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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: Leonard Kreutzer

Interviewer: Brandon Case

July 8, 1998

Draft Version

Brandon Case: Just to begin, what’s your name, and where were you born and what time?

Leonard Kreutzer: Well, my name is Leonard Kreutzer and I was born in Marienthal, Kansas, which is oh, Wichita County, born in Wichita County, 1915. And I was about the middle, well I guess there were nine of us kids that grew up. Then we moved to Ransom in 1926. My dad run a grocery store out at Marienthal and it burned down and we moved to Ransom in the fall of ’26. And then he passed away in February in ’32. And I quit school and went to work.

BC: What prompted your family to move to Ransom?

LK: Well, there was an opening there. He bought out a produce house and run it after the store burned down out there. And we run that ‘til he passed away, I run it a short while after that, but wasn’t smart enough to keep at it I guess this, you know, I was only 16 years old. So, I just worked around where ever I could find something to do, and then ‘course the dust storms come on it, well they kinda started in ’33. And part of that time I was spending out at Marienthal and then I’d come back to Ransom just worked between. I kept that up while I stayed with sisters, a couple of sisters of mine that were married; I stayed with them quite a bit. In fact, I guess it was ’33, I was in Ransom when hard times, the dust storms really got started. I remember, a fella had some ground leased between Ransom and Ness and water dried up on him didn’t have any water, but there was a spring in there, so, and we went out and dug the dirt away from that spring ‘til they got some water running. We put railroad ties in so we wouldn’t muddy it back up again and that’s what they, got along through ’33 and ’34 then.

Then in the fall of ’34, why the CC Camps got started, so I went into there, and I spent three years there. Spent the first year almost two years at Quinter, Kansas; where we poured a concrete dam across the Saline River. And we couldn’t get it to hold, so they moved us around, moved us to Nebraska for a while and we had some good storms up there, but we done some terracing work on farms up there. And from there we went to Council Grove, Kansas a while, done conservation work up there. I finally got tired of the darn things and got out of there.

BC: Uh-huh.

LK: You’re supposed to have a job to get out ya know, before they discharge ya. I wrote to my brother-in-law to send me a letter that he had a job for me, well that didn’t work, so I wrote my own letter and they finally let me out. Well, I went out for harvest, harvested out here, and harvested out in Wichita County. And three of us guys bought an old Model T car and went to Colorado to try to find work. And we run into some pretty hard, well we was out there almost a month and I think we made three dollars a piece.

BC: What year was that in?

LK: In ’36, summer of ’36. So I come back and went to work for a cousin of mine up in, I guess Gulver, Sheridan County, up on a farm up there. Planted his wheat for him and it was awful dry and dirt was blowin’. So, I went back and got back with CC Camps and they sent me right back up to Quinter to build that dam a second time.

BC: So, you were in the CC for?

LK: Well, about three years all together.

BC: Two years?

LK: The first time, and then about a year the second time. And when we got done with that job up there, and they was kickin’ us out, a lot of guys were quittin’, so I quit, went to Western Nebraska to work. Had a job on a farm up there, wheat didn’t make very much during those dry years. In ’36, well I went up there in ’37, July of ’37, just about this time of the year. And I stayed up there ‘til the Army got me. We run into some pretty good dirt storms up there.

BC: Mm-hmm.

LK: In fact, I remember one time I was out drillin’ wheat, middle of the afternoon. This storm came up and I shut the tractor off, I had a truck in one field and a tractor in the other, shut the tractor off and walked over to the truck, was gonna go home. In the mean time, I changed my mind and went to the bar up town, but while I was in there, the boss come lookin’ for me and he found my, well the first time he was out, he found the truck, nobody around, and he finally found the tractor, nobody around there, and he went back and found or went to look for the truck and it was gone, and he couldn’t find me or the truck, neither one. Finally I made it home and it didn’t set too good with the old man. But it got so dirty, you just couldn’t see nothin’, you know. But ahead of that, one of the worst dust storms I remember was, it’s got a picture of it right here.

