Growing Up During the Great Depression: Hot Summer Nights on the Family Farm

Growing up on the family farm during the Great Depression, a Missouri woman recalls life-shaping conversations with her mother

| Good Old Days

We provided our own entertainment when I was growing up just after the Great Depression on our family farm.

"Saturday Night Live" was a hot summer evening sitting on the porch with Dad and Mom. In the early twilight, we fanned the hot, stifling muggy air, hoping for a tiny breeze to relieve the heat.

The pale moon rode high in the sky among stars that stood out like sparkly diamonds against black velvet, while frogs croaked to each other on the banks of the creek below the garden in the meadow and fireflies twinkled in the heavy air.

A low, gentle moo was heard from a cow nearby making sure her calf was safe and comfortable for the night. A disgruntled hen clucked her disgust as a roost mate took some of her space and disturbed her sleep.

The nearest light was more than a mile away. I felt like the blackness would swallow me as I sat there with the warm air caressing my face. The nighttime seemed friendly as Dad identified its sounds: the bullfrog, cicadas or katydids, tree frogs and others.

As I wiggled to find a more comfortable position, I squashed an inquisitive June bug. That helped to make up for the one that had somehow gotten into my bed and crawled up my arm just as I had gotten to sleep after what seemed like hours of tossing and turning on those hot, white sheets the previous night.

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