The Creativity of Poverty

When you have no job, but you have six children to feed and clothe, you get creative. My Irish grandfather had beautiful handwriting, so he parlayed that skill into a job making signs around town. My Russian grandfather did odd jobs around his town, and his wife, my Russian grandmother, made dandelion wine. She actually turned floral weeds into an alcoholic beverage.

Dandelion Wine:
5 quarts dandelion flowers
10 quarts water
Plenty of sugar
1 yeast cake
Orange peels
2 lemons
She filled several large pots with dandelions and water, and then she soaked them on the stove for a long time. The following day she strained the liquid through a cloth. Next, she added the sugar, yeast, orange peels, and lemons. The liquid needed to sit for a while before adding more sugar. The final step was to pour the wine into bottles, which she stored in the basement until the fermentation was complete, and they were ready to drink.
That was an example of the creativity that people of the Great Depression used to provide extra income. I always think of this whenever I see dandlions blowing in the breeze.

Weeds = Money


I found this recipe in the old diary in my father’s dresser—the diary he never told us about.  This was the diary that was one of the keys in unlocking his story that lead to a book, Do Svidanya Dad: Tracing the Story of an American Family Trapped in the USSR.


About kjw616

I am a genealogy detective. I have already written one book about my Irish family's journey from 19th century Ireland to the United States- a family history sprinkled with personal anecdotes. My second book was intended to be a similar story about my Russian ancestors. Instead, it turned into a tale of just my father's immediate family. It is the tale of what happens when 6 children from New Jersey are moved to the Soviet Union by their Russian-born parents during the Great Depression. It details who lives, who dies, and who is able to return to NJ during a time when leaving the USSR was not an easy endeavor, particularly during World War II and the Cold War. It is my hope that those interested in history during this time period will find this story fascinating as well as those fellow amateur family historians who will learn some of the tools such as, visits to the National Archives, and local libraries I used to uncover this story.
This entry was posted in My Book, The Diary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Creativity of Poverty

  1. JUDY CARMICK says:

    Time for you to make this wine!

  2. Pingback: Grandpa Got Caught | Do Svidanya Dad: Trapped in Russia

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