Volume VI, No. 3, Spring 1979




IT'S A FASTER WORLD ALL THE WAY AROUND

A VISIT WITH HOMER MASSEY

Edited and photos by Vickie Massey, Old photos courtesy H. L. Massey


Homer Massey, my grandfather, has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I always took it for granted that I knew him very well. But when I asked him to share his life with me for a BITTERSWEET story I realized there was a lot I didn't know about his life. On our first visit he said, "What do you want me to say?" "Start at the beginning," I said.

I don't know where or when I was born. I was there, but I can't remember anything, but I'm satisfied I was there. I tell people I am like Abe Lincoln. I was born in a log cabin and still live in a house that was built before the Civil War. I was born near Orla, Missouri, on September 5, 1907. Georgia Beard Massey and Walter Massey were my parents. Large families were necessary, and it was essential for the children to cooperate because they were together so much of the time. In my grandfather's family there were five children, each assigned specific duties.

Arthur and I worked together all the time but Ralph was younger. Isabell and Gladys was both girls. Gladys never did work out much and helped Mother a lot. Isabell was a tomboy. She was everywhere doing nothing.

We had to raise our own living then, and nearly everybody would have a milk cow or two milk cows and make a big garden and have a bunch of chickens. Everybody in our family had a flock of chickens. We milked several cows but we did it different then than now. We didn't have what you'd call dairy cows. They were shorthorn--red polled cows and something like that. Most people wouldn't have no big dairy herd but they'd milk all the way from seven to eight to a dozen cows. They'd let the calf nurse, depending on how hard up they were, enough until the cow would give the milk down. They'd milk that, separate it, feeding the milk to the pigs. We either sold butter or sold cream--sour cream.

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One of the big things they had back then was a bunch of turkeys to pay the taxes with. A forty acre farm would have three or four turkey hens and raise twenty-five or forty turkeys.

I went to grade school at a rural school known as Stony Point, and it lived up to its name. At Stony Point there wasn't any outhouses. It was on top of a hill. The girls went down on one side of the hill and the boys went down on the other. We never peeked--we got shot for that. Well water was what we drank. We drawed it up with a bucket and a rope. When I first started school one dipper did for everyone, and then they got particular and in three or four years everybody had to have his own drinking cup. They had these little folding cups then, and we'd dip it out with the dipper and pour it out in a cup so everyone wouldn't be drinking out of the same dipper.

We took our lunches. Our mothers would fix them. Later it got where we could buy lunch pails, but then it would either be a gallon syrup bucket or a zinc bucket. Mother'd put a paper down in it and the lunch down in it and put a dish cloth over the top of it. Most all of the lunches was fat meat and biscuits and a glass with butter and molasses in it, and you'd stir them up.

Ed Simpson owned the land where the school was located. The school property was fenced off with a rail fence but it rotted down. His hogs--he didn't feed them too good--learned that the kids would throw scraps and things out up there. Once in a while the kids would come to school, and the others would be playing ball or something. They'd be in a hurry when they got there to get into the ball game, and they'd set their lunch down there under some big hickory trees close to home plate. Once in a while when somebody'd set their dinner down there, Ed's old sows would get it and eat it up. Kids was pretty good, they'd chip in and all of them eat together. They'd spread the dish cloth out and everybody'd eat what they had.

All the year till frost everybody went barefooted to school. We just had two pair of shoes a year. Get a pair in the winter and then in the spring of the year when they got kinda ragged we got a pair of what they called Sunday shoes to wear through the summer.

I don't ever remember my dad taking us to school the whole eight years I went and we had a mile and a half and a river to cross. It was hard to cross the river in the winter the first three or four years up until 1915. The first three years I went to school we had a foot log that we had to walk. It was a big sycamore log hooked to another tree on the other side with a log chain. They had a 2 by 4 up on the side of it and a cable run through them so we could walk that log. Once in a while one of us would slip off of it. I remember falling off of it into the river one winter and it was real cold, too. But it was over a riffle so the water wasn't too deep. In '15 they built a swinging foot bridge. It landed on top of a bluff on one side and had high posts on the other end. Two big cables held the welded wire sides and a bottom. There were boards on the bottom to walk across on.

