Ford County Dust Bowl Oral History Project
A Kansas Humanities Council grant project
Interview: Lola Adams Crum
Interviewer: Brandon Case
June 23, 1998
Brandon Case: Could you give me your name, please?
Lola Crum: I am Lola Adams Crum, I was born here in this house, May the 29th, 1908. So just shortly, it hadn’t been very long since I celebrated my 90th birthday. ‘Course, I haven’t lived in this house all those years.
My dad thought after being a farmer all of his life, he thought when he got married he was going to live in town and have a job in town. Got a job in a lumberyard, build this big house, got married and 18 months later, no not 18 months later, just 13 months later. Because, they were married in April and I was born the last of May the next year, 1908. And, so, but…but by the time I was 18 months old, they had moved back to the farm, because he decided he wasn’t a city fella after all; he was a farmer. So, we moved to several different farms, finally, we, uh, moved out Northwest of town. And that’s where I grew up, out Northwest of town.
BC: And you helped out on the farm?
LC: And, oh yes, as I got older and could, I helped with, we always helped with the chores. Kids on the farm, they have to learn, they have to work, they have to do things. You carry water from the well and you just do lots of things on the farm. And as I got big enough and I would drive the team and my mother and my dad and I would all be driving teams, working, in the, cultivating the corn or planting the wheat.
One time we had a barley crop, I forget how many acres, but it was a big field of barley. The wheat had blown out, we didn’t have any wheat, so my dad planted barley so he could have some kind of a crop. It was beautiful. Then we had three days of real hot wind and it just parched that barley, it just turned white overnight. Well, there was no grain in it, so we, but we cut it for feed. My dad drove the header and my mother pulled back the straw as it came into the header barge. And, I’ll tell you one thing, barley beards are stickly, stickly, sticky. Well, then when the tractors came along, I was big enough, I helped my mother with the cooking and my sister drove the tractors.
BC: So, you got the really early type of farming, pre-automated?
LC: Yes, yes, pre-automated farming; back in the horse, uh, they say the "horse and buggy days."
BC: That incident with the barley, now that was, what the teens?
LC: Early 1920s. I couldn’t tell you which year it was, but it was quite a while before I graduated from high school, and I graduated in 1926 from high school. Well, the bad days started, in let’s see, in 1929.
BC: Just before we get to that, you graduated from high school. What did you do then?
LC: Oh, well, see, when I went to high school, they, they gave a Teacher Training class in high school and I took that course. Then when I graduated from high school, they gave what they called a “Normal Training State Examination” and I took that. That gave me a certificate so that I could teach two years in a country school. But, by that time, I had to go to summer school and earn credits enough to get a three year State certificate, then I could teach three years. Well, after three years were up, I was supposed to have gained enough credits that I could get a life certificate, which I did. Well, back in those days, I always felt like there was kind of a stigma to being an old maid. But, you couldn’t teach school in Kansas if you were married. You had either be a widow or an old maid.
And, so, I, uh, didn’t want to teach forever in my own hometown, so when I got my life certificate, I applied for a job in Kansas City, and got it. So, I taught three years in Kansas City, but if you got married, you lost your right to teach right then, so, I got married. And I had been going to summer school by that time in Flagstaff, Arizona because...
BC: You had left Dodge?
LC: I left-I left Kansas, and went to Arizona to teach school.
BC: In 1939?
LC: In 1939, I went to Arizona to summer school, in ’36 and graduated in ’39. Then I got my job in Arizona when I had my degree. ‘Cause, they didn’t care if you were married, just so you had a degree. And I taught there, well just taught for one year, and the war started. And I went to California, and I taught 19 years in California.
BC: So, stepping back then, to the uh, just after you got your teaching certificate, you taught in?
LC: I taught here in Dodge, a rural school, I taught three years in a rural school. And then, I came to Dodge City to teach, and it was during those days the dust storms started. I think it was about the third year, ‘cause the first year, I taught in the Mexican school, it wasn’t that year. Then the next year, I know I taught one year in south Dodge, Sunnyside School, before the dust storms started real bad about ’31, ’32, I can’t remember which one. And, anyway, they didn’t start out so bad, dust, dust, dust, but oh my, it got so terrible. See, I taught from ’31 to ’36 in south Dodge, I taught ’30 and ’31 in the Mexican school.
