By Elizabeth Reilly
When Betty was young, Staten Island had a population of 158,000,
compared with 443,000 today. Photo Credit: A. Loeffler / Library
I was born in
Bayonne, New Jersey, on December 7, 1926. When I was 8 months old,
my father, a detective on the Bayonne police force, passed away
at only 28 years old. My mother and I moved back to her parents'
farm in Staten Island, New York. Then she found a job and I was
cared for by my grandparents and my aunt.
I had a very
pleasant childhood. My aunt planted and tended beautiful flower
gardens. My grandmother cared for our home and prepared wonderful
dinners. At harvest time, she and my aunt preserved vegetables and
fruit. Because we enjoyed many vegetables from the farm, the
Great Depression did not seem as serious for our family. Still,
meat was scarce, and once my grandfather thought the butcher sold
my mother horsemeat instead of roast beef!
Why would the Great Depression be harder on people living in cities
rather than on people who lived on farms?