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Ford County Historical Society
Dodge City, Kansas

Ford County Dust Bowl Oral History Project

A Kansas Humanities Council grant project

Interview: Elmer Wetzel

Interviewer: Brandon Case

July 29, 1998

Draft Version

Brandon Case: Tell me your name please?

Elmer Wetzel: Elmer Wetzel.

BC: When and where were you born?

EW: In 1908, September 21st ’08. September 21st, I’ll be 90 years old.

BC: You went through the Dust Bowl then?

EW: Yes, had a big family. All of ‘em gone but my baby sister and I, two of us out of 11 kids.

BC: You all grew up here in Dodge City?

EW: Oh no, we; I was born south of Offerle about 8 miles on a farm.

BC: How long did you live there?

EW: Well, I lived there until I moved up here. I moved up here in 1935.

BC: Right there in the middle of the Dust Bowl.

EW: I worked in the bank over at Kinsley before that. I started in the bank about 1929. Graduated from high school in 1928. Started in the bank there, worked there ‘til it went broke and that was about 1932; and it went broke when a lot of banks went broke, they didn’t have insurance in those days, and it just had to close its doors. Then I worked for the Bank Examiner’s for about a year; closing out all the banks, yeah we finally paid out about 30% on all of the deposits. ‘Course now days, insurance, it will pay anything up to $100,000. But they didn’t, they didn’t have that, that didn’t come until Roosevelt put that in, in about 1933, I think. But then, a lot of people lost their money. But you couldn’t collect notes; you just didn’t have it in those days. Wheat was a quarter a bushel. I remember my dad had some wheat, he didn’t want to sell it for 25 cents, so I told him I’d buy some and hold it. So I bought 1,000 bushels, a quarter, $250. And I kept it and kept it, and he’d left it in the bin there until I wanted to sell it. When I sold it, I got, I think I got $1.25 for it finally.

BC: Made some money?

EW: Yeah, I made some money.

BC: How long did you hold it?

EW: Oh, it was about over a year, about a year. Yeah, well, you had to have some money. All they had to go on.

BC: Was it pretty hard out there for him then to raise his crops?

EW: Oh, they, they didn’t have any rain in those days. You couldn’t raise any crops. We had one good crop, that was it, 1915. Of course, wheat was just ‘bout ready to harvest they’d had a good crop and they were about ready to harvest it. And then he says, "Well, we’re gonna buy a new car, gonna have a good wheat crop." So they went to Hutchinson, my older brother and him went to Hutchinson to buy this new Dodge, '15 Dodge, 1915 Model, and when they come home the next day, I remember him sayin’, he got out of the car and he says, "What in the hell did you guys stew out here last night?" See you had to stay over night if you didn’t make it all in one day. And it hailed it out slick and clean, he didn’t get a bit of wheat out of that year. Of course, they tried to mow it, rake it; you know rake it out and dry it. So, they had an awful hard time payin’ for the car, it was about 800 some dollars. I rode it in the parade down in Kinsley a couple weeks ago.

BC: You have that car still?

EW: Well, my nephew has it. He renovated it out of the junkyard. My older brothers, they just junked it and put it out, and there was enough of it left over, he could fix it up. Straighten out all the dents and everything and uh, of course it cost him quite a bit to fix up the upholstering and everything. But uh, it’s a pretty good car ‘course, I rode in the parade here that day too, here in the last week in that parade.

BC: Now, you were born in 1908, is that correct?

EW: 1908.

BC: And your father was a farmer?

EW: Yeah.

BC: What, did he have good crops throughout those years?

EW: Oh, occasionally they had real good crops. ‘Course, nothin’ like they had now. This year was unusual. 50, 60 to 80 bushels and acre on dry land, that’s unusual. But in those days, if you got between 10 and 15 bushels, you had a good crop. ‘Course, they didn’t use the fertilizer like they do now days, and the variety of wheat is all together different.

BC: Did you help him on the farm?