The Easter of 1911 Homer enjoyed the last snowball of the season (in his right hand). He didn't get his first long pants until he began high school.

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"For thirty-five years teaching was my vocation and farming was my avocation. Now it's strictly farming," said Homer Massey.

His first teaching assignment was his home school. Included in his school were his sisters and cousins.

Poised with his wife, Lovenna, in 1940.

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Many times the roads would be muddy and bad. As far as we lived from town [seventeen miles] in the winter time Dad and Mom would come into town at Christmas to do Christmas shopping and pay taxes, and they may not be back in Lebanon until way in the spring. In the wintertime when people would go to town to keep their feet warm some would take their dog and tie him in the wagon. Then they'd put a quilt around him and their feet. Others would use heated rocks in the wagon to keep their feet warm. When I was a kid our family never went to town more than three or four times a year. As a kid, I probably never went to town but once a year. My parents had to buy salt and some of the supplies we'd need that the rural store didn't carry. It'd all come in barrels. The rural store didn't carry a very big inventory--just the necessities of life--rope, pulleys and buckets and everyday clothing. There wasn't a big variety of that. When they went to town, they'd take maybe a load of wheat in to sell, but a lot of people took their own wheat to the mill to make flour. We had those little old grist mills out in the county. They would have a post office at every one. All the flour mills were located on the streams where they had water power.

The men wore overalls and blue denim jumper for jackets. The women would probably knit a wool sweater to go under it. I remember when I was a kid at home mother knit all of our socks and gloves and all of our sweaters. All the women wore a great big long dress that came down to their ankles. It was usually heavy cloth. They had calico, gingham and cotton cloth they made their dresses from. Always a split bonnet in the summer to keep the sun off to keep them from getting sunburned. It would have been a disgrace for a woman to have been out in a pair of pants.

Of course, most of the time your transportation was pretty well horseback or buggy. Lots of women rode horseback but they rode a side saddle. They had the old time fox trotting horses. All the better farmers had two things--a good stock dog and a traveling horse. There were horses that could carry a forty pound saddle and a 200 pound man ten hours a day on any kind of road.

In the fall of the year all of the better farmers would have a set of ice shoes set up for their saddle horse and usually a set for one team. If there came a big ice, then they could drive them and get around. The shoes were just like the common horseshoe only where the toe turns down they'd make it longer and sharpen it. The blacksmith would heat it and beat it out to a point. All the horseshoes were made different than they are now. They had a heavy cork and a heavy toe on them. The men that rode regular usually shod those horses and in three or four weeks, they'd have them reset and let them wear them another three or four weeks before they had to have a new set on them. But six to eight weeks was about as long as them "using" horseshoes would last.

We worked hard but we had fun too. We hunted and fished, played baseball. In the summertime baseball and swimming, and there would be areas there at the river or creek or ponds and we'd gather there and swim. Baseball was one of the biggest athletic games.

I used to hunt and fish an awful lot. Back in the early days we didn't have any game laws though we did have hunting and trapping seasons. In fishing, anything was legal back in the thirties all the time. Trapping was the way the kids got their spending money. They'd set rabbit gums. There were times, some of the better times, in cold weather, when those rabbits would bring about a quarter apiece, but most of the time they were about a nickel or a dime. We had a world of rabbits. It wasn't anything to have fifteen or twenty rabbit gums and catch eight or ten rabbits overnight in them. Mink and muskrat fur was high. The first mink I ever caught in a trap was about 1918. Dad shipped this mink hide in a bundle of furs he and Uncle Arnett had, and the pelt brought forty dollars--almost the value of two cows! That was the biggest mink I have ever seen in my life.

