Saturday, November 3, 2007

You Either Had or You Had Not

For many, The Great Depression was a battle to survive.

For Tate Prescott Brown, "From the Dust" the depression all began with the stock market crash of 1929.

“...Played the market and won.” He grinned. “The stock market. Even through the crash of ’29.” Tate Prescott Brown - "From the Dust"

For one vivacious lady that one would never dare call elderly, money wasn't even a consideration. For her the depression began like this:

"One year everybody seeded grain and gardens. That spring we had alot of wind every day. The crops didn't grow. No rain. No garden. The wind was blowing every day. Not only wind, it was dusty wind. We had to put towels around the house windows to keep out the dust. The next year was bad. Hardly seed to put in and the dust storms didn't stop. There was no snow and no rain that year. We got some seed from the municipality but we had to work for it. There was no relief."

Of course Tate's view of the years that followed were slightly different:

“But I never wanted...the society clinches, charity fundraisers."
Tate Prescott Brown, "From the Dust"

Smiling broadly and pouring more coffee, my hostess continues with the interview:

"If we had a nickel we went to the store bought chickory to add to the coffee to taste better or we bought socks because we didn't have any." She smiles.

"In fall boxcar loads of potatoes came from the east. Each family got one bag unless it was a big family. We got nine bags. Then we had one potato to a person only on Sunday." She says this as if that one potato was the biggest treat of her life.

“At first the idea of a Saskatchewan farm was a joke among my friends."
Tate Prescott Brown - "From the Dust"

Her gray hair gleams in the sunlight as it streams through the window and skips across her kitchen table. And the senior continues:

"The grain was only about 10 inches high. We cut it down with grass mower and put it on the tarp run over with a disc to thresh it out then we put through the grain cleaner to blow the chaffe. After that we put kernals in the chopper. Sifted the seed fine, that was our flour for bread, course flour was our porridge. That was the wheat. Barley was done the same only fine flour was our potatoes and course barley was roasted and made our coffee."

“Money? You think money is the answer?” She looked up. “What do you know about farming on the prairies?” Eva Edwards - "From the Dust"

Safe travels


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