What My Father Told Me About Social Security
My father, Fulton L. Peay (1919-2001) had very strong opinions on Social Security and Medicare. These were largely based on his experience as a child with his widowed grandmother living as a member of the household. He wrote his memoirs of this at my request:
This was before the days of Social Security, and, aside from my father, Nannie had no income at all. My Dad would not welcome her other children on the place [Note: They did not contribute to her support. CFH], and it was a sad and painful thing to my Nannie, something I learned early on. I suppose providing her a home and clothing seemed to Dad all he was required to do, and so Nannie had scant walking around money of her own. One result of this was she learned to write a long letter on what was then a penny postcard, using eyeglasses she bought from the dime store - but she never complained, to my knowledge. She helped Mother cook, clean house, do the sewing on a machine she could make all but sing (It was a Singer sewing machine). She nursed me when I was sick and comforted me when I was scared, which was often. She went to bed with the chickens and rose with the birds all of her life, making the morning coffee which she drank with the steam still rising.
It is my observation that there really were never any 'good old days', nor a house large enough to hold more than one generation of adults with ease. I am also happy that true democracy has brought us Social Security and Medicare, and the righteous conservatives may refuse it if they choose and justify their violent opposition both then and now. There were no 'good old days'.
I will say for my dear Father that, even in the dark days of the Hoover depression, when he and untold thousands were out of work for so long, he never once considered ditching my dear Nannie upon a state which was itself broke and destitute. In those dark days, Nannie must have felt her dependency very much, as her other children and their families were as bad off as the rest of us - and there was no one to help. My Mother's faith in God was solid, and she provided the moral support when she must not have had anything in her but blind faith, and Nannie was ever quietly supportive to me. Perhaps these dark days were, in a way, their finest hour.