The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of the United States 1932-1972

Manchester, William

Little, Brown, 1973

p. 42

In 1932, “millions stayed alive by living like animals. In the Pennsylvania countryside they were eating wild weed-roots and dandelions; in Kentucky they chewed violet tops, wild onions, forget-me-nots, wild lettuce, and weeds which heretofore had been left to grazing cattle. City mothers hung around docks, waiting for spoiled lettuce to be discarded and then fighting homeless dogs for possession of it. After the vegetables had been loaded on trucks they would run alongside, ready to snatch up anything that fell off. A cook in a midwestern hotel put a pail of leftovers in an alley outside the kitchen; immediately a dozen men loomed out of the darkness to fight over it. . . . whole families were seen plunging into refuse dumps, gnawing at bones with rancid strips of meat attached, or at watermelon rinds; a Chicago widow always removed her glasses so she wouldn’t see the maggots . . . . It was considered benevolent by well-to-do Americans that year to give your garbage to fellow countrymen who were famished. The Elks of Mount Kisco, NY, and the eating clubs of Princeton University instructed their servants to see that their leftovers reached the needy. The Brooklyn Eagle proposed a central depot where edible swill could be sent by charitable citizens and where the poor might apply for portions of it.”