“Thrift is the spirit of the day. Reckless spending is a thing of the past.”
The blurb is from a 1930 Sears & Roebuck catalog, but it could also reflect discussions at kitchen tables and in Capitol rotundas some 80 years later.
Many parts of a new exhibit about the Great Depression, which opened Monday at the Washington State History Museum, echo the feelings from the country’s most recent economic collapse.
The exhibit in downtown Tacoma, called “Hope in Hard Times: Washington During The Great Depression,” tries to put current events in perspective. Dozens of people turned out Monday, a day the museum usually is closed.
But a drizzly holiday was a good day to spend peeking inside the past. Museum staffers said attendance was brisk. They attributed that partly to a first-ever offer: People who brought a donated can or box of food received free admission.
Visitors are invited to participate in the Depression exhibit: at a play area where children can dress in 1930s clothing and on a bulletin board where people can pin personal stories of their Depression memories.
The board had about a dozen on the first day. Many were about parents and grandparents who learned to live without. One was a recipe for “vinegar pie.” The contributor noted it was “my grandfather’s favorite – tastes like apple.” Two tablespoons of cider vinegar did the trick.
In the section devoted to everyday objects such as quilts, dishes, toys and clothing, Christopher Pihlman, 5, walked through with his light-up sneakers flashing electric red. His parents, Jeff and Michelle Pihlman of Steilacoom, shared memories of their grandparents freezing berries and keeping them for years.
“We grew up seeing our grandparents saving things and re-using things, and our parents making fun of them,” said Michelle Pihlman. “I do want (my kids) to see how hard it was for people. Even now, it’s nothing compared to this.”
The exhibit runs through Nov. 4. More information is available online at www.wshs.org.