"The Best and The Worst"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, June 18, 2011

In several columns, Ruby Maschke was the best contributor to the paper, including the AP writers.

When she decided to semi-retire, I remarked we would miss her.

In case anyone doubted my beliefs, she stepped up and once again displayed her keen ability to relate her experiences to her readers. Admittedly, she said she verified some of her recall with her friend, but throughout the article, she was right on.

In case you missed it, her column appeared in the Tribune’s Saturday, June 11 issue. It began with a question she was asked by her grandson: “Is the present recession as bad as the Depression of the 1930s?”

I found the question interesting and details in her response enlightening. Ruby has a few years on me. I did not live through the Depression but my folks sure talked of it often.

One of the things Ruby did was divide the people of those times and describe how different groups were affected. People who lived on farms were hardly impacted because they grew their own food, mothers made their clothes and most farms were family-owned. She compared folks who lived in the country to her family who lived in the city, where there were no vegetable gardens or barns with fresh meat and milk. Mothers in the city did little or no sewing and many families lived in rented homes.

Ruby described her dad’s Studebaker, which she loved riding in, and how they had to sell it during those tough times and rely on public transportation.

Childhood illnesses were difficult to deal with because of lack of health care, and when she had to be hospitalized, her parents had to ride a bus to visit her. It’s hard to imagine school clothes amounting to two changes for weekdays, one pair of shoes plus a Sunday church outfit, as Ruby recalled.

Today, everyone expresses how hard times are — and for many they are. Perhaps I can describe how things were during what was called the recovery years following the Great Depression. Our country entered a time of war — WW II. Many of our men were called upon to serve by the draft, but probably just as many joined up. Women went to work, taking the men’s places on the factory lines making tanks instead of automobiles. Families in the cities gathered at nearby vacant lots and planted what were called victory gardens. There were a variety of veggies, such as corn and potatoes. Each family took a turn weeding and hoeing the plot and all equally shared in the harvest. Meat was scarce because of rationing. I remember saying how good horsemeat tasted. Gasoline was rationed and rubber tires were very hard to obtain. Christmas, even after the Depression, was about the way Ruby described it: A small package with underwear and a toy.

It’s hard to relate those days to today’s tales of hardship. I’ve heard of families having one of their cars repossessed and being forced to share one. Many homes with four car garages and six bedrooms and a balance owed of more than $200,000 are being foreclosed. So many people spent two wages a week and never considered losing one or certainly not both incomes. Putting money away, saving, was never considered. Times were great, and the money would just keep rolling in.

In past years, unemployment payments were unheard of. Somehow, people found a way to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. I’m sure each family member may not have had their own bedroom and certainly none had their own phone or TV. Most young people had to help by getting odd jobs after schools. The 1930s were tough years, as were the 1940s, years of rationing and young men leaving their families, but eventually things improved and we have to hope they will this time also.

Just as I related in past columns what a great writer Ruby Maschke was, I also told you LeBron James was not the superstar he thought he was.

I recall seeing him play against the Suns while I was visiting Arizona and he was touted as the Messiah of the Cavaliers. I said then he was a one-man show, and way too fond of himself. It was shortly after that he began being referred to as King James.

After all the build-up and fuss made on ESPN when he made his dramatic decision to play for the Heat and Cleveland’s bitter disappointment at losing him, we can only wonder. Was he ever as great as he and the media thought he was, and when was he ever a team player? He was truly childish when he had to accept the fact his team lost and let the fans down.

I’m a Heat fan, half of the year at least, and I believe they could have won without the King.

It was exciting to watch a team that had never won a title and whose players had never played on a championship team take the trophy. Although they had only one superstar (he is 7 feet tall), they all played as a team, and when their star had to sit down, they still pushed through. It’s too bad their victory was overshadowed by media commentary about how bad James played, and why, and “Oh, woe is poor James.”

As I see it, we should all add our congratulations to those of Ohio’s governor, who issued a proclamation declaring every Dallas Maverick an “Honorary Ohioan.”

To conclude: We encountered one of the best out there this week, Ruby, and perhaps one of the worst, James. I know which one I would like to see more of.



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