Well, when the dust storms really got to going, many and many a day, you see, I drove from out northwest off the farm, I drove into Dodge everyday to teach school. Many a day, I couldn’t see, but one telephone post ahead of me. By the time I got to that post, I could barely see the next one, and that was day after day, I drove those six miles, just seeing one telephone post ahead of me. Sometimes, it got so bad, you could hardly see the radiator cap on the car, and I would be driving to school. Well many a day, we didn’t even have school. And I can remember, my room faced the east, looked right out across the street at the neighbors, and when I could see the trees in the neighbor’s yard across the street, I thought, whew boy, it’s lettin’ up a little. And the janitor would go down the halls and sweep out the windows, off the windowsills every hour all day long. They would just get coated with dust.
BC: How bad would it have to be before they cancelled school?
LC: Well, they, at first, when it got pretty bad, they’d cancel school everywhere, if it got real bad, they’d send the kids home. And if they thought it’d be real bad, they’d announce there wasn’t going to be any school. But, you know it happened every day and every day, and you couldn't just let school out. So they just went ahead and had school, if you could get there at all. Uh, and, then there was the "Black Blizzard." You've heard of the "Black Blizzard" ?
LC: On Sunday in April, 1935, and I was grading papers; sitting at our kitchen window, the window faced the north. And I looked up and there was the blackest cloud you ever saw just about a third of the way from the horizon. My mother and brother had gone down to my grandmother's about half a mile east, so they weren't home. But my dad was asleep on the bed in the bedroom, so I hollered at him, "Pop, come here and look at this cloud." Well, by the time he got awake and got out on the porch, which was quite quick because I was yelling. I was scared and he, didn't take him long to get out there. We looked at that and here it was, just two-thirds of a way up from the horizon, just almost to up to the, well, about two-thirds, and, so we went back into the house right quick. And of course, in those days, your light was a lamp, a coal oil lamp. And I reached, by the time I got into the kitchen, halfway across the kitchen; to reach for the matchbox, I couldn't see the matchbox. That dirt hit that quickly, and it just engulfed you, it just covered everything, and you couldn't see, you couldn't see anything. Now, if you wake up in the night, you can see where the window is, you couldn't tell where the window was. It was that dense. And, well, I lit the lamp, and you know, it wasn't any time between, until it seemed foggy in there. The dust had come into the room with the window shut and the doors shut.
BC: So it didn't keep it out?
LC: It really didn't' keep it out. Many a evening, when the wind was blowin' that way, we'd sit, damp rag wiping', putting it over our nose for, honestly, it was, it was something else.
I can tell you another interesting story about the dust storm days. Since I was teaching here in school, in town, one of my very dear friends was Flora B. Miller, who was the Principal and teacher over in the school on the east side of town, in those days, they called in First Ward. And, she was a good friend of mine and ever once in a while, I'd go spend the night with her, especially on these bad nights. And, as time went along, she said, "Well, Lola, when these storms started, I thought I'd just keep my house as it was." Her son had gone to college, so she was alone that winter, she said, "I thought I'd just keep my house as it was anyway, dusted." But she said, "You know, it wasn't too long before I put sheets over the furniture in the front room because I very seldom went in there when I was working." And time went on and she said, "Lola, I've decided that I'll do well if I can keep my stove and my table clean in the kitchen." The next time I saw her, she said, "Lola, I got to the place where if I can keep my plate and my pillow clean, I'm doing well."
BC: Now that was a big challenge?
LC: Yes, it was.
BC: How did your mother and you keep the farmhouse clean?
LC: We didn't. We just swept out what we could. They did tape around the windows, to keep, to try to keep some of the dust out, but you'd sit there in the evenings, and there'd be dust between you and that lamp.
BC: A lot of evenings?
LC: A lot of evenings. And the men, they tried to save the fields. The fields were just blowing away. And they'd get out there to try, I know my dad used a harrow, just to turn the ground over so it wouldn't blow so hard. And, he didn't always shave everyday and he'd come in with that dust just hanging on those short whiskers, just his face was just covered in dirt. And, poor guy, you know, later, a few years later, a lot of farmers died with emphysema and there was just plain dust in their lungs.
BC: Dust pneumonia was a big problem back then?
LC: Yes, Dust pneumonia was a problem in those days.
BC: Did you know many people that died?
