Hard Times

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My dad was born in rural Northwest Louisiana in 1924, growing up during the bleakest of The Great Depression.  Fourth of seven children born to a sharecropper who was barely scratching a living out of the red dirt, life got even harder for the family when his father died, leaving a destitute widow and six children under sixteen with only a mule, a cow, a wagon, a few farming implements, and the clothes on their backs.  The boys took whatever work they could get at neighboring farms, working for their keep, and hopefully bringing a little something home to share, sometimes gone for weeks at a time.  A widow with children in tow finds little welcome among struggling in-laws.  Mettie was an orphan with no one to depend on except her brother, who provided them a place to stay and a garden patch.  She struggled to feed her three girls left at home aged three through ten, doing whatever she could to put something on the table.  They always managed to have a cow, pigs, and chickens.  This and their garden staved off starvation.  In the picture at the center top my dad is the little guy in the bottom center with wet overalls, so he must have been less than three years old.  On the picture left lower, my dad is the youngest with two older brothers and two uncles.  On the lower right, he is pictured with his two brothers and two black children who lived nearby.  He said they played with these kids all the time, and ate many meals at their home.  In the racist culture of the time, it is highly unlikely the favor would have been returned.  If black children had come to a white home for a meal, they’d have eaten on the porch.  I am so glad times have changed.

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35 thoughts on “Hard Times

    • I am so glad you said that. My Grandmother had more than forty grandchildren. Her grandchildren include doctors, lawyers, nurses, military officers, college professors, children of other races and ethnicities. It’s wonderful how the world has changed.

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  1. Thank you for reminding me that we’ve come a long way. Sometimes it’s easier for me to focus on how things haven’t changed enough instead of the improvements. My mother grew up in the segregated South, so my early life was much more diverse than hers, which I’m not sure she was ever truly comfortable with. For my kids, it’s a completely different world; they’ve grown up immersed in diversity and continue to appreciate it.

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  2. It reminds me of when I was attending college and asked my “black friend” to go to the movies…she looked at me and quietly said, “We can’t go to the movies together. You’ll be sitting downstairs and I’ll be in the balconey.” I couldn’t believe she said that….but she was from “The South” and I was from “The North”….I couldn’t believe that that sort of thing was still going on. Makes me sad (and angry) to this very day…….

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  3. Love the old pictures, and the story is all too familiar. Dad born in 1924, his mother raised we first 3 siblings. She was so marred by the Depression, she told us stories and showed us by example how to survive hard times; lessons we never forgot. I have very few photos of the 1920’s, they didn’t want to capture those moments, I guess.

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