Ford County Dust Bowl Oral History Project
A Kansas Humanities Council grant project
Interview: Lois Flanagan Bryson
Interviewer: Brandon Case
July 22, 1998
Brandon Case: Could you tell me your name and where and when you were born?
Lois Flanagan Bryson: I’m Lois Flanagan Bryson and I’m a native of Dodge City. I was born on September the 7th, 1917.
BC: You were born here in Dodge City?
LFB: Yes, I’m a Catholic, so I went through the Sacred Heart Grade School. And then I went to the Girls Academy, which was High School at that time, for a year, and that was interestingly right back the time in the ‘30’s when you were asking me about. In 1935 I was at St. Mary’s.
LFB: Trying to combat and to survive all the dust storms.
BC: When you were growing up, what were your parents doing for a living?
LFB: My father ran the grain elevator, Flanagan Grain and Coal. At that time we had furnaces and coal. My mother never worked - she just stayed home and took care of me.
BC: Oh, so your father had…
LFB: An elevator.
BC: What’s your first recollection of the Dust Bowl?
LFB: Well - wind, wind and dust.
BC: How old were you?
LFB: Oh I was probably around 13, around 14 and then they got worse. Well the farming’s change, methods has changed so much now. They know how to control the soil. I just mostly remember the 1934 and ’35 as dust storms days. I don’t remember much about it. I don’t think we had bad, too bad of storms. Maybe some wind but not too much. But I was out at the high school and we were day students. They had boarders, too, the students that came, all the girls from the area. But we lived in town, mostly just drove out and took our lunches, sack lunch. We probably started class about 8:30 in the morning and then came home in the afternoon, a little after 3 or so. But during those dust days it was bad. I was taking piano too and the music rooms and the pianos all had to be dusted and cleaned up, same way with the typewriters. In the mornings it would start our clear and nice, and you would think it was going to be a nice day but by noon, or a little after, then the wind would roll up and the dust would. I’m sure others have told you about that Black Sunday. People used masking tape and taped their windows, just anything like that, so there wouldn’t be a lot of dust sifting in, and every once in a while you’d have to take that off and get a little brush and clean out the window sills. I hope we never see those again.
BC: Now you were about 12 when the Great Depression hit the country? Do you recall any impact of that just in your life?
BC: And then into the ‘30’s
LFB: Well I suppose we were lucky. I suppose I was lucky really cause we didn’t. We owned our own home and we didn’t ever suffer - wel,l of course, we suffered but not like some people would have. I didn’t have any jobs, or something I meant to depend on. We were not farmers. We just lived in town and my dad owned and operated the elevator. No brothers or sisters.
BC: Your dad owned the elevator. Do you recall him talking much about how the Dust Bowl was affecting that business?
LFB: I don’t remember hearing much about it. No. Guess I wasn’t paying attention or something. I had other interests. Of course, it did and the price of grain was way down and everything but I don’t recall anything in particular about that.
BC: You said you had other activities, what were some of the activities that you had in the 30’s?
LFB: Well we played a lot of cards. We played Bridge and of course, there were dances, and the movies. Well I always, I probably say I went at least once a week, on Saturday afternoon they had the serials and they’d always end on a real exciting note. Couldn’t hardly wait to get that. Yeah we did get a lot of shows and played cards and school dances and things like that. We had a car, but I didn’t learn to drive until I was about 16. By then my mother, I mean my father had died, and my mother had the garage man teach me how to drive an Essex. And I had two or three lessons with him and then I had another friend who already knew how to drive and we practiced on a lot of the country roads out north of town.
BC: That was in the ‘30’s?
LFB: Mmhm. This was in about 1934 and 1935.
BC: Did you ever get caught in any dust storms when you were practicing?
LFB: Oh coming home from school. I remember they’d let school out early. See it was out here by Alco’s store - that’s where the Academy was and if it looked like it was gonna be bad, the nuns would just let us out so we could get home. And I drove the little Essex my senior year and had two passengers. I think they paid me 50 cents a week for picking them up at their homes so I made something.
BC: You made a little money there.
LFB: Yeah a little bit. And I suppose gas was - oh I don’t know how much it would have been, 15 cents a gallon or something like that, you suppose. I remember the grocery store Stubb’s. My mother just ordered the groceries on the telephone every morning: “Do you have any nice pork chops?” Or, “What are your carrots like?” or something like that. And they were delivered. It was a home-owned store of-course.