BC: Is that before that?

LK: Yes, that was before I went to Nebraska.

BC: Yeah, now was this the “Dirty Thirties”?

LK: Yeah, in ’35, about from about this storm, I’d see a picture of it coming, a couple of those pictures.

BC: “Black Sunday”, now what was that like? Where were you and what was that like?

LK: When?

BC: No, what was it like?

LK: When? This?

BC: Yeah.

LK: Well, we were dedicating that dam we’d built and we had a big crowd out there and we had ball games and all this and that ya know, for entertainment during the day, and they built a big platform and was gonna have a dance that evening. And about 4:30, 5 o’clock, this storm come up, and everybody of course went home. You know, this says “April the 13th”, here’s a pretty good picture of it.

BC: Uh-huh.

LK: And it got so dark, we had to turn the lights on at 4 o’clock in the afternoon out in the yard so we could see anything.

BC: Uh-huh.

LK: I tell ya, that’s somethin’.

BC: Yeah.

LK: And I don’t know how long it lasted into the night, because I think that’s the night that it blowed one of our buildings down and it broke the windows out of the barracks that I was staying in. ‘Course we didn’t have any way to shut ‘em off at night. And the next morning, we hauled dirt out of there with a wheelbarrow, that’s how thick it was.

BC: What was that like then?

LK: Yeah, it was really somethin’. Wasn’t nothing we could do, ya know, we didn’t have no place to go, we just stayed there. But that was one of the worst, well, we had several come around later you know, looked like that.

BC: While you were out there, what year did you join the CCC?

LK: Well, I went in there the fall of ’34, my final, when I finally got out to stay out, was in July of ’37.

BC: How’d you find out about that? And what made you decide to join up?

LK: The CC Camps? Well, they were all over the United States. President Roosevelt done that for families that were hard up; their kids would go in there. You got thirty dollars a month, board, room, and clothes, but you had to send twenty-five dollars a month home to your parents to live on, and you got to keep five for your cigarettes and stuff, I guess. But they had them scattered all over the United States. Depends on where they was at what work they done. We planted a lot of trees when we was up in Nebraska. I think four or five hundred pounds of trees were planted. And it worked out pretty good, ya know, usually around 200 guys in a camp.

BC: Now, steppin’ back before that, when you were in Ransom. Your father died in 1932?

LK: Yes.

BC: So, you were pretty much on your own there?

LK: Yes, yeah I was. Well, I tried to get work, but there wasn’t any anymore. So, my sisters they were married and living on a farm, and I just went and stayed with them, they boarded me. And I worked whatever I could do, ya know.

BC: So, you were about 16 in ’32?

LK: Yeah.

BC: How long was harvest? Where were you living then?

LK: Well, at first, harvest after that, I’m trying to think, it was either ’33 or ’34, we still cut wheat with a header, didn’t have a combine, that had to have been in ’33, I guess. It made two bushels an acre at that time, if I remember right or three, and that was it. In ’34 we cut it with a combine, he’d bought an old ’29 Baldwin, the pull type, and it didn’t make much better and then ’35, they didn’t cut any wheat in Ransom at all, it blew clear out. And then….

BC: Was the problem the dust storms during those days?

LK: Oh yeah, it pretty dirty, ya know, you’d get in one of those regular blows and then maybe it’d last two or three days. The wind would let up and sometimes it would sprinkle, but never very much.

BC: What was that like for your sister and her family, what were they, what did they do to get by during that time?

LK: Oh, they milked a bunch of cows, sold it, had chickens, ya know, raised their own hogs for meat, so…. I s’pose they went in debt, but I don’t remember really. Didn’t really, didn’t pay much attention to the financial end of it. And my mother, she got on well they gave her County Aid for a while for relief. And then when I got old enough, where I could get into those CC Camps, and they decided they’d cur her off of that, when I went into CC.

