This interview was conducted by Andrea Hubbard on January 25, 2007 in San Antonio, TX. as part of Palo Alto College’s History 1302 – Spring 2007 class.
Gerald Max Hubbard was born in Coleman, TX on May 28, 1928. His parents were Alfred Pickney “Pink” Hubbard (deceased) and Bertha Elizabeth (nee Corder) Hubbard Dyer (desceased). There in his hometown he was a mischevious little “wolf” as he likes to tell me when he is recounting fond memories of his childhood. As a child he was fortunate enough to survive The Great Depression that the nation saw between 1928-1941. He was the youngest of six children in a family that was struggling to make it through rough times. His mother sacrificed a lot for him and his brothers and sisters to survive this dark time. During the Depression my Father’s first job was picking cotton in the fields.
He still misses his pet Turkey that he traded for a Radio-Flyer red wagon; so that he could sell scrap metal during war-time. He first came to San Antonio in 1942 where he started his first job as an Ice-man delivering ice up and down South Presa Street. He later retired as a Meatcutter of 35 years. Later on in his life he attended school at San Antonio College where he went on to graduate and receive his Real Estate License which he is still using today. He likes to tell stories about the Real Estate Business in young San Antonio when Walzem Rd. was the far far Northside! He married my mother Benita Hubbard (nee Gonzalez) on November 10, 1975. Everytime I talk to him he always has endless accolades about his Mother’s “water buscuits, and water gravy.” Today he is a retired Meatcutter/Real Estate Agent, who is still a practicing Landlord for his self owned business: Cozy Cottage Apartments (located at 4530 S. Presa St.)
Desrcibe your Hometown of Coleman. What was there to do (not having to do with the Depression, just normal things) growing up?
I had my dog I was happy. I did alot of things like sell scrap iron, chicken eggs, hubcabs. I think it was pretty tough. Pecans on the bayou, Milk bottles, soda bottles, papers were all sold by me. There were 5 bottling plants in Coleman: Coca-Cola, RC, Nehi, Dr. Pepper, 7-Up and when the drought came through it dried up almost all the water and there was no more water to make soda with so they all pulled out of there.
How long did the Great Depression Last?
The Depression lasted from 1928 to about 1940; It was because Pearl Harbor happened in 1941 and that’s pretty much what ended the Great Depression. When WWII started with Pearl Harbor I remember listening to the radio and hearing FDR say, “I hate war, Eleanor hates war, but our country has been defide and so now we declare war.”
What was the Great Depression like?
Suicides were common because people had lost everything that they had so they had no reason to keep going, and there was a lot of worry and confusion. Worry, because people didn’t know what was going to happen.
Desrcibe your childhood during the Great Depression?
It was a bit scary, my mother, not knowing if she was going to have enough food for the entire family. I would sometimes come home from work later (when I was older) and my own father wouldn’t wait around for me to start dinner and my mother would save some dinner for me so that I would get a chance to eat.
Did your Mother ever have to find a job during the Depression?
No, she never had a job. she was a divorcee with 6 kids.” She was basically a homemaker.
Did Grandma Bertha ever receive support from her ex-spouse?
Not one penny, and he never really had contact with any of us.. and in fact Pink Hubbard was starving and she helped support him later.
Did you ever have to find a job to support your family?
I was too young to have a job, but my brothers worked to support the family. They worked of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) They worked for less that a dollar a day at a bowling alley as pin setters; for the Works Progress Association (WPA) which was an organization that FDR started in 1936 which found jobs for people who had lost everything in the Depression. They also worked for the National Recovery Association (NRA) an organization that would supply struggling families with supplies like money or food for the week (almost like weekly rations).
What was your first job?
A Paperboy waking up at 4:00am and delivering papers! Then when I got thirsty (after my route) I would steal the milk bottle (that the Milkman would deliver..fresh) and sell it for a nickle…I loved that job! It was easy!
Back here at home; how did you survive the Great Depression?
By the Grace of God! I used to have several little jobs. When I was little I had a turkey and I really loved that turkey; but I had to sell it for a red wagon to collect scrap iron for the war, although if I hadn’t of sold it I think someone would’ve ate it. Remember, desparate times called for desparate measures! I also pulled cotton for a penny a pound. I would sometimes steal chicken eggs and sell them too.
What was a day of pulling cotton like?
We had to wait in the morning for the cotton to get dry from all the dew; or else it would weight too much and then we couldn’t sell it. For lunch we were fed a couple of cans of pork and beans and we would pull it from sunup to sundown, until it was too dark to see to pull.
