FC: Great Depression | 1913-1939
2: June 15, 1913
3: My name is Jake Smith. I own a 50 acre farm in Oklahoma with my wife and three kids. My kids are Sam, Mike, and Sara from youngest to oldest. We have lived on this farm for the past seven years. My wife and I have been discussing the possible expansion of our farm, but we cannot afford to purchase more land. Right now we can barely afford to support the family with the amount of money we make from our whole farm. I currently work alone on the farm and I occasionally receive help from my family during harvest season. I work from dawn until dusk to make suer that I can take the most advantage of my land. If I could hire another helper on the farm I would have much more free time. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and playing the fiddle. I learned to play the fiddle in my youth from my father. Spending time with my kids is the most important thing for me because they are the reason that I work so hard in the fields. Also I have to spend much of my time fixing the farm equipment. This makes my hands very calloused and worn. My wife loves that I am a hard worker would do anything to keep her and the kids happy. My parents had a tough time providing for me and my brothers. I want my kids to be happy and not worry about things like clothes and food.
4: Now that World War I is in full swing, my farm has grown immensely. I now have 150 acres of land and my crops are selling very easily. The US government needs this food to send over seas. All the people in my county are doing very well too. I had to take a $12,000 loan to pay for the extra 100 acres that I have added to my farm. We need more land to plant more wheat. Without this time of prosperity, I would not be able to afford a loan or any new land. At the rate crops are selling, the loan will be paid off in four years. I had to hire extra farm hands to help cultivate, plant, and harvest the crops. My family and I have not been able to keep up with the demand. This help that I have hired is the answer to our problem. With sales at record highs, we will be living well-off for many years to come. I cannot even think of the agricultural market dropping at all. It will only continue growing. In local markets, the price of wheat has doubled. I have been able to reinvent my family. With the extra money, we purchased new clothing, a Model-T and a radio by using installment plans. We pay everything off little-by-little. It allows us to purchase more items in a certain period of time instead of waiting until we have enough money to buy it then and there. Whoever thought of installment plans is a genius. We can buy anything that we normally couldn't afford.
5: October 19, 1918
6: August 17, 1930
7: Many moons have passed since the prosperous times. Now, it is very difficult for me to provide for my family. The ground has dried up and can no longer support the grain crop it once did. It has been a very long time since it has rained. This lack of rain has caused the soil to become very loose. The soil blows around everywhere and refuses to stay still. The loose soil even blows into our hose during the dust storms. I must wear a handkerchief over my mouth so that I can breathe during the storm. Whenever I try to plant crops, they seeds just blow away so all the work that I do turns out to be useless much of the time. All of my farm hands have also left because they have seen how unfertile the soil is. No one is willing to work on the farm and assist me to grow food for my family. Furthermore, I have fallen behind on my loan payments because I have not been producing anything on the farm. My wife warned me about taking out a loan to increase the size of the farm. I now realize that I should have listened to her so that I would not have to not only worry about paying to put food on the table, but now I have to worry about paying interest on the loan. I honestly worry that the 100 acres that I recently attained could soon belong to the bank. The change in the weather and the state of the economy have had a drastic change on my life..
8: Now that the Depression has been going on for a while, I have lost part of my farm. This happened because I was unable to afford the monthly payments for the extra 100 acres I purchased. This does not bother me because the land is infertile anyways. I still cannot grow anything. As a last resort for some extra money, I tried to sell farm equipment. There is only the problem that no one has fertile land to use the farm equipment on so no one has bought anything from me. The dust storms have also gotten worse than they once were. After trying to sell equipment, I even resorted to putting 20 acres of land up for sale. Again I ran into the same problem that no one could afford to purchase the land and even if they did, they knew that they would not be able to make a profit from the land. During dinner, the food gets covered in grit from the time it exits the pot until it gets in my mouth. Even though this food get covered in dirt, it is the only option that we have. There is no other food available. Many nights I go to sleep hungry to give my children more food to eat. I am willing to do this because I know that they need the food more than I do. Even though I have lost weight during this time, they are everything to me. I have seen everyone in the town around me become much skinnier because no one can afford any substantial food.
9: May 26, 1931
10: November 2, 1932
11: Since we entered into the depression, the government activity has been minimal at best. Hoover has been too afraid to show his face to the American people. He had the unreal idea that the economy would be able to fix itself. Hoover has had a laissez-faire approach when it came to handling the depression. Well after three years, the economy has only gotten worse. A large majority of my friends are out of jobs, which adds to the 25% unemployment rate. My neighbor's house was repossessed by the bank. He and his family are now living in a "Hooverville". Everything negative about the depression includes the name Hoover. "Hoovervilles" are towns of make-shift houses for people who lost their houses. Keeping my family out of "Hoovervilles" has not been an easy task. I have been working any job for the tiniest amount of money. We have been paying the bank the minimal amount of money. I have seen people lose hope when going to "Hoovervilles". People have become sick more easily and have bad nutrition. Hundreds of people are thrown into such a tiny amount of space. The houses there are extremely small and would be difficult to live in for a family of five. My wife is not use to this lifestyle. For days at a time, I would be gone and she would need to take care of the house. Every now and then, she finds work watching other people's children for fifty cents for the day. Every cent counts in today's economy.
12: February 15, 1933
13: The possibility of starvation has always been on my mind. Since the farm dried up, food has been hard to come by. We have to wait until food is almost rotten to afford it. My wife and I are eating the bare minimum needed for daily activity. We would rather our children eat more food than all of us eating the same. The dust storms ruin what food we have and make it inedible. We cannot plant new crops because the land is not fertile enough. This drought is killing us slowly. It is killing everyone. No body in this town is living well. Everyone is starving. We have made our cries loud enough for the government to hear, yet they still do nothing. The town newspaper has written articles about the "Hoovervilles" and starvation, and they remain emotionless. The government has done nothing to ease our pain. They will not send food or water. Hoover just tells us to wait it out, and things will get better. Nothing is going to get better by itself. The government has left us to fend for ourselves. People without homes must find and create shelter for themselves. We must find our own food and try to find drinkable water. I just hope they decide to step in soon.