BC: So, then you could have the money sent back?

LK: Mm-hmm.

BC: Now, just before you got in that, what did your sister and her family, as a family, you were staying with, how’d you eat, what’d they do?

LK: Well, all I can say is we raised a garden, what little water we had, and had their own chickens and own hogs, butchered a calf now and then. We didn’t get along all that bad really. Didn’t go to, didn’t run around too much, ‘cause we got along.

BC: What would you do for entertainment then?

LK: Oh, they had a movie theater in Ransom, you could get in for a dime. A lot of times we’d sit on the building next door and watch through the window; still silent movies in those days. And then when he finally got sound and he closed the window, we had to go in. The only man that run the theater, he was pretty nice. He’d let us kids, ya know, a lot of times for nothin’. And Saturdays, especially around Christmas time, you always had free shows and stuff like that. He was a good old man.

BC: So, after the harvest, it didn’t turn out so good, your mother was cut off from Welfare, and you joined the CCC up there in Quinter?

LK: Well, I went in the fall of ’34, in August of ’34, I think it was.

BC: What was it, what were your living conditions like during…?

LK: During the CC?

BC: Mm-hmm.

LK: Oh, they fed pretty good. Yeah, they fed pretty good, and we used, and we got Army clothes, ya know. And there’d be about fifty of us in a building, sleeping; no individual rooms, just metal bunks, ya know. And there they’d take us, like when we was up in Quinter, I think it was about thirty miles to WaKeeney and they’d take a truck about every night to the movies; if there was a dance in town, they’d take guys in. Oh, we’d have dances, we’d clean the mess hall out, take all the tables outside or push ‘em up against the wall, have dances out there. You’d always find somethin’ to do; we had pool tables where we played pool.

BC: How many hours would you work a day, usually?

LK: Eight hours.

BC: Monday through Saturday or…?

LK: No, we didn’t work Saturdays, worked five days a week, if I remember correctly.

BC: Now, how long were you at the camp there in Quinter?

LK: Well, we moved up there probably early in September, to Quinter. They moved the first bunch out, they moved us to [inaudible], Nebraska in early 1935. Then they moved another company in there.

BC: So, you did a lot of shelter belts up in Nebraska?

LK: Well, we uh, we planted a lot of trees, but mostly on farms, to keep, keep the ground from washing. I remember ol’ John [Pesick?], he claimed he was the World Champion Heavy Weight “Rassler”, had a farm up there and a hatchery. And went out there, and he had a lot of willows growin’ out there, we went out there, and cut willow twigs, we cut 25,000 a foot long, 25,000 eighteen inches long, and we planted them, stuck them in the ground. But he furnished ‘em, I s’pose we probably paid for ‘em. But we worked out there quite a bit that winter, cutting willows. And I never did see the man, I never did see him. He had a lot of greyhounds, he raised greyhounds and he had them out there on that farm. But we were up there until the spring of ’36 and then they moved us to Council Grove, Kansas.

BC: Did you get to plant the trees?

LK: Yeah, we planted ‘em.

BC: Did you find out how they took?

LK: Well, I was back up there about 10-15 years ago and I couldn’t even find ‘em. They grew up all right; I just didn’t remember where they was at. Yeah, I guess they done a lot. We planted a lot of just, planted walnuts, black walnuts, and the willows, we just stuck them in the ground, the willows, they grow and they’ll make great [inaudible].

BC: now, you moved to Council Grove, Kansas after that, what’d you do there?

LK: Well, we done some terracing. I guess a farmer had a pasture, one of the gullies in there, we’d cut some hedge trees down, he’d use the branches and make a dam across that gully. And then we’d quarry rock and make little rock dams across those gullies where they couldn’t wash any deeper. I left there in July of ’36 and I never been back since then.

BC: Now, why did you decide to leave then?

