A new book of old, becoming-too-familiar stories called First Person America reminds me of the haunting Depression-era recordings Studz Terkel produced for his Hard Times radio series. Ira Glass featured snippets of Terkel’s interviews on a recent TAL.

Ann Banks edited the collection after sifting through stories penned during the 30s-era Federal Writers’ Project, now stored in the Library of Congress:

The inhabitants of those file drawers told stories about how they got by using a mixture of ingenuity and guile. They hawked lucky charms and patent medicine made from “roots and barks and good raw whiskey.” They peddled cake flavoring and cased sausages, they auctioned tobacco, they fished and smuggled rum—and sometimes aliens—from Cuba to Key West

Read the full Newsweek article here.