FC: GREAT DEPRESSION SCRAPBOOK BY BRADY HEHER AND EMILY SLAWINSKI
1: Dear Diary, This is my first entry, my name is Thomas Smith. I have a wife, Abigail, who I have been married to for 13 years and two children- Emma and James. We live in Northern Texas and I am the owner of one of the biggest farms in the state. My family and I have been very successful in growing corn and wheat. I sell my crops to local families and ship them to the East to make money to support my family. We live in a small town right outside of Lubbock, Texas, where we are very close with each other. My sister, Mary Jane Jones and her husband, John live down the street, and come over for every Sunday dinner. They also have 2 children, Sara and Katharine. Since my family is on the wealthier side, I send both of my kids to school on a daily basis. They go to Northern Mary Academy. James is in 7th grade and Emma is in 3rd grade. James is very helpful with me around the farm and Emma helps Abigail with little things around the house. We are an inseparable family and we enjoy spending time together. With James helping me, the farm is growing and growing. I’m hoping the farm stays as successful as it has been. Things are going great and I’m excited to expand the farm as much as I can. The weather has been perfect for producing the wheat and corn, we’ll see what the rest of this growing season has to bring! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for my farm, and family. August 1928
2: Dear Diary, Today was a great selling day! Our farm sold 45 stalks of corn and shipped it to the East! I went back to the house to tell the children and my wife but they were still at school. Finally, when the kids arrived back around 2:30 pm I shared my news. In celebration my wife went to the grocery store and bought a chicken, mashed potatoes, and chocolate pudding for dessert. We sat around the table and had a wonderful dinner talking about our high and lows of the day, which is what we do every night. The next morning was a Saturday and we all woke up bright and early. My wife went to pick some veggies from the garden and Emma and James went outside to play baseball in the street with the other kids in the neighborhood. The afternoon came fast and it was time for church. We have to get there early since our children sing in the choir. We are a very religious family and I am proud that my children like going to church and praying for all the less fortunate in need. For dinner we had the leftovers from Friday night. Sunday morning Emma and James like to spend the day together just brother and sister so they go collecting rocks in the morning. In their rooms they have a huge shoe box of rocks from every Sunday, ever rock they find. Emma and James barely ever fight and that makes my wife Abigail and I proud parents. We both wish that they stay so close throughout their childhood, always being there for each other through the thick and the thin. Sunday night is the night that my sister and her husband come over with their two girls for dinner. We feel that family is so important and we like to come together and have a nice dinner once a week. We all gather around the table and say grace, thanking God for everything we have. January 1929
4: Dear Diary, Something terrible has happened! On the east coast, stocks started to drop, men started losing jobs, which meant losing their house, food and clothes. From what we’ve heard here in Texas, this is the most tragic event United States has ever faced. We don’t know where it’s going from here- it could go either up or down. This is starting to worry us because if people have no money to buy food, no one is going to buy our crops. As of now, we’re doing just fine and are hoping for the best. My wife and I talked about this, but we decided not to tell Emma and James because we do not want to worry them. Abigail and I know that no matter what we will take care of the children and make sure they are perfectly okay. Each week our selling of the crops would get a little less and less. We knew that this couldn’t be good and it wasn’t getting any better. Around 5 o’clock we noticed dark clouds rolling in. We normally don’t think anything of it because it’s either a rain storm or a small dust storm. When the dust storms happen, dust is everywhere but it’s usually not a big deal. Dust storms here last for around 1-3 hours and when they’re done the weather goes back to normal. Although it slows down the growing process for my crops I’m thankful that it doesn’t destroy them. Right now it is 8pm and it is still dusting, I’m starting to get worried because it has already been 3 hours. It’s coming down pretty hard, covering everything. I can’t even see my crops anymore because there is so much dust, just like a snowfall. It’s coming through the windows and cracks in the doors and covering our beds, utensils and the floor. When I wake up I hope the dust has stopped so we can clean up and go back to our normal lives. October 1929