Homer (left) and his younger brother, Arthur, seriously pose for a picture.

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Homer's family in 1915 were (from left) Arthur, his father Walter, Ralph, Gladys, his mother Georgia and Homer.

Swimming provided recreation as well as a way to cool off in the summer. Homer is the swimmer on the far right.

They'd have parties and lots of square dances. Some of those boys could really dance a tune, too. I didn't think there was a joint left in them. They'd have house raisings and husking bees. That was where they'd get in and help someone build a new house and they'd help a guy get his shock fodder out.

People would get together in revivals, too. Morgan church was Baptist and Fairview was Methodist. They'd have their big revivals and instead of being a week like they are now, they'd run two or three weeks, and they'd have church usually in the morning and then at night--two sermons a day. They usually got a pretty good turnout.

They'd have a few annual picnics that'd last for a week. It was kind of a homecoming for people who had left home. They'd come home for that annual picnic and some of them would even take wagons and tents and stay around the picnic a week at a time and camp and cook. They called them celebrations. Stoutland would have one, Lebanon would have one. Bennett Spring would have one.

At the celebrations there was lots of drinking and fighting. If people had a grudge there's where they always went to settle them. I remember a picnic at Smittle Cave on the Fourth of July. That morning Dad was binding oats and we got through about ten thirty or eleven. Mom got an early dinner. I saddled my horse up and when I rode up, I never got off my horse. I must have sat there on him for forty-five minutes--the reason I stayed on him was because the crowds was ganged up. I watched four fights before I ever got off and tied my horse up. I said they would fight to settle an old grudge. If some feller's hogs had been eating your corn up and you hadn't fixed your fence, you got on to him because his hogs eat your corn up. Whichever was the best man whipped the other one.

Back in the '20's they began to get radios. When I graduated from high school, we had to have head phones to listen to one. Uncle Arnett got the first radio I can remember. That was before we got electricity--it run off a battery. He got it in the fall, and that winter every Saturday night it was about like going to a big picture show. Everybody gathered in his house to listen to the radio. They'd sit around and drink black coffee and smoke home-grown tobacco. It would get so thick that you couldn't cut the smoke or breathe either. Never heard tell of cigarettes then. Everybody would go.

Although crime existed, the reasons for it and the types were very different from those of today. Many people marked their property very well, or locked it up to prevent temptation.

Nearly everything had a mark or a brand on it--hogs and cattle both. Back then when they had free range you had to fence against the stock. If you put out a corn crop and somebody's hogs started getting in it, it was your responsibility to fence his hogs out instead of him taking care of them. In the spring of the year a lot of people would brand their cattle and put a bell on two or three old gentle ones. Then they'd just turn them out in the woods and let them go. Maybe there'd be some big spring or river or a natural pond--they didn't have ponds for them to go to water then. Wherever they were getting water, the owner would go over and put out salt. Sometimes they'd turn them out and never see them anymore either. Stealing would be as bad as it would be now. People more or less knew everybody's brand. When they gathered these cattle up in the fall come feed time, it'd maybe be six or seven miles from home, but if one of my cows or one of my steers was over in someone else's area, they'd lot it and call me and tell me.

Dad had a saddle horse one time with a crooked foot that had to have the toe on his shoe turned a special way. One of the neighbors in the spring of the year who had two cows and a jenny came over to borrow Dad's horse to go see his sister, who was supposed to be bad sick. There was an old house on top of the hill where the hired hands used to live. Dad had filled it with baled hay to feed a few cows up there. So when he went up there the next morning to feed these cows, he noticed some hay missing. So he got to looking, and there was this horse's track down the old road back up the ridge. He tracked him plumb back there to see where his hay went--he had that odd shoe, you know. Mom used to kid him about loaning this man a horse to haul off his hay.

