In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Andrew Anderson

Three 10th grade students interviewed Andrew Anderson, age 85, at the retirement home he resides in, in Thomaston, on January 14th, 2009. He discusses the differences in different places during the Great Depression, and his father's experience with investments during the stock market crash.

Did you have any troubles getting the basic necessities?

No because you stretch the clothes out as far as you could. And if you had older brother and sisters then you wore their clothes down the line down the line down the line. And uhh… I’ve seen a couple of pictures from the past of school kids that look pretty raggedy. There was no style- you wore what you could get a hold of. My mother at first stayed at home- most house wives stayed at home- and I’m a little ambiguous about that. It pays to have a mother in the house. Latchkey kids didn’t exist. But then when the war came along she was a nurse. She became a first maid inspector- do you want to hear a story about that? I was in the service and a friar came in from Charlestown media and saw us giving a 24 hour pass to go home and spend the night with my parents and by that time my mother had become a meat inspector and the one thing I wanted was hot dogs and my dad said shut up- that’s a cargo standard he called it. Because she was a meat inspector she worked with hot dogs and one day she asked me if I wanted to see how hot dogs are made. And I said yes... and I’ve never touched a hot dog since. Simple as that.

Did you live in Tenants Harbor throughout the whole depression?

No- this is why I can give you two different impressions of the depression- and they were all together different. We were so darn poor around here that when the crash came it was hard to notice the difference- Which isn’t really true because we had alcohol going for us. This was a regular rum running during the prohibition- So there was a lot of alcohol that brought in money. And then the paving during Roosevelt’s administration- ya know they had public road projects paving streets so it wasn’t so bad here. The city was much worse. We moved- I forget which year. I guess in the fourth grade- We moved to the city and that was really eye-opening. I remember there was a millionaire that used to live the summer here. He was a stock holder that worked in New York and he took a shine to my father. It was 1929- sometime in the summer- and he said to my father, “I imagine you have money in the bank, don’t you?” My father says, “yes.” And then he says, “I imagine you put it in the trust company?” and my father said, “The trust companies pay half a percent more than the nationals.” It was 2% for the nationals, 2.5% for the trust company. He says, “I’m not gunna tell you why but get your money out. Put it in the Nationals. Fast. That’s all I’m gunna say.” My father, I guess he thought about it, but he didn’t do it. And all of a sudden- BANG. October came and everything folded and he lost every penny he had.+-