BC: By: Mollie Forman & Sam Hall
FC: Frank Romano's Scrapbook | "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow."
1: Marta My Wife and My one and only Love. | Below is a picture of my sons Jimmy(on the right) and Joe( on the left).
2: Dear Diary, September 1, 1929 My name is Frank Romano and I am 28 years old. I live in an apartment building in downtown Jersey City. I have a wife and two kids. My wife’s name is Maria and my two sons are named Jimmy and Joe. Jimmy is ten years old and Joe is fourteen years old. I currently own a bakery that was once owned by my father before he died from cancer. The doctor said that it might have been cured if we had caught it sooner, but we caught it late. After all, we couldn’t even pay the doctor full price, so a bad evaluation of my father’s sickness could have been suspected. Anyways, my bakery is only five blocks from my house, which makes it easier to get to work and back home. Lately, the bakery is making a large profit currently; it is enough to pay for the interest on the loan for my apartment and food for my family. I am living better than most people who are in the same apartment building as me. Some of my favorite hobbies are fishing, gambling, and playing piano. It seems like an odd combination of hobbies but I enjoy doing each one. My favorite is going fishing on the Hudson River with some of my friends who also work at the bakery with me. I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to gambling. I love to win and come home with spare cash to use for my family, but at the same time, losing your money is one of the worst things. I started to play the piano when I bought one for my apartment just for the hell of it. I taught myself how to play and I will sometimes play for my two sons for fun. Although it may seem like I have a lot of money, I really do not. My business is doing very well but I do not make a whole lot of money from everything that we sell. Many of the businesses in downtown Jersey City are flourishing, but I think this could turn out to be bad. People are buying lots of all sorts of things and the businesses are relying on the consistent purchases. It seems like there are a lot of extra materials that are being made in some cases. However, some businesses continue to come up with great profits and people are continuously buying their products.
3: The very top picture is an early image of the family standing in front of the bakery. | The outside of the bakery | The inside of the bakery
4: Dear Diary, October 1, 1929 My bakery is doing better than it has ever done. The amount of food that we are making and selling is the most I have ever seen this bakery do. For the last three weeks, we are almost doubling the profits we usually make in that amount of time. I don’t know what it is but people just seem to have a greater need for baked goods than before. The bakery is now packed every day until it’s about supper time. Our business is also running very smoothly. The bakers are working hard and producing the specific goods that we need quickly. We have also had one machine that usually needs maintenance every week, but we have not needed to fix it for almost a month now. As I am coming to work, I look at the businesses around me and they are all doing well, too. It is almost like things are too good to be true. Anyways, with all of this extra money, I have been able to buy better quality food and more of it for my family. Last weekend, we had a bunch of the guys from the bakery come over to have dinner at my house. We had a good time and I was surprised at how much money that we had left over. It is hard for me not to go gambling with this extra money. I try not to go but I went last Wednesday and I tripled my starting amount. Also, when I went fishing, I caught a nice big seven-pound bass. I took it home and my wife gutted and cooked it for the family that night. Things have been turning out really well in my life, and I don’t know why it is. I have had such good luck in every aspect in my life and it doesn’t make sense why. I think this may be a matter of good karma but I am not very sure.
5: Dear Diary, November 5, 1929 A week ago, the stock market fell and today people started running frantically to the First Gully Bank next to our bakery in search of their money. Every bank had no money to give out; they didn’t have it in the first place. All the ‘money’ in the bank was an illusion since it was mostly loans. Mr. Dewy, head banker at First Gully told me they only had $1,000 in the bank, enough to hand me my life savings. Last Tuesday, after hearing news of the stock market crash, I was first on line to receive my money. Many people don’t have enough money for food this week, so I gave them free breakfasts. There was a line around the entire block; starving children who hadn’t eaten all week hugged my ankles. It felt as if I was the mayor throwing money into the crowd. Just like other people I too am losing money fast. I’ve decided to close the bakery for a week to save money; I can’t keep giving out food without any profit. My family is running on low income and I don’t know how much longer we can pay our loans on the house. Not only do we have a loan on our house, but we have a loan to buy our baking ingredients. Since losing money giving out free breakfast I need some cash to buy bakery supplies, therefore I use my gambling skills. Around the corner from my house there is a secret club called Lloyd’s. In my younger days I used to take my paycheck there and double my earnings. This time was different. I lost $10 in the course of 20 minutes. Boy oh boy, when I went home Marta who was livid at my carelessness. I used to win all the time; I don’t know what is wrong with me! Not only have I lost money gambling, but people have stolen goods from my bakery. It seems as my life is falling apart, and to top it off my wife and I are fighting. I can’t seem to control my anger and fists. Last night I gave Marta a black eye, and ran down the street to the bakery, then cried. I don’t know if I can handle this stress of trying to support my family any longer.