EW: Oh, yeah, well, there was once I remember once, we had a hay meadow down along the river, the Arkansas River, just straight east of here. If you’d go down the road, it would be straight down to the river. Our home was about a mile and a half from the river. But we had the hay meadow down there and I mowed it and then ‘course, took two horses and raked it, it raked up a bumblebee nest. Well, those old horses got ‘em around their ears and they’d just went wild and they started running and all, and the rake was going up and down like that, I couldn’t hold ‘em all, all I could do was hang on. I’m surprised they didn’t knock me off. But finally, I got them slowed down about a quarter mile. And well, they was restless, I was scared to drive some more, but I did. I finished mowing, I mean raking the hay then. But I was scared to death.

BC: Yeah.

EW: But that old rake was just up and down.

BC: How old were you then?

EW: I don’t recall, 12 years old I think.

BC: That farm provided living for your family, for 11 kids did you say?

EW: Oh, yeah, 11 kids, mother and dad and all are dead but two; myself and my younger sister, she was seven years younger than I am, so she’d be about 83. And she lives in Ness City. She was married and didn’t have any kids, but, her husband died, here, oh about four years ago; so she’s there by herself. I don’t get up to see her very often.

BC: So what was that like, growing up on that farm with your siblings? How would you share household or how would you share responsibilities and how did you, well let me ask you that question first; how did you divvy up the chores, and so on?

EW: Well, that uh, when both of ‘em died, there weren’t that many left of the brothers and sisters.

BC: Back when you were younger.

EW: My older brother, he got most of it.

BC: No, I meant back when you were all living together.

EW: Oh, when we, we had a long table, 13 of ‘em around the table. And gradually had to take leaf out at a time to gradually make it shorter. My youngest sister was still living there when my folks died.

BC: How old were they when they died? What year?

EW: Oh, if you hadn’t asked me, I’d know it.

BC: How old were you?

EW: Well, it was in the 1940’s. Dad died in the '40’s. Mother didn’t die until she was 93. So I don’t know just how old she was, when that was. But Dad died in 1943. So Mother died, that’s just been about 10 years ago, she got to be up to 93. And one brother was 98 when he died; another one was 97. And now I’m the third oldest, I’ll be 90 in September.

BC: Looks like you’ve got some good genes in your family.

EW: Yeah, so, the rest all died younger. Two of ‘em died of cancer, and I had surgery for cancer not 10 years ago, cancer of the colon. Took part of my colon out, getting along fine so far.

BC: It was successful?

EW: Yeah.

BC: Now, did the family stay in that same place then?

EW: Yeah, well Dad, when the older ones, ones married off, he always bought them a quarter section of land. And, until about the third or fourth and then he couldn’t afford it anymore. So, so he didn’t buy anything then, you know they were on their own. He didn’t accumulate too much in his lifetime, about three quarters of land out north of Cimarron and then the home place was about 400 acres than that. ‘Course, my brothers got most of that.

BC: When you went to high school, you said you graduated in 1928?

EW: 1928 at Kinsley.

BC: So you were 20 when you graduated?

EW: I was born in 1908, yeah I was 20 years old when I graduated high school.

BC: Why was that - that it was later?

EW: Well, with four years, the reason, the reason I didn’t get to go the first year we had a lot of hay to stack up and I was at that age, I just had to help and then the next year, I finally went to, not after, not two, two months had the work all done so, went and started school there. So, two years, I was, a year and a half, I was out of school, so or I didn’t go.

BC: Yeah.

EW: So, that’s why I was a little older when I started.

BC: You were helping the family?

EW: Yeah, had to work on the farm.

BC: How did you get involved with banking then after high school?