LK: Oh, I just got tired of it, work everyday, ya know. I just didn’t like it in Council Grove, just got tired of it and I wanted to get outta there, bad.

BC: Was that the case with others within the camp too or did most people…?

LK: Well, Quinter I didn’t mind so bad, didn’t mind Nebraska so bad, but that Council Grove, and I don’t know why. I just didn’t like it for one thing, I think it was the officer we had down there, I didn’t like him very well.

BC: Where were the fellas from that you’d be in the camp with?

LK: Oh, all over Kansas, most of we was in, but, we had, well Ness County had a quite a few in there. Had some from Dodge there, Bucklin in there. Yeah, we had ‘em scattered all over the place.

BC: A lot of ‘em were from around here?

LK: Well, we had several from Bucklin, several from Ford, we had some out of Dodge City.

BC: Now, you left the CC in 1936?

LK: Well, the first time I left in ’36, when I was at Council Grove. Then I got back in, in the fall of ’36, went to Quinter then, then I got out of there in July of ’37.

BC: In between there, you went out lookin’ for work; you went out to Colorado, lookin’ for work.

LK: Well, I was in there after we got out of Council Grove, that fall, yeah.

BC: You went with a couple of friends, you said? Did you see a lot of other people on the road?

LK: Oh, we saw some, not too many, really. Roads were pretty well covered with dirt and the fences along the sides of ‘em, I think there’s some pictures here, of some machinery that is covered up with dirt.

BC: Uh, did they, so that was kind of driving through a snowy landscape?

LK: It was, really it was, all you had was black.

BC: Did you get into any dust storms while you were traveling?

LK: Well, not at that time, the wind, that was in ’36, it had kinda let up, the wind had quit. It wasn’t blowin’ near as bad, but there’s how the machinery looked when the fence rows along the road were completely covered.

BC: Kind of looked like this photo of all, of everything buried?

LK: Mm-hmm sure was.

BC: Where did you go?

LK: Well, we went to Brush, Colorado, Brush and Fort Morgan, in that area. One of the fellas that come with us had a couple of sisters live out there and we went to their place, just slept out in the yard, it was hot and all the time you didn’t. And I remember they had a big watermelon patch, and man we lived on a lot of watermelon. And then I decided I had to go buy wheat. The only job we had, we was out there three weeks, we cut ten acres of corn with a corn [inaudible], gave us a dollar an acre, so we made a dollar a piece. And I said, “Hell, I got to get home, got to make some money, you know, to help support the family.” So we pooled all the money we had between the three of us, and I went on home.

When I got home, I couldn’t pay for the Model T, so we got it off my brother-in-law, we, supposed to give him twenty-five dollars, but we didn’t have it, so he took it back, give it back to him. And I, well I went up to Gove County, up in there to help a cousin of mine plant his wheat. And when we got done with that, I went back to CC and went to Quinter then, helped rebuild that dam a third time, or second time.

It was a concrete dam with concrete oh, probably the thinnest part was that thick, up at the top of it, then down at the bottom it was about that thick. And we couldn’t hold the under flow and it just washed out under it, so they cut the front of it off, cut all the cement off the front, filled the inside with rock, and then put a big dirt filling in front of it with riff-raff on top of it, and it washed out. Under flow got in there again and washed out again. I don’t know how long it finally lasted, they fished up there for several years before they finally just quit fixin’ it.

BC: Yep, it just kept breaking.

LK: Now, there’s just nothin’ but a big pile of cement where the dam was. I used to drive up there once in a while, just to see what it looked like, ya know. ‘Cause hell, I didn’t know nothin’ when I went into CC Camps; well I knew how to wash cream cans and handle eggs. I got in there, I got to run machinery, ya know. Last time I ws in there, I operated a bull dozer, ‘bout the whole time I was there. It was a small one, it wasn’t one of these big ones they got now, but then.

BC: Uh-huh.

LK: It was somethin’ I hadn’t done before anyway.

BC: Yeah, so you gained some skills from it?

