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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: James A. "Jim" Williams

Interviewer: Brandon Case

August 12, 1998

Draft Version

Brandon Case: Could you tell me your name, and when and where you were born?

Jim Williams: My name is James A. Williams; everybody calls me Jim. I was born in Liberty, Missouri in 1915.

BC: How long did you live there, in Liberty?

JW: Well, just, well of course I was a tiny baby, when my parents lived in Kansas. And went there, for my dad to get treatments at the Seltzer Springs; he suffered from rheumatism severely. And they had baths there at Seltzer Springs, northeast of Kansas City a little ways. They moved back to Southeast Kansas. And we finally wound up back in Wallace County where my dad was raised and had a small ranch and farm there, farming someplace.

BC: Now, how long did you live in eastern Kansas?

JW: Oh, I was five years old, five years to six years old, when they moved to Wallace County, so we wouldn’t have lived too long.

BC: Okay. Let’s see, is that Kingman?

JW: No; that would be down around…. My mother was born near Peru, Kansas and she had relatives there, and including her mother and sister; and then she had relatives around in that area. She didn’t like, she didn’t like Wallace County, she didn’t. She grew up in the hills and the trees of southeast Kansas; she didn’t like the bare prairies of Wallace county. So they didn’t live there at first.

BC: How long did you live there in Wallace county then?

JW: Well, I, that was my residence until 1939; when I moved, graduated from KU Law School and moved to Dodge City. I was not physically there after 1934.

BC: You were at KU, University of Kansas ?

JW: Well, I spent the summers - my brother did some farming in Nebraska and I worked up there a couple summers. He was a farmer and I worked for him and for the neighbors. And then a couple summers down here, my sister, older sister worked for an attorney here and so, I; one summker, I worked in the Receiving Room of Montgomery Ward, the other time in the Freezer Room of Fairmont Foods.

BC: Here in Dodge City? Was that prior to 1939?

JW: Yes, I was up in Nebraska in 1935 and ’36, the summers of 1935, ’36, and down here the summers of ’37 and ’38.

BC: Let’s step back a little further even, you were growing up…so your family was ranching during the Dust Bowl era?

JW: Yeah, the early part of the Dust Bowl and I was at Hays, Fort Hays State, Fort Hays in school, when we had the worst dust storms in 1935, but they, we had dust storms, I think. I can’t remember exactly when they started, but probably ’32 or ’33. I know I spent the summer of 1934 out on the ranch there and you couldn’t farm or you couldn’t do anything, there was no rain at all, all summer long. We had severe dust storms that summer, and I think that’s what set it up for 1935 to be so severe.

BC: What was your family raising on the ranch?

JW: Oh, they raised cattle and Dad had to sell most of them because the grass wouldn’t grow. And did some farming, grazed, you know he raised corn for the stock and things like that.

BC: How old were you and at what age were you, when you remember your first dust storm?

JW: Well it would have been, I would have been 14 or 15. They didn’t have dust storms through the 1920s that I recall. And matter of fact, it was good years I think were out there and so then in the early 1930’s - I was born in 1915 - so I would have been probably 15 or 16.

BC: What was that like, that first time?

JW: Well, the first time I remember, was in the summer of 1934. I was sitting out in what we called the "Bunk house" where my brother and I had our bedrooms out there. And, sitting there one day, we had a bad dust storm come, it was just you know an ordinary dust storm; you could see for a few miles but it, the wind was blowing, the dust was blowing, and all at once it got totally dark. Just totally dark and I thought the world had come to an end. And it didn’t stay that way very long - soon it lightened up again. I suppose just a cloud of dirt went over.

BC: What did you do during that?

JW: Well, during dust storms, you know, out on the ranch they had quite a lot of hay, prairie hay that the creek ran through, and so we, we could cut hay and stack hay. The meadow, the big meadow down below the house the creek run through, sub-irrigated that area quite well, so we could put up hay. In 1934, you couldn’t do any farming - there was no rain out there. I don’t know what it was in other parts of western Kansas, but I’m sure pretty much the same.

BC: How did your family survive then? How’d they get through this?

JW: Well, Dad owned his land and they didn’t spend much money because we, they had milk cows; we milked some cows, and used the separators to get the cream out of the milk. About once a week we’d take a five-gallon can of milk to Sharon [KS]to the depot, then be shipped up to Denver - they would pay for that. And my mother had chickens and eggs - in those days, women didn’t buy prepared foods. All the groceries our folks used to buy was flour and salt and things of that kind. And mother prepared things - of course she didn’t work anywhere so she had time to do that; she was a good cook.

