As 2020 is about to slip into history, let’s look back to a decade many people still remember: the Depression-plagued 1930s, as well as the World War II years of the 1940s.
Two area residents have written to “Neighbors” about those years.
“I was born in Bottineau, N.D., in 1934,” Carol writes.
“I remember the victory in Europe in May 1945. Mom came to the back door and announced the war in Europe was over, then she spent the rest of the day lamenting all of the dancing in the streets. She was a devout Baptist and thought dancing was a terrible sin. She did not say a word about her three brothers who were fighting in Europe, one of whom is buried in France.
“I also remember the half pint of milk we received in school every morning (responding to another column in which a woman recalled the fun of getting a daily half pint of milk back when she was in the first grade). “What a nice treat!” Carol says.
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“The ‘30s were hard in many ways,” she goes on. “My dad worked at the Bottineau Courant and had a steady income as a Linotype operator and later as editor.
“The Methodist minister was our neighbor and he would borrow Dad’s black shoes whenever he preached a funeral. His wife helped my mother with three childbirths; back then the new mother was supposed to stay in bed for two weeks. The minister was paid more with farm produce than money.
“My parents sent boxes of toys to nieces and nephews every Christmas, because those who lived on farms had little income. They also sent money to both sets of parents in the family from time to time. Dad sent $100 to a brother-in-law to help him buy a farm truck.
“The milkman came by every day early with a horse and wagon. You had to be up early if you wanted to ride with him.
“There was a bad blizzard one June,” Carol writes. “We were playing outside when Mom called us into the house and sent the neighbor kids home. Many people were stranded in cars with just their summer clothes and froze to death.”
Rugged hot days
And here’s a letter about growing up during the Depression. It comes from Elenore (Sauter) Johnson, Kindred, N.D.
“My parents were married south of Harvey, N.D., in 1930,” Elenore writes. “I was born in 1932.
“I was the older sister of seven brothers, who were born in 1933, 1935, 1938, 1941, 1943, 1945 and 1947.
“My life was not much fun. Water had to be carried in pails from the windmill, so we could do household duties. We had to hand pump to water animals on the farm.
“Basements were only dark coal bins, with rocks for walls and dirt floors. We were sent down there to sprout potatoes with kerosene lamps for light.
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“The hot days of July 1936 were the worst on record, as John Wheeler wrote in The Forum some time ago. It was 100 degrees or hotter eight days in a row, followed by two days at 99, than one more in the 100s.
“On hot days, we were taken to the basement to survive the heat. Places were made for us to sleep and sit on until cooler temps in the evening.
“Many crops, already parched from a dry summer, started to burn up in the blistering heat. Grasshoppers ate anything in sight. Gardens were eaten up. The only thing that was left were dry thistles for cattle to eat.
“We didn’t get electricity until the late 1940s.
“And life goes on!” Elenore concludes.
It sure does. And “Neighbors” hopes folks like Carol and Elenore continue to write in about it during 2021.
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email email@example.com.