LK: Sure did.

BC: Now, did you in 1937 July - what did you do then after that?

LK: Well, I went up to Nebraska; I had a job promised up there on a farm, if I ever got there. So the CC’s, they had to send me home from the camp to where I lived, see they had to pay my trip. Well, the only way I could get home from Quinter to Ransom, we go down to Topeka by rail and come back, ‘cause there was no buses then. So I said, “Well, I’m really going to Nebraska, to make my pick at Nebraska.”

So they bought me a train ticket as far as it would have been to Topeka and back, and I went West to Oakley from Quinter, then I had to go East to Norton, then I went North to Republican City. I left there on a Monday, I don’t remember, I think so, but anyway, when I got to Norton, I had a lay over all day for the next train to come. I run out of money down there, but anyway, I went from Norton to Republican City and then I started West to where I was headed. And uh, the train went to Curtis, Nebraska on Saturday noon, and that’s as far as it would go ‘til Monday. So there I sat in Curtis, broke, hungry, no train ticket, so I started walkin’. And I walked to Maywood, no yeah, Curtis is the other side of McCook, so I walked about eleven miles to Maywood, didn’t catch a ride no way. Then I walked to Welfleet and I decided that was far enough, I couldn’t, I was getting too tired to walk any further. And I went to a restaurant, had a dime left, if I remember right, tried to buy a cup of coffee and maybe a sandwich or somethin’, well she, the restaurant lady didn’t have nothin’ for a dime, ya know. So she brought me a piece of pie, and a sandwich and a cup of coffee, that was Saturday afternoon. Then I went across the street to a pool hall and bought a sack of tobacco for a nickel and played a pool game, there went my other nickel. And I went down to the railroad track and stayed under the water tower there and kinda took a shower where it was leakin’. She told me, the lady at the restaurant, told me to come back for supper, but I was, I just couldn’t do that, I don’t know why, I just felt ashamed to go back.

So I stayed there at the water tank ‘til the next morning and this lady’s grandson come down and got me. They were going, they were there visiting her and they was going to go home and the give me a ride as far as their place, which was about halfway to where I was headed. Got there about sundown Sunday evening and I slept in an old car parked out there.

Monday morning I started hitch hiking again, and I caught a ride to Grant, Nebraska, and I still had seven miles to go. And I was standing on a street corner, a fella run an ice wagon come by and he just hollered at me, said, “If you can catch it on the run, get on, if not, you can walk.”

I caught it and he wanted to know where I was from, and I told him, and he said, “pretty small town”, which it was, just 40 people living there, “for a job.” And I said, “I got a job, all I got to do is get there.” “How’d you get a job?” And I said, “Well, I got a brother that works there.” “What’s his name?” And I told him. He said, “No, nobody workin’ there by that name.” I said, “Well, I got a letter in my pocket from him, tellin’ me to hurry and get there, ya know.” “Nah, there’s only one guy workin’ in Brandon and that’s ‘Peanuts’”. And I said, “Well, that’s him.” But everybody in that country just knew him by his nickname, “Peanuts”. Well, I got there and I went to work right away, harvest time, started harvestin’. And I stayed with the same fella for two years.

BC: What was harvest like then?

LK: Oh, it, I think it made about ten bushels pullin’ a John Deere tractor. But I stayed there two years form, worked for him and his dad and then we moved to Ogallala, Nebraska, and we got hailed out there, and he turned me loose. So I went and got a job on another farm and stayed with him a couple of years. And that’s when the Army got me then in ’41.

BC: Now during that period, did you have any “dusters” up there?