BC: Do you remember getting caught in some of the storms on your way home from school then?
LFB: Not particularly, I remember more about the snow and ice sliding around cause it wasn’t black topped or anything and my friends would say “don’t go so fast, don’t go so fast.” I remember that more so than the dust storms.
LFB: The ice and the snow.
BC: What are some of the storms that you recall back then?
LFB: Well I can remember in grade-school every once in a while it would seem like it was a blizzard and they’d announce that the school was dismissed or cancelled for the day. But I always listened to the radio a lot to get the news and see what was going on. And they used that a lot too if anybody was out in the dust storms, you know you could maybe go to a farmhouse. Now I didn’t ever experience any of that but we heard that and so and so was at a certain house and everything, especially in the ice storms. Course sometimes men would start to go out and go hunting or something and then a storm would roll in and they’d have to get over to some farm and let their family or their relatives or somebody know where they were.
BC: In the beginning you mention you were about 14 when you remember your first dust storm. What was that like?
LFB: Wind and dirt just blowing in you know and tumbleweeds blowing down the street and not a good time to be out at all. I remember some people would wear little masks to protect their nostrils and things if they were going to work; they’d look like a kerchief or something, a scarf tied around their heads. And about that time the junior college was getting organized, our Dodge City one, and so I was planning. I always did know I was going to college. I’d heard that the day I was born. And so they thought that’d be a good thing for me. It wouldn’t cost so much and I enrolled in the Community College right out of High School and eventually into that one down in Emporia getting a degree in Library Science.
LFB: That was a lot, and the trains were good then, not that they aren’t now, but the connections were very good between Dodge and Kansas City. You could leave here in the afternoon, on either the Chief or the Super Chief or El Capitan. Take the train down and stop at Emporia. We did a lot more of that than driving.
BC: Could you share what a train trip was like for a young college girl?
LFB: Oh it was a lot of fun. It was just, it was lots of fun. We’d gone to Colorado a lot too on the train to Colorado Springs, to La Junta, and then I think we had to change and take a different train from La Junta to Colorado Springs and over to Manatu. So I was familiar with trains and looked forward to them. I thought they were a lot of fun. You know you could eat in the diner or take a lunch depending how long you were gonna be in, or sit up all night if you were going on a long distance. When you’re that age you can sit up all night. Doesn’t matter.
BC: Did you ever encounter any dust storms when you were on the train?
LFB: No, I don’t remember any. I don’t remember much about them. I’d just a soon not remember them. I know there are post cards and pictures and there are a lot of humorous post cards you know about the giant jack rabbits and stuff like that. You’ve been to the Heritage Center haven’t you and talked to Noel Ary?
LFB: That’s what I was thinking. You’d probably done all that. We did wear uniforms in high school at St. Mary’s. That is kind of interesting. They’re coming back, you know; they’ve been out of favor for years but they’re coming back again. And it was all right; we had three or four uniforms and a few outfits to wear on Saturday or Sunday; that was about it. You just didn’t need the wardrobe that you do now.
BC: Made it a lot easier.
LFB: Well it did make it easier. It put everybody more or less on the same level. You know, otherwise somebody would come to school with a new sweater or a new hat, you know they wore hat and gloves to church those days and that’s long gone.
BC: So that first dust storm you were in…
LFB: That “Black Sunday” was the worst. And I’m sure it was a Sunday. I remember we’d gone to mass early like we always did and had dinner at home. And was sitting there reading the paper when all of a sudden it got darker and darker and we looked out and turned the lights on of course.
BC: What was that month?
LFB: It was in April. It was a dust storm. The black, was it the “Black Blizzard”? Or something like that.
BC: What do you recall about that day? Some other memories.
LFB: We stayed in and turned on the lights and turned on the radio and that’s about it.
BC: Did they have any report on that? On the radio?
LFB: Oh I suppose they did but I can’t recall anything specific about it. Stay indoors, you know, don’t be driving around or walking around or just don’t know why you’d want to anyway unless it was a necessity or something like the nurses in the hospitals. At that time we had a Catholic hospital, St. Anthony’s. And and we had another, Trinity Hospital, up on 6th. I don’t know whether it was operating then but maybe it would have been in the ‘30’s, pretty far back.
