Monday, March 11, 2013

Nebraska and the Depression

The church was tiny by any standard, and the congregation was correspondingly small. In fact, small as the building was, I am sure that more people could have been seated within at any given service.  Principally what I recall about the edifice was the imposing, to me, bell tower with its spire pointing heavenward. An exciting time it was for me when I got to watch Daddy pull the rope to swing the great bell, calling the congregants to worship!

The other building feature with which I might have been impressed was the front porch, a stoop, really, because the elevation to the floor level also corresponded to the wee nature of the structure. I might have been impressed, but memory fails and here I rely on the first-hand witness of my mother who testified to taking me from the service on occasion to the front steps. The purpose was two-fold. First, it was to relieve the worshipers of the annoyance of an ill-behaved child; and second, and more important to Mother, to instill in that child the fear of God, and coincidentally, the fear of Mother.  Years later Mama told me that she was the object of criticism among some of the old ladies (and the church was mostly old ladies) for applying corporal punishment to a child so young. Mama’s theory of child-rearing: Conquer the child. Clearly some children need more “conquering” than others!

Corresponding to the minuscule nature of his charge, Daddy’s salary was virtually non-existent. The nation was in the thrall of the Great Depression, so there was all but no work to be had. A gentleman in the community, though, had a piece of land that he wanted cleared of timber. While he was doing the work himself, he needed a second set of hands. He hired Daddy to work with him. The wages amounted to fifty cents a day, early morning until evening. The most exciting part of this work was blasting stumps and logs. They drilled holes in the wood with an augur, then sweetened them up, literally, with a compound they mixed up using a couple of common farm and household materials.  The substance was carefully tamped into the holes, then fireworks! I heard my father relate stories about this work many times, and yet today I can picture a length of log cartwheeling thirty feet into the air!

While many people idolized the President who had been reelected for a second term and would soon be elected to his third term, my Dad was not among them. If I haven’t already told you why, I’ll try to work that into the Saga of Survival in Nebraska next time around.


Shelly said...

I knew from the title this was a post I would be riveted to, and I was correct.

I can just imagine the elderly ladies wagging their tongues, the appearance of the church, etc.

I look forward to Saga of Survival in Nebraska~

Vee said...

Though small, the picture of that church with its tall steeple makes it appear quite stately. I looked at that picture often while writing my novel.

I remember many of Dad's stories about the depression and I hope you write about your Christmas present and the goat.

Dad worked hard to care for his family, as did Mom, using her food preservation skills and the ability to make a meal from next to nothing. And yes, she wore out the bottoms of children who did not measure up to her standard of behavior (perfection, maybe).

I could not help but notice you did not include the recipe for making the explosive.

vanilla said...

Shelly, I am so pleased that you are enjoying this material.

Vee, I would have posted that picture, but don't seem to have it archived in this collection. I do have a current picture of the building, but what a let down that would be to the reader. Maybe another time.

The parents gave us much, if not in literal "things."

To post the "recipe" flashed ever so briefly through my mind. Notice: mind. I haven't lost it yet.

Sharkbytes said...

Funny how most of the kids who grew up experiencing some corporeal punishment seem to be just fine. Hooray for Mom! 50 cents a day is pretty cheap. I think the CCC even got a dollar a day.

vanilla said...

Shark, corporal punishment hurt me only for a little bit, but the long term benefit was more than worth it.

Money really was very scarce.