Thanksgiving Like It’s 1932: Dale Carnegie’s “Greatest Adventure in Living”

by David Eckoff · 5 comments

Thanksgiving 1932

Before Tim Ferriss. Before Gary Vaynerchuk. Before Tony Robbins. Before Tom Peters. There was Dale Carnegie.

Carnegie is best known for writing the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People“, which has sold 15 million copies since it was published in 1937. Its lessons are timeless. And applicable to social media and business today.

But this post is about one of Carnegie’s stories from a lesser known booklet, one that I’d wager few people have ever heard of, let alone read. And pure awesome.

In 1989, I was given a rare copy of “Dale Carnegie… as Others Saw Him”, put together by Rosemary Crom (the daughter of Dorothy Carnegie, Dale’s second wife). Lost for two decades since. And to my knowledge, no longer generally available.

But I recently found this gem tucked away in a box in my basement.

Here’s a short excerpt, with my favorite story in which Dale Carnegie recounts a visit to China in 1932. Reading this story, I think of today’s economy. How each of us responds. And the Thanksgiving holiday this week.

Dale Carnegie

“In the summer of 1932 I took a trip to China. Conditions were tragic in America. bread lines were a familiar sight – men roamed the streets in thousands, begging for work – unemployment stalked the land.

I, like many others, had lost most of my savings in the stock market crash of 1929. Economic conditions were so bad that I feared I might no longer be able to make a living organizing and conducting classes in New York City. However, in the three years since the crash I had saved a new though small nest egg.

Spring 1932 found me unable to organize any classes until the fall. With nothing to do for four months I refused to sit around New York stewing about the future. I knew that summer would never come again. I had always longed to see China and that nothing would ever rob me of the memories of that trip. Besides travel was cheap to the orient; so I bought a steamship ticket and headed out for the far reaches of the Pacific.

When I arrived in Shanghai I realized that America didn’t have the foggiest idea of what a depression was. But it was in the Orient that I learned one of the most rewarding lessons of my life.

For thousands of years China has never known anything but cruel grinding poverty. A hundred million people in China seldom know where tomorrow’s rice is coming from. About two million Chinese die each year from floods, pestilence and starvation. Even in the great cities, I saw coolies working fourteen hours a day for a wage of seven cents. In Peking, I saw a girl picking up and eating watermelon seeds that a man spat on the dirty sidewalk as he ate. In the harbor of Hong Kong, I saw Chinese in little boats swarming around our big ship fighting over the empty boxes that were thrown overboard and holding up nets to catch any bits of food that might be coming out of the slop that was thrown out of the ship’s kitchen.

And I thought I had troubles! “Why even if my last dollar goes,” I said to myself, “I can always manage to earn a living. I used to wash dishes for my mother back on the farm and if hunger drives me to it I can wash dishes in a restaurant. I lived in furnished rooms for fifteen years, and if I lose my home I can live in them again. Better still I can go back to my father’s farm in Missouri and raise corn and milk cows.”

When I stepped off the ship in San Francisco I felt like dancing in the streets. I could have whooped for joy! Suppose I had lost my life savings in the stock market? So what? I was alive. I was healthy. I could eat all I wanted. I didn’t have to sleep on the ground. I could take a drink of water without fear of cholera. Suppose my classes did fail and I had to go back to milking cows? It would be a veritable Vale of Kashmir in comparison to the poverty, disease and misery that four hundred million Chinese were enduring in the Orient.

Yes, that trip to China was certainly my greatest adventure in living. It taught me not to over emphasize the importance of my own troubles, to enlarge my vision and my sympathies, and to be thankful for the opportunities and benefits that were mine, before I indulged in the luxuries of self-pity and worry.”

Today, no matter the economy. The job market. So-called problems. Know that this Thanksgiving will never come again. Make the most of it.

This article was originally published November 25, 2010.


What do YOU think? Share your Thanksgiving thoughts in the comments section below.

And if you like this story, please share the link with a friend!

More Awesomeness from Around the Web:

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 1932

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David Eckoff November 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Coincidentally, it was Dale Carnegie’s birthday on the day I published this post! He was born on November 24, 1888.


2 Jackie Kellso November 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Dear Dave,

Great article and thank you for the plug! I have the great honor of working with members of the Crom family (since I am a freelance trainer for Dale Carnegie Training, here in NYC). I love their stories and anecdotes about him and also about Dorothy, his wife, who took charge of the business after his death.

Jackie Kellso


3 Courtney Pemberton December 1, 2010 at 11:08 pm


I had never heard of “…As Others Saw Him” prior to your post. I can’t believe you found it in your basement (and to be quite honest, makes me want to start digging around in my old boxes for hidden gems). But I digress…

Thank you so much for sharing this story and also sending link love to my Carnegie post. It is apparent that we have a mutual admiration for the man and I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

*Bonus – I checked out I am a huge sports fan so kudos to you for creating a space for crazy fan discussions!

Kindest regards,



4 Jane Young January 18, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I, like Dale Carnegie, was born on November 24th. What day did Thanksgiving fall on in 1932.


5 David Eckoff November 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

Jane, according to a Presidential proclamation from 1932, Thanksgiving fell on Thursday, November 24 that year.

Here’s the source info:


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