What My Grandfather Did in the GREAT DEPRESSION . . . and How It Saved His House

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Real Estate Broker/Owner with BuyersAgentPortland.com | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time Licensed State of Oregon

What my Grandfather Did in the Great Depression . . . and How It Saved his House!

This is a photo I have in my heirlooms.  It's a photo taken before my Mother was born, when my Grandpa was "courting" my Grandma.

I guess they "courted" in wheelbarrows in those days . . .

My Great-Grandmother sits on her front porch, and the two "kids" are having fun.  I think my Great-Grandfather snapped the photo.

My Grandpa was born in 1888.  Not sure about Grandma, I didn't know her, she passed away when my Mother was only 11-years old.

My Grandfather married my Grandmother and they bought a house, in Massachusetts, on Surrey Road, in Arlington.  I remember, for some reason.

The GREAT DEPRESSION hit when my Mother was about 2 or 3.  My Grandfather was about 42 or 43 at that time . . . and had saved and saved to buy a home.  But, when my Grandfather became unemployed, everything that he had ever worked for . . . was about to be lost.  A proud, hardworking man, he had to muster the strength and do the only thing he could do.  He had to go into the bank and tell them he was going to be unable to pay on the mortgage.  He was out of work, and his savings was being depleted rapidly.  No social security benefits, no unemployment compensation, no welfare, no food stamps -- they hadn't been "invented" yet.

My Grandfather told me it was hard for him to do.  He was a proud man, and this wasn't his proudest moments.  The GREAT DEPRESSION hit hard, work was very tough to find.  He had to go in and tell them . . . he was not going to be able to pay the mortgage for awhile.  He knew what that meant.  He knew what his obligations were, and not paying on your mortgage meant one thing:  FORECLOSURE.

The Bank Manager told my Grandfather that because my Grandfather had always paid on time, and he knew my Grandfather, he understood.  He told my Grandfather that they WOULD NOT FORECLOSURE, and they worked out payments, etc. until the time my Grandfather was financially able.  My Grandfather was fortunate.

It was just the two of them . . . my Grandfather and the Bank Manager.  They worked it out.

No Government, No Asset Managers, No MERS, No Barney Franks, No "Servicers" 

My Grandfather was a Civil Engineer.  He was skilled, and a brilliant draftsmen.  However, in order to support his family he took a job, in Vermont.  He worked on a dairy farm for awhile. 

 

 

[This post was inspired by a comment by Tammy Lankford]

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Re-Bloggged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Bob & Leilani Souza 10/09/2010 06:00 PM
  2. Leslie Ebersole 10/10/2010 06:34 PM
  3. Andi Grant 10/11/2010 01:15 PM
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Show All Comments
Ambassador
1,543,074
Christine Donovan
Broker/Attorney 800-610-7253 DRE01267479 - Costa M
Donovan Blatt Realty

There's something to be said for being able to walk in and see the decision maker face to face.

October 10, 2010 09:53 PM
Rainmaker
84,067
Simon Mills
Mills Realty

I saw this after Leslie rebloged and it is a great story of survival.  Unfortunately the personal relationship has gone by the wayside and even if a borrower today was as humble as your grandfather it would difficult for him to find a person at his lender for him to talk to and work out a plan.

October 10, 2010 10:02 PM
Rainmaker
355,308
Scott Hayes
Realty Austin, Broker Associate
(512) 786-8300

Carla,

 

I'm sure this experience gives you a unique perspective on owners, banks and the foreclosure process. It comes out on your writing, and I would imagine it does with clients as well.

October 10, 2010 10:52 PM
Ambassador
1,466,720
Tammy Lankford
Your Lake Sinclair Expert (706-485-9668)
Lane Realty

Yes Carla, I predict we will have lots of wheelbarrow photos soon.  I'll have to show my mom this post when I see her this week too.  And tell her... her dead car on vacation in the mountains inspired it.  I remember telling her... "Mom it's 8 at night, I can't call the bank VP".  She wouldn't want me to use her exact words here, but she assured me that I better make the call and he better be happy to help.

October 10, 2010 10:56 PM
Rainmaker
558,659
Chris Olsen
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate
Olsen Ziegler Realty

Hi Carla -- I love this post and it is also very humbling to read.  It does make one wonder the wisdom of today (or lack thereof) when it comes to how the current paradigms were designed and regulated. 

My paternal grandfather was a mailman in the great depression, so he had a steady paycheck and it was a coveted job.  So much so that he was far to kind and he gave way too much to his extended family, neighbors and friends in need so much so his own family was not well provided for -- according to verbal history.

October 10, 2010 11:56 PM
Rainmaker
680,021
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605

Carla,

It's a great story. Sadly, I can't see that happening today. Could anyone imagine  someone  at BOA  saying "we know you'll pay us when you can."????