LC: Well, not that actually died with it. I remember and I don't remember, they'd say, "Oh, I think, well I think he's just got dust pneumonia." Something like that, but you know, that's been a long time ago, and I've forgotten a lot of things about it.
BC: Then, how did your family survive then?
LC: Well, a lot of families lost their farms, ‘cause there was seven years that you didn't get any crops; seven years of drought. And many a time, I had to buy a bale of hay on the way out after school, to feed the cows.
My folks had a school teacher, we didn't make much money in those days either, not compared to now, and a lot of ‘em just couldn't make it, ‘cause hey just couldn't.
But my dad hung on, borrowed money from the Federal Land bank and planted again. And he tried to plant other things and never had real luck with any of it. One time, he planted beans after the wheat blew out. Pinto beans, a whole acreage; about a half of a quarter section, I ‘spect, well more than that. Well, it was more than a half of that quarter section, two-thirds probably; it was full of pinto beans. July came along and a great big hailstorm and those beans, they looked so pretty, before the hailstorm. And my dad went out afterwards and there wasn't anything in that crop except two beans, two bean plants; one was under a bucket and the other was beside it. In all that acreage, the beans were gone.
Another time the wheat went out, and that time he planted broom corn in the spring, he had heard that the Colorado fellas were having good luck with that broom corn. So, he gets the idea he's gonna plant broom corn. So, he planted most of the quarter section over southwest in broom corn. It came up, and then it didn't rain and it didn't rain - the only broom corn we had was down a draw that had a little bit more moisture. Well, that was, during the, let's see, I can't remember now why it was that we couldn't get hired men. So, anyway, he went down to the Mexican Village and got about ten Mexican girls, teenagers, and they came out there, and he showed them how to pull the broom corn and they pulled the broom corn. Well, after he got ‘em pulled, there wasn't anyplace in Dodge City to sell broom corn. So there he was with what broom corn he had; finally he found a fella that made brooms and he sold it for what he could get out of it, to the fella that made brooms.
BC: Here in Dodge?
LC: Here in Dodge. I don't remember who the fella was, but he found a fella that made brooms, and he got rid of it. But that's the kind of times we had. He always said he was just lucky he had schoolteacher in the family that was bringing home a little money.
BC: So, you stayed there the whole time you were here?
LC: Yes, the whole time I was teaching school in Dodge City, country school, I lived at home.
BC: Did your family ever get other help from the Mexican Village or other temporary?
LC: No, no.
BC: That was the only time?
LC: Finally, we, the Government gave allotments, they called it. Gave farmers money for wheat they couldn't raise. That was, they didn't call it welfare, but it was an allotment for the acreage they planted, they got paid. Well, that just about saved this country, I tell ya.
I tell ya, our sheets got so worn out, that my mother took them off the bed, they had, they worn out the middle. She took them off, sewed the edges together; see, both, put the sewed together edges in the middle of he bed and the worn out side was on the side.
Ands the towels, the first thing we did when we got this wheat allotment, my mom went to town and bought some new sheets and some towels to wipe on ‘cause those towels all had holes in the middle of ‘em, the ones we'd been using.
BC: So it helped out?
LC: Oh, it really helped out. It just saved the country. And you see, when you couldn't buy anything, merchants were hard up. And so, we saved the merchants ‘cause we all went to town to buy something when we got this money.
BC: What year was that about, was that the mid 1930's?
LC: That was about, yeah, about 1935, '36.
BC: Did you get any other, any kind of subsidies ?
LC: No, I can't remember any. Now, back during World War I, we got, we had substitutes for flour. We had to have cornmeal or bran, what they'd call it? It wasn't just straight bran, but it was wheat flour, graham flour they called it. Graham flour or cornmeal. I got so tired of cornbread, but that was during the First World War.
BC: Now, uh, after you got the allotment, did many of your neighbors or your father even work through WPA ?
LC: Yes, some of my neighbors did and people here in town did. My dad didn't have time to work for WPA. Oh, I'll tell ya, one time though, he did, he did take a county job with the road grater.
