The Death of the American Dream: Depression Era Americans built a new nation of self-sufficiency, innovation, and freedom to provide future generations a path to avoid economic collapse

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The Great Depression Generation were builders of a new country and new dream to ensure future generations would not face their plight as they did in the 1930’s. Their efforts have failed as their behavior of being self-sufficient, innovative, and builders to build security and opportunity for all has been squandered in our Modern America.IMG_4955.jpg

Photo: Marvin Wise and Christine Wise and children from the early 1940’s 

Marvin Wise is my grandfather and his experience from the Depression was profound and complex and impacted his behavior in the post-depression era.

My grandparents were an eyewitness to the Great Depression. My grandfather would be impacted because of his experience during the Depression. His life in the Post-Depression years would reflect his behaviors in business, the community, and life. My grandfather was told that he could not farm due to his health, and he (along with his family) built a small grocery store and gas station for the community in 1949. He would make his store a gathering place for community. He had the first television and phone in the entire community. He would cook for the entire community on Saturday nights after the store closed and the community would come to his store to watch boxing, wrestling, etc. He had checker boards in the store for people to come and play anytime. He had a place to work on vehicles on the side of his store. He would give kids free candy on their birthday. He was known for having the coldest drinks of any store in the entire community. He would take a 1,580 sq ft store in the middle or rural NC and make it income producer for the family and a place to go for the entire community because of the value that my grandfather used in his business model. The store was named Marvin Wise and Son, and my grandfather did not stop farming due to his health. He continued to farm and operate the store. This would be his first endeavour as the Post Depression era gave this generation a mission to secure and build a future that another generation would never experience as the Great Depression..


LEFT: Remaining Structure of Grocery Store built-in 1949.


My grandfather would build in the 1950’s two additional structures beside the store. He would have the land zoned Industrial Warehouse to build these two new structures and his store would be zoned Commercial Retail. A warehouse facility would be built and a workshop for larger vehicles needing repair as he would begin a livestock feed business to complement his store business. He would need a facility to store feed for trucks to pick and deliver and a shop to have a place to repair and maintain the vehicles to support deliveries to customers. These structures were built with his brothers, nephews, and help from his son. He would begin to sell livestock feed and this business in combination with his store business would bring a rural crossroads in Wayne County, North Carolina into a busy destination where my grandaddy would be successful in building a revenue producing enterprise that would be secured and legally zoned to operate the family business after his death.

Inside of Warehouse Structure Built in the 1950’s


In building security for his family, my grandfather would zone the properties to the appropriate zoning 60 years ago including Commercial Retail for the old store and Industrial Warehouse for the Warehouse and Shop. That act was insightful and forward thinking for the security of the property in the present and future.  My grandfater still had an additional 100 acres around the store and warehouse that was still being used to farm. He would also grow a substantial size garden along with my grandmother around his home that would provide enough food for a year or more. They would grow so much food and would freeze and preserve enough food to survive a catastrophic event to make it through until the next growing season. My grandfather was a farmer, businessman, and prepper. What drove my grandfather to be confidant enough to start a business, continue his farming when successful in his business endeavours, a cautious person to grow copious amount of food every season as financial catasrophe was imminent, and a planner for the future to secure his efforts in the present for future generations?

2315 Dobbersville Rd Google Maps


The Depression would be an experience that would define an entire generation, but my grandfather would learn lessons from that trying time. He would explain the near collapse of order into chaos was such a reality. There was no money and money was a hard item to find. The land was the primary food source in growing crops and the crops were necessary to grow and harvest to avoid starvation in providing meals or barter with others to get the necessary items to survive. The Depression would push a generation to the edge of the abyss and my grandfather would lament on the despair, poverty, and uncertainty of those times. When the Depression would break, he was in his mid-30’s and he would live a life so different because of the Great Depression. He would build the foundation of being self-sufficient, innovation, community, and independence to help his children, grandchildren, etc. to build a country that economic collapse would never happen again.  My grandfather would build a livestock feed business along with the facilities and transport needed to make this venture successful and this venture would be in place when his son began a career in Tobacco Fertilizer Sales in the 1960’s. This time period is where the next article will begin.

In the Southwestern part of Wayne County in North Carolina, my grandfather would turn a rural crossroads into a successful gas, grocery, auto service, and feed business where people would come from all around. He is one of many that survived the Depression to reboot the American Dream by their rebuilding the country into something after nothing. He would have a successful farming business and he would grow a garden that would produce enough food for every meal for his whole family until the next growing season. He did not believe in debt.  He brought value to his business that would make his rural business a destination and stories of the good times, events, and positive impact on the community because of my grandfather still lives years after his death.  The Depression would impact people like my grandfather, and we will go into more detail how this impact changed our society and the American Dream came to life again after the Depression until the end of the 20th Century.

GOLDSBORO- Wayne County, NC- Downtown

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