During the depression - my Grandfather kept tobacco shops supplied with his cigars even if they couldn't pay him.   A lot of small business owners credited him with saving their lives.  When he died - many of the condolences spoke of how he helped their families survive the Great Depression.  But it is different today - our world is more complex and impersonal. We live in an "I've got mine" and "let them eat cake" society.

October 11, 2010 12:27 AM
Rainer
67,429
Russell Benson
Prudential Alliance Realty-OKC, OK

What a great story.  Back then folks worked hard to be able to have the few possessions they had.  How cool it would be if that home and/or land was still in your family.

Thanks for sharing such a neat story.

October 11, 2010 12:51 AM
Rainmaker
156,802
George Bennett
Inactive Principal Broker, GRI
Inactive

Great story. Thanks for sharing. I really admire your grandfather's initiative and the honorable and responsible way he conducted his business. I appreciate the bankmanager's open door policy and the way he responded to your grandfather's needs. There's a good lesson here and it is worth sharing.

October 11, 2010 12:58 AM
Rainmaker
112,003
Claude THOMAS
Rossman Realty Group

Times have changed. Today, one can lose his home even if he's current on payments...

October 11, 2010 03:42 AM
Ambassador
882,119
Margaret Woda
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Crofton, MD 21114

Government intervention has grown so much over the years, that "plain folks" can't do what comes naturally any more - i.e., work together to solve problems.  I love family stories and photos, and I thank you for this reminder of what was, and could be again, if only government would get out of the way.  With the best of intentions, bureaucrats just cause more problems than they solve.

October 11, 2010 07:47 AM
Rainer
189,767
Linda Metallo DiBenardo
Re/max Impact, Lockport, Illinois

It's amazing how self-sufficient people can be.  And working things out is just plain common-sense. Great post, love the photo!

October 11, 2010 08:30 AM
Rainmaker
129,866
Rhonda Burgess
Murfreesboro Homes & Nashville HUD Home Specialist
Southern Living Realty Partners

Great picture Carla.  A world without mortgage serviciers?  Who would have thought that up.

October 11, 2010 10:06 AM
Rainmaker
700,344
Ann Hayden
SelectAnn.com
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri

Carla,

My grandma said it was better for the bank to have someone in the property than to have it vacant.

Great post.

Ann Hayden in Wildwood, MO

October 11, 2010 10:09 AM
Rainmaker
80,225
Dee Neal
Atlanta Area Real Estate
Palmer House Properties

this is great and wouldn't it be something if this could work today. picture small banks with personal relationships with their clients and they know their client's worthiness without the use of numbers on a screen called credit score...aaaahhhh the good days.

October 11, 2010 10:28 AM
Anonymous #59
Anonymous
Anonymous
Oo I love this Carla! We've been living off the laurels of THAT great America. Awesome photo and the sentiment behind it. :)
October 11, 2010 10:36 AM
Rainer
5,331
Margaret Kees
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers

In the late 1980's the Oil Bust hit Oklahoma and other states.  I remember learning that people were just having to pack up and move to where they could find employment.  The home owners would very often go to the local bank who held the mortgage and turn in the keys.  The lender, to their great credit, did not foreclose and report it on the owners credit.  They simply took the keys.  If you were a buyer at that time, you could go to a bank and find that you would be given a list of properties and told basically 'if you find one you like, move in and then we'll talk'. 

It was a different time.  People understood that sometimes there's not much else to be done.  We should probably take a harder look at this lesson.

 

October 11, 2010 12:49 PM
Rainmaker
208,167
Andi Grant
First Time Home Buyers Los Angeles, Long Beach
310-508-4354 | FirstTimeHomeBuyerRealEstate.com

Carla, I didn't realize I wasn't signed in.  I'm comment #59.  LOVELY story.  LOVELY photo. 

October 11, 2010 01:13 PM
Rainer
41,595
Kathy Amorin
Managing Broker
Realty Pro, Vancouver, Washington

Carla, it is of survival...It has been told in many a family...thank you for sharing yours.

October 11, 2010 04:48 PM
Rainmaker
331,712
Karen Feltman
Relocation Specialist
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Skogman Realty

I agree that the banks are making it more difficult than it needs to be for the current homeowners that are trying to find a way to keep their homes.  I wish it was the simple everywhere.  Fortunately, I have heard that some of the local banks and credit unions are doing this same type of process, one on one, working on a payment plan for their home owners that have always been good clients.  That is the way that it should be.

October 12, 2010 04:42 PM
Rainmaker
589,088
Jim Hale
On the Move for You! - Eugene - Springfield Oregon Real Estate
ACTIONAGENTS.NET

The reason the Chinese are outdistancing us in this generation is because, though their standard of living still does not match ours, the individual Chinese saves at an average of 13% of personal income.....putting it into the bank -- giving the bank money to invest in the economy.

The Chinese do this because the old Communist safety net is gone....and no new one has been "invented yet".

 

The Chinese have learned a lot about capitalism from us.  Too bad we have forgotten most of what we knew.

January 03, 2011 05:00 AM
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