BC: You said that pretty much everybody was on the same level at school. It could have been that he Depression and “The Dust Bowls” had that kind of equalizing effect.
LFB: I think they did. You just didn’t have the money to spend. And then the uniforms, we were all on par I would say. I suppose we had 3 or 4. I don’t remember, it’s been too long ago.
BC: How would people get by in the ‘30’s?
LFB: Well, on relief if they didn’t have anything. They’d go to the welfare and churches or the Salvation Army or somebody that could help. Churches probably would be pretty high, and I imagine we had the Salvation Army. Now I don’t remember just when they were here, but that’s a good place to go if you need a little help right now.
BC: Do you recall many of your friends’ families getting relief?
LFB: Well I suppose so. There’s a certain amount of pride though and you really didn’t notice that too much. I can remember some of the kids in school didn’t have as much as the rest of us did. You know. But I imagine the school - I suppose the nuns would probably report anybody that needed help. I don’t know, I was just fortunate enough we didn’t have that much but I never had that experience.
BC: You don’t recall experiencing the hard times?
LFB: I don’t know anybody who lost their farm or anything. A lot of them did but that wasn’t in my experience. We weren’t farmers. You know at least we had a regular salary and things like that so you weren’t depending so much on the wheat or the beef or anything like that.
BC: How did your family put food on the table?
LFB: Well, because my dad had the elevator and he earned some money and they were just thrifty and that was it. Mom didn’t even work after they were married. She had been a telephone operator. At that time a lot of girls I guess, were telephone operators. She was never a waitress or anything and my dad was a business bookkeeper kind of man.
BC: You said your mother was…
LFB: Well she provided the meals and took care of our clothes and took care of things.
BC: She did it herself.
LFB: Read the sales and used the library you know. Good readers, big readers I guess you would say. That’s a good pastime in case you, if you have a good book you could almost loose yourself completely. We listened to the radio. There were certain programs like ‘Amos and Andy,” and “One Man’s Family,” and “Fiddler and Mike.” You made a point to. Sometimes neighbors would come over and listen too or we’d go over to their home or something like that. That was about the recreation.
BC: So it was inexpensive?
LFB: Yeah it was, it was. If you’d go out to dinner, why then it’d be about 50 cents. We had a good restaurant named Gwinner's at that time. It was down across from where Eckles Main Street is now, and that was a treat to go down there, and the Harvey House - that was another kind of a treat or a special to go down for dinner or even a piece of pie and a cup of coffee after a movie.
BC: So you’d get to do that sometimes or another.
LFB: Have you talked all this over with your mother or maybe your grandmother or somebody like that to get their reaction. It just depends where they lived but Dodge was just a small town, and it was easy, we didn’t drive around a lot then. You could walk anyplace.
BC: So how did the dust storms interfere with some of your normal activities or did the dust storms interfere?
LFB: Well, we stayed in, we weren’t out running around. You know if you had any breathing problems or asthma or anything that would all be active. You felt dusty and grimy and dirty and you just stayed in, stayed home.
BC: Did your dad ever have to come home from work then or was he able to continue even in the bad parts?
LFB: No, I don’t believe so. He might have come home a little early, but I don’t remember him, unless we had a blizzard or a snow storm, you know, or something like that. No, I think he reported to work everyday except Sunday, of course and probably not Saturday. I don’t remember if he worked Saturday or not, probably did though in an elevator. And the coal was delivered, oh a ton of coal or something, and they’d have wagons and a couple of horses pulling it and all that.
BC: So your dad did that for a while?
BC: And then the grain elevator?
LFB: Yes. That’s right he had coal and grain. And, I remember we had gas installed and that was certainly wealthy. I remember before, you had those ashes and had to take them out of your furnace every now and then and get the, keep the fire from going out and trying to bank it at night. Of course we didn’t know a thing about air conditioners - everybody had electric fans, but that, of course the stores weren’t air-conditioned then so it wasn’t, it was just the same way we were.
BC: How’d your mom keep the house clean?
LFB: Well first the windows. We’d put masking tape around the windows, just not open the windows so much. And just blew the dust and vacuum, sweep up, things like that. It was bad. I hope that now the agriculture is under control and we never see those again. Those winds are so maddening anyway. Do you have winds in Oklahoma?
