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The Great Depression: Life on the Farm


"Grandma, we've been thinking about it, and we don't think you had such a wonderful childhood. As far as we can tell, all you did was work, work, work! Didn't you ever have any fun?"

"Oh my goodness! I guess I did give you that idea. That's not really true at all. In the first place, a lot of that work was really a lot of fun. But we still had plenty of time left to play. Remember, we didn't have a television to sit around and watch. If I remember right, that's what started all these conversations in the first place! So, let me think. Why don't I start out by telling you about the favorite thing I did with each of my older brothers or sisters?

My oldest sister, Ruth, was 12 years older than me. She used to spend lots of time with me, teaching me how to play the piano. I never learned to play like she did. She was really good. My favorite song she played was Moonlight Sonata. It was part of a really long melody called Rhapsody in Blue .. or were those two titles the other way around? I really don't remember.

I had another sister, Edith, who was 10 years older than me. We used to go on walks together down to the creek. The creek ran along two sides of our property. The part we walked to was very shallow. There were big rocks that we could wade out to, where we could sit with our toes in the water and daydream. We would just sit very quietly and think about places we would like to go, things we would like to do, and friends we would like to make.

My oldest brother, Edward, was 8 years older than me. He had a motorcycle. He called it the Jitterbug! He took me on so many rides. I really thought that was fun.

My other brother, Ralph, was only 6 years older than me. We spent a lot of time down on the creek also, but on the other side of our land. The water was deep there, perfect for a good old swimming hole. He taught me to swim, and tried and tried to get me to dive off the diving board. I'd stand on the end of that board for ages and ages, but then I'd hold my nose and go in feet first.

I played a lot with my sister, Milly, who was only 2 years older than me. I think our favorite thing to do was to have a tea party for our dolls. We had the most beautiful china tea set. I named my doll Judy. Would you believe it - I still have Judy! We really didn't get too many toys, so they were all extra special.

Most of the time we played outside. Ralph, the brother who taught me how to swim, also made us a wood toy shaped like the tree bears. He cut out holes between their legs for us to shoot marbles through. I still have that toy, too. We jumped rope a lot. When there were three of us playing, two hold the rope while the third did the jumping. We had a really long rhyme we kept time to .. wish I could remember it. We very seldom managed to get to the end of that long rhyme before we stumbled.

I wonder - did you kids ever play Hop Scotch? You didn't? That was lots of fun. All you need is a piece of chalk, a small rock, and a sidewalk. Let's go outside and I'll show you how.

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