Black TuesdayTuesday, October 29, 1929, marked the official beginning of the Great Depression when the stock market "crashed". Bank closings followed, and the suicide rate rose. Within a year, a cloud of despair and hopelessness had drifted across the country only ten years removed from 'the war to end all wars'.
Dust Bowl to New DealOn the Great Plains, drought and dust storms decimated family farms, and people packed up what they could carry and began to flood toward the west coast in hopes of jobs and a new start. Many people, especially teens, took to 'riding the rails', and hobo camps sprang up as well as Hoovervilles (named for then-President Herbert Hoover), shantytowns where folks tried to survive. Often these unwilling migrants walked past billboards advising them to "Keep going--we can't take care of our own." Soup kitchens tried to feed the hungry; back-door handouts became a way of life.
Then in 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt replaced Hoover and instituted the "New Deal" with work programs to stem the tide of unemployment. Still, it wasn't until the country geared up for a second war in 1941 that the cloud of Depression finally began to lift.
Enter Lenore Seldon
Gently brought up and completely sheltered, Lenore Seldon expects to become a wife and mother until the boy next door dies in France. Her father directs her to business school, and after graduating, she becomes the personal secretary to retired state supreme court judge Amos Sutherland who later finds himself defending Alan Ashley's right to head his family's business.
Despite his cynicism, Alan is drawn to the quiet young woman who accompanies Judge Sutherland to Rumers Crossing for the duration of the legal battle. In the flush of victory, he offers her a job at twice the salary. To his astonishment, she walks away.
Ten years later, he finds himself astonished again when she walks into his study to interview for the job of personal assistant. Though he's made up his mind to hire a previous applicant, something in the weariness of her voice changes his mind.
A casualty of the 'crash'Like so many, Lenore Seldon was a casualty of the economic nightmare which paralyzed a once-vibrant nation. And, like so many, she knew she had to do whatever necessary to survive. Alan Ashley dangled the job like a carrot, but he imposed certain conditions. Now Lenore had to make a decision--as well as keep the secrets accumulated since she had last seen Alan.
Tomorrow:Lenore guards her secrets, but reading between the lines of the interview may tell you what you need to know.
LinksThe Great Depression
Images of life in America after the crash
The Dust Bowl
Riding the Rails
FDR's New Deal