Being Sixteen In The 1930s
Elsie Johnson, 2015

School Activities - Girl Reserve Club - an athletic cub with after school games. Cheerleader - would practice after school. Social Activity - Rainbow Girls - we had meetings and dances on the weekends. Dancing lessons - Tap and Toe Saturday and Sunday Activity - worked at Woolworth’s for $0.15 plus a fraction an hour. (I could buy a nice blouse for $1.00) Babysat for neighbor girl for $0.35 an evening (from 7-12pm and sometimes doing dishes) Usual Saturday home chores: Dusting the staircase Cleaning my room which I shared with sister. Other jobs that needed to be done, ie, dishes. Sweeping the kitchen floor, helping my father too. Fun Times - Riding up and down main Street looking for the action (there wasn’t any!!!) going to “The Lake” in the corn fields - there wasn’t a drop of water, but good music!) Going to the skating rink - “Round and Round”. Once I fell and a dozen skaters skated over me. I still had fun in my teen years - stealing watermelons in the fall and taking them to the Public Park to eat them after we stopped at my mother’s house to get her large butcher knife. Is one of my fondest memories! Of course boys were always on our minds and talked about!

Elsie Johnson 2015
Veronica M. Berrill, 2012

My husband and I grew up just around the corner from each other in Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York. Although I was acquainted with his brother Larry who was my age, I didn’t meet Jack until we were teenagers. Jack lived in a home right next to the Farragut Woods, a large stretch of land at least ten long blocks long and three blocks wide. The woods were “Dark and deep” and lured the children from the surrounding communities to explore. I was warned not to play there, but occasionally I ventured in with my little friends. Jack told me later about the “wars” he and his friends waged for hours on end using rocks and metal garbage can covers as shields. Egg-sized head lumps had to be explained away at home as crabtree apples falling on their heads or some other such fiction. In the early thirties, Jack heard agitation and anxiety in his parents’ conversations about a large housing development that was being planned for the woods adjacent to their home. It was going to be constructed by the Trump Homes Co. [which was Donald Trump’s father’s company. The Donald didn’t make it from scratch!] The news spread throughout the neighborhood and angry residents tried to stop it, to no avail. Indeed, their worst fears were realized in a few years as the huge project was started. Jack and Larry decided that since Trump was an interloper on their space, that they would help themselves to some bricks to build a fort. One night they loaded up their red wagon with bricks, returned home and safely stored them in the backyard. Early the next morning the Italian overseer rang their bell and had a broken English conversation with their father. They were ordered to load the wagon, return the bricks and come straight back home to face the consequences. As they walked back with the bricks, they saw that with all the cement around the building site, their shoes and wagon tires had left a clear trail right to their house!

Veronica M. Berrill 2012