I remember one time, we got the smallpox in town. Somebody started it, my brother brought it home from high school and we got vaccinated. I remember that, to keep from getting it. I didn't get smallpox ‘cause the doctor came right out and vaccinated all of us that didn't have it. My brother had it. And Pop was driving those, I think he had six horses to that grater; it was real hard pulling on those reigns and he had this vaccination on his arm; oh it got so bad, oh it just got awfully bad from his using it all the time. And, all that, I tell ya that he took this job because we just didn't have any money. That was toward the Depression when we were getting desperate.
BC: Now when did, the Depression ended about 1938, 1939?
LC: Yeah, about then.
BC: When did it really impact Dodge City and Ford County? When was it first felt?
LC: Huh, well let's see, after I graduated from high school, I taught school three years. And then I thought I was going, I always wanted to go to college, wanted to go to the agriculture college. So, I saved up enough money that I thought I could go. Well, I went one semester and I run out of money and that was the first semester of 1929. And, I went the first semester, then when I came home, my bank account was gone, my dad said. So, he said, "Well, I don't have money to send you back to college now, but we'll raise a wheat crop and then next year, you can go on to school." And, let's see, he raised a wheat crop that year and got twenty-five cents a bushel for his wheat. Well, he didn't have money enough to send me to school. So I, that's when I went to the Mexican village. I guess that, I didn't teach that Spring, the Spring of, that would have been the Spring of 1930.
Then, the fall of '30 is when I started teaching in town. The Superintendent of Schools here in Dodge called up and asked me if I'd be interested in teaching in the Mexican school. This was after school started because he has a teacher who was very discontent teaching in the Mexican school. So, he asked me if I would and that's what my mother said, when I asked, "Mom, he wants me to teach in the Mexican Village." And I didn't know anything about the Village and she said, "Well, it's gonna be a long winter without any money." So, I said, "Well, I'll talk to you about it, and I'll talk to the folks about it." And I went down there and taught in the Village and I was, I didn't know anything about Mexican kids, their language, their anything. But, I loved it. They were so appreciative. They loved their teachers so much.
BC: How was that different from your other teaching?
LC: Well, one thing, the language, ‘cause they were just learning English. I was teaching 2nd and 3rd grade, so they had had two years in 1st grade. They always had to have two years in 1st grade to learn the language. So these kids, well, they wouldn't always get their language just right. One time, one example, they had a christening party with a lot of food to eat and the next day, Manuel, and they were all talking about going to this christening party, "Oh, Miss Adams, we had so much to eat, I get what you say the ache stomach." That's the way, how they were learning their English, but not perfect. Well, Manuel was one of the kids that was at my 90th Birthday reception. I had several of my Mexican kids there. All of my kids are in their 70s.
BC: What was the impact of the German immigrants that had settled in Dodge City? What was the impact in the Mexican community during those years, during the Depression years?
LC: Well, they had the job on the railroad, they had jobs most of them , the fathers, they, it was hard times, awfully hard times for the Mexicans; but they could make due with a lot less then people who had had everything they needed for so many years. They had always had to make due and they, you can ask these former pupils of mine who were growing up then about the trials they had and how their mothers had to grind their flour, their meal anamotate, and all those things.
BC: Now, did your family raise a garden?
LC: Oh, yes, we always had a garden, and my mother canned a lot. My dad, when fruit got cheap you know, he'd come home with a whole two or three bushels of pears or peaches. Usually peaches, and apples, and then they'd have to can all night sometimes, but we had a cave, a cellar outside the house, and my mother canned all kinds of things, to keep it for the winter.
We worked hard and another thing during those days, it was awful hard to get clothes to start to school. You always had to have new dresses to start to school. And my sister and I would pull roasting ears or onions or anything that we could sell, and walk up and down the city streets here, especially Central Avenue, that's where the rich people lived. Selling onions or selling corn. Peddling corn, oh, it would just killed me to go up and ask them if they wanted some corn or something we could sell. And, but I had to do it or I didn't get new clothes.
And one time I remember, we, my sister and I, were in 4-H and we had to go to Hays for some kind of 4-H deal and we didn't have any suitcase. And so, mother said, "Well, don't have any money, but only thing we can do, there's lots of those winter onions out there, if you wanted to pull those and sell ‘em." And my sister and my mom and I, we pulled onions, we cleaned onions, we bundled ‘em up, and I think we sold ‘em for a nickel a bunch, that's the way I remember it. But we got, we finally got seven dollars and it wasn't a very fancy suitcase, but it was a suitcase. And we took our clothes to the 4-H meeting in the suitcase.