LFB: Sometimes? Yeah, I would think the red dirt would come right up you know. Oklahoma dirt or Texas dirt or something like that.
BC: Do you remember the colors of the dirt, in the dust storms?
LFB: I remember, we really talked about the red dirt, the red dirt coming up from Oklahoma. I don’t know whether it really was or not. I don’t actually remember most of anything like that.
BC: What would some of the other talk be like? Do you remember jokes or stories that people tell about the 30s?
LFB: Well let’s see. The jackrabbits. They’d have rabbit hunts at that time killing those big ones - they weren’t as big as they talked about. They talked about it but I was just never involved in that but I guess they did destroy the crops. You didn’t hear so much about golfers then, or hunting and fishing as you do now. At least I didn’t, so I don’t know.
BC: Do you remember seeing any rabbits?
LFB: Just postcards. No, I don’t, I never really, but I remember the postcards and they were gruesome looking really. It sounded so terrible but maybe they were doing a lot of damage. I don’t know whether they were or not in the gardens. People seemed to think they were. You’ve heard of them.
BC: Yes, different perspectives on them.
LFB: Well it wasn’t in my area of experiences at all. Just reading about it in the paper, something like that.
BC: What was the hardest part of the experience for you?
LFB: Oh, there wasn’t much money to spend. You didn’t do a lot of shopping and when it was time to go to college and pay, my mother said she had so much money and that was it. And I did get a job in the grading departments at the college and Sociology department and made a little money. Whatever the minimum was. I don’t remember. We were allowed to work so many hours a week, and so we didn’t come home a lot. I did join a sorority. We lived in the sorority house and made some real good life time friends. But everybody was about on the same level even down there. You were attracted to people who had just about the same amount of spending money you had. And we didn’t have a car or anything so we walked everyplace.
BC: You went there about 1935?
LFB: I went to the community college first here for two years and then I went down there.
BC: How, how did you manage then? Did you stay home?
LFB: Oh yes, I stayed at home. The college was right - it was at that time - I’m trying to think whether it was in the Board of Education building or was it Senior High? It was upstairs at Senior High and usually nobody else had a car either. But I did drive sometimes in the afternoons if I had any afternoon classes, in that old Essex.
BC: So you, were you working then too?
LFB: No, not then, not until I went to Emporia.
BC: Now you, you mentioned earlier your dad passed-on when you were 16…
LFB: In 1931.
LFB: A kind of pneumonia, I mean they didn’t know all about sulfa drugs and all of that. He died in March. He was in the hospital at St. Anthony’s. He went through that and everything, but they just didn’t know how to handle it.
BC: How’d your mother get by then?
LFB: Well she’d save some money and in her family she had a little interest in some wheat and some farm land, so we had that income coming in. Plus an amount that she’d saved or with my dad, he’d always had put so much money in the bank.
BC: So she was around long after your dad?
LFB: That’s right, she lived to be 92. She lived a long time, yeah. And I had a couple of aunts too, her sisters, one of them worked at Eckles Department store and the other - they lived together - and the other one just kept house.
BC: So the family kind of helped? <
LFB: That’s right, and the Flanagans, they came from St. Louis, so we corresponded by letter and things like that but never had any of them around here to actually help or do anything other than letters.
BC: So did you take on jobs during high school? You mentioned 50 cents for the ride.
LFB: Well there was a lady that had a rooming house in our block, and every Saturday I’d go over there and I’d change five beds and then I’d dust and run the dust mop, and she’d run the vacuum, so I helped her, that was my job, for a quarter.
BC: Rooming houses were common?
LFB: Yes, there were several rooming houses. We didn’t ever have roomers either, but there were several in our area. And this one lady was awfully nice, and it just, it was good training for me actually.
BC: Doing that?
LFB: Yeah, house keeping. Right, but I didn’t ever work during Community College days at all.
BC: Just concentrated on your studies - so you dusted for her at least?
LFB: Yeah we dusted, we did. We dusted over the furniture and made the beds and used the dust mop on the floors, and then she ran the vacuum and she also cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen. I didn’t have any of that type of thing to do.
And then I got a job in 1940 as the librarian assistant, right down here at the Dodge City library for about 10 years. Then the librarian had very bad health, so she resigned and I took over and it was the old Carnegie Library building. That’s where I was. Did you happen to go down Saturday night?
