Beccy Tanner

The event “Dirt, Grit, and Jell-O Salad — How We Survived the Great Depression” takes place at 7 p.m. March 17 at the Community Center.  

Beccy Tanner shares observations of community, hardships and survival in rural Kansas during the 1930s Great Depression. Her presentation creates conversation about the ways it is relevant today, specifically during a pandemic.  

“It is something that I think as we go through uncertain times it doesn't hurt to know how our families have survived,” Tanner said. “You know, what sacrifices did they make? What was important to them?”

As rural Kansas faces aging communities and fewer services, the presentation aims to remind people of their ancestry’s survival methods. Tanner first took a class about the topic at Wichita State University. 

“Part of it is, the boomer generation, we grew up with parents and grandparents who were part of the Great Depression,” Tanner said. “The emphasis of the talk is how they survived it and how in turn we survived it particularly when we go through financial fluctuations.”

Tanner’s interest in the topic came partly from the shift in the Kansas Census. 

Until 2010, the Census showed most Kansans identified as living in rural areas and now the majority of the population identifies as urban — an important factor in how we look at ourselves, Tanner said.  

Eudora Community Museum Executive Director Ben Terwilliger chose this event to build upon the upcoming July program marking the 80th anniversary of when construction began on the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.  

“It’s good context for what Kansas was like before the sunflower plant opened because it was a pretty difficult time for a lot of people,” Terwilliger said.  

Karen La Pierre, director of Hoisington Public Library, brought the Humanities Kansas presentation after the COVID restrictions let up and people ventured out again.. La Pierre said the event was a success and Tanner is a knowledgeable and entertaining speaker. 

The free program is sponsored by Humanities Kansas and will be one of six in 2022 occurring.

For those unable to make it to the community center, the event will also be available to watch live on the Eudora Area Historical Society Facebook page. 

This story has been corrected to note the proper anniversary of the plant.

Reach reporter Daisy Bolin at eudoratimes@gmail.com.

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