BC: That was when you were younger?
LC: On, we were, well I was about 18. You could be a 4-H'er until you were 18 and I think that year, I was 18.
BC: That was before the Depression?
LC: That was during the Depression, that was the end of the Depression.
BC: Oh, okay.
LC: That was down toward the end of the Depression, but boy, times got hard.
BC: So you were already teaching?
LC: No, I wasn't teaching yet then. No, I wasn't teaching, that was just before; see I, I graduated was 18, I think it was the Spring, the Spring before I graduated, something like that. I don't know exactly, those years kind of get all muddled up together when I think back at ‘em, if ya know what I mean?
BC: Now, you mentioned a little earlier that some families lost their farms, what happened to those families then?
LC: To tell you the truth, I don't know. Some of them moved to town, got jobs doing some kind of WPA work. I know my uncle had, he had four children and he didn't own any land, he had a rent farm; but he didn't raise any crop, so he came to town and what money he had, he bought three small houses and get rented two of them out and lived in the other one. And you know, it got to the place where you couldn't rent anything to anybody ‘cause they couldn't pay rent. I can't really remember how he did get by.
BC: So he owned property?
LC: He couldn't get on WPA because he owned property, well he couldn't eat it, he couldn't get any rent out of it.
BC: Do you recall many people, in a kind of, in a general sense, was there much loss of population here?
LC: Oh, I can't remember. I think most of ‘em just, just changed their address from the farm to the town, to get some kind of relief in town, to get some kind of a job.
BC: What was happening in town then? What kind of WPA work would there be for people?
LC: Well, they'd work on the roads, and I don't remember. I know, one thing I do remember, the government made up jobs. Like for instance, my dad and I took Spanish from a lady who had a WPA job to teach Spanish to anybody that would come to those classes. They had different classes to teach different things and the government paid those workers to do that. We learned a little bit of Spanish, but my dad gave up because older people don't learn so easily and he had so much trouble with, he couldn't remember from one week to another, so he gave up and I just didn't bother with it. I wasn't teaching in the Village then.
BC: What other, what types of things did the city do during the Depression and during the dust storms?
LC: I was so busy with my school, with my own worries and the farm and everything, I just don't remember. I know the banks, for instance, our pay, the school run out of money. And, instead of paying us at the end of a month, they gave us a warrant, and not any money. But we could take that warrant to the back and cash it in, not in full value. I can't remember what value we got, but now I was getting one hundred dollars a month. I probably got about ninety dollars that was to begin with, instead of getting a hundred. Well, I got down to the place where I was only drawing seventy dollars a month in warrant. Times got bad, about 1934, '35, '36, and a lot of those things I just don't remember. So many things have happened since then.
BC: You talked earlier about how hard it was to get to school sometimes for you because you lived out on the farm while teaching at Sunnyside. What were some of your driving experiences then?
LC: Well, just driving through dirt. I didn't, I never had any accident but you, you drove with your lights on, always. Cause you and that car coming toward you had to get pretty close before you could see the lights on that car. But, I never had any, any real problems with driving. But you know this "Black Sunday," if you have talked to several different people, they all know what they were doing when that black blizzard hit, didn't they?
LC: I know people who were taking Sunday afternoon naps; woke up and thought they were blind; they couldn't see a thing. "What happened to my eyes, I can't see a thing?" Some people got caught out with their cars and they couldn't see a thing. They couldn't drive because they couldn't see a thing. They had to wait, and it took a couple of hours, before the worst was over. It finally, you could see, begin to see where the windows were. You could begin to see a little bit of light, and then it got so you could see a little ways. Well, that's when my mother and my brother came home from grandma's a half-mile down the east.
BC: So they waited it out?
LC: They waited it out, oh they couldn't see to get anywhere. Oh, lots of stories. Everybody had a different story about where they were and what happened.
BC: What's your earliest memory of a dust storm?
LC: Well it was during those days.
BC: Was it about what year?
LC: 1935 and '36 then.
BC: Was it when you were teaching in the Mexican Village?
LC: No, it wasn't when I was teaching in the Mexican Village and it wasn't the first year that I taught in Dodge. It was either the second or third year, I mean in Sunnyside. It would have been about the third year in Sunnyside that probably it begin:; the crops begin to fail and the dust begins to blow.