BC: I haven’t been down there.
LFB: Well right now they have a real good display and the elevator’s working. I’m so glad to see that library saved.
BC: That opened back in the early 1900s?
LFB: In 1907, and then in about 1935 the WPA built the west wing on it.
BC: Okay, lets talk about that a little. The WPA, do you remember them much in the community? Do you remember many folks?
LFB: Well I didn’t know anybody that worked for it, but I remember we were really glad when they built the addition on the library, the extension. I know they did a lot of work around, but I can’t tell you. Didn’t they build some things down in the park, maybe the band shell? Yes and other things. There’s a man here that was in the CCC, in the CCC camp.
BC: Civilian Conservation Corps.
LFB: Yeah, I guess that’s it. They did work, I know they worked at the county lake and they did a lot of things for just everything. I can’t tell you all they did. But it was someplace where young men who couldn’t find jobs and didn’t have any special skills really could go to get a job.
BC: Now you went to the Catholic school in grade school? That would have been up through 1931?
LFB: Let’s see - until 1935. I graduated in 1935.
BC: And that was a Catholic school?
BC: When you lost your father in 1931, did you seek help from the church?
LFB: Well, just support from our friends and the nuns. That’s it. You know, we’ve been friends all our lives, friends that went to school together. Then some of the young men went into WWII and some of them didn’t come back. I remember that out of our class. ‘Course they were, that was in grade school, they didn’t go to high school with us. They didn’t go to St. Mary’s. It was just girls.
BC: What was that like? Going to school at St. Mary’s, an all-girls school?
LFB: Oh it was fine. The teachers were all nuns and there was a priest named Father Hernandez there and they put a lot of emphasis on manners and etiquette. And we stood up, and we didn’t chew gum. I really can’t stand gum chewing. That stayed with me all my life, and they did emphasize that. Well, manners really, and being considerate of your friends and we were very respectful to the nuns. They were strict. And we paid attention, did our assignments and behaved really.
BC: So it was a good education?
LFB: It was a good background, yes it was. I remember I went to the Junior College. Now that was fun, course there was boys, young boys too. I remember one of the men teachers were so surprised, there were three of us who were real good friends that we just had the rules of etiquette installed in us. We just sat up straight and paid attention and we didn’t slop around, and didn’t slouch.
BC: You mentioned about the wheat interest.
LFB: Oh, wheat interest. Oh, well, she’d get a percentage of the yield if there was any, every year. It was divided up among Mom and four sisters. But they were young, my uncle cared about, took care of the farming really. He had the man farm it that had all the equipment, so we really didn’t have anything to do with that then. But I do now. We have the best wheat crop we’ve ever had. Everybody’s talking about it. It was amazing. We had the rain at the right time and the snow at the right time. Even the man that farms it tells me it’s the best he’s ever done. So that pleased everybody, even though the price is down but the year was so good. I sell mine immediately. I don’t sit around and keep it in storage.
BC: Try to make more money?
BC: So you have, your family held on to that land all the time, through the Dust Bowl.
LFB: Yeah we paid the taxes and took care of it. I guess I’ve been lucky, when I hear you, when I hear some of the questions you ask. You just think everybody was on the same level, but they weren’t, I can see.
BC: Originally you talked about how the farming changed some.
LFB: Well we didn’t have any houses on the farms. It was just the little land. And it’s dry land farming too. And, let’s see what else would you be interested in. Now they, at that time, they didn’t use fertilizer. Now I don’t know whether that was buyable really but we use lots more fertilizer and spray now and fighting the bindweed and they never did. But it improves the land so I think it’s the way to go, but it’s just in a different view point really and being willing to spend your share for something like that too.
BC: You remember the “Hold on Dear” plan? Do you remember much new population in the community at that time?
LFB: Well the “Grapes of Wrath” - do you remember, the people that went…?
BC: Yeah that was down in…
LFB: Oklahoma, yeah. No it wasn’t here. I’m sure there were some that just couldn’t make their payments, but I didn’t have any close connections with anybody like that. I’m sure they did though, and they probably went to California or, seeking jobs and better things. I was just fortunate.
BC: So you didn’t have any friends who had a shortage?
LFB: No, I didn’t. No, there was just a lot of stability, we all just hung in there, stuck it out.