Did you make any friends?
I was too busy..well actually all of us were too busy to make friends. I pulled cotton among the Blacks and Mexicans, and there was no competition or descrimination of who pulled the most cotton. I did make some friends though, most of whom I’ll never remember.
What were Grandma Bertha’s “Water Buscuits” Like?
They were the best that I’d ever tasted! The women around the neighborhood couldn’t believe that she didn’t use milk in them (since we didn’t have any) some of the ladies thought that she cheated and did use it, but I always knew that my mother was just a good cook!
Later on when you were older, did you ever try to go into the military to defend the country?
I voluteered for every branch of the military: The Merchant Marines, Navy, Air Force; but they didn’t want to take me because I was too tall and skinny. They did however, agree that they would put me in the infantry; but I said “NO! You’re just gonna have to draft me!
Were you close to your faith during this time? Did you go to church?
Sometimes I would go to church. Mom would take me to church, but I didn’t know or understand anything that was going on. She would take us to the Methodist and or Lutheran Churches.
What did you do when the Great Depression was over? Was it hard to adjust?
We moved from town to town to try and make a living. I had to change schools several times; and since I had to change school so many times I went through the second grade and seventh grade twice! At one time I moved to Miller’s View, Texas so that I could live with my Dad and Step-Mom. I remember moving to Corpus Christi, Texas to make it and later Brownwood, Texas.
What was it like when you first came to San Antonio?
When we left Coleman the depression was almost over and we were trying to find something to eat, it was tough and we had to start over and try to find jobs.
What was the first job that you had when you came to San Antonio?
I delivered ice up and down South Presa St. I was an Iceman, I used to carry the big blocks of ice on my back to the houses for all the in-home (ice-boxes)
When did you become a meatcutter?
In May of 1943. It was after school was out. Bruces Red&White Grocery was the first store that I worked at on 4534 South Presa! (today where one of my apartments are located!)
When did you first start working in real estate? Where was it?
In 1972, It was called Ashcraft Realty. I showed houses, I belonged to the San Antonio Realtors Board, and I was listed in a multiple listing service! I still have some of my business cards! Then I went onto Deanie Owens (Better Homes and Garden) to work for her realty. After that it was Red Carpet Real Estate with Johnny Rodriguez.
Tell me again the anthem that all the Meatcutters would say.
When you journey up those golden stairs St. Peter will greet you with a yell; take the front seat you Butcher Boys, you’ve done your Hitchin’ Hell!
Listening to all the great stories that my dad used to tell me I never really asked specifically when and where all of the events took place; or about how he felt about some of the fun, crazy and even hard things that happened during his lifetime. I think learning about him being an Ice-man delivering ice to all the houses that had an ice-box to preserve their groceries. That occupation completely vanished with the revolutionization of refrigerators. I had had no idea that my father had many jobs for which he didn’t even get paid the minimum wage; which if he were to have the same job with the same pay it would probably be illegal! I could tell that some of the things that he talked about he kinda took a little vacation back to the good times, and some of the bad times he just wanted to get out in the open and talke about then move on. I really taught me to appreciate what I have and count my blessings of how I am living my life; not to complain or be snooty about things because you never know when things can turn around for the worst. I would let him know that I remember him telling me a certain story, but the details about the story were fuzzy and, it’s no lie, the details of some stories were sketchy! I really got to learn a method to my dad’s madness, but then again it really hurt to see him talk in a “down in the dumps” view about his experience of The Great Depression and how he had to learn to survive and give up at such a young age. I think this way of learning the past was wonderful because it brought my dad and I closer and it was a great way to spend and afternoon talking about life.
- The Geneology of Geraldmax Hubbard This was a website that my sister-in-law created so that we could keep track of our family tree; and I stumbled upon it while I was googling my Dad.
- A History of The Great Depression This website is a popular website to search things that have happened in history or just something that you would like to prove or disprove.
- Radio Flyer Wagons The nation site for Radio-Flyer wagons something that my dad received when he traded his turkey in!
- The Meatcutter’s Union This website is for all the workers that worked in the Meatcutter’s Union or some other organized union that was formed through the Government early on.
- The Handbook of Texas Online is a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, geography, and culture sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association and the General Libraries at UT-Austin. It was produced in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and the General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin. Copyright © The Texas State Historical Association. Last Updated: May 6, 2004.