During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, I was not old enough to understand all the problems that confronted every family. But I did know that everyone was having to struggle in order to make ends meet. Every body had one thing in common. We didn't have much, every thing was scarce and “Hard times was had by all”.
We not only had a depression, we had the worst drought that I had ever saw, and have never saw it that dry since. During that time is when the “Dust Bowl” days were in Oklahoma. Part of the time the wind would blow, and the dust from Oklahoma would darken the sun here. Sometimes the sun would look like a big full moon. Dust would get in the house and all over the bed. At times when you would wake up of a night, you would have sand in your hair, and in your mouth. It was a sandy mess.
The corn come up and died before it was knee high. One year it was so dry that very little of the corn ever come up at all. The grasshoppers come in great numbers, they eat everything that was green, even the clothes that were hanging on the clothes line, you would have to watch and bring them in the house just as soon as they were dry enough. I have seen the fence post covered with grasshoppers. The Government furnished poisoned feed, (wheat bran) at a reasonable price to the farmer so he could kill all the grasshoppers possible. You could kill a million and looked like three or more would come back for every one you killed. They would finally eat everything that was green.
If it had been just one year, we all would have made it a lot better. We had a drought that lasted through most of that depression, which was through most of the thirties. After it was dry for two or three years it looked sorta like the moon and as bare as plowed ground.
In dry weather it seems like there is a lot of whirl-winds. Somebody told a story; They said they saw a whirlwind so big and so strong that it picked up a rooster and whirled him around so fast that it blew him into a jug. Now, I didn't see that, it's just what they said. Ha, Ha..
They also said, that a man was milking his cow in a barn, and a whirl-wind just picked the barn up and moved it and left the man setting there milking his cow. Remember-its what they said.
They also said a whirl-wind turned a wash-kettle wrong side out. Again, I never saw that, I'm just telling you what they said. So that kinda got me to thinking, you aint supposed to believe everything you hear, (or read) and just about half of what you see.
Hogs got cheap, and the Government bought them up and destroyed them. My Dad traded a pig for a horse, and we had no pasture for the horse, it dried up too. I always did think that the guy that got the pig, got the best end of the deal. Because that was a balky horse, it wouldn't work, it didn't want to pull anything. We hooked it on to a small A-harrow, she got all tangled up, and turned that harrow up side down, and fell right on top of it, punching holes in her side. Dad had her sewed up but she died in few days. It seemed like nothing worked right during the depression.
My mother ordered us boys some overalls from the Speigle Mail Order Catalogue. These overalls cost .29 cents a pair. They were a little thinner than regular overall material. I believe they had one front pocket and no hind pocket at all. After they were washed one leg may have been a little shorter than the other one. The galluses were less than an inch wide. But we didn't try to dress to suit any one else. We knew times were hard and it suited us very well. To understand about a drought and a depression both at the same time, you really need to be there and see for your self.
Our Dad and Mom done a good job raising us through the hard times. Dad was an automobile mechanic, he worked in the garage at Hurley and brought home his wages each week. Then he had the unusual trade of a Broom Maker. So in his spare time he made brooms and sold then to the stores in Hurley and surrounding towns in the area.
Somehow we kinda knew that we were not having as hard a time as some of our neighbors, I always felt like we had a good family. Our Dad and Mom had high moral standard and we were raised to work, and to know what was right and what was wrong.
Our Mom always took the lead in making a garden and seeing that we
raised something to can for winter. She was a good cook and a good housekeeper.
The Bank of Hurley closed in about 1932. The only bank in Stone County to survive the Great Depression was the Bank of Crane.
When Glen Wiley went to work at the Bank of Crane when he was a young
man. Mr. Gatton who was President of the Bank. Recently, Glen said to me.
I quote; “Mr. Gatton told me when I went to work for him; I have done business
with a lot of Gold’s, and never lost a penny on any one by the name of
They make good customers for the bank”.
We have had several dry years since the 30’s, but never combined with a severe depression like that one that made the history books, and is referred to as the Great Depression.
There is lots of things happened that was unusual. I remember our cows would loose night and get pretty thin. Some times one would get down and couldn't get up. Some times it would be that they had the “Holler Tail”. We would have to split their tail and fill a hollow place with salt and wrap it up, and some times they'd be up in a few hours after that. Dad ordered some Mangle Beet seed to sew for the cattle. They were a long Beet and looked like a turnip, the cows liked them. If you could get a shower on them in the fall of the years they would grow till frost, and we would cut them up for the cows. It would make the milk foam a lot.
One Depression and Drought at the same time is enough for a life