6: Dear Diary, I cannot believe what is going on! I woke up this morning and it is still dusting. My crops are destroyed, it has now been dusting for over 24 hours. The schools are shut down, the food is covered and my children are so unhappy. For dinner tonight, Abigail turned the plates, cups and covered the food and right as we were about to eat we flipped it over to prevent it being drenched in dust. This did not really help because it was everywhere, whatever we did we could not escape it. I have never seen the dust this bad in 43 years. People throughout the Mid-West gave this a name, “The Dust Bowl”. You could barely breathe let alone walk outside. My crops were in the back of my mind because that was what held this family together, financially. I knew that if they were as bad as I thought, we would have no income. I’m terrified. Most people in our town moved away to California because they couldn’t deal with the dust anymore. It has ripped apart so many families because usually the dad wanted to stay and protect the farm but the mom and the kids wanted to leave. ‘The Dust Bowl’ is the worst thing that has ever happened to our family. Emma and James can’t go outside and play anymore because the dust was falling so fast it hurt their skin and their eyes. My sister Mary Jane and her family can’t come over for dinner every Sunday night anymore, they can’t even make the trip down the street to our house. I never would have imagined this happening to our town. Everyday we keep struggling to find food since no farms are open and either are the stores. Hopefully we have food still coming to the table, I don’t want my wife and kids to leave me. I know the storm will be over soon and I want them to just be patient and wait for the storms to pass. I don’t want to lose my family but I can’t leave my farm and this town. It’s been my everything for my entire life. I pray with my family everyday still, hoping times will get better. April 1931
8: Dear Diary, I am so upset and scared I don’t even know what to say. I would of never imagined this could happened to us in this small town in Texas. Our President, Hoover, has been trying to help us tremendously but he’s not doing what we really need. Luckily, since I have saved up enough money, I have been storing money in my safe that I keep hidden in the basement. I have enough that I can support my family for a good amount of time until the economy picks up and the Dust Bowl ends. Every day I have to see my family suffer and it is the hardest position to be in, but there is nothing I can do. I wake up every day, hoping every thing will go back to normal and we can be a happy family again. This Dust Bowl is causing separation between my wife and I, and we are doing our best to keep it together for Emma and James. Although, Hoover is making an attempt, there’s nothing he can do to make this better. Hoover is offering us the act that was passed in 1933, Agricultural Adjustment Act. This was proceeding to pay farmers in return for taking back some of their land. Although most farmers around here could not afford to say no to the government, I would not take this offer. I had enough money, like I said, all my family needs is food. Since no crops are growing around here and all the grocery stores got wiped out from the Dust Bowl, we had no way of getting the food we needed. As time went on, we were still getting smaller dust storms, but nothing as traumatic. Hoover then started sending out Red Cross volunteers to take care of us, which angered me more. I would not accept this because I knew the government did not really care. We have been struggling so much, the government was just helping because they had to, not because they wanted to. They were too worried about what was going on in the East. May 1933
10: Dear Diary, The government is still trying to help and send us money. I don’t understand why they are still pestering us about money and most importantly, my farm. I can handle it myself. I wonder how the government in handling things in New York City, I have never been to the city, we never had enough money to travel all the way there. But right about now would not be a good time to go and have a visit. Everyone is poor and hopeless in New York City but they are lucky because they didn’t have to deal with years of huge dust storms. If we had a television I would love to watch and hear about how bad of a president Hoover is and also find out about the Hoovervilles that people have to live in because the economy is so terrible that they got kicked out of their house or their heat and electricity got turned off. I must be horrible in those Hoovervilles with a family. I am thankful that we have a nice house that we get to stay in together as a family even if it does have dust in it. Speaking of my family the children are so tired of sitting at home everyday, I would never imagine Emma saying that because she dreads going to school but they miss their friends. Some left to go to California to get away from the dust but most of my children’s friends are still here. I would also like to go back to work to just free my head and relax for the day but the dust is not fully cleared yet. I would really like to talk to some parents in our town to see how they are doing and what they think about the government, I would think that they feel the same way as I do. The government these days just drives me crazy! Anyway, hopefully the kids will be able to go to school soon and go outside and play baseball in the street with their friends everyday. I hope soon that things get back to normal or at least as close as they can get. March 1936
12: Dear Diary, Things are gradually coming together, finally. After praying for days and days we stuck together as a family and we fought through all the things that got taken from us. We had to sacrefice so much like the farm that got destroyed but it in the end everything was worth it. My wife stayed at the house and the farm with me and I am so thrilled that she trusted me, I told her that it would be okay. Without God I don’t think that we would of been able to get through all this. He helped us and gave us hope which got us where we are now. We just had to think positive and not give up because we know there were people in a bigger struggle than us. I am so thankful for my beautiful wife and 2 children Emma and James, without them I would be nothing. The kids finally went back to school after the town got the school windows and doors fixed. Each day the dust cleared the streets so my children and the neighbors could play baseball again and get some fresh air. Also, the sun shines again making the whole town happier that the dust is finally gone. The grocery store re-opened so now my wife goes and gets more food for the family dinners. Chicken, baked potatoes and string beans was our first meal bought at the store and everyone was so happy to stuff their faces with yummy cooked food. After almost 8 years my sister and her family finally came over, we got to sit down together at the table and pray for everything that we regained after the storm. Family is the most important thing in the whole world. July 1939