BC: How did people keep hope alive then, during the ‘30s?
LFB: Well going to church, religion. Not only the Catholics, the Methodists and everybody. If you’re church-going people, why, you had confidence that probably things will get better, and they did. You know, the rains came and we learned to control the dust and the machinery improved so much and we sit around in air-conditioned comfort now. You talk about the “good-ole-days” but it wasn’t so good really. But personally I didn’t ever have any real bad experiences. I mean, of course we stayed in and didn’t do that but everybody else was in the same fix so you didn’t think you were missing anything really.
And then I moved up here in - my husband died in 1985, and I moved about that time. The nuns were starting to build you know and make plans, so I worked hard on the committee that met every Friday over at St Mary’s. You know, soliciting funds, and begging for money to get things - at least two million dollars - started. I knew right then and there that I was going to sell my house which is down on 1st Ave. It was a real nice house, but the whole neighborhood has changed so, so I went on the list and worked hard and had my choice of apartments and chose this apartment because dogs were allowed and moved in the middle of January 1990, right after it opened. Just waited enough to be sure the heating and the electricity and everything was all working and came right in. And I’m glad I did. It was a good deal for me. There’s companionship when you want it, but we respect each other’s privacy in the independent living apartments. It’s nice to eat down in the dining room with others and get a balanced meal and you could always manage a breakfast and a little evening meal, but I just like it very much. Walk a lot everywhere in the evenings if it isn’t too hot; take the dog out for a little walk.
BC: Stepping back into the ‘30s when you were at Emporia, did you correspond with your mother?
LFB: Oh sure, I wrote a lot.
BC: What did you write? What were your letters like?
LFB: What I was doing. What I was doing and how classes were going, and what I liked and didn’t like, and what we were doing. We didn’t do a lot of telephoning at all, but she wrote to me every week and I wrote to her as much as I could. I’ve always written letters - that’s not a problem with me. There was a lot to tell about: The other girls, and what was going on, and new to the house, somebody’s man would drive through or something. And I liked it down at Emporia too. I don’t keep in touch now or go back or anything but, that’s where you’d get your degree in library science. It was recognized by the American Library Association. That’s why I chose Emporia.
BC: To do what you wanted to do.
LFB: Yes, sure, I always liked reading and I like people. I was also thinking about journalism at one time and sociology at another, until I worked one summer at welfare as a volunteer and had to ask so many personal questions I thought “this isn’t for me; I won’t like this.”
BC: When was that?
LFB: Well I was in the Junior College, about ’37.
BC: And what were you doing then?
LFB: Well I was going out interviewing people, driving a little pickup to see whether or not they had enough income and whether they really should be on welfare, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like asking the, you know, the real personal questions. So that was it I decided I didn’t want to do that.
BC: Now that was a government program? What were you giving them questions about?
LFB: Oh, how old they were and what kind of work they’d done and what their income was like and did they have anybody in the family working and where, and all those pretty personal questions.
BC: Was that here in Ford County?
BC: You got a good sense then of what people’s lives were like. What was your general impression?
LFB: Well the ones that were applying for welfare were pretty destitute, pretty sad. You’d want to help them along and say, “would you just fill out these questionnaires and turn ‘em over to the supervisor.” That’s all I did. I didn’t have any decisions to make. I wasn’t even paid for doing it. I was just a volunteer, to see whether or not I did like it.
BC: You decided no?
LFB: I decided that wasn’t for me. No, I still think that was right. You know if you can’t help people. I don’t like to be too involved in things that are too disagreeable.
BC: What was one of the greatest lessons you learned during the Dust Bowl?
LFB: Oh, well, at that time you couldn’t control the elements. You just took whatever happened. You did the best you could and hoped that would be the end of it, and that it would rain soon. I don’t know what else you could do, really, unless you wanted to pack up and move. And I don’t know where it would really be, if it happened. I didn’t ever try that.
BC: Apart from the Dust Bowl, talk about some of your other experiences growing up in Dodge City.
LFB: Oh, I was dying to travel. I did a lot of traveling. I couldn’t hardly wait until I got out of college and worked a little while and had some money and then I wanted to go down to Mexico City, and Acapulco, and Tosco and I did. And then I wanted to go to Europe, and I’ve been back and forth a lot. One of my best friend had a son who was going to language school in Munich and she was teaching in Alaska, in Anchorage, so we agreed to meet, we flew together, to Munich and he met us there. I really like to travel.
