On Nov. 21, 1931, when The Union Democrat ran the pre-Thanksgiving editorial below, debate over whether the stock market crash of 1929 had spurred a slump, a recession or a depression had long since been resolved. The Great Depression was grinding on the nation in earnest, and the Mother Lode was hardly immune.

Among "Notes and Comments" on the paper's editorial page:

• If you want to know whether there is a depression or not, try borrowing $100.

• Famous last words: The depression is only psychological.

• Even an honest man can't pay his debts if he has no money.

• There may be a depression in this country, but thousands of

the depresssed are able to attend the big football games every week.

The paper remained upbeat in the face of gloom, gleefully telling

of how the Sonora Elks are paying "Old Man Depression" no mind in

planning a gala Thanksgiving-night party and - in a postscript to the

words below - reminding readers they still have much for which to be


In light of the present-day economic uncertainty, a look back at

these dire times - and at the optimism which nevertheless persisted -

seems appropriate:

Back in 1928, when the speculators were merrily blowing up their

bubbles of rainbow-tinted hues, much was said to the effect that the

United States had entered a new era of prosperity, and that never again

could it sink back to the same old level. Under the inflation of this

excitement, stocks sold as a rule for double and perhaps triple what

they were really worth.

Feeling that they had made great profits by speculation, people

threw money around lavishly. This extravagance spread to all classes of

society. Most people lived beyond their means. A great balloon of hot

air and gas simply had to blow up. The least spark was sufficient to

set it going, and it disappeared into thin air with a grand bang.

From the explosion thence resulting, many were injured and some

have never recovered. Many others are still suffering from the wounds

they received. But such experiences, while tragic for some and

distressing for others, always bring benefits.

One great benefit which comes from such and experience is having

its reviving effects already. People are learning that the old

principles of earnest work and careful prudence are those upon which

the human race makes its gains.

Millions of people who were neglecting their business and work in

order that they might speculate, and in order that they might spend

time and money in foolish dissipations, have quit such ways, and have

settled down to their own jobs.

They are working hard, producing more than ever before and saving

money. Many of them are saving too much for the public good and could

well spend more, and if they did it would help business.

But at least all this energy and thrift is building a new and very

solid foundation for a more real era of prosperity than we ever had


And the postscript: Thanksgiving was a wonderful old holiday. Even

in the old Puritan times when it originated, it brought laughter and

merriment into the most solemn home. It was from the beginning a day of

sunshine. It should be today. Its message is that people should cheer

up, see the bright side, have faith in life and their own powers, and

recognize their debt to the giver of all good.