I was born in the middle of the Great Depression; I lost my mother at seven months in an auto accident. My dad was off to the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work program that operated from 1933 to 1942, and then he was drafted for World War II.

I was raised by my grandparents, who had 10 kids of their own. Grandmother did the wash on a scrub board using octagon soap bars, cooked, was up to make my school lunch and saw that I was dressed in my best Sunday clothes for church.

On my first day of kindergarten, my grandmother walked me to Alamo School and then I was on my own. There was no worry of some nut kidnapping or abusing a kid. Doors and cars were left unlocked, and giving a stranger a ride was a nice thing to do.

During World War II, a lot of things were rationed. There was no packaged food. Chicken and turkeys where bought live — and you cleaned them. By today’s standards, most all of us kids were extremely poor, but we did not know it. Those were happy times.

We didn’t have Facebook. We understood that it wasn’t how many friends you have, but to how many people you were a friend.

There were no police in school. The teacher would notify the principal, if necessary, and you might get a paddle. If that did happen, you did not dare tell your parents lest you get another one.

It was a time where you weren’t concerned about what kind of salary you made. Instead, it was important not to compromise your character to get it.

Martin Luther King Jr. had it right when he said, “It’s not the color of your skin, but the content of your character.” King wanted equality, but I think he would agree that responsibility goes with it.

Is it responsible for people to live in expensive public housing that is much better than the homes of a great number of working and retired people who are paying the bills?

Immigrants are swarming across our border to take jobs as carpenters, cement workers, painters and roofers — all once honorable jobs held by our citizens. All the while millions of U.S. citizens are being paid not to work, and 20 percent of all households are collecting food stamps.

Our nation is at the point where there are more people in the wagon than there are pulling the wagon, yet we expand programs where school districts have food trucks that bring the meals to the students’ homes. These programs teach dependency instead of responsibility. The fact that the nation is borrowing $91 million every day to add to the nearly $18 trillion debt seems not to be a problem.

People back then didn’t say “I love you” — their actions showed it. My one regret is that my grandparents are not around, so I could tell them how much I loved them and that I appreciate them for teaching me the real values in life.

Jack Cross lives in Texas City.

(11) comments

Claudia Burnam

Excellent article Mr. Cross. Thank you!

PD Hyatt

Wow. Awesome article that was filled with much truth.... Only problem I saw with it is that no one in power at this time gives a hoot about honor, decency, morality or anything else that is good.... What once was called evil is now called good, what was once called good is now called evil....

E.J Petree

This article needs to be sent to syndicated to every newspaper in the country. In addition, a copy needs to be sent to congress and the White House.

Great article!!!!

George Croix

Half the country sold it for some 'federal money', and political correctness...


Mr. Cross didn't have to come out with this story this morning, but he did! This story undresses our present day society, leaving it to STAND NAKED before God and the world, exposing our empty sense of values, void of integrity, character, and hard work ethics!
If falls on a man to be poor, there is nothing wrong with that!!! What's wrong is if that man STAYS poor!!!! There were a time when I was young, and I WISHED I was poor, because I was in a state of being "PO"....! There is a difference.
When Mr. Cross and I came along, kids had to do chores, and work for things they wanted. They were in a character training mode. The least option they were given was they had to pay a potion, as good faith and for training them how to work for what they wanted. That practice is for the most part is now obsolete, ancient, and antiquated! A thing of the far past! It is common now for kids to learn dishonesty by watching their parents cheat on each other, hide money, and purchases, from each other and cheating on their taxes!
We have those in this country, who are our "UNCLE SUGGA" and who props us up! This country is good at that! Why, .. we even go overseas and PROP up other countries' militaries! Our soldiers die fighting for other nations in the name of freedom, but we have seen time and time again, that after we are forced to bring out troops home, those who were PROPED UP, comes tumbling down, and great is the fall!
It happens like that in a man's life too! Allow me to say this and I'll be done. The poor is not the problem,...IT IS THOSE MASQUERADING AS THE POOR which is bringing us down! It is like the parable of the Tares and the Wheat! It would seem that you tolerate weeds to a degree among the wheat for fear of harming the wheat, if the weeds are extracted! You have to do it, at the right time for the right results!
This is not happening in this country today. PEOPLE are cheating the system more today than ever before. Why? Morals, integrity, character, are absent in many living in a spiritual bankrupt society which has been led to "EVOLVE" away from them by the devil!
One outstanding article Mr. Cross, it has been a while since I've read one as HARD HITTING as this one! SEND THIS THING TO WASHINGTON DC!!!!!!!

Lars Faltskog

Sure, we've all heard these stories, and it behooves us to use them to appreciate what we have. I don't envy the immigrants doing the hard labor/temporary jobs, nor do I think those on the wagon want to stay there if there were some way they could attain true affluency.

I remember grandma saying she only had one piece of gum to last her a whole month or so, and she'd affix it to the bedpost. Today, most of us reading this paper can do so online and go out to the local CVS and obtain Dessert Delight Raspberry Shortcake multi 3-pak gum anytime. I wouldn't want to live in the Depression years. To yearn for those "good ol' days" I think is a bit unrealistic.


You missed the WHOLE point and message in Mr. Cross' article![sad]

Daniel Durbin

Mr. Cross, this is an exceptional article.

Is anyone else concerned with what the future generations will deem morally good, true and valuable?

Lars Faltskog

Today's BIBLE verse! WHOOP!!!

"Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool."



Donnie Kelemen

Great article Mr. Cross. It is indeed frustrating to see luxurious housing being built for those that can work but choose not to. On average, $275K per unit of hard earned tax money. Nothing is wrong with the old "barracks style" housing. I lived in them once myself and I appreciated having a roof over my head. The difference is at least in the old days you speak of, people strove to get out of public housing through hard work. It seems like that is sadly lacking these days.

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