FC: Our Family History | "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." | Property of Nick Freeman
2: Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one. | May 5th 1918 Dear Journal, Life is good. Today we went fishing as a family, down at Old Hickory Lake. It's one of my many pleasures and sharing it with my children is something I’ll never forget. Today is also my daughter's birthday, I can't believe my baby girl is 11. It seems like just yesterday I was holding her in my arms. Elizabeth is the oldest of the family, but she will always be my baby to me. Nine years later Michael, our little miracle came. He was almost taken from us when he was just a baby because he couldn't breathe right, but he's alright now, he’s two and always trouble. I wouldn’t have my wonderful family if it wasn’t for my wife Laura. She is a kind and incredible woman who has been a wonderful housewife since the ripe age of 18. She’s all I could’ve hoped for, I don’t know how I got so lucky. Our family lives in a small town in Kansas, it’s in the middle of no where, but it’s home. We could’ve chose to move to a more populated town, but the quaintness, comfort, and familiarity of Sublette, Kansas is the reason everyone stays. Just like me, in Sublette most people are farmers. Farming gives me a sense of freedom and relaxation that I only feel out on the fields. Going out is part of my day to day routine and if I didn’t do it, I would be very lost.
3: My children are what put me in a good mood though. Elizabeth is gone for most of the day, she goes to school in the morning with a huge smile on her face and never leaves without kissing me goodbye. She is one of the fastest learners in her class, she just loves school. Michael, being only two doesn’t go to school yet. He stays home with Laura while I tend to the fields. The handsome devil always manipulates Laura into letting him come out to the fields to see me, mostly because he knows I can’t say no when he asks to ride the tractor. Laura loves staying home with the kids. She has her own special connection with them and has a certain pride in our home knowing that she is responsible for keeping it in order. At 36 years old, I couldn’t have it better. Life is good. Sincerely, Nick | My family and I in front of their home in Kansas | The barn I share with his neighbors
4: May 5, 1918 Dear Journal, Looking back I realize that the farm has been my home since I can remember. My father was a farmer, my grandfather was a farmer and my great grandfather. I've sowed the land since I learned how to walk. Through the years I have acquired a modest sized farm and now I have 25 acres to show for all of my hard work. I am a wheat farmer because my farther was one too. These past couple of years have been very good to wheat farmers. WW1 made the need for wheat in full demand, making my job a gold mine. I am harvesting around 1,750 bushels of wheat in one harvest and selling every bushel, which is about 70 bushels per acre. In farmer terms, this means I'm doing pretty well for myself. It isn't just me who is doing well though, my neighbors are also enjoying this time of prosper. Everyone is happier and it seems like these times will last forever. | Nick farming his wheat
5: I believe that most of our happiness is coming from our new luxurious lifestyle. Well, it isn't champagne every night and butlers to serve you, but we have acquired more possessions than before the 20's came around.Since the selling of wheat has been so good, it has allowed us to afford a radio for entertainment. It has also allowed us to buy a Ford Model T car for easier transportation and a refrigerator , so we can store our groceries longer. I think that my possession would have to be the radio because it brings my family together and we have a great time listening to it at night. These new possessions have made living easier and have brought more smiles around the house. I wake up every morning now with my wife singing in the kitchen cooking up the breakfast meat and eggs. I walk through the house after work and see my son playing with his toys, a giggling bundle of joy, and even my daughter isn't complaining about her choirs. Since I now feel comfortable with this new money, i decided today that I will invest some of it in the Stock Market. My neighbor gave me a hint about the radio stock, so i am going to buy on margin and I hope that the money i invest will come back to me in two fold.If these good times continue, we might even consider having another child. I don't think life could get any better than this! Sincerely, Nick
6: When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers | November 2nd 1929 Dear Journal, This cannot be happening, it must be a dream or a horrific punishment. What have I done to deserve this?! My family is heading down a downwards spiral and I don't know how to stop it. It all started with the war ending. That fateful day in 1918 when all of us in Kansas and all over America rejoiced, only to realize that this wasn't good for us, for our businesses. I took the abundance of need for crops for granted before, I should have been more careful. I should have known it was going to end sooner or later, I just never thought it would effect me so much. Ever since the war ended, we haven't had to feed the troops and the need for our crops has declined greatly. That wasn't even the worst of my worries. Last month is took a turn for the worst. Everything came crashing down on October 29th. Funny how I use the word crash, because that's exactly what the stock market did that fateful day.
