Monday, July 16, 2007

The drive with my Grandma

“You wouldn’t even believe it, Andy. The wind, it was blowing. Where there were fences was a mound of dirt and the pigs and cows would walk right over the fences. People were starving in the cities. We had food. We always had food. But, Dad worked so hard. He would have to go to the county and pick up feed for the cows. Just a little handful a day – enough to keep them alive, and then in the winter he had to repay them for the feed by working all day putting gravel down on the roads. He found a trucker to take the horses to a field near Granite Falls, because they had some rain, see? And, then we heard that one of the horses had sleeping sickness. So, they sent him home and he died. Dad worked so hard.

He had two brothers in California, Uncle Ervin and Uncle Elmore, who owned lumber yards and they wanted him to move there because they knew he was getting old. So he decided to go and Martin and I were just married and Grandpa wanted to go with him. So, we all went, but the work for the lumber yards was even harder. They drove trucks and they didn’t know where they were going. Sometimes they had to go to LA and deliver to the Negroes there. They worked all day. Dad wanted to go back and Martin wanted to farm. So, we moved back and bought the grocery store and Dad retired soon after.

It was hard during the depression, you would never believe it – how it was. But, we had so many pets and we were happy. The cats would line up on that board every morning and wait with their mouths open for Dad to squirt the milk into their mouths right from the cows. I had to help Dad with the chores too, cause I was the oldest, so I was the hired hand. I did the man’s work. I drove since I was twelve to deliver Dad his lunch every day in the field or wherever he was. And we had a garden, Mom kept a big garden. We’d can tomatoes. And an Apple Orchard in the back, a couple cherry trees. Oh, we had fun. WE were never hungry, Mom only had to buy sugar and flour, otherwise we had everything. One Christmas all we got was we each got a new outfit for our dolls – that was it. We didn’t have money, but we were happy.

Oh, I’ve been talking your ear off.”

“No, Grandma. Tell me more.”

And she did. Farming is a hard life, there is no doubt. No one should ever think it isn’t. But, once my grandpa and great-grandpa left for California – left their homesteads – they spent the rest of their days pining over the old days on the farm.