The Great Depression Created the Newly Poor
.D. and Ruth McKee married in 1928, just before the Great Depression. Like millions of other Americans, they lost jobs and savings and were plunged into poverty for the first time in their lives. On a snowy Christmas Eve in 1932, their second child was born in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Without money to pay the doctor for the delivery of their son Ellsworth, O.D. offered the doctor the choice of the family’s two assets — the cow or the car, a 1928 Whippet. Fortunately the doctor chose the cow because the car would soon play a prominent role in delivering the young family out of their financial problems.
A few months after Ellsworth’s birth, O.D. saw a man delivering snack cakes to a grocery store and immediately saw the potential for himself. He asked him how he’d go about applying for a job and soon after headed to Becker’s Bakery in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he was given a Virginia Dare snack cake distributorship in Chattanooga. Moving to Chattanooga was almost like moving home; the couple had met while attending Southern Junior College in nearby Collegedale.