I enjoyed an unusual adventure a few days ago.
Two very charming young reporters for my old alma mater, Springfield Newspaper, (today the News-Leader) called and made an appointment for a visit.
They had asked for pictures and an interview. The subject of the interview? “To find out what it was like in the old days when there was a deep depression,” explained the tender young voice on the phone.
And so she arrived with a young man loaded for bear, or pictures rather. They were welcomed to my ancestral old farm house built by my grandmother Stella and grandfather Sam back in 1920, and we sat down for a delightful several hours visit.
The subject? “What life was like on the farm during the Great Depression of the 1930’s and beyond?”
Well, I must confess, they “Scooped me” as the old newspaper slang is known since, I guess, as long as newspapers and reporters have existed.
And so, quite honored to have the tables turned on me, this old newspaper reporter sat them down in the living room and began to spin yarns, as they were called in the old days.
Now, I do not intend to “Scoop” them on their story, but I will tell you another story. My own.
I was born in 1924 and so by the time of the birth of the Great Depression, which began virtually over night in 1928 with the crash on the New York Wall Street gang of gamblers, I began to understand the term “hard times,” and the name “Roosevelt.” There was much fear that the USA was going the way of the Soviets of Russia.
Meetings in the old Mt. Zion Church in Cave Springs were held, as they were from coast to coast. I sat through them with my new puppy named Jack. By the election of 1934, however, I began to understand that this Roosevelt would save the nation with his various programs designed to put people to work for the government.
“We have nothing to fear except fear itself,” he said on that new-fangled radio of those days.
One of dozens of new government-backed programs on farms in the Ozarks, including our farm, was called the CCC — Civilian Conservation Corps. They were soon scattered all across the nation, including in Greene County. A barracks type building was constructed on vacant property where Zoo Park is now located, and several hundred young, unemployed men were soon living at the facility.
Each day several bus loads of young men were hustled out to farms all across the region to work on such things as erosion control, mining of limestone deposits to crush and spread on “sour” soils, all so alfalfa and other legumes could be grown.
The strong young men dug fence post holes and set homegrown hedge posts to make new fences. They worked on the contour of the land to help stop the erosion which threatened to ruin many farms.
A few of these original hedge fence posts still exist on my old farm, and I treasure each one, and am reminded of the wonderful things we were taught.
Every day, my “heart is warmed” by the assistance we received, and I relive the fact that, had it not been for this assistance in a time of extreme poverty all through the nation, the United States would not be the nation it is today. What about the Boulder Dam project that brought the raging Colorado River to heel and made the West the land of beauty and prosperity it is today?
What about the tens of thousands of similar projects all across the nation… the Tennessee Valley Authority, which saved the regions drained by the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers? Had it not been for those projects, the huge rivers that drained the central USA and the West would have washed away half the land of the USA.
All of these projects that today help the United States become the most prosperous of all nations were the result of the government's help in financing as well as manpower and brain power.
Unknown by many today are the hundreds of other such programs across the USA. Every program created companion programs and suddenly prosperity began to replace poverty across the nation.
Other such programs were born for protection of the United States of America, and began to create hope for the future in the background.
When World War I finally broke with the assault of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the nation had no choice but to go to war, the CCC and other such programs gave the nation a head start for what proved to be the end of Hitler and the opening of the way for our lead in world affairs.
And so the United States became the hope of a new world and a new hope for all the generations to come. It took several hundred years, plus the lives of thousands of Americans to get us where we are today. And we should never, must never forget how we got here.
We must carefully guard our land, our farmers, so we can preserve future lands and farmers for all time.
In fact, basic agriculture, what it takes to produce the food and fiber for the United States should be required in every public school in the nation. Food is not free to mankind. Only the opportunity to produce it is there for the taking.
Our beloved nation is in a crunch today — this very minute — and it is because we went to sleep. We permitted some very dishonest people to pull the wool over our eyes while we slept.
I charge them with treason. If we are not strong enough to search over every cranny and nook, and arrest them rather than reward them for their dishonesty, we are weak and undeserving of the nation our ancestors fought and died for, and left us to preserve for posterity. Enough said.
I enjoyed an unusual adventure a few days ago.