A CHILD’S MEMORIES OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION

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me in 1960Scan0005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite past times as a young boy on the farm , was when my older sister Mary and I would ride on a horse while feeding it cookies. We were very small at the time and dad’s friend  Mike;  walked along side of us holding the rains to keep the horse from going too fast.   

One memory in particular was the day my dad and some men were neutering a massive hog when it suddenly broke loose and ran away. I watched as they chased the poor hog until it finally fell over from the pain and exhaustion.

There were times my brother Domenic and I hid behind trees and covered our ears from the loud  noise caused by the dynamite dad  used to clear tree stumps from the field.  After he removed the stumps, he plowed the field and planted corn. Dom and I often walked alongside him and carried water for the horses.

On many occasions, Dom and I would walk barefooted through the fields searching for dandelions which mom used to make salads. One day as we walked, Dom saw a dandelion near my foot,and reached down to dig it out with a large knife he was carrying; he missed the dandelion and accidentally cut my big toe. Domenic became frightened and when he saw the blood, he grabbed my arm and rushed me home; we both caught the dickens from mom that day.

Dom was two years older than I and we were very close.—-  We were always doing chores around the farm, dad milked several cows each day and when the large milk cans were full; Dom and I would carry them down the long driveway to the highway. We often sat in the grass on hot summer days waiting for the dairy truck to arrive and pick up the milk cans.

In Easter Sunday morning in 1936, dad and I went to the barn as we usually did each morning, when we arrived, a friend of his was waiting in his car to pick up a lamb that dad had promised him.   Lamb was a special meal during the holidays, It was a tradition many immigrants brought with them when arriving in America.  When dad handed the lamb over to his friend, I began to cry, dad somewhat surprised; looked at me and without hesitation, picked me up and hugged me.

It took him a moment to realize, that the lamb had become my pet, and that I had watched him grow from birth. Dad’s friend, seeing me cry reached over and pinched me on the cheek, he then gave me a half dollar, got into his car and drove off with my pet lamb. I continued to cry as Dad and I walked back to the house. I knew dad felt bad about giving the lamb to his friend but being a noble person, he kept his promise. He was a proud man and knew I would eventually forget the sad event.

  I was playing in the yard one day when I saw dad enter the barn to milk our cow, all of a sudden our dog who been sleeping there, burst out of the door running and yelping. Close behind him was dad with a pitchfork in his hand swearing and yelling in his typical Italian fashion. I couldn’t understand why knowing the dog was our pet, however, dad had his reasons; he often mentioned to mom that the our cow was not producing milk as it should even though it had plenty to eat.

Dad finally realized why when he caught the dog sucking milk from the cow’s breasts. He became so infuriated; he hit the dog with the handle of a pitchfork and began chasing him. Luckily, the dog was a lot faster than dad or dad would have killed him.   A day later I saw dad petting and walking with the dog, I’m sure he realized it didn’t know any better and forgave the poor animal.      

As young children, we spent all our time close to home playing games or helping our mother. We did chores such as feeding the animals and working in the garden.   Mom also bottled homemade root beer and gave me the job pressing the caps on the bottles. Being too young for school, I helped to watch my younger brother Anthony and Sister Catherine.

 One summer afternoon, while sitting in the yard with baby brother Tony, a farmer who lived nearby, came driving up in his car and screamed form the top of his lungs “Tommy take the baby and go into the house, Hurry, Hurry!!. “Mother, hearing the load voice; came out and asked him what was wrong? He said” Chicken Hawks were flying over the area; they were big enough to pick up a small baby”

The hawks were very large and could see from a great distance while flying. They hunted their prey by diving down and snatching them with their large claws. He mentioned,  he saw them take one of his chickens.   Mom thanked him and immediately took us into the house. That was a  great lesson we learned while living on a farm.Is it possible this has happened to babies thought to have been kidnapped.?

I have many memories of my childhood but none as sad as the day my dad passed away leaving mother with seven children, the loss of our family farm and that cold winter day I saw my cousin run over by a truck loaded with steel,while sled riding.


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