Ethel’s Pops and Danged Hard Times

Damon Runyon


May 5.

DEAR SIR my wife Ethel was reading the paper the other day and she ses Joe do you know the difference between the recession and the depression?

I ses sure I know. I ses everybody knows that and she says well all right what is it? I ses Ethel the recession is what we are having now and the depression is what we had before we had the recession and she ses how are they different?

I ses Ethel when we had the depression, business was bad and nobody had much money and a lot of people got out of work I ses that was the depression. I ses then things got a little better for a while. I ses business improved and there was more money around and more people got work. I ses do you understand what I mean?

Ethel ses I understand all right Joe. You just go on explaining to me and I ses well next business got bad again and nobody had much money and a lot of people got out of work again and that is the recession? I ses you are correct Ethel and she ses well my Pops was right.

I says what do you mean your Pops was right? Ethel says well he was over here today to tell me my Moms rheumatism is bothering her again and she wants me to come and see her and I asked him what is the difference between the depression and the recession and he says those names are danged foolishness. My Pops ses they are just fancy names for danged hard times.

I ses O I suppose your Pops knows more about it than I do? Ethel ses well my Pops is not so dumb and he has lived a long time. He ses the depression was just danged hard times and the recession is danged hard times and that there is no difference between danged hard times no matter what you call them.

I ses look Ethel you do not have to put in quite so many dangeds do you? I ses that is not such a nice word and she ses well I am just telling you what my Pops ses. He danged all over the place. He ses they can call it pression this and pression that but its still old-fashioned danged hard times. Joe my Pops remembers when they had danged harder times than we are having now.

I ses O he does hay? Ethel ses yes he remembers when they had danged harder times right here in Brooklyn. He remembered when people in this very neighborhood were danged near starving to death because nobody had any money or any jobs and the danged banks were busting everywhere and it was danged cold besides.

I ses well you had an interesting time listening to his danging and Ethel ses O yes it was very interesting. I gave my Pops those two bottles of your beer off the ice Joe and he explained to me all about why we are having such danged hard times now. He ses it is the danged capitalists trying to ruin Mister Roosevelt. He ses the danged capitalists will do any danged thing they can think of to hurt Mister Roosevelt.

I ses it is a fine thing for a man to come home and find his wife has given his beer off the ice away to somebody like that and Ethel ses somebody like what? I ses never mind and she ses go ahead and say it. Somebody like what? I ses well then somebody like your Pops and she ses what is the matter with my Pops?

I ses look Ethel I do not want any argument but I have been thinking about that nice cold beer all evening and she ses why Joe you would not begrudge a little bottle of beer to an old man like my Pops would you after he went to all the trouble of explaining about the difference between the recession and the depression to me?

I ses well if you know what did you ask me for? She ses O I like to hear you explain things to me too Joe only you have a different way of explaining than my Pops. I ses well from what you tell me he did not use any word but danged all the time he was explaining and she ses yes he did Joe. He finally got to talking about the Communists and he used a lot of other words besides danged. Would you like to hear them Joe?

I ses Ethel I have heard your Pops talk about the Communists myself. I ses I do not care to hear any more of his words and I am now going to bed and Ethel ses well good night Joe but wasnt it wonderful the way my Pops explained about the danged hard times to me?

Yours truly