Lessons From My Great Depression Dad

June 17, 2020

  Getting Through Turbulent Times:
Lessons From My Dad

The year was 1938.  The country had been in a Great Depression for 9 years.  An 18 year old, jobless man from Stanley County, joined thousands like himself at FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps. That man was Walter James Burris, my father, shown above. The CC Camps put men to work, provided housing and food, but not much money, building infrastructure, parks and more. One notable CCC project was the Blue Ridge Parkway.

A funny thing about the Great Depression was the way it changed the way people viewed life.  As I look at our current times and the uncertainty many of us face, I remember the advice from my Dad who lived through the Depression, a World War, Polio and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some of his lessons for me included:

  • Save for hard times as they surely will come one day.

  • Learn how to use your hands or you'll wind up paying for everything you need.

  • Be willing to work hard.  It builds character.

  • Be thrifty with your money and you'll have some when you really need it.

  • Always tell the truth.  Then you won't have to remember what you've said.

  • Never give up on something that is important to you.


Just as my Dad's life experiences shaped his outlook on life, our own experiences with the current pandemic and economic downturn will change the way we look at things and perhaps steer us to make some changes.  Dad survived and thrived in his life leaving behind three sons and a daughter.  Growing up we didn't always have all we wanted, but he made sure we had everything we needed. Hope, love, a roof over our heads and food on the table.

Thinking of my Great Depression Dad and our present environment has helped me to appreciate many things I had unfortunately began to take for granted.

Here wishing all you Dad's out there a good Father's Day!

– Jim Burris


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