The Face of Poverty Then and Now.


The other day I posted a historic picture that my sister sent me on Facebook. There was a number of comments that tended to place the mother in a negative light, however there was a comment from one lady that seemed to understood the meaning of “relative well being”, her comment is as follows:

“The reason for that poster is to remind people how well off they are today. There is always woman-with-childrena place to turn to, even the internet. What you get may not be brand name stuff/food but it does the trick. In 48 it was a short time after the war and food was in short supply along with all the jobs. So many thousands of people were thrown into poverty because all the factories that made bullets and bombs and all that was needed for war was no longer needed. The reason they ‘sold’ their children was to make sure they went to a home that was capable of taking good care of them, if they could afford to pay they could afford another mouth to feed! It was better to have your child looked after by someone else than to die of starvation in your arms!”

Her comment had a familiar ring to it. During the 40’s my grandmother became a widow and was challenged with raising 9 kids with no social safety net. There was no “social assistance”  program and there was no medicare.  My grandmother and the eldest went to work at whatever work was available to hold body and soul together. She knitted socks, mitts, hats and patched clothes until they couldn’t be patched any more.They learned to survive with a wood stove, kerosene lamps, no running water and a garden in the back yard. They became resourceful and developed a quiet strength and determination that comes from meeting and beating the challenges of life.

When I hear some people talk about how tough things are today I have to smile when I compare it to my roots. How many N.B. companies have complained that they have been unable to fill semi and unskilled positions? Today’s poverty; the social assistance cheque, flat panel TV’s at home, cell phones, cigarettes and a Timmy’s double double waiting with the taxi and the doors of the food bank to open.

What would my grandmother think of poverty in 2016?