Heading Northwest to the Farm in Oregon


| 9/7/2011 12:26:32 PM


Tags: farming, traveling, the Great Depression,

Pacific Northwest RoadThis story is from Aline Sansome, submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear. 

In 1933, when I was 6 years old, my family — father, stepmother, 10-year-old sister and myself — moved from Los Angeles to a farm in Oregon. My electrical engineer father could find no work; what little there was went to younger men, and my father was already in his 40s. Forty was a lot older then than it is now! Nor could any work be found by our stepmother even though she was younger.

This was in the midst of the Great Depression, and the breadlines in the city stretched down one long block and around the corner down another. I asked my father what they were for, and he said "They need something to eat." He explained about kitchens set up to feed hungry people a bowl of soup and some bread. His face was grim. There were mostly men in long, worn coats, but also a few women whose faded dresses showed beneath their coats, and even some children. I waved shyly to them as we passed; they waved back.

Back home we packed our clothes, household goods, pots, pans, and dishes in boxes and Daddy loaded them into a small trailer hitched to the back of the car. He covered them with a tarp, but the round, green, washing machine stuck up in one corner, the "wringer" with the two rollers off to one side. There would be no electricity at the farm, but our stepmother wouldn't give up her washing machine! Once all was packed we said goodbye to our rented house and the furniture that had come with it, and drove away.

This seemed a great adventure to my sister and me and we sang songs and played games of looking for license plates from other states. Maybe at age 10 she had a better understanding of the circumstances than I did, but I don't really know; hard to tell with her. She had a very annoying habit of showing off how much more she knew than I did. We sometimes pulled into a "filling station" as they were called in those days, and there was a sign with a red horse, a flying horse! And my sister said his name was "Pegasus."

"You don't know everything just because you're the Big Sister," I would say to her.




dairy goat

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