Jodi Lea Stewart

Loving and Writing About the Southwest and the South

Bah or Ahh for Christmas? by Jodi Lea Stewart

I pondered about writing a Christmas blog with meaning.

It’s well known that the holidays are unbearable for some and joyous for others. The same can be said for any day or event of the year, yet it seems to exacerbate during the Christmas season.

Truthfully, it has always been that way.

Whether the reasons for a downcast spirit stem from past memories that darken the heart, or from personal circumstances involving health, finances, or the loss of a loved one, there have always been two holiday and two non-holiday worlds.

Never were those two worlds more obvious than during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Rockefeller Center's first Christmas tree, 1931, erected by construction workers about to get paid
One World ~ Rockefeller Center’s first Christmas tree, 1931, erected by construction workers. The tree is decorated with tin cans and cranberry garlands.

 

Another World ~
Another World ~ Fancy Lady and a Fancy Tree in the 1930s.

Because of the stock market crash, bank failures, and drought, thousands of wealthy and middle-class people became poor overnight. Consumerism slowed to a crawl. Fewer products were manufactured. Jobs were lost.

People were starving, out of work, and homeless. Churches, missions, private organizations, and the government set up soup kitchens and bread lines in the cities to feed the multitudes. Cardboard boxes became home to some, while others meandered aimlessly in shock and emotional illness.

Christmas bread line in Manhattan 1931
One World ~ Christmas bread line in Manhattan 1931.

 

 

Other World ~
Another World ~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back then, some folks had such a polished sense of pride *the good kind,* they found it tremendously difficult to “beg” food by standing in food lines. Yet the alternative might mean starvation for themselves and their families. Certain ones found it unbearably embarrassing and moved to rural

Another world ~

areas to live off the land. Was that any better? Usually not. The poverty of the people who made their living from the earth was sometimes unfathomable.

One World ~
One World ~
Another World ~
Another World ~

Conversely, there were entertainers and athletes who prospered greatly during the Depression.

 

 

 

Another World ~
Another World ~ James Cagney

James Cagney, for instance, earned the equivalent of $40,000 a week in 1933.

With hits like “In the Mood,” “String Of Pearls,” and “Moonlight Serenade,” Glenn Miller and his band had high-dollar success on the radio and in the movies. His salary of nearly $20,000 a week is indicative that big money was “out there,” during the 1930s.

Likewise, the Great Depression didn’t harm legendary Babe Ruth. His $80,000 a year salary (more than a million dollars today) was $5,000 more than that of the President of the United States.

Many of the established American super-rich families didn’t lose their wealth during those perilous times, families like the Getty’s, Rockefeller’s and Kennedy’s.

The survivalist entrepreneurs arose to surf the dire circumstances and grow rich – people like Howard Hughes, Michael J. Cullen and the Hess Brothers, to name a few.

The two worlds of Christmas in the 1930s were physical polar opposites, but what about in spirit and truth? Did depression, anxiety, and a sad life envelope only the poor and disadvantaged? Would people, as Victor Hugo espoused, rise to great moral and emotional heights if given enough opportunity and money?

Perhaps the best example of NO to that question is Barbara Woolworth Hutton. Though she was given a lavish debutante ball in 1930 and was one of the wealthiest women in the world, she was married seven times. None of her marriages lasted more than three years, and her only son was the victim of a bitter custody battle. Envied by all who encountered her, this wealthy beauty took refuge in alcohol, drugs and playboys. Her son died before her, and she died of a heart attack at age 66.

The woman who had everything had nothing.

Contrariwise, many who had nothing had everything, such as families who survived and thrived together in spite of the horribly hard times.

A paradox of opposite worlds

. . . often coming down to choices.

I could choose to be miserable for many outstanding reasons this holiday season, but I’m choosing to be happy, even if it cracks my face, lol! Come on . . . join me. Why not?

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Jodi Lea Stewart is the author of a contemporary trilogy set in the Navajo Nation and two historical adventure-mysteries. More are on the way!

Want to see where Route 66 took a mom and her teenage daughter who were escaping the abuse of the mom’s husband? These two went out of their way to go North from Texas to connect with the Mother Road in Oklahoma City. Live the sights and smells along the historic road as they head into one adventure after another.

THE ACCIDENTAL ROAD

Historical Fiction

 

 

A teen and her mother escaping an abusive situation tumble into the epicenter of crime peddlers invading Arizona and Nevada in the 1950s. Stranded hundreds of miles from their planned destination of Las Vegas, they land in a dusty town full of ghosts and tales, treachery and corruption. Avoiding disaster is tricky, especially as it leads Kat into a fevered quest for things as simple as home and trust. Danger lurks everywhere, leading her to wonder if she and her mother really did take The Accidental Road of life, or if it’s the exact right road to all they ever hoped for.

 

 

 

Trouble sneaks in one Oklahoma afternoon in 1934 like an oily twister. A beloved neighbor is murdered, and a single piece of evidence sends the sheriff to arrest a black man Biddy, a sharecropper’s daughter, knows is innocent. Hauntingly terrifying sounds seeping from the woods lead Biddy into even deeper mysteries and despair and finally into the shocking truths of that fateful summer.

“Beyond the humor and entertaining antics of the main character, Biddy Woodson, BLACKBERRY ROAD has depth and meaning as it explores stirring universal themes that we expect in great literature” ~ D.B. Jackson, acclaimed Historical and Western author

BLACKBERRY ROAD is engaging, entertaining, and a book that is sure to linger with you . . . the trip is well worth the time ~ Cyrus Webb, Host of ConversationsLIVE, president of Conversations Radio Network, tv show host, author, and publicist

 

AN ADVENTURE-MYSTERY TRILOGY YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS! SILKI, THE GIRL OF MANY SCARVES trilogy has no age limits.

A beautiful display of culture . . . I thoroughly enjoyed Silki, The Girl of Many Scarves. As a Middle School Spanish teacher, I am always excited to find culturally and linguistically relevant literature for our youth. You will fall in love with the characters, and appreciate how authentically the Navajo language and traditions are conveyed. This trilogy is a must read! ~ Tara Moore

Just for fun . . .

What am I writing? Why, not to borrow unauthorized media, of course!

“Hey, Marilyn, did you read Jodi Lea Stewart’s newest novel, The Accidental Road?”  

 

“Read it? I was her main consultant, honey.”

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