The Great Depression
                     Hoover Dam

It was a breezy spring day, the birds were chirping in their new homes and my friends and I had just left school. We were sixteen in our sophomore years of high school. “Hey, John!” said my friend Billy.

“Yeah?” I replied. 

“Wanna head up to the theater and catch a movie?” said Billy

“Yeah, sure. But I gotta head over to my house and get some money for it from my mom wanna come with?”

“Yeah, sure. Just hurry up or we’ll miss it.” Billy said eagerly. The walk to my house wasn’t very far it was only a block away. My family and I lived in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. On the to my house Billy was telling me about how his uncle had lost his job and how they were saying on the news that it wasn’t just in Michigan where people were losing their job’s it was happening all over America. I didn’t pay much attention to what Billy was saying though because my family had never seemed to have problems with work. My mother stayed at home and tended to the house and my dad worked in a ford factory making cars. “Alright were here. Do you wanna wait outside or do you wanna come in?” I asked Billy.

“I think I’ll wait out here.” Billy answered.

“Alright. Whatever floats your boat.” I said back to him. When I got inside it was only my father in the house. When I saw him I knew something was wrong instantly. He was sitting on the couch with his head down and his hands covering his face, and all of the lights were off in the house. I went and sat next to my dad and said “Your not lookin to good pops whats the matter?” 

“I’ve been sacked.....they fired me!” My dad replied.

“What! Why would Ford do that to you?” I was in shock, I knew that we were in trouble with my dad out of a job and my mom not having a job. 

My dad answered in a very plain voice, “I don’t know. They just said that in times like these they can’t afford to keep me.” I was so confused. All of a sudden my life took a sudden turn into a totally new direction. I didn’t know how our family would be able to buy food with my parents not having a job, especially having to feed my little brothers. 

“I’m sorry Billy but I won’t be able to catch a movie with yah.” I told Billy.

“Why?” Billy said.

“Family problems. Maybe another time though” I said not wanting to tell him the whole story. Later that night my parents had to try and tell my brothers Jake and Ronny who were twins and both six years old. It was hard to see my parents tell them this because they did not realize how big of a deal this was. 

Later that night I overheard my parents talking, “Bill, what are we going to do?”

“I don’t know Sandy. We’ll figure something out.” My dad answered.

“I think that we will have to send Jake and Ronny off to my sisters until you can find a job. They will be better off there for now.” My mom said.

“What about John?” said my dad.

“I think he will be fine to stay with us don’t you? He could even try to find a job washing dishes or something.” Said my mom.

When I heard my parents say that I had so many things running through my head. I was scared that we would have to send my brothers away and I didn’t want to get a job washing dishes at all but I knew I had to if I wanted my brothers to be able to stay with us.

A week had gone by and my dad hadn’t found a job but my brothers were still staying with us. My parents didn’t tell my brothers about them possibly being sent but they did tell me not knowing that I had already overheard them talking but what they did say is that if my dad and I didn’t find a job before the end of the month which happened to be in two weeks. Later that night while sitting in the living room listening to the radio with my family this came through. 

“Are you looking for a job? Are you good with your hands? Then do I have great news for you! We are looking for people to help us build the Hoover Dam in Nevada. We pay plenty of money and will accept almost anybody” After I heard this my dad and I made eye contact then we both looked at my mom as to say can we?

My mom looked at us like we were crazy and said “No way! It’s way to dangerous, and John your to young!”

“Come on I’ll keep him safe and we need the money.” said my dad defensively.

“Please mom.” I said

“Ugh! Fine! But if anything bad happens you are both coming back!” Said my mom finally giving in.

“Alright I promise nothing will happen to us.” Said my dad.

Throughout the week my dad and I  prepared to head out to Nevada to work on the Hoover Dam. I was getting nervous as the week passed but excited for the opportunity at the same time. It took a couple of days for my dad and I to drive all the way to the Hoover Dam but when we got there we saw that we were not the only ones to have heard the announcement there was a huge line of men of all ages waiting to get the job. we knew that they had been constructing the dam for about two and a half years but we had no idea that it was almost done if I hadn’t known any better I would have thought it was finished, it was huge and it went up way higher than I had imagined.       We waited in line all day until finally we were in front of a small but tough looking guy who was wearing dirty clothes and looked like he had not shaved in a couple days and he was chewing on a toothpick. When he saw me he looked me over then asked “How old is ya?”

“He’s fifteen. Almost sixteen.” My dad said cooly.

“He a good worker?” The old man said

“He sure is. He’ll do anything you ask.” said my dad

“Is this true?” said the man looking at me

“Yes it’s true, Sir.” I answered nervously

“Alright then. Hey! Donny! Come down here and show these guys to there bunkhouse!” 

A taller built looking guy came up to us and said, “Howdy! I’m Donny whats your guy’s name?”

“I’m Bill, and this is my son John.” said my dad

“Well nice to meet ya. Your bunkhouse is over here on the left. You will be sharing it with two other guys. Meals will be served at six thirty in the morning, noon and at seven o’clock.” Our bunkhouse was about fifteen feet wide and the same length, it was also very dirty and had flies flying around it. There were two other men in the bunkhouse they looked like they were maybe twenty five years old.

One of the men turned around and said, “Hi! I’m Terry and this Darren. Were brothers.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Bill and this here is my son John.” My dad said.

“So why are you two out here working?” said Darren. 

“We needed some money for the family. What about you guys?” My dad said quickly.

“Our mom got sick and couldn’t afford the hospital bill so we come out here to make some money for her.” Said Terry.

“Well i hope she gets better. Well we need to get some sleep we’ve been going non-stop all day. Said My dad then we went to bed.

Working on the Hoover Dam went rather smoothly over the first five months or so. It was hard work but it paid well enough for my mom and brothers to live well back at home. One day though I had a weird feeling the day just didn’t seem right and that feeling meant something because later that day my dad fell of a ledge while we were  pouring the cement and fell down about twenty onto another ledge. I thought for sure he would be dead but when I got down to the other ledge he was surrounded by other workers as I pushed my way through them I could see that he was moving slightly. It looked as if his legs were broken. Everywhere. An ambulance came and rushed my dad and I to a hospital where I was informed that my dad would need surgery and may never be able to walk again. I had to call my mom and tell her the news and she was not very happy and said that she was going to follow through on her word and make us come back home. My dads surgery went well and he was able to walk again but with great difficulty. He knew that we were going to have to head home but was ok with it because my mom had been able to find a decent job while we were gone and she would be able to bring in enough money until my dad found a job.

It took my dad about a month to find a job that would hire him because he was a cripple and shortly after I graduated from high school I joined the Navy in World War two but thanks to the hoover dam my family and I were able to pull through the great depression and go on to have great lives.