BC: There was canning?

JW: Oh yes, they canned. She had a big garden, which I had the privilege of hoeing, being the youngest kid at that time. And they had a big potato patch, which I also got to hoe, and she canned, she had numerous jars of vegetables. Then I remember every year, in the season, they’d go to town and buy two or three bushels of peaches and some grapes, and she’d make grape jelly and can the peaches and so on.

BC: With the dust and everything, how did she keep the house clean?

JW: Well, you didn’t very well. I was not really in those days too conscious of cleanliness, but I do remember one time in 1935 when I was up at Fort Hays. I roomed with three other fellas my age, down in the basement of a preacher’s house, and we were having a bad dust storm. And I for some reason had to go upstairs and in the morning and the preacher’s wife and that college girl that helped her were industriously sweeping, and they said, "We’re going to stay ahead of it." Well, I went up a couple hours later and they were sitting down, they couldn’t stay ahead of it. We were in the basement and at night, when we’re having those dust storms, we’d go to bed, we’d put a washcloth, a damp washcloth over our faces and in the morning, of course, it had gotten away off our face, probably by morning, but it would have a lot of black on it, the dust that came late.

BC: Did that interfere with your classes that year?

JW: No, I can’t recall it did, I just…got used to it.

BC: Going back to the garden, were you able to raise a good garden?

JW: Yeah, the garden was near the windmill and she irrigated, we irrigated the garden from the windmill on one side and then on the other side stock tanks. Windmills were very important in those days.

BC: Did your family raise anything else besides hay?

JW: I’d say some corn, I remember raising corn, that’s about it, I think. I can’t remember raising anything, unless it might have been milo-maize, seems to me like sometimes there’d be some milo-maize.

BC: You mentioned you had to just basically give some of the cattle away?

JW: Yeah, the Government would buy ‘em for twenty-five dollars a head; I remember he sold most of ‘em to the Government. I remember we had, the fields, we would have dust acculated out quite a ways; I don’t know how far, but it just totally cover up the grass. Of course, the grass that came up there was buffalo grass, which is a very fine grass for stock and buffalo originally. It’s short - you’ve probably seen some around here. And so it didn’t take a lot of dirt to cover that I guess. So, the government came out with a program to buy cattle and the people that had cattle, they just couldn’t raise anything to feed them and except we did have hay. I can’t remember how good it was in those days; I think we always had a big stack of hay.

BC: They would hold onto the land the whole time?

JW: Yeah, yeah. Like I say, we didn’t spend much money. ‘Course my folks didn’t, let’s put it that way; I didn’t spend any.

BC: No money to spend ?

JW: Right.

BC: Was there a lot of problems with drifting on your land? With the sand and dirt?

JW: Well, the dust, as I said, sweep across the fields and so there was a lot of dust, on the prairie. Most of, most of Wallace county in those days was in pasture, was pasture land. I think Dad had an eighty-acre field and another one about the same size for dinner farming.

BC: So he had that before the 1930s and afterward?

JW: His dad, my grandfather, had put it together. You know that was about about 1890, as I understand it. And he lived in New York; my dad was born in Brooklyn. Granddad was from northwest Massachusetts. And he was, I don’t know whether you’re interested in this, but he was in the Civil War and he was shot in the stomach, and all th rest of his life, he was bothered with stomach troubles, apparently the wound didn’t heal too well. And he was always looking for good water; I guess water was poor. So, he was a traveling salesman, and they rode the train, they’d get off at every little town and take orders, then get on and go to the next town. There was a lot of trains in those days. And he was in Denver one time and someone told him about a place down near Eagle Tail, which Sharon Springs was called Eagle Tail at that time. Southeast of Eagle Tail three or four miles was a place where there was wonderful springs on the side of the hill. So he rode the train down to these, they had a water stop, about oh, couple three miles from that spot; back there they had steam engines they had to stop once in a while to put water in the boiler. And they walked over there and found these springs, so he, he I think he filed a Homestead claim, I know he did on a quarter then he bought another quarter adjoining it. Under the Homestead Act you had to live on the land three, for at least three months, for three of your five years; it took five years to prove it up. And you had to live on it so he’d bring the family out from Brooklyn; I guess they got tired of that so they just, he built a kind of a little shack there and they all moved out there. Then, later on, he, we lived just two or three miles east of that.

