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Small Potatoes: Boyhood Memories of the Depression Decade in River Falls
Memoirs of George D. Foss: River Falls SC 417

Small Potatoes is a collection of memories about growing up in River Falls, WI, during the Depression era. George D. Foss reminisces about life and activities in River Falls; poverty, job loss and the WPA; and recalls childhood stories about attending matinees at the old Falls Theater, going to Glen Park, and Christmastime during the Depression. A hard copy of Small Potatoes is held at the UW-River Falls Area Research Center and University Archives as well as the Pierce County Historical Association in Ellsworth, WI. Small Potatoes is available online at USGenWeb.

The Foss family in 1937
The Foss family in 1937
"I learned what it meant to steal." Excerpt from Small Potatoes:
I recall an incident that occurred while we lived in the Denzer house. I don't know the exact year this happened, but at the time of the incident I didn't know the real value of a dollar. I would guess the year was about 1934 or I was home alone one afternoon and I spotted a silver dollar on the top of my folks dresser. I didn't know how much it was, but I knew it was valuable because it was so much bigger than a familiar nickel. Since there was no one around I decided to take it and buy some candy. I went downtown to Mueller's Corner Grocery Store. Then I proceeded to pick out some candy and handed old man Mueller the silver dollar. He said "wait a minute, you have some change coming." Well, my eyes nearly bugged out of my head when he kept putting change into my hand. There were quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies. I only thought about how rich I was. Then it started to sink in that I had really gotten into more than I had bargained for. What to do with the big bag of candy, and what to do with all that change? I went down by the railroad tracks and hid it all under a big rock. After I got home no one had missed the dollar yet. Soon, however, a crisis swept over the family. My folks never accused anyone, but they never let up in their relentless search and discussion about it. This went on for several days. I was aware things were bad, but I didn't realize the scope of this. I never let on that I took it because by this time I was scared to death, and I didn't know how to confess...Instead of thinking that I had gotten away with the perfect crime, I realized from that time on what it meant to be honest.




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