Thursday, September 30, 2010

Land of Opportunity

Did you see the Harvest Moon last week? It shone in all it's glory at us as we came back from dinner Friday night. As we left town out Highway 12, it seemed to always be in front of us. Huge, it hung low in the sky...it seemed I could almost reach out and touch it. As we turned and followed Old Prairie Creek Road, it follows the lake back and up to Granny Mountain. This was once an old farm before Beaver Lake was built in 1966. White River was dammed up near Eureka Springs and the land that would become the lake was bought by the United States Army Corp of Engineers. Over a period of about 6 years the body of water from which we derive so much pleasure was born.

We have old oak trees that shade the patios on the east side of the house. One of the largest bears the scars of a barbed fence buried into it's bark about chest high. The tree has nearly swallowed it up now, it's forgotten that it once was a fencepost to hold cattle in or mark boundaries. Northwest Arkansas is hilly land, rocky land and anyone who tries to farm has his work cut out for him. When we set out under these trees I wonder what it was like when they were saplings. Eighty+years would make it 1930.

The Great Depression had made the American Dream a nightmare and what was once the Land of Opportunity had become the Land of Desperation. In Mom's family, her Aunts and Uncles gave up trying to farm the land they had inherited and headed for California. Mom's parents decided to stay and weather the storm, and a storm it was. The Dust Bowl of the 1930's touched Arkansas too with drought and barren crops. The Depression took what little income people had and decreased it by half. And then WWII started just as Americans were finally beginning to see things getting better.

While my Mom (and the trees in my yard) were growing up, the World was a pretty uncertain place to live. Money was scarce, droughts plagued the plains states and times were hard.

A gallon of gas was only 10 cents!

You could buy a Plymouth Roadking car for $685!

A new house would only set you back $3,750!

Mom has nothing but pleasant memories of her childhood on the farm. She never went to bed hungry, she never worried about a roof over her head or if they were going to lose their farm. She watched sunrises over the barn as she gathered eggs before school, she saw sunsets as she drove the cows to the barn to be milked. She and her parents somehow lived through one of the most desperate times in history. If given the opportunity, I think she would go back to those years.

5 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post Joy, so full of beautiful and not so beautiful memories of those from that era. Funny, but I've been wanting to reread The Grapes of Wrath for weeks now and can't find it anywhere... it's on the banned book list, can you imagine?

    And yes, the Harvest Moon was simply gorgeous; in my area, it preceeded a sort of monsoon that we're still experiencing!

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  2. My Dad lived in rural North Carolina during the Great Depression and used to say that they didn't even feel the effects. They grew all their own food and grew tobacco and blueberries for cash. About all they bought on the monthly trips to town were flour, sugar, overalls and shoes. Grandma made shirts, dresses and undies from flour and feed sacks. Dad and his six siblings never had a bad word to say about the farm except that the field work was hard. They had a huge extended family and all the love anyone could hope for. Maybe if we didn't "need" so much, we wouldn't feel this recession so. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

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  3. I did see the Harvest Moon. It was huge and perfectly round. It glowed in the night sky. Your post reminded me of the "Remember When" booklets that the Cracker Barrel sells. They are so cool, showing what was popular and the cost of things for particular years in history.

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  4. My folks never talked about the depression years other than I know my dad didn't like overalls or oatmeal. I've always found that amusing because growing up my daughter only wanted to wear overalls (my dad even bought her a pair for her birthday once) and oatmeal is one of my favorite things for breakfast.

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  5. The old Texaco gas station photo sure brought back some memories. My dad always filled at our local Texaco so he could get the green stamps with his purchase. Unless you are over 50 you probably don't know about green stamps or blue chip stamps.

    Thanks for the memory :-)

    ~Ron

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