During the Great Depression, Sam Brody grew up in a Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, apartment shared by two families, three people to a bed.
Today Brody, 88, is retired from the advertising industry and living on Connecticut’s Gold Coast.
Surviving an extreme recession is one thing. Eventually retiring in style is another. Brody’s experience during such uncertain times can teach us a lot about managing our own finances and the importance of saving today.
“You knew there was a rainy day coming up sometime,” says Brody.
During the Depression, it was routine for many to wear hand-me-down clothes, and for children to make - not buy- toys. Brody remembers his uncles peddled women's hats on the Coney Island boardwalk. (They made the swami-style hats with scraps from the knitting factory where they worked the night shift.)
Brody took time to tell MainStreet some more of the lessons he learned during the Depression.
Great Depression Lesson No. 1: Take whatever job you can.
Brody always had three or four jobs during high school and college, where he studied electrical engineering. He worked as a bus boy and a waiter at a resort in New York’s Catskill Mountains, delivered tuxedos and babysat.
“Now you probably get a job on a ship, these Carnival [cruise] ships, and be a waiter on those things,” Brody said. “There’s no stopping you.”
Brody also served in the U.S. Army during World War II, took advantage of the G.I. Bill to go to Brooklyn College, and then worked as an engineer for Westinghouse in New Jersey. In the 1950s he moved to advertising, representing illustrators and photographers, and later producing commercials.