EW: Well, when I graduated, well during Senior year, before I graduated, I was a pretty good typist and one of the attorney’s there in town he owned an abstracting company, so after school and on Saturdays, I’d work for him. See, I’d get $15.00 in wheat for after school and on Saturdays; and copy all the abstract stuff out of the county offices. See that the, put on the abstract ownership of the land. And then when he was also the President of the Bank and so I was still doing his work in the back room of the Bank after graduation, see. And they was workin’ in the bank, and a fella had to quit for some reason, Esslinger [sp?] and so the President said, "I just as well get you started up in the Bank, you can get along with doing my extra work in the evening." So, that’s how I got it. I remember the first customer, he had a little savings bank that I counted all the nickels and pennies.

BC: Your first customer?

EW: Yeah. So, I just started there, and just worked there until the bank went broke. He was the President ‘course, he still owes me $800 for the extra work I did for him on the abstracting, but I never got paid for that. And he died then, and then of course when the bank went broke, 1932 and I worked for the Bank Examiner for over about, oh over about a year - closing out all the - well they had to make a complete transcript of everything in the bank. It was a pretty good time for a typist so I got that done. But, the bank department paid me $100 a month for workin’ there that year. And then by that time, when I was through with that, there was another bank there, The Kinsley Bank. They had so much more work to do, so they needed somebody for help. So they called me one day and wanted to know if I’d work in that bank.

BC: Yeah.

EW: So, then came 1934 and ’35, and ole’ Roosevelt, he cut down wages to $52 a month. So, that’s what I was working for then.

BC: You were making $100?

EW: I went from $100 a month to $52. So, so that’s how come I went to that bank. And then in 1935, I figured, by that time I was making $95 a month, no I was making $65 a month, then I decided to come up here to Dodge. One day I heard - I was going with a girlfriend up here at that time. She said there's one of the ladies quitting down there, maybe I could get a job there. So I come and saw the boss, he said, well I told him about all my experiences I had in banking see, and so, he says, “Well, we could probably use you." So I started out with $65 a month and that was in 1935. Then I worked there ‘til ’35, then I got this job in 1935 here in Dodge so I told them I’d have to quit there so I was getting $65 then. I got married in 1937 and I was getting $95 a month by that time and I bought a house, bought a house full of furniture, raised three kids; but of course by then I gradually got more salary out of the bank by that time. Then I kept working there at the bank until 1975. I was Senior Vice President then, making $2500 a month.

BC: Better than when you started.

EW: Then I had to retire in 1975 so then I was living on Social Security, at $425. And well then it ‘course kept going up and up and up, my wife got some on my Social Security too, so we were making about $600 a month then and then it kept going up and up. Now I’m getting $926 a month.

BC: Back then when you worked for the Bank Examiner, did you close out a lot of banks? Did a lot of banks close?

EW: Oh yeah, in 1932 and 1933 Oh yeah, that was first as soon as Roosevelt got in he closed all the banks then.

BC: A bank holiday?

EW: Then they had to renovate a lot of ‘em, so a lot of ‘em couldn’t open up again.

BC: Now when you were doing that, did you meet a lot of people that were upset?

EW: Oh yeah, that there was quite a few; see when our bank closed, we just paid out 32% - anybody had $100 in there just got $32. Now, I had to make out all the checks to them, they wasn’t satisfied, but there was nothing we could do, the government did that.

BC: Now that, you know “The Great Depression” first hit in 1929. They had the Stock Market crash in 1929. Was there any impact on the banks in Kansas at that time?

EW: In ’29? Uh, I just, well I just can’t, hardly remember what happened. I didn’t start in the bank ‘til 1935, when I come up here, but that was in the Kinsley Bank then. See, they were broke in ’32, the one I started in.

BC: What was that like when they came in and said, “Well, we’re broke, we gotta close now”?

EW: It closed up then I worked for the Bank Examiner’s. That’s when I worked for them for about a year, closing out the bank, makin’ transcripts and everything in the bank. Had to uh divvy out the money that, that they had on hand, couldn’t collect any real estate loans or, or cattle loans, it just wasn’t in the cards; couldn’t collect, there was no money.

BC: Nobody had any either?

