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Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Best of the Worst Times
The Best of the Worst Times

The struggle to grow up!

The title of the writing is surely a misnomer for there was no best of the worst. One might say the worst of the best except there was no best. You might say that is without reason but the sad truth is there was scarcely reason.

Living within a void was the feeling the boys lived with.  Hopelessness would have been a welcome visitor and so begins the way it was. There have been other times of woe before but it is only the ones you experience that stand out to you.

Its like unto the man clinging to a tree in a flooded plain, who doesn't need more water, so also is one who is down and out need more bad news.

Depression is not something any one wants, nor the circumstances that brings it about. It is like an ill wind that blows where it wishes with evil intent.

This was what it was like for the three boys in 1934.  A few more facts must needs to be put into evidence so fair judgments that are inevitable can be made.

The family was large, the mother had died; three of the children didn't make it past their early years.  Several had already left the nest which remained three boys who were late teen-ers and two girls of tender age. The boys were demanding more freedoms that required responsibilities.

The father granted their demands by taking his new wife and the two young girls and moving with them to town, leaving the boys at the old home place.

The three boys reveled in their new freedom but couldn't comprehend the concept of being responsible, and they turned the power of attack on each other instead of attacking the problems before them.

The result of doing this was the only thing they had in common was the roof over their head.

There was seemingly no place to go, for to the West was the un-breathe-able dust for sustenance, and to the East the ocean that mocked you with unstoppable waves.

There was no South for state lines had disappeared and the North's message was we care not for you.

While our focus shall be on the eldest boy George; the other two boys have stories that would garner little interest, perhaps someday someone will tell them.

George could hardly earn a dollar a day for those who had land had little to share.  Not even a job was available for a share cropper who worked without wages, only a share of what he could raise.  

It was two dollars pay for a cord of wood.  It took two men long hours to complete that task in a day; but George was one of the lucky ones. 
hauling rocks
He was hired for a dollar a day to carry rocks out of the creek. The reason for doing that was the creek was shallow with low banks and during hard rains the fields would flood and erosion would occur.

The farmer reasoned that if the creek could flow more freely the flooding would be lessened and the rocks carried up on the banks would protect the fields.
The footing was unstable and the rocks heavy but it was dollar a day that others wouldn't have.

The ten hour shift was long but not without interest. The water snakes that hid in the cracks of the stones would cause the adrenalin to flow and keep one on their toes; trip after trip, all day long carrying the rocks upon the banks.  

Periodically the farmer would come by and ask why it wasn't going faster. The answer he received wasn't civil but was convincing.  When on occasion he would catch a snake, he would snap it like a whip causing its head to fly off, what sport.

Five days, five dollars, he would try to budget it out for the next week but Saturday night was unpredictable and sometime the budget didn't work out.

What to do and where to go and what to do first was the issue of this day. 

The answer usually was first to Denham's for some food and then to the beer joints. Ten cent beer and a dollar a jug for moon, with the music being free and the rent- a girl for twenty five cents being the going rate.

The big question to be answered was who was going to do the fighting that was bound to happen before the night passed.  Most of the brawling was caused by the rent-a-girls trying to make their Saturday night man jealous.

Someone was bound to get cut over a girl that anyone could rent for twenty five cents but it was to be expected every Saturday night.

Hopefully George got home to rest on Sunday so as to be able to carry the rocks for another week.  It was miss a day, and lose a job time and few could afford that. 
George lived rent free and ate from the store shelves.  His eating habits were crackers and sardines alternating with Vienna sausage, and potted meat and cheese; the diet of the hard working man.

Those days were not all bad for some days were worse and the worse days made one look for the bad days again.  And so it was in 1934 for George.

To be Continued

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