BC: So, you were early pioneers over there?

JW: Yes, yes he was, my granddad was.

BC: You had a lot, you mentioned, that the government bought some of the cattle. Were there any other types of, was your family receiving any kind of aid? WPA ?

JW: I don’t think so, no. They didn’t have WPA until Roosevelt. I think it was instituted in maybe 1933 or something like that. You know what WPA stands for? Works Progress Administration.

BC: I thought you were going to tell me a joke or something. That was about the time you would have been in high school and graduating. Do you recall many of your friends that had employment through WPA or CCC or National Youth Administration?

JW: I don’t think they had that in our county. My recollection is, that people that had to have assistance, got it from the county and the term was you were "on the county" and see many counties had homes for people to live in, a county poor home. Wallace county didn’t have one of those. I know one family was very poor, kids rode on the bus with me, and they were on the county, but I’m sure they didn’t get but a few dollars a month to buy groceries and necessities. There weren’t many farm programs other than the ones I remember - before the farm programs were initiated by President Roosevelt, it was just buying cattle.

BC: Do you recall many people that came through Wallace county, I mean transients, people on the road?

JW: No, I don’t. I’m sure there were some. Back in those days, they were the hoboes and they rode the rails, you wouldn’t see them normally. Of course we lived seven miles in the country so we wouldn’t see them out at our place.

BC: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

JW: I had an older sister who is eight years older than I, and she’s the one that came here to Dodge City and went to business college and then got a job at an attorney as his secretary, the only job she ever had. And my brother is six years older than I, then I was next, had one in between, but he died; and then in 1926, had a little girl, and she's still living.

BC: So your sister and you were kinda the ones at home when the dust bowls were under way?

JW: Well, my brother was for a while; yeah he was for a while.

BC: Was that related to the dust storm, his passing away?

JW: Well, no, this was the little brother that died while we were still living in Hutchinson. He was a little over a year older than I, and we both had scarlet fever at the same time, and I survived and he didn’t.

BC: Since we’re talking about this subject, dust pneumonia, do you remember many people having it ?

JW: I really don’t remember many people having dust pneumonia. I expect there were, but I just don’t remember.

BC: Your family, during that time, was able to save money and you know get through the times?

JW: Yeah, yeah they didn’t spend much money, and things didn’t cost much. As I say, they usually bought flour and salt and pepper, and things like that. Mother made butter out of the cream and had chickens, and we had the garden, so it was pretty self-sufficient.

BC: What did you find to do for entertainment during that time? With less, what are some things you’d do?

JW: Well, my brother, when he was in high school, they taught him in a class they had how to make a little radio. I’m sure the instructor probably did most of the work, but anyhow, that’s the first radio that we ever had. I don’t know what year that would have been, probably 1926 or something like that. And you had, you had to use earphones to hear anything, it’s a lot of crackling, popping, more static than anything. And people visited, you visited the neighbors in those days, and they visited you. And I know we had a younger couple and had a little boy who lived not far from us, and they and the folks and then us, were good friends. And, once in a while, we’d get together and go to one place or the other and make a gallon of ice cream, and just eat ice cream. Just sit and visit, people visited in those days. And of course there was church. My mother was a strong Christian and we’d go to church on Sunday, Sunday School. And once in a while I’d be able to go to town to a movie; I didn’t see too many movies, they were too far away.

BC: What year did you graduate from high school?

JW: 1933.

BC: What did you do at that point then?

JW: Well, I went to KU. My sister helped me, my older sister helped me - she, the secretary that was here, she helped me financially through college and Law School. And so I had a teacher that was a KU graduate and her husband, too, who was a young attorney there in Sharon and I met them and so I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t like farm work, I didn’t mind working with the livestock, but I didn’t like farm work.

BC: Did you come back and help during the summers?

JW: Well, the only time I came back was 1934. That was the first summer after my first year at KU. Like I say, you couldn’t do any farming but I did spend the summer in Wallace county on the ranch.

BC: Were there a lot of dust storms that summer?

JW: Well, I think they were bad that year and they probably started some a year or two before that. They just gradually got worse. When I was a child most of the ground, land, was in pasture. Well, a couple of farming corporations from Hays traded a lot of the crops. I’m sure it was incidentally responsible, but they came out and bought a lot of land when the crops were pretty good and bought in on time or maybe bought it alone, what ever. Anyhow, one was called the Wheat Farming Corporation, I remember that, and they plowed up a lot of land. When the wind started blowing and the dust started blowing, they just walked away from it. And nobody tried to stop the blowing on the land.

