Brother, Can You Spare A Dime – The Great Depression

Jim Slack (1889-1935)

Jim Slack (1889-1935)

One of my favorite stories left behind by Mollie Moore Godbold concerns her brother-in-law, Jim Slack. Jim and Mollie’s sister, Clara, lived with the sisters’ mother, Sarah Moore, in a beautiful home that still stands right down the street from me here on Elm Street. Those of you who know me know that I am not big on government programs of any kind. What I am very big on, however, is people helping people…and that is why today’s story resonates with me.

It seems that the month was December, and the setting was Fort Worth, Texas. It was right in the midst of the Great Depression when Jim Slack left the Blackstone Hotel with no real destination in mind. Before he had taken many steps, a man asked him for enough money to buy a hot cup of coffee on that cold winter night.

Jim asked if the man wouldn’t like something to eat with the coffee as well, and when he was answered in the afirmative, he walked with the man to what was described as a small hole-in-the-wall cafe where the aroma of Irish Stew filled the air. Jim paid for the stew and coffee and left the man eating there.

It wasn’t long until another man asked if he could spare enough for a cup of coffee, and again Jim escorted the man to the cafe and paid for his meal. After Jim had fed a third man, he began to really think about just how many there might be on the cold streets that night…cold, out of work, hungry men.

Jim Slack walked into an area pool hall where he sought out the toughest looking man there, a man who also looked very hungry. He told the man that he would like to feed some hungry men that night if he would help him find them.

After feeding the tough first, Jim set out with his companion who quickly took charge, knowing just where to look for those men Jim sought to feed. Each man was asked if he were hungry and if he had any money. If he was, and if he didn’t, he was given money for stew and coffee and directed to the little cafe. They were also given an extra quarter, the price for renting a cot for the night.

After their work was done, the man that Jim believed had been a prize fighter escorted him back to the Blackstone where Jim gave him a dollar before they parted. According to Mollie Moore Godbold, she was one of the few people who ever knew this story….until now….

…And I hope this story makes all of us search ourselves to see just how often we give of ourselves when we see a need…

About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for and marketing small-town Texas.
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One Response to Brother, Can You Spare A Dime – The Great Depression

  1. Missy Jones says:

    Fredda, iIhave talked and written about being born along with the Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. After we moved from Big Spring, Texas (in a covered wagon), we were living at what was always called “the Fowler Place”, off of Highway 36 east, near the road CR 222. this was 36 highway then, but had been the road bed of the “Cotton Belt Railroad”. Other relatives told of hobos riding the train who had stopped at their houses for something to eat. When we moved there, before 1936, it was the highway, and we still had unemployed men stopping by for something to eat. I remember my Mother always fed them, sometimes she had leftover sausage and biscuits from breakfast, and this made a pretty good meal. also she would give them homemade pear preserves between biscuit halves. Now, these men wanted to work but there were no jobs to be had. And, no unemployment, no food stamps, no nothing. One time, about 1935, a young man came by and my Daddy hired him to build us a new outhouse. Obviously he was a nice man, or my daddy would not have brought him into the house. My daddy bought new lumber for this job. Anyway, he stayed as long as this job needed, and he built the outhouse out of the new lumber, it was a “two holer” and he made a special small ” sized hole” for me.
    Now, there is no one left in my family to help me with this story, but I do remember the man at the back door and my mother handing him sausage and biscuits and pear preserves and biscuits. And I remember the nice young man who helped my daddy. Maybe this gave him a boost on down the road, maybe to a job or back to his home. People today talk about hard times, they have no idea of just how bad times were back them. Missy Jones

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