LK: Oh, once in a while we’d get one. That was when I was tellin’ you about gettin’ lost on the tractor and truck that time. And then one other time I was farmin’ and night, well I guess that wasn’t dust though. I had run out of seedling and I went back to get a truck to gill my drills up and we had an old German Sheppard dog. He wouldn’t let me get in the darn truck. I had an awful time before he let me get in that truck, but I finally got ‘em filled up and got goin’. But there, it was pretty sandy where I was workin’ around Brandon, and Grant, Nebraska and Venango, and it’d blow pretty easy. In fact, there’s a lot of blown dirt along the fence rows, and you had to be careful in your tractor or you’d get over there and get stuck. But they kinda quit then, in ’37.

BC: With the farming there?

LK: No, I mean the dirt storms kinda quit during then.

BC: Now, when you were out on the road, do you recall many, running into many other fellows that were out on the road for work?

LK: No, not really.

BC: Where was your mom at this time?

LK: She stayed in Ransom there most of the time. Then we finally moved, I had a couple of brothers up in Nebraska, and we moved out mother up there, and she didn’t like it. We moved her back out to Venango where my older sister lived, and she only lived about thirty days after we got her out there, she passed away in ’38.

BC: So, when you worked for different farmers during the “Dust Bowl” years, uh, how would they, how were they surviving then? What were they doing then?

LK: Well, they just had to wait for that wheat crop to come in. I s’pose a lot of ‘em; well a lot of ‘em just went flat broke and left the country and went to California and Colorado. And some of them Western Kansas people they got off the farm and moved over to Garden City. I don’t know what was goin’ on in Garden, but well they had sugar beets in the area and irrigation, a lot of ‘em moved over there. But there’s a lot of ‘em just lost their farms and left the country.

BC: Do you remember seeing any, many farms like that, when you were working in different places?

LK: Well, yeah probably did, but I don’t not to remember too many of them, ya know.

BC: Did you write to your mom during that period?

LK: Oh yeah.

BC: What would her letters be like? Would she talk much about the dust storms there?

LK: Oh, she just, mostly about how much trouble she was having getting’ along, you know. But she didn’t, I don’t know how she done it. But, ‘course my one brother he was workin’ on the dairy and he got all their milk for his work. He’d get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and go milk and deliver milk and the, what [inaudible] he used, that old boy would give to him for his work. So that made a big difference.

BC: Was there any family back there with your mother?

LK: Well, I had two brothers, see.

BC: Right around that area?

LK: Yeah. That one he was. Well he was four and a half years younger then I am, and the other one he, eleven years younger than I am, he still lives in Ransom. He came up to Nebraska when we moved my mother up there and he went back to Marienthal and went to school out there a short while. Then he had a couple at Ransom there that saw a lot of him, and he went to stay with them a short while, and ‘course next thing you know, they adopted him, well they adopted him when he went into the Army and changed his name. He come out the best of the bunch of us probably. Stayed there and got a little inheritance out of it, you know.

BC: Do any of your family members have farms or do farming or have any farm land?

LK: No, no. What was left at home we was just workin’, laborers. My oldest brother, he used to run a lumber yard, he run a lumber yard out of Leoti and Marienthal, then he was down at Poplin for a while, run a lumber yard down. Worked in one in Wichita ‘til he retired, I guess.

BC: Mm-hmm. I guess one other about the ‘30’s, do you remember there being, what the rabbit population was like then?

LK: Oh, they were thick. I think I got a picture here, where they got a rabbit drive.

BC: Did, you ever take part in those?

LK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, we had one at Scott City that I was on one time. And I think they figured they got 10,000 rabbits out there.

BC: What was that like, one of the rabbit drives?

LK: Oh, you just had you an axe handle, and they built a little pen in the center, drive ‘em up there, if one of ‘em come close, you whack him one, kill him, ya know. Then when you got all of ‘em in that pen, that got a little rough, they’d be pretty thick in there. We kill as many, ya know, and then they’d they shipped ‘em to a mink farm somewhere, minks, see. But uh, the rabbits would get out, if a man had a stack feed, if he didn’t get a pen around it, that stack wouldn’t last very long, the rabbits would eat it. And then there were a few years in there that they was payin’ I think fifteen, twenty cents a rabbit for mink feed. You’d make a little money that way.