BC: So, did lot of people talked about that?

JW: Yeah, I’d overhear the folks talking about it, and then I’d go to Fort Hays State starting the Fall of 1934 and I might hear people mention it, and I think, well I can’t remember whether any of the professors talked about it or not.

BC: Why’d you switch from KU to Fort Hays?

JW: Well it was a lot closer. Then some of my friends were, classmates, were going to Fort Hays. I went to KU and fortunately Sharon Springs and Lawrence were on the Union Pacific rail line, so I’d get to Lawrence on the train, on the train and get back again a couple of times I think during the year by train. Well, one of my friends who was older, he’s a lot older, quite a bit, he was in his late 20’s, single and he had a car. So we’d drive back and forth to Hays in his car most of the time.

BC: Oh, do you recall running into many dust storms?

JW: I’m sure we did. I don’t remember specifically, but I know there were a lot of them. I remember one time at night, they had a play contest in town, sixty miles away; The principal of the high school had me drive his car and take some other kids and go up there and I remember there was a bad dust storm that night, I mean bad. I learned to drive at eleven years old, so I was an experienced driver. The worst dust storm was in 1935 - you might of heard of that. It was in April, I believe.

BC: April 14th.

JW: I remember it was a Sunday and I remember going outside and I don’t know early afternoon and it was a beautiful day; the sun shining, very little wind, and everything beautiful. And then, I can’t remember if somebody called me out or if I just happened to go out and, my goodness, off to the north, it looked like a wall of dirt coming at us - 500 to 1,000 feet high, I don’t know. And it turned black then and it was so dark that you couldn’t see the street lights. And I know there were many dust storms like that. A friend of mine worked in a restaurant in the evening and he walkd of course - everybody walked in those days, except that one fella I told about had a car, but we walked everywhere - and Roy got lost on the main street of Hays, Kansas walking home one night.

BC: Was that the Sunday storm?

JW: No, no that was another time, there were a lot of dust storms; I mean a lot of them.

BC: What else do you recall about that Sunday storm?

JW: Well, we just sat in the house; we just sat in the house. I can’t remember even who I was rooming with then. We stayed in rooming houses - most kids did…rooming houses. And anyhow, I can’t even recall how long it lasted, it was so severe. I have a faint recollection of it lasting all night.

BC: A long storm?

JW: Yeah, they finally just blow themselves out.

BC: So you were up harvesting in Nebraska a couple seasons?

JW: Yeah doing other farm work - we worked with horses, as everybody did at that time - well I shouldn’t say everybody, but most people did. And so my brother had this farm and was farming it- it was a little irrigation farm that belonged to a relative of his wife, and so he needed help with that. They, the water came from a ditch that took out of a river up above and when your turn came to take the water, why you had to go out and take care of it, whether it’s two o’clock in the morning or whenever, because the ditch riders came along and opened the flue gates and so I helped him some and then I always kept busy, working for the neighbors’ harvest and various things.

BC: Did they have very good crops up there?

JW: No. They were better than ours; but the dry land crops were better than down around Sharon Springs, but they weren’t really very good.

BC: Was that further east ?

JW: Well, it was pretty much straight north, ; do you know where McCook, Nebraska is? Well there’s a little town called Culbertson a few miles west of McCook, that was their town.

BC: Then, 1935, ’36, ’37, and ’38 you worked in Dodge City?

JW: Yes, yes.

BC: What were you doing again?

JW: Well, I can’t remember which I did first, I think the first summer I got a job at Montgomery Ward helping the guy who was in charge of the receiving room, going to the depot and getting furniture that was brought on the train. Then we’d set it up down at the store. athen the other summers I worked at Fairmont Foods in the freezer room. The only incident that I remember, it’s kinda funny, it wasn’t funny at the time. The manager of Fairmont’s was "Terrible Tempered Mr. Bangs."

BC: Nice name.

JW: Well, no his name wasn’t Bangs, it was Frank, well I won’t say his last name; but anyhow, he was a tough character and so he put me in the freezer room and the guy in charge was packing chickens, "fancy chicken" carcasses. I never done it before in my life, and I don’t know if this was the first day, or the second day, or shortly after I started. You had to fold the wings and the legs and everything just right, and they wanted the breast to show, and so on - to be the main thing. Well, Frank came in and he looked at my box of chickens and just took hold of the box and swept them off onto the floor. He didn’t say anything to me, but he lit into the guy who was in charge of that department. He gave him a tongue-lashing because of my poor work.

