemployed | Story


Between stoves and beer, shoes and electricity, spring coats and insurance premiums, 10 unemployed Pittsfield workers, when asked what they would do with five dollars, hesitated and racked its head in a total dilemma.

For some, five dollars was such an indescribably high sum, and for others so totally remote, that they were hesitating between the many places and ways to spend the money. A semi-unemployed man, who has set up a small grocery store on his own in recent months, expressed his feelings as follows:

“Possession of five dollars would be such a shock that I would have to sit down and think quietly. However, I would definitely make a mental note of where the money is coming from and be there quickly the following week for more.

‘I would buy myself a good, worry-free night’s sleep by paying some money back on my furniture,’ said a local resident who is haunted by fears that his furniture will be taken from him because he can’t. meet payments. . A loan he took out on his furniture allowed him to manage for a while without charity. He had been off work for 18 months.

An interesting family angle is found in the case of a former factory worker and his wife who have starkly opposing views on what five dollars should be able to accomplish in terms of comfort and entertainment. The husband insisted that every five dollars that comes his way be spent — or at least part of it — on a good Oktoberfest. The woman would like to spend five dollars on a spring coat, or perhaps save on the electric or gas bill, which last month only cost her 32 cents.

The father-of-six, who has appealed to a local charity for help, says kerosene provides a cheaper method of heating and lighting a home than any other type of fuel. With five bucks he would install a small oil stove for the summer and probably buy a fair amount of extra fuel.

Shoes are a big part of any unemployed dad’s business. Two of the unemployed who were asked what they would do with five dollars said they would buy shoes for the children. And by shoes, they don’t mean a pair, but two or three.

“Second-hand shoes are one of the things that almost never go well,” commented a man who has three school-aged children. “The shoes we are given are rarely the right size and my children spent the whole winter with wet feet. As for me, I would spend five dollars on shoes for the children.

Fear of a pauper’s funeral haunts a family, where the father is unemployed and the insurance policies for each of his five children are about to expire due to his inability to keep up his payments.

This story within a story is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.


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