'Course stealing in that day and time was different than now. Now they'll steal automobiles and gas and other parts of cars, but back then the biggest things they stole was either chickens or meat or grain. If you stole any kind of chicken after dark it was a penitentiary offense. I forget how many chickens you had to get in daylight before it was a penitentiary offense! What made meat such a terrible thing was we had to butcher all our meat in the winter time and cure it, enough to run till the next winter. Lots of families, especially in what you might term the poorer families, wouldn't have hogs enough to run them till the next year. Nearly everyone had a lock on his smoke-house. If they couldn't get that then they'd steal chickens. If they had some chickens or a sow and some pigs and nothing to feed them, they'd steal grain to feed them.

Youngsters were given much responsibility at young ages. My uncle Arthur and grandfather shared a lucrative hog business when they were still quite young.

It was in 1916 when Grandpa Massey gave me a registered Poland China gilt, and I haven't been out of hogs since. There have been two different times when the cholera got me down to where I just had one old sow live through it. At that time he gave me one and Arthur one. The first litter of hogs I raised I took to Morgan and sold to Fred Indermuehle who was a shipper out of Morgan to St. Louis. I believe it was ten pigs I raised, and since we did the milking Dad gave us the milk to feed to our hogs. We sold them to Fred for twelve cents a pound, but they brought us almost two hundred dollars. We thought we was rich as Jews, then!

Back down this side of Morgan about a mile and a half there was an old man by the name of Frank Smith. On our way there we saw an awful pretty white sow and eight pretty pigs. We talked about buying them. On the way home we asked Frank what he would take, and he said a hundred dollars. So we bought her and the pigs. The other sow hadn't farrowed yet, and since we were milking the cows, we had plenty to feed her with, but when the other sow farrowed, we didn't have enough to feed all of them. Dad told us, "By jove, you boys are getting so many hogs around here you're going to have to buy your feed." We done a lot of slopping. We went to buying shorts and mixed them with the milk. When we got ready to sell them hogs, both litters, the hog market kind of broke. We got just about two-thirds as much a head on them as the others had. Both litters brought about three hundred dollars where that other litter had brought us around two hundred dollars. We didn't get rich quite so fast in the hog business once we had to go to buying shorts.

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To live then everyone pitched in and helped one another with necessary chores. Be it the family or the neighborhood, the tasks had to be done so they wouldn't starve. The work may have been a little hard and tedious, but once winter hit, no one regretted their varied summer or fall labors. According to Grandpa, no one who put forth an effort to survive ever starved--his neighbors wouldn't let him.

In the fall of the year when we'd butcher a beef, there was no way to keep it, and so then we'd go out and peddle it out among the neighborhood before it would spoil. Some would butcher a hog in the summertime. They called that pickling it. They'd cut up the meat and put it in fifteen or twenty gallon stone jars full of real hot brine. That's about the only way to keep it. Before they got ready to use it, they would have to soak the meat to take the brine off.

We raised all our beans. We used to pick them in a sack and keep them around the house. Us kids would play with the sacks of beans and that would wear a lot of them out of the hull. They lay around for two months there until they were wallered out of the hulls. Then we'd take them outside on a real windy day and throw that sack up to let the beans out and the hulls would blow out. Then we'd pick the beans up. We didn't have gunny sacks. They were nearly all big cotton sacks--heavy cloth--even heavier than denim. They called them grain sacks, and they'd hold two to three bushel. It would be nothing for a family to have two of them big grain sacks full of dried beans.

We also raised our potatoes. A lot of people didn't have cellars or anything to keep them in, so they buried them. They buried apples and cabbage. They'd dig a trench and poke the cabbage down and leave the root sticking out and cover it with dirt. Apples would be put down in a pile of straw. Take maybe a half a load of apples and start dumping them in a pile. When they got what apples they had to go in one pile, they'd cover that with straw real deep and then they'd cover all that with dirt maybe six or eight inches deep. Then they'd set a shock of fodder around that dirt. In the winter when we got ready for a bucket of apples, we'd dig a hole in to where these apples were and run our arm back in there and get a bucket of apples, or potatoes, the same way. We had dried peaches and dried apples besides what we'd can.

