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Minnesota's Greatest Generation

Mary Joy Dean Breton: "Work Ethic Ruled"

Growing up during the Great Depression left a lasting impact on members of Minnesota's Greatest Generation. Mary Joy Dean Breton, whose family lost their home during those hard times, shared her thoughts on the lessons she learned from that experience.

Growing up in poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s permanently influenced my way of life. A few examples:

Before I purchase anything, I stop and ask myself, "Do I really need this?"

My dresser still holds several tailored shirts I created for myself some thirty years ago, and I wear them.

Holes in my socks are darned.

The Depression experience bred in me conservation of resources and concern for the environment - a habit of reusing and recycling everything possible; driving used cars with maximum mileage per gallon of gas.

I seek out organic food whenever possible.

Gifts of clothing for my young granddaughter come from the Good Will or other used clothing outlets (her mother, my youngest daughter, Jeannine, shops at these places also).

During the Depression, our family's survival demanded that everyone in the family work - helping with gardening and doing the many chores required for managing our household. The work ethic ruled. Consequently, today I continue to struggle against being a workaholic.

Source

Breton, Mary Joy, Share Your Story: Part I: Surviving the Great Depression - Our Plunge Into Poverty. Minnesota Historical Society: Minnesota's Greatest Generation Project, 2008.

Breton, Mary Joy, Share Your Story: Part III: Living Off the Land Minnesota Historical Society: Minnesota's Greatest Generation Project, 2008.

Breton, Mary Joy, Share Your Story: Part VII: Recovery and Relief. Minnesota Historical Society: Minnesota's Greatest Generation Project, 2008.