Shortening The Distance: Walsenburg Historian Reflects On The Great Depression And Today’s Pandemic

May 7, 2020

With all that's going on in the world right now, we wondered what life experience and family history might be able to tell us. As part of KRCC's Shortening the Distance project, producer Shanna Lewis got in touch with historian Carolyn Newman. She's 88 years old and has lived in the same house in Walsenburg for 60 years. 

"I live alone. I miss family and friends. 

My son is the sheriff here. But because he's out among so many people, he stays away from me pretty much.  

88-year-old Carolyn Newman has lived in the same Walsenburg home for 60 years.
Credit Courtesy Carolyn Newman

No one comes here. But I don't miss that a great deal. It's actually rewarding to me in that I don't have so many demands on my time and I can take the time to do something I've wanted to do for a long time. And that's to sort and file my historical materials that I've gathered over the years. 

There are stories from the Depression about how they had to make do. In my own family, I know they tried to make do as best they could. My parents were young.

I was only about nine months old when they finally had to say, 'We can't make it on our own.' And they packed up into the car and went back to my grandparents' farm to wait out the Depression.

And I realized if they made it through, I think people can make it through today.

Young people today are the ones that are hurting, the ones that haven't built up savings, and have young children. On the other hand, I really feel so sorry for the businesspeople. 

On the whole, we have some safety nets that had not been there a century ago, for example. And I'm very thankful for what is going well right now."

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We want to hear from you!

How are you handling the safer-at-home guidelines? How are you connecting with family or friends who may seem so far away? What lessons from the past or family stories are helping inform you about the current circumstances? Here's how you can participate in Shortening the Distance.