Tuesday, July 19, 2011

They just started all over, Albert & Nellie

     1938 found the Geldards struggling through the Great Depression. 
 A young husband and father of 3 girls found himself homeless. The house they called home had been lost because there was no work, no paychecks, which meant no mortgage payments made to the bank. 
His name was Albert and he was my grandfather.
Albert in front of the home he lost.
     Instead of filing for unemployment, welfare, or food stamps they did what people did back then...moved in with family. My grandmother Nellie had a brother who lived in Vidor and so they moved with their daughters into a garage with a dirt floor. I am sure there were plenty of terrible moments of despair and hopelessness. I am sure there was embarrassment. I am sure options were few, 
but they found a way to start all over.

     Albert vowed he would never go into debt again. He lived up to this vow. They found an acre of land in this logging community of Vidor and paid $25 down. They paid $25 a month until the $150 for the property was paid in full. 
Albert & Nellie on their land in 1939
Albert was a carpenter by trade and so he started building a home for his family. First just 2 rooms and a shanty kitchen. As cash became available the house slowly expanded. 

Albert's oldest daughter Helen in front of their home around 1940
     My grandmother didn't get to go down to her local building supply and choose her flooring, fixtures, doors, or moldings for her new home like I did. Albert would trade materials with other contractors. One was grateful for any building materials. Eventually the house had 2 bedrooms, a real kitchen, bathroom and even an upstairs loft. 

I often wonder what he would think of our wasteful culture. I think we could do with some motivation to try and live by their generation's motto: 

"Use it up 
Wear it out 
Make do or 
Do without!"

I tried to follow that advice as I was renovating their home which became Nellie's Cottage. One such project was digging up bricks from his old patio and creating a landscape focal point.

I tried to use as many "found" materials for the renovation of his home as I could. We salvaged the original living room ceiling, kitchen floor, and cast iron kitchen sink.
I like to think he heartily approves of what I have done with his home!

Albert found a way to overcome a terrible trial.
I admire his courage. 
I am amazed at his perseverance. 
I am proud to be his granddaughter. 
He not only was a hard worker and honorable man, 
he was a survivor and 
he knew how to start all over...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful story! I love it! Definitely the inspiration I need. I've been reading a book about the Great Depression, A Secret Gift, and I'm trying to learn these lessons. You're so wonderful! I see where you got it.