In fact, just two years ago I was in London with some ladies and the very day we arrived in the hotel, we’d gone to lunch in their little dining room, and coming down the steps - I was looking for the gift shop, cause the china was so pretty - and I fell over and fractured my hip. So I spent the two weeks in the Chelsea Westminster Hospital and learned a lot and I was with a group of eight ladies, and of course they had to go home. I was really ok after the initial shock and the lady surgeon said, “we have to do surgery” and I said, “Go ahead.” I couldn’t walk, what was I gonna do? I haven’t spent much time in the hospital, and I actually enjoyed it. And, the manager of the hotel came to see me and brought me a bouquet and they were afraid I might sue, you know. And the Salvation Army, I’ve been pretty active in the auxiliary here.
LFB: They told someone from the Chicago office and they sent some kind of fax message and here came a real nice looking young Salvation Army man to see me. And I was so surprised. I was in a ward with five other ladies, which sounds terrible, but they’d all had their knee or hip or ankle surgery. I’d of been lonesome if I’d been all by myself. So he came to see me. We had a good visit and he and his family, his family had visited Dodge, and so a lot of nice things happened. And I rented a little…television with earphones so I could watch all about the mad cow disease, and everything that was going on in England at that time. And actually, it was entirely different than the type of vacation that I was going to have.
BC: Did you travel a lot on the train in the ‘30s? Every now and then to Colorado…
LFB: Yes we did, out to Colorado Springs and Manatu Springs, and then back and forth to Emporia. And then after I’d worked a while, well then I’d take the car and drive out back and forth, in the Plymouth, I think. That was the first car I bought. I saved my money ‘til I got $1000 and then I bought a Plymouth, and I was so proud of that. I always liked to drive, but I don’t like to make long, drawn-out trips. I like to stop.
BC: So you and your mom managed through that time?
LFB: We did, but I had my two aunts too, you know, not living with us, and I had an uncle and his wife.
BC: Did you get together a lot, then?
LFB: Well a lot with my aunts, not too much with my uncle and his wife, but a lot with my aunts. We took them to the grocery store, and out for drives, and over to Great Bend or someplace for Sunday dinner, you know and Garden City, that kind of thing.
BC: Kind of a family drive,
LFB: That’s right.
BC: Do you recall Dodge City’s population, or did it grow since…
LFB: Oh, it was 10,000 or 8,000 to 10,000 for a long time. We used to beat Garden City, but they have out grown us now, but it was after that, that it gradually started to increase, I guess.
BC: After the 1930s?
LFB: Yes, I suppose we were about 8,000 then, I don’t know for sure.
BC: When the Dust Bowl ended, what was people’s reaction and were you back here in Dodge?
LFB: Yeah, I was - I didn’t live in Emporia ‘til after the Dust Bowl, in the early 1940s.
LFB: Or late, late ‘30s. I guess it was ’38 and ’39, the two years. I don’t remember anything, I guess I just don’t remember anything particular about it. I wasn’t really, other than relieved, and I think a lot of people went to church. I think there was a lot of church going, in any denomination.
BC More so than you had been?
LFB: Well I think they just were so glad and thankful, you know, and thank the good Lord for better days and hoping we don’t have any more of those rough ones. I still don’t like to see the wind blow hard, even now, in March like it does sometimes. But I think that the farming methods have come a long ways.
BC: But could that have helped it? Having those years of drought?
LFB: Well I think, yes, I think the way they rest part of the fields, you know. You rest that section and work that section or something and fertilizer and I suppose irrigation, I don’t have any experience with irrigation.
BC: Did your family, I guess our uncle ever change his farming practices some?
LFB: We didn’t ever actually do the farming. We didn’t ever actually do any of the farming - we always had somebody do it.
BC: Owned the land.
LFB: Yeah, owned the land and shared it you know, shared the profits if there were any.
BC: Did the people who were farming it for you change their practices any?
LFB: I think they did, yes. I think the older gentleman turned it over to his nephew, and he changed it much, and now he’s retired too, and I have a younger man who oils some of our equipment and stuff like that, has different approaches, different ideas.
BC: Well that’s pretty much it.
LFB: Alrighty, thank you.