EW: Cattle didn’t bring nothin’, yeah didn’t pay enough to pay the notes off. Which in ’28, ’29 was pretty good, they was worth a lot of money.

BC: Those were hard times?

EW: Yep, those was hard times, I guess. I survived ‘em I guess. But of course in those days, they didn’t pay too much retirement. I got total retirement, I got when I left was $75,000. That was in 1975 and so that didn’t take long to use that up when you had three kids.

BC: Do you remember what it, what it was like when they closed the bank, I mean, how did you find out, that bank in Offerle? How did they present that?

EW: Oh, the Bank Examiners came in and examined it.

BC: Oh, they just came in?

BC: That day?

EW: They checked there for about a week before they finally made ‘em close the bank.

BC: Was everybody nervous then, while they were there?

EW: Well, oh yeah. They knew the Bank Examiners was there, but they didn’t know that whether it was gonna close or not. ‘Til they announced it, ‘til the Bank Examiners put a sign on the door, “Closed, Failure.”

BC: So, you just went to work for the Bank Examiner’s then?

EW: Yeah, I worked there, for little over a year, they was payin’ me $100 a month then.

BC: About how many banks did you close during that time?

EW: Oh, there was, I don’t recall, but there was a lot of ‘em all over the country.

BC: In some other towns?

EW: Oh yeah. We weren’t the only one that closed up. Not right in the vicinity didn’t have any.

BC: Okay.

EW: But, all over the country.

BC: Can you remember some of the names of the banks?

EW: No, no I don’t off hand, no. But, there were so many in out local facility there around Kinsley.

BC: Were there some others in Kansas?

EW: There were quite a few in Kansas.

BC: Really?

EW: Oh yeah, I imagine they were all in the same shape about, paid out about 30%, 32%. That was quite a job makin’ all the checks for ‘em. We had the money for 32 cents every dollar. 32 dollars on 100 dollars, a lot of ‘em wasn’t satisfied but there wasn’t anything they could do about it.

BC: Well, this was, you know, the ‘30’s, while you were; the banks were being closed, is also when the “Dust Bowl” was on.

EW: Yes.

BC: Do you remember, what was your first recollection of one of the “dusters”?

EW: Well, the big one was in I think 1934, that’s when the “Dust Bowl” came out. Well, the way it started, the first time we had a big wind storm come up from the northwest, and those storms looked like big storm clouds come rollin’ in clear around, clear around the northwest. It was on a Sunday. I know we was down at home, and we was out there watchin’ those. It just looked like some stormy clouds come in, and they was black as coal. And when it finally rolled in, it was dark; you couldn’t see a thing.

BC: What did you do then?

EW: Went in the house, we couldn’t do anything. Yeah, but boy, and then there was a lot of ‘em after that. Every time the wind come up and blew, you couldn’t see for nothin’. It was just as a regular desert out in this country. One time we was in Colorado and uh, by the time we left Colorado, the wind come up from the north. And uh, we couldn’t hardly see, just to drive home; the edge of the road, you couldn’t see a thing.

BC: That was during the ‘30’s?

EW: Yeah, I don’t remember just when, ’35 or ’36, I think. But, that there was nothing raised out in this country at that time. Just a desert, that’s what it amounted to.

BC: How about over in your Father’s country?

EW: People wasn’t too bad there. They didn’t have it, there was nothin’ like that. Except the one, we had a good wheat crop on, on a quarter section. And the guy north of us left his - started to blow, and it blew over on that quarter section, just covered the whole thing up.

BC: Like sawdust?

EW: Yeah, boy was he mad, but he couldn’t do nothin’ about it, but they had a pretty good wheat crop a growin’, but it covered up a couple inches deep.

BC: What year was that, about?

EW: Oh, I don’t recall now exactly.

BC: Before or after that “Black Sunday”?

EW: That was after, it was afterwards, yeah. “Cause, we didn’t have any rain, they couldn’t hardly, but we did, Dad did get a crop started on that quarter section. And it was nice, nice and green until it covered up.

