Not growing up during The Great Depression (1929-1939) means I’ll never know what it was like to be starving and without so many of the blessings I have today. But after listening to the stories and watching movies and reading books about the time, I think I have a pretty good inkling of how it could have been.
People were poor and struggled. And every dollar and scrap of food was stretched for as long as possible to get as much as possible from it. To say that times were tough is an understatement, but to understand how people endured is remarkable.
Clara is a 91-year-old cook, author, and great-grandmother who has lived a long life. While she may not have been rich in money (the woman quit high school because she and her family couldn’t afford socks), she is rich in stories and charm. A natural storyteller, Clara has quite the personality and vivid memory to take her viewers on a trip down memory lane. Believe it or not, this remarkable 90-something woman has a YouTube channel, and her videos have garnered millions of views.
What’s so engaging about her content is that she combines her personal experience with historical events and ties them to a topic that everyone loves – food. It’s the way she talks to the camera and is unabashedly herself that ropes you in and keeps you interested. And it’s personal! As good as her recipes are, it’s her stories that are riveting.
In this particular video, she makes a “Poorman’s Meal.” She starts by peeling the potatoes, and in between recipe directions, she pops in little comments and anecdotes. “If we had a bad potato, we’d take the best part out and still eat it,” or “We ate potatoes everyday… potatoes were a dollar a sack. But that was a lot of money, a dollar.”
As she’s lovingly preparing the meal, and chatting away, it’s hard to not go on a bit of a trip through time. She explains how the Depression was bad, and when she was growing a garden to feed her family, a neighbor would pop by with a shopping bag and help herself without asking! Clara recounts the story, “She says, ‘’I didn’t think you were so touchy!’ And I said, ‘I am touchy! I work hard to make that garden…!'”
She explains how hot dogs were cheap, so they’re perfect in this recipe. She cuts them, throws them in the hot pan with the onions and potatoes and says, “Wait until the hot dogs get a little crooked. They’ll bend.” I love her comments and remarks, her soul can’t help but shine through.
Click on the video below to watch Clara take over the kitchen and tell a few stories while she’s at it.