Monday, March 18, 2013

Politics, Poverty, and Prayer

1933 and 1934 were the worst of the Dust Bowl years. The  disaster lasted much longer. Politics aside and disregarding that his mother was a staunch Republican,1 my father had no kind words for President Roosevelt. Over time, and as I began to find interest in the greater world outside the walls, I was able to determine exactly why Dad was not enthused with the Washington administration. Principally it centered around the decision of the President and his “communist”2 Secretary of Agriculture, Henry A. Wallace to assist the farmers who had little or no feed for their livestock due to drought and crop failures. The government bought thousands of head of cattle, thereby saving many farmers from loss of their farms and livelihoods. The price paid ranged from four to sixteen dollars a head. (So near as I can learn. I am not an historian, economist, or agronomist.)

Nevertheless, I believe the purchase of the cattle was not the thing that stuck in Dad’s craw. His problem was that while thousands of people in the Dust Bowl area were going hungry, the cattle were slaughtered and buried in deep trenches. It was forbidden by government regulation to use the meat for food. That was not right in my father’s eyes; and he was far from alone, for I have read somewhat about this era. Many people shared his disenchantment with the wonderful wizards of Washington who devised and executed such a thing.

Dad’s sole give-back was his observation that the cattle burial ground along the railroad tracks near the small town in which we lived provided the very best and most lush beds for the lambs quarter which grew wild in the area. These weeds in turn provided part of the nourishment the parents were able to provide for us.  In addition to the weeds, we had a nanny goat, who utilized weeds in her own way by turning them into milk which we consumed. It is not untrue when I tell you I was raised on goat’s milk, for until I was five years of age, I knew no other.

Disastrously, one day the goat died. I don’t know why, and I don’t remember any story relating the incident. But what I do remember hearing about was the prayer meetings we had during family devotions in the home. Mother and Dad both told me that I prayed, along with them, for a productive new goat. They said I concluded my plea, “And please, Lord, give us a white goat.”

A farmer showed up at our house with a nanny goat, claiming she needed a new home. She was white.

God is good.

1Dad told me that he recalled that when he was a lad, his mother and father “spared the horses the trip to town” on election day, because they both knew that she would mark straight Republican, he straight Democrat, thus cancelling each others vote.
2Or so Dad believed. He was not the only one. Wallace became Vice-president in 1941 and was replaced in that office by Harry Truman in 1945.

9 comments:

Jim said...

I love it when you tell stories like this. I liked the part about the goat in your yard better than the part about the goats in Washington, but both were an interesting glimpse into a time that we can't get back, even if we wanted it.

Shelly said...

I remember my grandfather telling heart-rending stories about their cattle being shot and then not even being allowed to salvage the meat for their hungry families.

I love the story of your goat. Prayer works!

Secondary Roads said...

God is good indeed! Politicians are a different breed.

vanilla said...

Jim, it is good to have memories; yet one does not long for the not-so-good old days.

Shelly,our parents and grandparents saw some tough times. Yet in times of distress, prayer is the answer!

Chuck, God never fails. Politicians, on the other hand...

Grace said...

Leave it to the government to invent new and wonderful ways to waste money and resources. Would you believe back in the 1940's folks in the Bronx kept goats? Now you can buy goat milk in the grocery stores...

vanilla said...

Grace, I do believe that. Goats are an efficient machine to provide needed protein. And fertilizer if you garden. I do know goat milk is available on the market. I've no desire to go back to it.

Lin said...

I have lost my faith in all things government and this story just adds to it.

Thank goodness for god and good people around us who make up for the idiots of Washington and local governments.

vanilla said...

Lin, it is our good fortune that the good people around us have a greater influence on our lives than do the politicians. I think. Have you noticed that people can sort out their problems amicably, but if you assign the name "committee" to a bunch of people nothing constructive ever happens?

Sharkbytes said...

Isn't it amazing when God takes care of people like that and in the process bolsters the faith of a child!