7: All my friends had told me it was a great investment, a win-win situation that could multiply my investment in months. They didn't count that the demand for products would die down. They never thought that our economy could get this bad. Being a farmer I'm always thinking of a backup plan if one of my crops fail, why hadn't I thought of a backup plan if the market had failed?! I lost so much, but thankfully I have a good portion saved at the bank that can't be touched by the gamble of the stock market. I don't know how I can face Laura. She was always so skeptical about the market, I should have just listened to her. With the crash a lot of people, including my customers lost a lot of money, money they usually spend by buying my crops. People were buying less of my crops. I'm starting to get worried. At least I have my family, if it weren't for them I wouldn't strive so hard for a better life. They're all that matters. Sincerely, Nick | Newspaper headlines the week of the Stock Market Crash of 1929
8: May 12, 1931 Dear Journal, Like I mentioned earlier, the Stock Market crashed, but now the banks have also taken a turn for the worse. Before the Stock Market crashed, I thought that I should put some of my money in the banks because I didn't want any of it to be stolen. Little did I know that the one place where I thought it would be safe, in the government's hands, was the most risky. What happened was because everyone was losing their money in the stocks, they couldn't pay back the loans they took out to buy the stocks on margin. Then everyone rushed to the banks, out of panic, to retrieve what little money they had left. However, the banks ran out of money because no one payed them back, so it caused the banks to shut down. My money is not only gone now in the Stock Market, it is also gone in the banks as well. We went from living on the high to hitting rock bottom in just a few days. We have had to sell all of our glamorous new possessions and even necessities, like lamps and dish towels. I didn't know how much you could miss clean towels before they are gone. Even after we sold all of our possessions, we still barely have enough money to survive.
9: What used to be eating well ever night and smiles with laughter, is now eating meager amounts of food and frowns with silence. I feel we aren't a family anymore because families are supposed to be loving, however, we are all just bitter. Another problem that has caused our bitterness is the dust bowl that has hit Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. Apparently, us farmers were farming the wrong way and we turned the top soil into dust.Now the government tells us that we are supposed to farm with crop rotation, this ensures that the top soil stays soil and doesn't become dust. My father and grandfather never farmed this way and they were successful, but now the old ways of farming are a problem. Also, since we turned the top soil into dust, the wind picked it up and made dust storms. These dust storms happen a lot became we are in a period of drought, so there is nothing to turn the dust back into soil. I have tried re-planting, but this dust won't let anything grow.My last harvest was 20 bushels, and I used to bring in 750! 20 bushels won't feed 2 children and a wife, and the money we have left is slowing going away. I don't know what I'm going to do! Sincerely, Nick | Nick waiting for his money at the bank, which is now closed
10: August 20th, 1931 Dear Journal, The government is getting more incompetent by the minute. I have no more faith or trust left in this government at this point. I can't trust that they have our best interest in mind. For the past almost three years, we've been waiting for help, for a sign to let us know that they are working to try to better our economy and get us out of this rut we're in. That sign never came, we never got help. The government merely overlooked us. I could probably run this country better than Herbert Hoover, and I'm a farmer from Sublette, Kansas. He seems to not know or care about anyone but the wealthy and the corporations. Us little people are not a priority to him, yet the extremely wealthy only make up a meager 1% of the population. Hoover probably thinks he seems like he is trying to help, but frankly he has no idea what he is dealing with right now. After the crash, he did nothing, he still hasn't done anything! No wonder people name Hoovervilles after him, him and all his plans were just garbage!