BC: How did your father do over all during those years?

EW: He survived, we had a lot of chickens and hogs, cows, milk cows, we really had quite a few cows. I think one time we worked about 20 and ‘course, there was all of us boys, we had to milk ‘em by hand. We didn’t have any milker then. Separated it all and sold the cream.

BC: Did you go back there then and help him out during the ‘30’s?

EW: Oh yeah.

BC: Like did you help him out on the farm besides working at the bank?

EW: Oh, I was there of course. In the evening I’d always, I mean in the morning we’d have to milk the cows. Yeah-yeah.

BC: Was that when you were growing up, or during the ‘30’s?

EW: In the ‘30’s, no that was in the ‘30’s when we had all that dust storms.

BC: But you were still living at the home place then?

EW: I was livin’ at the home place, but I was workin’ in Kinsley then ‘til 1935 when I come up here. And I drove back and forth ‘til we got married in ’37 and then we rented for a month, $25 rent for a month, and uh, the lady was on a vacation, and she wouldn’t be back for a month and she let us live there for a month. By that time, I’d made arrangements to buy that house, that was on 5th, 1103 5th. We stayed there ‘til 1940. Well we moved over here in ’53. In the mean time, I sold my house and bought a new one out on north part of town - it a real fancy one, a new one and when my wife’s mother died, we moved over here. Sold that house and moved here with them. She had to take care of her father then. And so, we stayed here and when, after he died, then I bought the house from the heirs, Seymour's daughters was the heirs see, so I bought, made enough money so I could buy it and ‘course it wasn’t anything like it is now, I’d appraisal on it’s $50,000 on it now.

BC: So, a little more than that?

EW: Yeah. I’m all by myself now; I may as well sell it. But I haven’t done a thing in here since my wife’s died.

BC: Now back during the ‘30’s, how many of your brothers and sisters were still helpin’ out on the farm?

EW: Well, a couple of ‘em were still there, but the rest all got married.

BC: So a couple and then you?

EW: Yeah. And I had three sisters, and they all three got married, no just two of ‘em got married, the other one stayed home and took care of her mother, ‘til she died. Then she uh, wasn’t too good, they had to put her in a home. She finally died in the home over at Kinsley. She never did marry. I don’t know what else I can remember.

BC: You were talking about how you survived, you know with the hogs.

EW: Oh yeah, we bought a bunch of pigs and raised ‘em. I even bought some from a salesman. I bought one little pig at $4, and when I counted out my money I only had $3.95; and she said, “Well, that nickel you can just forget about it.” So I gave $3.95 and I raised that pig and I raised two litters of pigs and sold ‘em. ‘Course, I used Dad’s feed and everything during that time to raise ‘em and uh, but I made enough money to get along on. But the price wasn’t very good anymore, I don’t remember, just weaning pigs for $4.00, $3.95.

BC: You kinda helped your father out then too?

EW: Oh yes. I worked on the farm there too while I was working in the bank, in the evenings I’d be home.

BC: So, the family kind of stuck together?

EW: Milk the cows and separator, hand crank separator, didn’t have electric motors put on. But, yeah I was there all the time ‘til 1937 when I went and married.

BC: Can you recall any other big dust storms like the one?

EW: Well, ‘course the big dust storm was in ’34, the first one that I can remember. ‘Course, there was a lot of ‘em after that. But there was nothing you could do out this part of the country. West to the Colorado line, I know that night I had my wife’s folks with us, and if we didn’t have the darndest time getting home that night, you couldn’t see, just ‘bout the time we left Colorado we came on this southwest, it wasn’t Highway 50, we were down in southern Colorado and we finally made it home but was just covered with dust. Oh just the clothes and everything was just thick.

BC: That was one you got caught out in?

EW: Yeah, but we had to get caught in it, it was nice when we went out, see we started home and about that time, the north wind came in, we just could not see, it was desert, in that whole western Kansas was nothin’ but desert. I don’t know how people survived, a lot of ‘em didn’t.