Dad used to have a big cane patch, but the neighbors would come in when it was time to strip it to make cane molasses. They'd maybe come and work all week stripping cane for a gallon of molasses a day. They used it for sugar to make cookies, cakes, candy. One of the parities we had was to have a molasses candy pull.

A lot of people raised tobacco. Dad raised a tobacco patch nearly every year. He didn't even use tobacco but he'd sell it.

A big percent of the corn was shocked back then because they had to have the fodder for roughage to get the stock through the winter. It would take us all winter to get it out because when it was warm and dry, we couldn't handle it because all the leaves would break off. It needed to be in case [tough]--froze or damp. Old man Schneider, a German, said that was the worst trouble with the people in the Ozarks--they'd work all fall to get their fodder cut and put in a shock and they wore the fodder out getting the corn off to save it for the winter! He just fed his stock the whole stalk, grain and all, to save time and labor.

Wheat was drilled like it is today, only the equipment was a durn sight smaller. In that day and time there was more wheat growing than there is now. Once in a while there would be some old-timer who would cut some with a cradle, but most of them had binders that would tie it in bundles and then they'd shock it. Actually we drilled more wheat back then than they do now because it took less labor than corn. The demand for wheat for flour for human consumption was more. The yield wasn't very high, averaging ten or fifteen bushels an acre.

Perhaps the most dramatic change in people's lives was the coming of the automobile. Grandpa still remembers the first ride he shared with Arthur and his cousin Emmitt.

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Bill Randolph bought the first car I ever rode in, a brand new Overland. Bill come over to get Dad--he was the community veterinarian--to vaccinate some hogs. It was only a mile and a quarter. Arthur, Emmitt and I--that's the first we'd rode in a car. Oh golly, we thought we were flying! There wasn't no place we could make over twelve or fifteen miles an hour. In fact, the first time I ever rode sixty miles an hour was when they hard-surfaced Highway 66 in Webster County. Laclede County wasn't even hard-surfaced then.

Attending high school was difficult for rural kids. Often they simply moved to Lebanon and went home when it was possible. Such was my grandfather's lot.

There was only fifty-four in our graduating class. Half of them were residents of Lebanon. There were only about twenty-seven or twenty-eight of us rural kids. Some would work for their room. All four years I went to school I shared a room and we done our own cooking. I believe we had to pay four dollars a month. We had to do our own laundry, too, if we couldn't get back home. They just furnished a room. We even had to furnish our own furniture, our bed and stove, table and chairs, a work table. Anyhow there was four upstairs rooms and there were eight of us boys up there. Each pair lived in their own room with a separate kitchen, with a gas stove. All the electrical equipment we had was just the lights. No electric skillets or coffee pots or anything like that. We'd take the majority of our food from home. In the wintertime the roads would get bad, and sometimes we wouldn't even get to go home for three weeks. There were times when it would be two or three weeks--I'd run out of money and groceries both and walk home. There were several of us from our neighborhood in high school, so someone from home would manage some way to take us back in to school. If just one of us got back home, he took back groceries for all of us.

To pay for their room and board most students had to have a part-time job. The first three years I worked in the school library. We had to pay our own tuition then. At that time it was four dollars a month. The class day had eight, forty-five minute periods. Ordinarily we only had four courses and were supposed to have four study periods. Most of the time there were four of us working in the library and we worked two periods a day for our tuition. I also worked at Roy Davises, a grocery store where I delivered. The better grocery stores that day and time nearly all delivered groceries there in town. Roy had a hack and a pair of little western gray ponies. I'd work on Saturdays and after school. At that time I knew where about everybody in Lebanon lived.

Another job I had with the school--we'd take chalk dust--I don't know what it was, a white powder--and stir it up with water. We'd go up town and paint the sidewalks instead of putting out pamphlets like they do now. We'd paint signs on the walks at crossings--Lebanon versus Crocker in basketball or baseball or whatever activity it was.