BC: Uh-huh.

LK: [Inaudible] weren’t too bad, there’s a place where the road would drift it pretty bad.

BC: Did they, did many people eat rabbit?

LK: Oh yeah. Yeah a young jack rabbit was good eatin’, yep. The old ones, lot of ‘em had sores on ‘em, and they wouldn’t eat ‘em. But you take a young jack, that didn’t have sores on ‘em. Fact, they were still eatin’ ‘em ‘til not too many years ago. But uh, 1952, I used to haul propane down to Ellinwood. A fella there that worked at the propane plant, he said his kids wouldn’t hardly eat a hamburger unless it was half jack rabbit. He’d go out and shoot it. But then they got pretty thin, I don’t know what happened to ‘em, but you can’t hardly find a jack rabbit down in our country anymore. Coyotes I guess got ‘em, or the hawks got ‘em. Well when they put a [inaudible] and couldn’t let you shoot any hawks anything, man they was thick out there catching those rabbits and pheasants.

BC: So that whole period, the 1930’s, what’s the greatest lesson for you of that time?

LK: Don’t be scared of work for one thing, ‘cause you had to work to be able to get along. And found out to get by with you know, make your own entertainment like. That you didn’t need all that big money to get along is probably one thing. ‘Course like us kids there was, well there was four kids actually at home when my dad passed away. My youngest sis, she went out and lived with one of my older sisters. And then the other three, myself and my two brothers, well we all went into CC, but the other two brothers stayed at home, they went through high school. I quit high school in the sophomore year, but they skimped a lot.

BC: That was some of the lessons. And you joined the military, what year?

LK: I went in December the 2nd, 1941, just seven days, five days before Pearl Harbor. They drafted me; I went in at Cheyenne, Wyoming. Was there two days, and then I went to Leavenworth, and I was washin’ pots and pans down there when the word come out they bombed Pearl Harbor. That’s one thing I, well I had learned it in the CC camps, but I’d forgot it, “don’t stick around where they can find ya.” Some guy come up and said, “Now you guys don’t wanna get on TP, you better get outta here.” I left and I decided I’d write a letter to my brother and I went up to barracks to get my stationary and they caught me. And I mean talk about pots and pans, they was feedin’ 1500 people in there, and I got job washin’ pots and pans. Next time I wasn’t around when they come in.

BC: That’s the same thing with the CCC, huh?

LK: We didn’t stay at Leavenworth just a couple of weeks and they moved us to Louisiana, Ft. Camp Polk, and they just signed us to our division right away and we took our basic training and this division and we stayed with it ‘til the war was over. Had a pretty good record in the war.

BC: Were you overseas?

LK: Oh yeah, two years. Yeah, the outfit I was with, we led the First Army practically all the way through Europe. Wherever they went we was a head of it, usually.

BC: Did some of your CCC training help you any?

LK: Oh yeah, yeah, it sure did. Well, I know how to do things, get around a lot of things, know how to do it, ya know, like all that extra work, ya know.

BC: Yeah.

LK: Learn not to volunteer too much, they did come in and look for volunteers to go into radio work, me and a friend of mine volunteered for that and we got in there, and that was my job all the way through, was communications, radio operator, charged the radios for my company and them.

BC: I have a few more questions for you about the “Dust Bowl” years. How did people keep their hope alive during that time, ya think?

LK: I don’t know, just hope its better the next day. Sometimes it would be, sometimes it would be dirtier ya know, you couldn’t tell. I really don’t remember many, we’d pull weeds out along the road to feed the cattle, ya know, the pastures were dry. Same way with the hogs, we’d feed ‘em these darn hog’s weed. Pull ‘em away, on they come up and throw ‘em in there. It was pretty tough, like a lot of those young families just starting out, ya know. I don’t know what else to tell ya really.

BC: That’s pretty much what I have.

E.L. 9/5/2006


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