11: I have to put on a brave face for my family. They're the ones I'm worried about. I'm terrified that there's going to come a point where I will no longer be able to provide for them and they'll leave me, ashamed in my failure. I need to be brave, for their sakes. What needs to happen is, Hoover needs to take charge and actually DO something. He would gain so much support if he just tried to relate and reason with us. We just want to be shown that he is trying his best, its the effort that matter. Hoover needs to think about what he wants to do fast because the competition for president is going to be very important. I really hope he does something goes well for the country. Sincerely, Nick | President Herbert Hoover
12: November 25, 1931 Dear Journal, Before the Stock Market crashed, our lovely president Hoover actually tried to help us farmers. I know, this was a shock to me too, because this was the man who believed in laissez faire, not getting involved. This man introduced a bill 8 months before the Stock Market crashed called the Agricultural Marketing Act. His goal was to bring the agriculture in America back in full swing, like how it was during WW1. This act gave the government the power to buy a surplus of goods from American farmers until they re-gained the money they needed to maintain their farms and their lives. However, when the Stock Market crashed, this act crashed with it. Hoover hasn't done anything else to help us farmers, so it feels like we have no government at all. The government is supposed to help citizens and make sure the country thrives. Right now, however, our government is just watching it's country suffer because they don't know what to do to make the suffering go away. | Hoover at office with other politicians
13: Even though it didn't last long, at first this act actually helped my family out. Around the time that this act was introduced, everyone in my town could tell that business was slowing. Since the war ended, people didn't want as much food as we were used to selling. This loss in business made my family have to start cutting back on what we spent and what we did as extra activities. We didn't think that it was a major issue until the bill was passed; then I became nervous and I thought to myself, if our non-existing government is actually making an effort, then we must be headed for bad times. They started giving us cash to buy our crops and life was good for a little while; we weren't rich, but we weren't poor either. Then the market crashed and our lifeline did as well. By not having this act, it has left our family out to dry because I don't have a decent way of making income. Especially since now we also have the dust storm that is making my crop collection so minuscule that I can barley feed my family 3 weeks with the profit I make from it. We need help and the small amount that the government has done just isn't enough. Sincerely, Nick | A dust storm approaching our town
14: February 2nd, 1932 Dear Journal, This Dust Bowl is tearing my family apart and I have absolutely no control over it,I'm helpless. How long is this going to last? How long will the table in our house have to be set with the plates and glasses upside down so that dust doesn't get inside before our food does. I'm just tired of breathing dust and always feeling dirty. I may be a farmer, but I was never covered from head to toe in dust and dirt, not to mention have I never had it in my mouth at all times no matter how hard I tried to get rid of it. It's taken such a huge toll on my family, especially the kids. They've had to sacrifice so much of their childhood, it just isn't right. My wife Laura is now gone all day because she has to walk a couple towns over, by foot to a nannying job she found for some well-off folks who didn't lose a lot in the crash. She leaves in the middle of the night so that she can make it there by morning and she doesn't come home until right before she falls asleep. She rarely sees the children anymore. They may be grown up, but they were forced to grow up too quick. They still need their mother, I can't take her place. | Huge dust storm rolling into town
15: Poor Elizabeth has had to leave her job at the school on certain days of the week when I can't watch Michael and practically fill in for her mother. She loved going to school and teaching the wonderful students, going put a huge smile on her face. I hardly ever see that smile anymore and to know that breaks my heart. I had to find a job at the convenience store in town loading trucks with supplies. These jobs were rare sometimes and when jobs with little pay were open, sometimes I didn't get the job. I had to do what I could to earn some money for this family. Our youngest Michael is now 16 and still has some issues with breathing. The dust everywhere makes his condition were all the time. Lately he's been sick and we've all been worried and we were told by our neighbor who is a doctor that he has developed dust pneumonia due to his preexisting breathing problems and the dust in the atmosphere. Everyone has sacrificed so much, I don't know how longer we can take this. Even my parents had lost everything and had to move into our modest sized house. It's cramped, but family comes first. Sincerely, Nick
16: May 15, 1932 Dear Journal, Every morning I look out my bedroom window to my 25 acres of dust and a huge frown forms on my face. I feel like I'm in a cloud of depression because the only thing I want right now in the whole world is to be able to grow my wheat again. I feel that the only thing that will snap me out of my funk is if we have rain. We have been in a drought for so long now that I have stopped counting the days. I believe that rain is out there, waiting to come down and shower my town. When that day comes, my wheat will grow again and everyone will be happy. One of big reasons why my family is unhappy right now is because of the lack of food in our house. Our diets consist of stale bread I find in the dumpsters of the bakery, watered down milk and some other dairy products from our neighbors that are dairy farmers. Everyone is trying to help each other out, which is very kind since most don't have enough food for themselves. Even with their help though, we are still left hungry. | My field after a dust storm