BC: How’d you find employment here in Dodge City?

JW: My sister was well known and her husband was better known to the employers. He may have represented these people, I don’t know; he may have gotten me the job, I don’t remember.

BC: What was it like here in Dodge City? And that was at the tail end of the Depression?

JW: Dodge City, I think - now this is just kind of my opinion without really knowing - but I think Dodge City survived those days reasonably well because of the railroad. We had the division point on the Santa Fe then and had it until diesels came in and then we were in the wrong location - diesels didn’t have to be watered like the old steam engine trains. But a lot of people worked for the railroad. And we had a big roundhouse here and the division headquarters - a lot of people worked in the division headquarters as clerks. The divisions head had lived here and so on.

BC: Were there a lot of people in your recollection work for WPA or ?

JW: Oh some did. Back then it was disgraceful to be, and a lot of people didn’t take the help, you know wouldn’t accept food, because they were too proud to do it. Even though they needed it, especially older people. And, and they had WPA, the band stand down at Wright park was built by the WPA; that wall along the east side of the park was built by the WPA. As I said, it was considered kind of disgraceful to be on welfare.

BC: Now you were here a couple summers before; you were still going to KU, then you moved here in 1939?

JW: Yes.

BC: Now what prompted your move?

JW: Well, I thought my sister’s husband’s employer would hire me. And I came out and without making any arrangements, and he didn’t hire me. So, but he did let me use one of his rooms, his library and his offices up in the First National Bank building. Let me use that for a year without charging me anything, he had a telephone there. So if I hadn’t been living with my sister I would’ve starved to death. But I made a little money along, collecting accounts on an old grocery, an outfit that had three or four stores here in town, went broke. And Fidelity Bank was one of the trustees and Mr. Van Riper was attorney for the bank and so he got me the job of collecting the accounts for that grocery outfit.

BC: So that was some lingering effects from the Depression Era?

JW: Oh yes. There still some dust blowing and I think that was the thing that Mr. Van Riper was in 1939 he would have been 60, 59 or 60 and ‘course people were cautious in those days, but he did have a big practice. Then I went in the service in early February 1942 - I was in the Navy and it was very near to the close of the War, he wrote and asked me if I would be interested in joining him, partnering him. And he did need somebody then, I think the War years were very hard on the people at home that we weren’t so conscious of. And so I came back in November of 1945 and went in law practice with him.

BC: And you stayed here in Dodge City from then on?

JW: Yeah, I spent sixty years in the same bank building, on the same floor.

BC: What type of cases would you do? And how did you see the law profession evolve over the years here in Dodge City?

JW: Well, in those days, we just tried to handle about everything that came in the door. There was no specialization. And so we tried lawsuits, handle the states, did office work, contracts and wills, examining titles. And one thing we didn’t try to handle ourselves was patents. We had an arrangement with a patent firm in Washington and somebody come in wanting to patent something, we’d contact them and they’d handle it, and we’d be the kind of the go-between and help the person provide what ever they required. But, we just tried a lot of lawsuits and a handle a lot of the states and did a lot of office work. Now it’s pretty much specialized.

BC: What are some of the more memorable cases that you had, that you can share?

JW: Well, one of the memorable ones was - I think this one was in early 1950s maybe. Mr. Van Riper died in 1950 - before he died we had taken in another man to be our tax attorney and so we added as we went along; young attorneys out of law school; but this case was an automobile action case down northeast of Bucklin, Kansas.

I represented; a Lawyer in Garden City that asked me to handle the case. He was attorney for the widow of a man who was killed in an automobile accident. And that man and his employee, they were in the boss’s car, but the employee was driving it. They were coming back from Wichita - they had been in Wichita on company business. This made the employer responsible for the employee’s actions. And they came over hill up northeast of Bucklin, the little hill just this side of the Kiowa County line a little ways. And he saw a car leave a farmhouse and proceed out toward the highway. And the driver, as I say was the employee, and he testified that he thought he was going about 65 miles an hour, but he admitted that - the thing that ruined him every time - was he admitted to the Highway Patrol when he came over the hill, he was going about 80 miles an hour. Now, there was no hard and fast speed limits in those days, there was reasonable and proper.