BC: Did many of them leave?

EW: Oh yeah, there was a lot of ‘em left, they just couldn’t make it, make it out there, couldn’t; people who’d have a little bit, they couldn’t afford to buy anybody to work for ‘em. So they, that was rough days in those days.

BC: What about over in Offerle? Did many people leave around there?

EW: No, from here I don’t, from here east there weren’t many, there wasn’t too much, just dust blew in but nothing really blew. Farmers were pretty careful that they didn’t leave the fields bare. Otherwise, except that guy next to us, he just left his go. It just covered our wheat up.

BC: What about the rabbits? Were there many rabbits?

EW: Oh yeah, in those days, they had rabbit drives. The rabbits got so thick, yeah we went out on Sundays and had rabbit drives. And they had market for the rabbits and somebody organized it and we made a big circle, then we’d close in on ‘em, had a big pen out in the middle and boy, the jack rabbits, that was the most squealin’ deal I ever heard of, but the rabbits, they squealed.

BC: Were you involved in some of those?

EW: Yeah, yeah, ‘cause I went on several drives. One time, north of Bucklin, no it was just south of the river, we had one. We circled clear around about four miles; we walked about two miles. And never let ‘em go by, had enough people there, that they couldn’t go back, and drove ‘em into that pen, and people got in there with clubs, and just clubbed ‘em to death.

BC: And then they?

EW: And then they got some money out of the rabbits. I don’t know where they sold ‘em, to the fairgrounds and for the wild animals in the cages and stuff.

BC: Oh yeah.

EW: But what they did after, I don’t know. Actually, I went on three different runs, one was out northwest. Well this one down there we had the most rabbits, south of the river, it was in the sand hills, but the rabbits was really thick. Even chased up several coyotes, they walked away, ‘course we let them go by.

BC: They take care of the rabbits.

EW: They couldn’t take care of the rabbits, they tried to get out, so when they’d come a little closer to the outer edge, we just chased ‘em off and let ‘em go. Couldn’t have any guns.

BC: Oh yeah?

EW: Couldn’t use any guns; that was too dangerous with that many people around. Some had to club them to death.

BC: Do you think that some of that helped to relieve frustration people felt?

EW: Yeah, ‘cause they had to do with the rabbits eating the crops, they’d just eat it down to nothin’. There were so many, so we had to do somethin’. And it helped out, I went to three different runs and we killed a lot of rabbits.

BC: That was a form of entertainment for people?

EW: That was, that was, in the, in the ‘30’s.

BC: What were some other ways that you would find entertainment then, out of the ordinary routine of life?

EW: Oh, we’d go to weekly picture show for a quarter of course. That’s all it cost then. Put in a new one out in Offerle, somebody did. We went there every new show they got, we got to go for a quarter. In Kinsley, where I was raised, when I went to high school, stayed in town. The last year I drove, I bought an old Jalopy car and drove back and forth to home, stayed at home. The other two years I stayed with my aunt. And then I just went home on the weekends, but then the last year I bought that car and drove home every night. Yeah, that was about the only entertainment we had was the movie pictures.

BC: Mm-hmm.

EW: Now see, this one in Kinsley, it closed for a long time, and I noticed now they re-opened it. But many a show went through there.

BC: What about your holidays, were you able to celebrate holidays in the usual fashion then?

EW: What? Holidays?

BC: Well, anything big, thing that you did then, was it, there anything different that you did during the Dust Bowl years, because of the circumstances?

EW: Well, I don’t know whether there was very much we could do, we’d go down to the river and go fishin’, of course there was always a lot of fish in the river in those days. Every time the river would go way down, it would leave holes see, we’d get in there with out hands and put ‘em out on the bank and we’d get great big cat fish.

I remember, oh my brother was with us one time, and he stepped on a dead one and it had that catfish there that had that spear on his back and he stepped on that and it went right through his foot right about in here, it went right through his foot. Sticking out of the top, he hollered quite a bit.