Of course, they've changed their methods of farming a lot since then. They were doing this "disc blow" they called. And, just turning over the ground and making it nice and mellow, and the stuff blew away.
BC: Back then?
LC: Yes, back then. They've changed a lot since then, their farming methods and that's helped.
BC: Now, the S.C.S. came in about 1936 or so? Did your family incorporate some of those practices? Or did your neighbors?
LC: Oh, yes, my dad, see if you got an allotment, you had to measure your land exactly how many acres you had of farming. And the way they did it, I can just remember this vaguely but, they had a big wheel that they'd roll around that field and count. My dad had this big wheel and he drove, went all over the country, measuring fields to see how many acres there were in those fields. So, that they'd know how much to ask for, for their allotment.
BC: Oh, did he measure for other people too? He did that as work?
LC: Yes. He and my brother, my brother was just a young teenager, but he helped him. And I can remember them going around, and uh, with that big wheel, measuring the land so they'd know how many acres they actually had planted. And, years later, my brother, we'd drive out south there, where friends and relatives lived, but I didn't know exactly where they lived; but he, he'd been measuring their land, so he knew where all of ‘em lived. That's one reason I remember it.
One thing I remember about those days, my husband [Len Crum] lived, was in Arizona at that time. He grew up in Arizona. And during those worst days and times, they would see the Sun as a red ball. There wasn't any dust down in the air where they were, but the dust was in the air so high, that it made a big difference in the Sun. And that was Arizona, which is almost, he was almost one thousand miles from here.
BC: It blew there too?
LC: It, well no. The dust, the dust just was in the air, and high up winds blew it that way I suppose. But they didn't feel the wind, they just saw the dust in the air, high in the air.
BC: During school days, you talked about the janitor who'd have to sweep out all the time.
LC: The kids couldn't go out to play, you just had to entertain them some how or the other at recess.
BC: They just had it inside?
LC: They, we had to have some kind of activity during their recess periods, indoors. ‘Course, they went home for lunch. You know, in those days, they didn't have cafeterias in the schools. I remember, it's quite a ways from south Dodge, cross the river, cross the railroad tracks, up to the high school. And ‘course our high school was where the Kansas Heritage Center is, in those days. But, those youngsters in south Dodge walked home at noon and back in an hour. Walked home, ate their lunch, and got back to school in an hour. And of course in south Dodge all the kids walked to school. You never heard of a school bus in those days, they walked. All those kids from way over in the east part of town, they had to walk to school.
BC: How did the school district keep the schools operating at that time?
LC: Well, I don't know. They ran out of money to pay us. I don't know.
BC: Did the students know if they had a dust storm over the lunch hour, how did they decide when to call it off? Did they call it off in the middle of the day sometimes?
LC: Sometimes, they'd let them off at noon, I can't remember. Sometimes they wouldn't. Mostly I guess they'd let ‘em off at noon. But they, you know, day after day they were so bad, they got to the place where they had to have school so many days. So they just couldn't turn ‘em out every day. If you could come to school, come, if you can't, we'll have school anyway.
BC: What did the school kids and yourself and your family do for amusement during that time?
LC: Oh, you know, in those hard time days, you found your own amusement. We had, we had country Sunday school, we had country parties; and usually it wasn't as bad at night as it was, the wind would kinda die down in the evening. It wouldn't be quite so bad; you could get places. And we'd have our regular parties, people, people carried on. They didn't, couldn't pay for shows and things like that. They played cards an awful lot; the neighbors would get together and play cards; but my family didn't. But, I don't remember, I was teaching school and most people were home trying to keep the house clean.
BC: What about holidays? Did you have the usual celebrations or would those be changed in any way?
LC: Well, you just didn't have anything when it was so dusty. You just didn't have anything. You couldn't when the air was so full of dust you could hardly breathe. You just didn't do things then, like you do ordinarily.
BC: Would you change any of your holiday celebrations in any way?
LC: Well, tell you the truth, I can't remember any holidays. I, you know, I lived on a farm, and you had to work on holidays. Um, and we never, we never had any extra money to go to circuses or to go to the show, or to go to anything. ‘Cause we were forever, forever paying the Federal Land Bank back. And I remember so many times I wanted to go to the circus when it would come to town; we just didn't have the money. And uh, I wanted a doll for Christmas; we didn't have the money. My mother would buy a China head doll like that one on top there; just the head and, and make the body and stuff it and dress it.
