Women of the Depression: Caste and Culture in San Antonio, 1929-1939

By Julia Kirk Blackwelder | Go to book overview

[5]
Adapting: Occupational Segregation and Unemployment

The Depression didn't affect me because we were all on the same level then. --Janie Reeves, domestic worker

Well, there are no girls in Geo Huntress' office this morning but Julia Haas and a Mrs. Riley who came down but was not supposed to. --May Eckles, clerical worker

Dora Reyes, 131 Monterey St., and Trinidad Martinez, 15, said they were gassed on the picket line. --Testimony in the 1938 pecan shellers' strike1

FOR most of her adult life Janie Reeves worked as a domestic in San Antonio. During the 1930s she lived in the homes of the people who employed her. Her employers were military personnel, and when an employer was transferred to another post, she found a position with another family without great difficulty. Life during the Depression passed much the same as it had during the 1920s and as it would during the 1940s. She had plenty to eat and a roof over her head, but she had little money to spend. May Eckles watched nervously through the Depression as her fellow clerical workers in the abstract office and surrounding offices were laid off and as her salary was cut time after time. She grew anxious about taxes, mortgage payments, and food costs, but she found ways to postpone payments and to generate a little extra income. Trinidad Martinez's family sent her to work in the pecan-shelling sheds while she was a child. In 1938, at the age of fifteen she united with fellow shellers in striking against a pay cut. On the picket line she joined Mexican-American girls as young as eleven years who were tear-gassed or beaten by police in the biggest strike of the decade.2

____________________
1
Anonymous interview, May 26, 1979; Eckles diary, March 7, 1933; San Antonio Light, February 24, 1938.
2
San Antonio Light, February 22-24, 1938.

-75-

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Women of the Depression: Caste and Culture in San Antonio, 1929-1939
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • List of Illustrations xi
  • List of Tables xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Introduction 3
  • [1] - The Neglected City 13
  • [2] - The Family and the Female Life Cycle 25
  • [3] - Coping: Middle- and Upper-Class Women 43
  • [4] - Working: Women's Participation in the Labor Force 60
  • [5] - Adapting: Occupational Segregation And Unemployment 75
  • [6] - Home and Shop: Wages and Working Conditions 90
  • [7] - Unemployment Relief and Emergency Job Programs 109
  • [8] - Women and the Labor Movement 130
  • [9] - Crime: the Role of Women 152
  • [10] - Consequences 168
  • Appendixes 185
  • Sources 255
  • Index 273
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