Grandpa took a test to qualify him to teach after graduation from high school and a summer of college. He continued teaching for several years before he had any more college.

"All the athletics we had was baseball, basketball, and track. In this picture (taken in 1926) I weighed 216 pounds. That ' s the most I ever weighed."

[41]

I taught my first school at Stony Point--sixty-five dollars a month and I done the janitorial work. When school started I was eighteen and taught six or eight that were up, I'd say twenty or twenty-one. The older ones would come back to school--they wouldn't take what you'd call a full course. The only thing the boys studied was mathematics. We had one of the old-time math books called Milnies Math. There were two books of it, a lower grade and an upper grade. The upper grade started back with about what children nowadays would do in their seventh grade, and it'd go plum through high school--geometry, trigonometry and so on. Probably not as deep and detailed as it is now, but it covered all the fundamentals. Most of those kids would come only until they finished the book. A lot of times they'd start when school started and maybe they'd get through it in three or four months. Then they'd drop out. The rural school was much larger than what they are now because there were so many people in the rural area. I taught both my sisters, Gladys and Isabell. I had all three of my own children--Robert, J. W. and Thelma. Your dad [Don] went to half of his school with his mother. They were just the same as the others. They weren't any more problems.

I taught school long enough to have three generations of four families. In thirty-five years I only had two parents come on me because of their children. When they came to make their complaints, I told them I had a certificate to teach school and I had a contract to teach that school, and if they were going to teach it, for them to get a certificate and a contract and they could have the job. I was never bothered with either one of them anymore. For thirty-five years school teaching was my vocation and farming was my avocation. Now then it is strictly farming.

I got married in 1928 to Lovenna Davis, a neighbor girl. In the meantime while I was teaching rural schools, the Thirties Depression hit. I was teaching school and the last year I taught I was supposed to get eighty-five dollars a month, but I only got thirty because people couldn't pay their taxes. I got the warrants, but I never could get them cashed because they couldn't pay the next year's money out on back debts. They had to keep it to operate on. Since they didn't get enough money that year to pay it, I lost it.

In the meantime then they started the WPA--Works Progress Administration--and I worked almost two years as a bridge and culvert supervisor. WPA was a welfare program. Anyone that couldn't get work and had a family could qualify for it. Even if you were disabled, though, you had to report to the job. You might not be able to work, but you reported and sat there that day if you wasn't able to work. You could work thirty hours a week, and got thirty-five cents an hour, and it was ten hour days. The Depression really started in '30, but it got real rough in '32,'33 and '34. Corn was to twenty-five cents a bushel, but nobody had a quarter to buy it with. We could buy a pair of Big Smith or the more expensive Carharts overalls--and them was the ones that the farmers dressed up in--sixty-five cents a pair. Bran even got as cheap as ten cents a hundred. And then when the drought hit in '34, we couldn't give hogs or anything like that away. The government bought from yearling cattle on up, and paid eight dollars a head for yearlings. They paid twenty dollars a head for top cows and mature bulls, but if they had any blemishes, like a cow with a spoiled quarter, why they took off five dollars a quarter for it.

Homer and Lovenna with their young family, Thelma, Don, J. W. and Robert in 1944.

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Back then you could hire a man out on the farm for seventy-five cents to a dollar a day. In fact, right in the hard part of the Depression before they got their WPA started, you could hire all the men that you could pay for fifty cents a day--work a ten hour day or better for a nickel an hour. Now, they wouldn't get up out of a chair for what they drawed for a day's work then.

Money was scarce and hard to get a hold of. People simply walked off and left their farms or turned them over to loan companies. Of course, loan companies were different then. Most of them were either individuals or the banks. We didn't have FHA and a lot of these other Federal agencies to loan money or to help people out. I'd say at least a third of the farms were turned over to the people that had the loan on them.

