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It was the 1930s. We were in the midst of the Depression, and everyone was trying to survive. My parents and their friends helped one another. 

My dad was a baker, so he always worked; everyone needed bread. Dad worked at night, usually coming home about four in the morning. He went to bed and slept until the smell of fresh coffee awakened him at midday. 

Mom made delicious coffee served with condensed milk. With papa’s rolls smeared with butter it made a substantial meal to start the day. Occasionally Mom shared with the Wittenbergs. 

Mom’s friend, Mrs. Wittenberg, had real problems. Her husband, a painter, had fallen off the roof of a house he was painting and could not work. Each week, Mom would look into the pantry to see what she could spare — toilet tissue, soap, canned goods – and take it to the Wittenbergs. 

Mrs. Wittenberg sewed two dresses from the fabric Mom gave her — one for my sister, Phyllis, and one for me. 

(I could not understand why everyone used last names instead of first names to address one another. It must have been a European custom.) 

As the years passed the Depression eased, and Mom even sent bundles to Britain.

Sylvia Barkin-Hahn

Sylvia Barkin-Hahn reports from her Phoenix retirement community.

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