BC: I bet.

EW: He quit after that, didn’t do it anymore.

BC: Now during those dust days, how did you and your mother and the family keep the house clean?

EW: It was quite a job, we’d put up bedspreads and stuff over the windows and under the doors, we’d seal that all up. It was quite a job, ‘course couldn’t keep it all out, it’d come in, it’d come in some way. But we’d always have to clean ‘er up.

BC: Now you moved to Dodge City in 1935?

EW: Yeah 1935, yeah. When I came up here to the bank.

BC: Do you remember many dust storms then?

EW: Oh yeah, there was still dust storms. I know in the morning - the wind would come up in the night - the next morning down at the bank we’d have to clean up the dust off our counters so we could work. Oh yeah, that dust storm went right through everything.

BC: Did you ever have to close down the bank for a dust storm?

EW: No, no we never did close. We always kept goin’. It really wasn’t too bad after that, there was always dust clouds come up, but not, nothin’ real bad after ’35, yeah. The worst was prior years there.

BC: During those times, a lot of people would seek assistance, WPA or CCC.

EW: Oh yes.

BC: Do you know of many folks?

EW: Oh, yeah there was a lot of ‘em that got on that. And worked for a livin’ most of it was from here west. Crops weren’t too bad form here east.

BC: This was the dividing line?

EW: Yeah, get a little more rain down there.

BC: Did you have many of your fellows, like you went to school with, that got work with the WPA or CCC?

EW: No, I don’t think so, I don’t know.

BC: Yeah.

EW: ‘Course what they did, ‘course there’s only two left from my graduating class that I know of, the rest are all gone. Yeah, 1928, we had 32 in our class. There’s two still over at Kinsley that was a little younger than me when we graduated, so they’re still living.

BC: Did your family ever have to receive any type of commodities or were you able to make due otherwise?

EW: No, no I don’t think so. Nope, folks always made a living on what they had to deal with. When they didn’t raise any crops, just have to get a lot of hogs, cattle and chickens. I remember going to town every Saturday - take cream in there, eggs, what we got for that we bought groceries with, that was all we had, how we got money, yeah.

BC: So your family held onto that land the whole time then? Through the “Dust Bowl” and on into the 1940’s?

EW: Oh, yeah, well it wasn’t too bad down that-a-way see, Offerle and Kinsley, the dust storms was mostly down in this part of the country. Yeah ‘course that cloud that came up that April in 1934, the first one, that big one that we got it came down there too. Yeah, but it just blew over, but it blew for quite a while, I never saw any darker clouds or any stormy clouds that rolled in there.

BC: Did you have much, when you were living in Dodge, have much correspondence with your father?

EW: Oh yeah, my wife and I would go home every weekend.

BC: How were things going there, then?

EW: Yeah, all right, they was doin’ all right then, yeah.

BC: When did the rain start coming?

EW: Well, of course, they really kept on making crops down there, but didn’t get much sometimes, except that one time when they had a good wheat crop, and it hailed out - didn’t have any hail insurance. I’ve been selling hail insurance since I quit the bank. Make a pretty good living at it, this year I made about $9000, get commission on it. Yeah, got regular customers that I always sell every year, have for 25 years.

BC: What would you say is the greatest lessons that people learned from that time?

EW: Conserve; conserve things. Not go overboard and and try to spend their life away. I think everybody, most of ‘em learned that. They can’t do without nothing. that’s right.

BC: How would you say that people kept hope alive back then during the 1930’s?

EW: Oh, well just didn’t have nothing else that they could draw on. They’d take what they could get, that’s ‘course a lot of ‘em started to work, some of them, worked for the County. County would keep up the roads and stuff. Yeah, couldn’t raise any wheat crops - ‘course down there, it wasn’t too bad. I can’t remember when we lost it, lost the complete crop in a year - we would always get some.

BC: That’s pretty much the questions that I have.

EW: Okay, well….gosh okay. E.L. 7/28/2006


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