14: Dear Diary, After almost 8 years the farm is finally becoming and track and moving crops fast. We have been growing and growing and selling and selling. I had to hire around 30 more workers because so many moved away to california due to The Dust Bowl. I am so proud to have everything going smoothly and not having to look out and see dust all over my fields. The corn stock is growing so rapidly we might need to buy more land which is great for me and my family. I am making plenty of money to put a lot of food on the table which makes me proud of my accomplishments for my family after all we went through. I am not quite sure what the future holds for the farm but I am only thinking positive for now. There are so many things that changed since the Dust Bowl. Emma and James are back in school after the town having to close school due to too much dust inside. The whole town is finally clear of dust! I can look out my window and see beautiful green grass. My wife Abigail and Emma re-created the garden in our backyard, they added flowers and new fruits and veggies! The dust storm ruined their garden so they had to start again but it was for the better, the new garden looks terrific! James had tried out for a real baseball team two towns over and he made the team! We are all so very proud of him and most of our neighbors are going to watch his games every Tuesday and Friday. If he works hard throughout his middle school and high school then maybe we can move somewhere so he could play. I wouldn’t want to leave my farm but if my son wants the opportunity then I am going to give him it. I would never take away something like that from my family because of my farm. Learning from the hardships we faced I will never think about losing my family ever again. We are sticking together forever. December 1939
16: Dear Diary, We got the news that Hoover got elected out of office and Franklin D. Roosevelt got elected. FDR has been serving as president for quite awhile now. As word traveled West, I heard that FDR was very hands on with the people and he was going to turn this country around. Although, Hoover had passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act in previous years, FDR recreated the act, to benefit big farms like mine. Since we didn’t like what Hoover did, we were hoping FDR changed it enough to help us.This AAA program was a part of his New Deal Program.This purpose was to help farmers by reducing production of crops, but raising prices and he encouraged to grow more diversified farming. I agreed with this, things were finally starting to look better! The dust storms have started to settle down, and get less and less. I am getting so relieved my farm is starting to peek out some new crops other than corn. I know that it is going to be awhile before everything and all the new crops become normal since we have never grown them before, but a baby step is better than no step at all. I got so much relief from FDR’s Agricultural Adjustment Act and I was so happy the government finally stepped in a took control. The Great Depression was so hard on the whole United States and I was just mad at the government because they didn’t even care like I said before. But things are good now and I hope they stay this way. May 1941
18: Dear Diary, I took FDR’s advice and my crops are going great. We haven’t had a dust storm in 2 weeks. I now started growing along with my wheat and corn, wheat. This was one of the best decisions I have made for my farm because it is bringing in so much extra money, considering people rely on me because of my farm being so large. I am able to feed my family every day and night like I used too. Emma and Abigail have cleaned the house very well, and James is helping me on the farm. The farm is looking great and even the temperatures are rising again. Without FDR’s help I dont think that my farm would of been fixed or running again. I began to grow so many more diverse crops because of AAA. Things are excellent and I could not be happier! Schools are opened every day and the kids are able to play outside without Abigail and I being worried dark clouds will just roll in. Sunday dinners are back to normal without dust all over the utensils. My family sticking together really paid off in the end. I could not have done it without the emotion and physical support we gave each other. I’m so happy this is over and that I can properly take care of my kids but what matters the most is that we were strong and did it together as a family. September 1943
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21: Digital image. Http://hoovervillehistory.tripod.com/. Web. Digital image. Http://achornfarm.bangordailynews.com/2009/05/09/animals/sunday-stills-black-white-with-a-twist/. Web. Digital image. Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Roosevelt. Web. Digital image. Http://www.mun.ca/biology/scarr/Fitter_Family.html. Web. Digital image. Http://dustyedward.blogspot.com/2010/04/dust-bowl-pics-aftermath.html?zx=8cc445482d0732e7. Web.
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