Anyhow, he said that he saw this car coming out to the highway, he eased up on the accelerator and thought he was going about 65 miles an hour when he thought the old man; there was an old farmer there who apparently never looked for traffic and he came out; and there’s a great, huge tree right at the edge of the right-a-way, the highway right-a-way and his, his farm lain right by it. And so this young fellow, the driver saw this clear behind the tree and he just assumed the driver would stop; but he didn’t. And it’s too late to do, you know it was too close to him anyhow he tried. What he should of done I suppose was rear-ended the old man, it might of hurt him and so on, but it probably wouldn’t have been so disastrous. But anyhow, he tried to avoid it and his car turned over and killed the employer. We tried that case to jury three times; we had three hung juries. Those days, you had to have a twelve to nothing verdict to to win a plaintiff’s case. Now I think Kansas is 10 and 2, if you get as much as 10 and 2. That would have been alright in; certainly I know one was 10 to 2, another was 11 to 1, I can’t remember the, I might let, we had the jury on our side but always one or two would hold out, and I didn’t collect to finish; so that stuck in my mind. I think I’m the only guy in town that ever had three hung juries in the same case.

BC: As you lived here over the years, what are some of the major events that you can recall in Dodge City, you know from your viewpoint? It occurred I think two months before I got here in 1939. And that was the talk of the town when I got here. It was a big event. I’m sure there was no accurate way to count it, some estimate 50,000 people were here - there were an awful lot of people. The Hollywood studio sent a special train out loaded with stars including Errol Flynn and a whole bunch of them. Then I remember we had a big fair here then. The Great Southwest Kansas Fair, I think was called. And that old kind of abandoned grandstand down there was on the racetrack and I remember we had horse races and they even had driving races, where they had two-wheel carts; and one year they had those and then they had rodeos. Probably the next big event was when the Santa Fe closed the division point here.

BC: When was that?

JW: I think it was around 1960, I can’t recall exactly. I was attorney, a local attorney for the Santa Fe and I think it was about 1960.

BC: So you did a lot of work for the railroad?

JW: Well, quite a bit, I had several cases for them. They had a lot of staff, permanent staff in their office in Topeka. And they’d get sued out here or they’d call me to handle it locally and usually I’d wind up trying the case.

BC: What are some of the cases that you’d falter on?

JW: You know, I was young and stupid, I hadn’t been back very long, hadn’t been representing, I don’t know whether Mr. Van Riper was still alive. Anyhow, there was a young woman who was hit by a train on one of the tracks that was going very slowly, but it did injure her quite a bit. I was going with her when she filed a lawsuit against the Santa Fe. And I was judicious enough to try the case for the Santa Fe. Needless to say, it didn’t please her too much. I think we won it, too.

BC: Your relationship ended?

JW: Well, we still went together, it played out of course, she made her way finally.

BC: What other types of cases did you do?

JW: Well we handled a lot of litigation. I remember one time I tried; we had for several years we had a, the Federal United States District Court, south of here in Dodge City; once a year for a week say. And trying cases in that Federal court that originated here or around here. Because that was easier for the witnesses and everybody concerned. And , so I remember I was trying a case in the Federal, jury case in the Federal Court during the day; and I tried a court case to the Judge in the evening, at night. And then another time, I was trying a jury case and uh close, or settling the State at recess, so I was busy.

BC: Sounds like it. Looking back at the looking back at the 1930’s, you know those were trying times, were hard times.

JW: Yes.

BC: how did people keep hope alive then, would you say?

JW: How’d they do what?

BC: How did they keep hope alive during that period?

JW: Well ‘course you always had hope that things would be better next year; that’s what keeps farmers going. And so the farmers all, all hoping that next year would be a better year. And you know in those days, young people that were fortunate enough to go to college, pride themselves; and you tried to get an education. Kids in high school you know, they earned degrees of pride themselves, but they tried to learn. You didn’t have anybody that uh didn’t want an education like it seems to be the case with some of the minority kids today, in the cities anyhow, they don’t want to get an education. And uh so you did the best you could and tried to improve yourself.

BC: What would you say is the biggest lesson that you learned from that, from that period?

JW: Well probably the biggest lesson I learned was from my father and my father was a very honest man. And he would keep his word even though it cost him and so that impressed me. So I tried to follow his example, ‘course a lot of people think lawyers…. But anyhow, that’s probably the greatest thing I learned.

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

JW: Okay.
E.L. 6/27/2006


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