14: April 19, 1934
15: The dust storms and Great Depression have gone taken a large toll on my family and I. We are still having difficulty paying for basic things such as clothing and other luxuries. I have been wearing the same few clothes for the past 3 years. We have saved every single penny we can and we still can barely afford to feed everyone. I have also have to send my children into town to beg for spare change. This is very degrading for the kids, but it is the only way for us to afford food. I have to force them to go because we all know that without the spare change they bring in, we would have no food. I have given up on working the farm because any seeds I plant get blown away. I have been trying to find a job around town at one of the shops. Even though I search, I still have a problem because no one is hiring in town. I could get a job at a very low pay but I could not do that because then all the work that I would be doing would be worthless. I would still only be able to feed part of my family. I may have to start looking further away to find a job. This could lead to problems because I do not like to be away from my family. They are the most important part of my life and I could not bare to be away from them for an extended time.
16: I have chosen to take a job 5 miles out of town. I work at a general store from dawn until dusk. I have to wake up before the sun rises so that I can walk to the store and begin working. I make enough money only to put enough food on the table.. This has become very stressful for me and I have decided to start drinking. I know this is bad but it helps me to forget about all the troubles I have with my family and with my farm. My wife and I always have to argue because I have to wake up so early and I come back so late that i never get to spend any time with her or the kids. She feels as though I have abandoned her but I have been trying my best to support the whole family. If I did not leave her alone, there would have no way for anyone to eat. I sometimes even have to stay at work for a few days at a time. If I did not stay away for extended periods, my boss would fire me because so many people are willing to work at any hour of the day. The other reason that I stay away for a few days at a time is that I do not like to go home when I am drunk I do not want my kids to see me in my drunk state. I would rather that my whole family think I am working to help make their lives better. I still believe that ignorance is bliss because if they do not know what I am doing everyone stays much happier.
17: July 3, 1935
18: March 29, 1937
19: Over the past week, I have attended meetings hosted by the AAA, Agricultural Adjustment Act. It is an organization created by the government to pay farmers for allowing government officials to monitor how much crops are grown. It is a weird concept, but I am not one to argue. I am getting paid for doing nothing. With this extra income, I have been able to work on other jobs to get more money. We have been able to purchase more food and to buy new clothing. All of this extra money has given our family a new hope that some day everything will return back to normal. This is the happiest I have seen my wife during the depression. She seems to have an essence about her that gives her happiness and comfort. Her positive energy is rubbing off on myself and my children. My children are returning to their sophomoric lives where they have more freedom. Life is beginning to go back to normal. My children are playing outside with their friends. My wife is tending to the house and children. The overall atmosphere around my house is becoming more positive. This is a good omen and will hopefully lead to the end to the Dust Bowl and depression. My family is getting healthier and getting more nutrition because of the extra food. My children are growing bigger and changing. I can hardly recognize Sam and Sara. They are growing up too fast. The extra money is really helping them grow. It couldn't have come at a better time.
20: Over the past month, I have noticed the dust storms becoming less frequent. We haven't had to worry about dust ruining our food and water. My family has been able to go outside without thinking about the threat of another dust storm. Less people have been getting dust pneumonia. Dust pneumonia is when dust coats the inside of the lungs and causes a person to stop breathing. Living in "Hoovervilles" is becoming easier for those living there. Eventually the storms will stop completely. When the storms stop, everything will be normal. My children have been able to attend school again. The school was filled with dust to the point where it had to be postponed. Hopefully this luck continues. As the dust storms become less frequent, the land and soil begin to recover. Many farmers are beginning to plow their land. The risk-takers are even planting wheat. I hope it pays off for them. My wife has decided to try and plant a small garden of various vegetables. She wants to test our soil to see if it is has enough nutrients to plant our crops. I hope to lay down my seeds by the end of the month to hopefully get a successful harvest this year. Even if I wouldn't be able to sell it, the successful harvest season would prove that things are getting better. Everything will be able to bounce back. I have a good feeling that everything is getting better and will stay that way for a long time. We will have a prosperous life.
21: June 4, 1939
22: THE END
23: Works Cited -Artprintimages.com, http://cache2.artprintimages.com/lrg/27/2702/2EDND00Z.jpg -Britannica.com, Great Depression, http://media.web.britannica.com/eb-media/32/91332-004-8D9B6774.jpg -Csa.com, Refugee, http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/refugee/images/farm.jpg -English.illinois.edu, Great Depression, http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/depression/dbimages/dust2.gif -Flickr.com, http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2473/3885622226_b7c8d73459.jpg -Historylecture.org, http://www.historylecture.org/sdakota.jpg -Newsimg.bbc.co.uk, Herbert Hoover Photo, http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/44389000/jpg/_44389414_hoover_2416_getty.jpg -PBWorks, Dust Bowl Farm, http://quickhour1.pbworks.com/f/1273583570/fsa-dust-bowl-farm-32396-700.jpg -Planetoddity.com, Wheat Photo, http://planetoddity.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/wheat-photo-6.jpg -Shorpy.com, http://www.shorpy.com/files/images/8b38282u.preview.jpg -Washington.edu, Hoovervilles, http://depts.washington.edu/depress/images/hoovervilles/hooverville3.jpg
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26: Parents | Grandparents | Great Grandparents