The banks was in bad shape. A big percent even went broke, for people just turned their property over to them--cattle, hogs, land and whatever they had that the mortgage was on. The first farm I owned I bought it off of the bank. I tried to deed it back to them for five years, but they wouldn't take it. In fact, in '35 and '36 I couldn't even pay the taxes. The bank even paid the taxes for me. Course, I had to pay them back, a few years after that when I got money enough to pay it. With the taxes and the interest there for three years, I made them a note, and the bank didn't even charge me interest on that interest till after I got the farm paid for.

Prosperity came slowly after the Depression. My father, Don, born in 1936 still remembers when electricity came. "We had a forty-five watt bulb that hung down in the middle of the room. We'd never seen that much light!"

We got our electricity in '41 at home. They got it in some areas earlier. I swapped four cases of eggs for an electric washing machine. I was teaching school at Santiago which is on that Con-way road the other side of Morgan. We were selling hatching eggs and had to deliver them to Springfield. There were several hatching flocks in that area there, and we all took them to Morgan Store and Coy Lindsay took them on in to the hatchery in Springfield. We got our electricity in June or July and along about October one week I had four cases of hatching eggs. I took them that morning and left them as I went to school, and as I come back home from school that afternoon, Coy had just got back from Springfield with six electric washing machines. I picked my empty egg cases up off of his truck and I went in the store. I said, "I've got my egg cases but I'd like to have the money out of my eggs."

"For eleven weeks in 1951 I had both arms in casts."

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And Coy said, "No, don't give him any money, I'm going to send Lovenna a washing machine."

I said, "Aw, she don't need a washing machine."

Coy said, "Don't pay him!" He had two boys unloading his truck and he told them, "Set one of those washing machines over in his pickup."

So that's four cases of eggs for an electric washing machine. Eggs were probably worth thirty cents a dozen, thirty dozen in a case. That would be about thirty-five dollars for a washing machine.

World War II lessened the amount of commodities Americans could purchase by rationing some of them. People of the rural Ozarks grew many of their own necessities, but not all.

In World War II everything was rationed in the beginning like bread stuff, meat, sugar and shoes. Everyone got the same amount of stamps. I've still got my stamp books, some of them. That was when my kids were little, but the only things that bothered us was the sugar and shoes. We had our own hogs and flour and corn meal and stuff.

We had to have the stamp before merchants could sell. Some people built up black markets in meat. It wasn't so bad in this area because everyone had a farmer friend, and they'd just go out and buy a hog and butcher it there. It was illegal.

But with people like me with four kids, shoes were hard to keep on them. They'd wear them out faster than the stamps would last. There'd be older people who didn't use their stamps and they'd give you one to buy a pair of shoes. A lot of people were the same way with the sugar. They'd have bees or make molasses and use it to sweeten with to make molasses cakes and cookies, so they'd have extra stamps.

Accidents do happen and it seems to me that Grandpa has had his share. A broken leg in 1916, a broken ankle in 1926, a broken arm in 1928 and then...

In July of 1952 I got my left arm in a field chopper and got it chopped up. A belt caught my shirt sleeve and pulled it in. I carried it in a cast for over two years and had three major operations on it. Then in December of '52 while I still had this one in a cast, a cow kicked me and broke my right arm. For eleven weeks I had them both in casts. The boys just took care of the farm--we didn't have no hired hand. They was just kids, but they took care of it. That winter I couldn't do anything.

Grandpa always seemed to me even as a child to possess unlimited energy and vigor in spite of anything that came his way. In 1972 my grandmother, Lovenna Davis Massey, died suddenly while Grandpa was hospitalized for a broken hip. In spite of the severe loss and the lengthy recovery, he returned home and began "batching." Grandpa has lived through many changes during his life, but he hasn't let any of them change him.

No other generation will see such improvements or changes as my generation has lived through. We went from the horse and buggy days to the moon. When I was young seven or eight miles an hour was a fast speed to get somewhere. I guess they go up in the thousands of miles per hour in those rockets.

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Copyright 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.


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