6: Dear Diary, November 11, 1929 Thursday came and went; I stayed in the bakery for two nights. I didn’t know how to confront Marta. The guilt of everything overpowered me. Tonight I went back home to a surprise of welcoming children and wife. Marta acted like the fight never happened, although the eerie presence of my guilt lingered in the air. Jimmy and Joe clung to my legs and moved with me as I walked. It warmed my heart to see that they had not been affected by the stress around them. It has been evident that everyone is losing money and this ‘depression’ is here for the long haul. Marta and I received a notice while I was gone about our rent payments. Apparently we missed a week of rent and we owe twice the amount we usually pay. At this moment we just don’t have the money. Since the bakery has been closed for this past week I’ve been looking around for small jobs elsewhere. The docks near the Hudson looked promising. Late in the afternoon I had been strolling around the pier fishing, when I saw a line of about thirty men loading crates onto freighters. I thought to myself, “Well, I’m strong, young and can follow commands. This is a sure job.” Then I ran into old Billy Fresco who told me he saw one hundred men in the morning, lined up for a job on the dock. That means I have a thirty percent chance of making money, thirty percent chance of supplying food for my family and thirty percent chance of paying the rent. My plan is to be the first man at the docks in the morning. Hopefully I will catch the eye of the dock manager with my strong build. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that, kneading dough for over twenty years has paid off. Hopefully I am chosen; somehow I have to make these ends meet or else my life as I know it may fall apart.
8: Dear Diary, November 30, 1929 Today, there is a rally down by Trenton because President Hoover is coming through there to make a speech. A lot of people from around here are going to go to make a point to the president. I’m the only one in my family who is going to go because my wife needs to look after the kids while I am gone. I’m going because I am completely against the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. This is causing me to pay more for ingredients that are needed to operate a bakery because now imports and exports have higher taxes. Although it is closed, it is going to help re-open the bakery if I can have the ingredients. On top of that, there is someone stealing the ingredients from the bakery. I have set up mousetraps around my bakery for while I’m in Trenton. I had told my wife and kids to stay away from the bakery. I have another man from the bakery that is looking after it for me. I will make sure I give him a better pay when I re-open the bakery. But that doesn’t look to good with ingredients being this hard to obtain. Additionally, the Dust Bowl has put prices of their crops on the rise. The government has not done anything to help them and they are not doing anything to help all Americans. Hoover’s mindset is that there is nothing that anyone can do to help the economy or the agriculture. There are plenty things that he could do that would help the farmers. He could provide farmers with fresh water or food. It seems like he is too scared to go there in the first place and he won’t help them. This is also affecting me because now it is harder for me to even get food for my bakery and more importantly, my family. Hoover needs to step up and make a change. He is the leader of our country and he is failing to help anyone. I know for sure I will not be voting for him again in the next presidential election.
9: Above is President Franklin D. Roosevelt | On the bottom is the early President Herbert Hover
10: Dear Diary, November 25, 1929 I have been back from the rally for two weeks and four days and things are not looking any better. I don’t think that the rally in Trenton had made an impression on Hoover because he hasn’t done anything. At the rally, he didn’t say much and he looked like he didn’t care what our needs were. He looked at us like we were all idiots and he was doing the right thing by not acting when we are the ones who are actually suffering. No one’s situation has improved since the rally. Farmers are still being hit with dust storms and can’t grow a crop. There hasn’t been rain for them in a long time. Their soil is becoming very dry and this makes it hard to grow anything. Therefore, the prices for wheat and flour are higher than they have ever been. I don’t know if I will ever re-open my bakery if this keeps going. On the other hand, while I was gone, someone snuck into the bakery again and got caught in four mousetraps. The burglar got away but has not came back since then. I still set up the traps just in case he decides to come back again one night. The food in the bakery is all that my family has. My family is still struggling with basic needs and we are having bad luck. My two sons are looking for jobs and my wife is helping me find ways to open the bakery. I will sometimes go with my boys and wait to be hired by someone to get paid a little money. There is almost no one that has money to pay off workers for a job anyways. When there is someone who comes by, I make sure that at least one of us gets hired. Until then, we need help from the government. Our president still has yet to make moves that will help us. Prices need to be lowered in order to have people buy things.
11: Dear Diary, January 1, 1930 It’s been three long grueling months of working the docks. The bakery has been locked up for safety and stealing concerns. The dock work is back breaking, it and sometimes pointless. Larry Goul, main overseer makes us lift over 200 bags of sand a day to keep the ships balanced. No one dares moan, money is scarce. Death stares will be given out to the first man to fatigue, because this means more work for the rest. It’s the never ending soreness throughout my body which lessens my desire to work as well. The fact that I lose weight quicker than ever before is frightening; I eat the cheapest food I can get my hands on. My diet consists of bread, an apple and whiskey. After work, my soreness and money flies away at local bars. I can no longer get a high off life, so whiskey takes its place. For a short period we lived in Hooverville because the docks don’t pay nearly enough to keep up rent. I used left over beams in storage at the bakery to build the walls and tin to roof it. Yes, we got cold, sick and disheartened, yet our love for each other remained. The children found an abandoned sheep dog who kept them warm at night. Joe and Jimmy named him Lucky. Lucky was truly the epitome of the saying, “Dog is man’s best friend”. Lucky would play with the children when they had no one else. Catch was their favorite, and then Lucky ran away one Sunday night. The time Lucky was there helped my family cope. Our situation was parallel to that of many others, it was the small happy moments that helped the coping as well. Hooverville has been a haunting experience for us. Every family scavenges for food, more shelter and money. There are tin sheds where streets used to be. Coping with the emotional ups and downs of living in a box is the toughest part. Hopefully we find a way out of here as soon as possible.