17: These days with few food have made my job at the convenient store unbearable. Every day that I'm picked to work around the store, I get the urge to steal for my family. I don't of coarse, but the look on my daughter's face and the sad expression my wife wears now-a-days makes it very hard not to steal. I even have a 3 year old that isn't receiving the proper nutrients because of me, and because of me, he could maybe die. I hope that neither of my children end up with dust pneumonia-a new epidemic that is spreading-because I wouldn't be able to give them the nutrients they would need to get better, or even a doctor. Even with all of these worries, I feel that we live better than most of my neighbors do. At least I get picked most days to work at the convenient store, so I always manage to have something on the table for dinner. My neighbors next door had to send their kids to their relatives because they couldn't afford to keep them safe and healthy. This happened because the father, and my good friend, fell one day down the stairs and broke his wrist; no one wants to hire a man that is injured, it would slow down the work. I am thankful and only thankful in these times for the fact that I still have my whole family under my roof. If I had to give up my children, not only will I have felt like a failure to them, but I would lose all hope and maybe even kill myself. I feel we can't be in any worse times than this, so it must mean our futures look brighter....I hope.... Sincerely, Nick
18: October 5th, 1935 Dear Journal, I'm was very skeptical, and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel. You see, we finally have a new President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I'm very hesitant to put my trust back into someone again, especially someone in the government. I don't take to government officials very well after Hoover's disaster. I can see that there's a glimmer of hope with FDR. That he could be the one to turn this around for us. Everyone is saying how driven he is to fix our nations problem and get us out of this "Great Depression". The more I compare Hoover to FDR, the more I see how much impact he has put on this country and how much he has changed and done to try to get us back on our feet. He has even done so much for my family already and I know that with passing time, he will only try to create more programs to benefit us. | Working with the men in the CWA
19: FDR created the WPA or the Works Progress Administration. This program was a great benefit to my family because it provided Laura with a job, which was very rare for these programs to allow women. At first she was judged by the men working with her, but she showed them that she could do the job just as good as they could. This was a great program because it allowed Laura to stay home more and not have to be gone all day. Another great program was the CWA or the Civil Works Administration. This program helped me find jobs, particularly in the winter. We mainly built bridges and buildings which was very new to me, but I picked it up quickly. I was very grateful to be able to take advantage of this program to help get me back on my feet. Something else that really helped was the government sending us relief checks when we needed them. It helped us use that money wisely to start over. FDR has helped my family a lot, but I'm still a little skeptical. We'll see how it all plays out in the long run. Sincerely, Nick
20: FDR smiling in a car because of all of his accomplishments | A picture of me farming my land again
21: March 10, 1939 Dear Journal, I take it back what I said earlier about the government. Now that Roosevelt is in office, I am starting to like the government more and I am slowly starting to trust them again. Since they are putting so much effort into this New Deal and trying to fix our country, I believe that they deserve a second chance. By giving my wife and I jobs in his New Deal, Roosevelt has made it possible for my little girl to go back to school full time. I want her to have a full education and maybe even go to college in the far future, so the fact that she can finish school. made me like Roosevelt a little more. Also, all the work Elizabeth was doing around the house was bring her spirits down and making her grow up way too fast. Now, she has the chance to enjoy her teenage years and have a little fun for a change. This isn't the only good news that I want to mention; we have finally gotten rain. I knew, deep down, that we would receive rain one day, but I didn't know when. The rain has allowed us farmers to go out into the fields to do what we do best, farm. We planted our seeds and practiced the new way of farming, as told by the government, called: crop rotation. A couple of days passed and guess what I saw out by bedroom window in the morning, green sprouts! My plants are actually growing! I think I cried all night out of happiness for life in my earth. Now that we were starting to grow crops again, the government enacted the AAA (the Agricultural Adjustment Act) as part of the New Deal. This act helped stop the overproduction of crops by paying farmers to make sure they didn't grow as many crops. I, myself, was paid a generous amount because of this act, but as I was receiving it, I thought to myself, isn't this creating starvation in the country? Oh well, at least we are all safe and alive, that is all that matters. Another benefit of the New Deal included the SAA (the Social Security Act), which gave my in-laws security and some extra money since they can't work anymore. I think that I predicted earlier that times couldn't become any worse and that we could only go up from where we were at; looks like I was right. Sincerely, Nick
22: Work Cited | Herbert Hoover Signing the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929, Washington, DC, 1929.Digital image. Library of Congress. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.
23: Work cited continued.. | Brian. Stock Photo of Wheat Blowing in the Wind. Digital image. B. Thomas Photo Research. WordPress, 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.