BC: As gifts?
LC: As a gift. Now, now my, my first Christmas, it wasn't even a China head, it was a metal head; we called them “tin head dolls”, and my mother got the head, body, dressed it; that was my, that was my Christmas.
BC: Was that when you were younger?
LC: Well, that particular year was, the first year, I was six years old, ‘cause that was my first year of school, that I got the metal head doll.
BC: During the 30's, well one factor was the Church attendance, did that increase much during that period or did it stay the same, or did it, how did it…?
LC: Well, I can't remember, I can't remember. I know, now see, when I taught in the country; that was before the dust storm…dust bowl days. And uh, we had a Country Sunday school, but there wasn't any problem then with bad weather except, oh, sometimes there'd be a snowstorm or somethin' in the winter you couldn't go; you'd have to postpone it, but you, and we had country parties. And we had Literary, we; lots of amusement in the country in those days. You, uh, you talk about, “Skip to My Lou” or um all those old-fashioned party games; and these kids today don't they never heard of such a thing. But we had lots of fun playing “Miller Boy” and “Skip to My Lou”, we really, we, all those old-time party games. We, we'd have, we'd have Literary every two weeks, usually there would be a weekend in between, we'd have a party in the country schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was your, that's where I had my Sunday School, was in the school house; that's where the Literary took place. Do you know what a Literary is?
BC: I can kinda, it's about Literature and reading?
LC: No-no. It's you, you speak pieces and you have dialogues and you have songs. The whole class, the whole school would get up on the stage and sing a song together. Or you'll have a couple of the girls would sing a solo…a duet, or you, you get up and you give a reading and uh; or you have a dialogue where there's, have a dozen kids. Uh, so, uh, you just, it's a stunt, you know, it's entertainment; funny, really funny, make people laugh. And, uh, you had a secretary and a President who, that kept the uh, called the meeting o order and kept things going. And you had a recess after, the teachers, see the schoolteacher had to arrange all these programs and then after the recess, you'd have “Spontaneous”. Some of the adults would get up and maybe they'd have a debate or this uh this or that or the other. What's adults, maybe, some of the adults would sing a song. I remember some of the old fellas that never did anything else, would sing a song. Uh, some of those funny old songs form way back. And then of course we'd have pie suppers. Box suppers and they'd sell the boxes, sell the pies to make money to buy Christmas, have a big Christmas party at the school; have candy for the kids.
BC: And that would be at both when you were at the country school…?
LC: That was at the rural schools, mm-hmm.
BC: You, you said you were really, really busy, you know as a schoolteacher; do you recall much of what the general talk was of about the times? What people would, when they, when they talk much about the 30's?
LC: You mean during the 30's? What a hard time they were having?
BC: Did they talk about the dust storms?
LC: Oh, everybody was telling about what happened you know, to their family during this particular storm or that. They was a lot of talk about it, but it didn't do any good. But it was awfully hard to see your land, just blow, just blow. The wheat would come up and be a nice plant you know, all over the field, then the dust would come and just blow it out of the ground. Just blow that ground away and all along the fences it would drift. You see, you got tumbleweeds, tumbleweeds would drift to the fence be a row of tumbleweeds; you see, that got caught in the wire. Well, then this dust a blowin' in there and you had a big dust drift, sometimes those dust drifts would practically cover the fence.
BC: At your place?
LC: Oh, everywhere. Another thing about the dust days I must tell ya that. It blew so much and there was so little moisture, that the grass blew out of the ground. Now believe me, it just blew the pastures bare and the cactus started growing. ‘Course, we always have a few prickly pear cactuses out in the pastures, and those other little cactus, but I'll tell you for some reason or the other, when that grass quit growin', that cactus started. Those pastures would be just full of cactus, it's the funniest thing you ever saw. But when the rain started, the cactus disappeared and the grass grew.
BC: When did the rain start?
LC: I couldn't tell you exactly, but, late 1930s, '39, probably '40, about the time the War started. Seems to me like from the Dust Bowl days we went into the War. That's the way my memory goes, ‘course, you see, I left. I went to Arizona in '39 after I got married. And I wasn't home then much, only in the summer, sometimes I got to come home in the summer.