12: Dear Diary, March 16, 1933 One day after eating my daily dusty, stale piece of bread I decided to make a rash decision. I would try my hand at gambling one more time. Heck, I had nothing to lose. I stopped drinking for two months to save up some money to gamble. Exactly two weeks ago, it was a cool Friday night in March of 1929 and Lloyd’s club was hopping. The big rigs were in town assessing their companies’ productivity. I knew that night was my only chance to turn my life back around. I went out with twenty dollars in my pocket and came back with five-hundred. I re-opened up the bakery once more, and gave free food for a day to the people in hooverville. I was also able to find another house to rent. As the bakery started up once more, I got regular customers coming in. Sure it wasn’t tons of income, but it was enough to keep us afloat. I’m beginning to learn to live life to the fullest, take every opportunity given and take risks. If not for that idea to gamble to get money, my family would still be in Hooverville. Who knows, we may have been one of the unlucky ones who perished. Among the people we knew who died during the first four months of the depression was Mr. Dewy, the hotshot banker. He was mauled by a crowd of people in search of their life savings. When they heard he didn’t have any money they went crazy. The flaw in the system caused Mr. Dewy’s death. I have to say Hoover was the worst president America has ever seen. Now that I’m doing better I try to feed the homeless. I sometimes shelter the sick in the attic and give free breakfasts to the children. I’ve learned people rely on others and if anyone wants to survive you have to help each other out.
13: Children and their mother waiting for the morning breakfast from the bakery | Stale bread that Frank suffered through eating
14: Workers that Frank wants to rehire after the store makes more money.
15: Great Grandparents | Parents | Grandparents | Dear Diary, March 29, 1934 Ever since Roosevelt became president, my life has become easier. He has done a whole lot to help our economy and agriculture. The Agriculture Act has helped drop the prices of crops. This makes it easier for me to buy the ingredients I need in order to re-open the bakery. Food is much easier to obtain and I can feed my family now. We may get our apartment back soon as well. This would make it much easier because we will have a place to store stuff like food and money. I don’t think that I will ever trust a bank again in my life. I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there that would agree with me too. When I finally get back up on my feet, I will buy a safe to store my money in. I will not trust someone else with my money anymore because I don’t want to lose it all again. My two boys are getting jobs each day and helping pay off for all of the food for the bakery. I’m hoping that I can re-hire the crew that I had before. The New Deal has facilitated getting ingredients like flour and wheat. Prices are much lower than they were before. Farmers have gotten back onto good fertile soil and they are growing all of their crops again. I can’t believe that our economy has completely turned itself around. President Roosevelt’s New Deal has relieved Americans all across the country. This proves that former president Hoover could have done something to help our country. I am glad that I voted for FDR for president. The efforts that he has made has changed the lives of many all around the country.
16: Dear Diary, April 21, 1934 I have noticed that a lot of businesses around me are beginning to open again. The ones that are on my way to work, like the butcher shop, are on back to normal once again. And finally it was time for the bakery to re-open. After a lot of hard work from all of the bakers and my family, we have opened up the bakery once again. FDR’s New Deal is the pure cause of this happening. The drop in prices made it easier to purchase the right ingredients and now the bakery is fully operational. I once again have an income for my family so I can pay for food. Now my two boys are working at the bakery as well. Some of the bakers that I am friends with are teaching them the ways. One day, I plan to pass on this bakery to both of my sons when I am no longer able to do it myself. Lately, drinking has not been a problem to me as much. I have stopped drinking a lot less than I had in the past. This has helped bring my family together after going through some tough times of the Depression. I have gotten back to doing the things that I love. I went fishing yesterday and caught four five-pound fish and brought them back to my apartment. It’s good that I can fish because I don’t have to spend as much money as I would on food. I love to fish anyways and I am good at it too. The bait at the fish shops are much cheaper than they used to be and this is because the New Deal made it easier to obtain the ingredients needed for the bait. My life has been turned around and I am now back up on my feet thanks to the relief that I got from the New Deal. My life is much more enjoyable because I can do all of the things I love and I can take pride in them too.
17: A look back at Frank and Marta on their wedding day.
18: Citations "Photo." Web.
19: Citations "Photo." Web.
20: Citations "Photo." Web.
21: "Photo." Web.
22: Citations http://deadfolks.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/menfarleft.jpg http://www.fashion-era.com/images/Wedding/1920s_weddings/1920_vera_october_wedding.jpg http://22.214.171.124/~cwbryant/granhist_03/images/oralhistory_images/021GHSFutererBakery%20OPT.jpg