The America My Grandparents Knew
by Dana Smith
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The day was pleasant and the drive even more enjoyable. I was allowing my 80 some year old dad to drive me out to the former home of our mother and his wife. This was a farm out in the countryside. Granddad was always a hard worker. Seven days a week from early in the morning, this spry Dutchman would work on his farm.† His was a typical small farm, not at all like the mega spreads today. He also did not have the debt they do, or the expensive farm tractors.
Granddad over his life had three farms. The last farm near the river was the one I became most familiar with. During my teen years I would go to the farm to work and help out granddad. I remember one summer when we were working hard, my cousin who was there that summer said that Granddad would not live much longer. I disagreed. In the summer of that same year, I was to go on vacation with my folks to my other granddad and his cattle ranch in California. Before I was to go, I noticed Granddad needing more help. I asked him if he wanted me to stay, which I would do, letting my folks go on to California. Granddad assured me all was fine and told me to go. Three days in California the news came. Granddad had died. I never saw him again except in a casket. From that day to this, I remember him fondly, his hard work, and duty to what He did.
Life for him was simple. He worked hard, raising animals, farming, irrigating, and harvesting his crops of beets, alfalfa, and other grains. Grandma did most everything else. Together they raised everything they ate and were very independent. They would not understand the life today we live with all its ease and technology. They usually purchased things once a year, those large items, when the farm debt was paid. This was the money borrowed to put crops in the ground and have money to run on. They lived daily making or growing almost everything they ate and wore. In all, their dependence on store bought stuff was minimal. They brought in coffee, sugar, flour and other basics. Besides that, all else was of their own making and production.
As I sat alongside the road looking at the farm, it had changed. The unheated loft where all the kids slept now had an addition on the end. Other buildings dotted the small farm; these were not there when I was a boy. In the winter, the boys slept three to a bed with large quilts and little else. The girls slept in the same room with all in one bed with more quilts. All quilts handmade by grandmother. In those days, we did not have an in-house bathroom. If one were to go to the bathroom at night, a coffee can was provided for the boys to use by the bed. The girls would have to go outside in the dark of night amidst the snow to the outhouse. That is why, at night†no one left their beds. They stayed warm and comfy. In the morning, you would get dressed quick and run downstairs to the kitchen. As you entered the bottom floor, the smell of bacon frying, coffee, and biscuits baking met you. Grandma had been up for a time getting breakfast read. Meanwhile, Granddad was already doing chores. The only heat in the house was now being absorbed by us hungry, heat seeking kids.
I remember the fresh butter, fresh milk, and gooseberry pies. We ate chickens, had turkey once in awhile, and the main red meat was the older mutton. The beef and lamb, along with the turkeys were raised to sell for money. This was the life. As a boy I remember wanting to get back to town and eat real food. Today, as I look back, I long to get back to that country stove, simpler life and real food. Ironic isn't it.
America was simpler then. Church was simpler. Sunday's Gramps and Grandma would head to the Methodist church in town. Holidays we all would have turkey together as a family. Within all this though there were troubles, as with all families. But in the end, we made it through. As I looked on the small farm and farm land around the house, I snapped some pictures.
Time today is not at all like what they knew. They did know tougher leaner times than me. They knew what it was like to freeze in winter, starve in the lean times, while working your knuckles to the bone to barely survive. My mother also grew up in these lean times. My mom is gone now. Her memory, as with her parents whom I came to love are strong. My mom was a writer and self published a couple of books. Grandmother wrote for the local newspaper. Yesterday, my dad gave me a number of scrapbooks. They had grandmotherís old columns and news articles she wrote. They had been snipped out of the paper and glued in magazines she had.
Today, I look back. I write today, as did my mother and grandmother before me. I write because it is a calling. I write because it is in my blood and genes. I write because the Lord has blessed me to do so. I write and warn today. I warn America and the church of what is coming upon this nation. As you go vote today, remember all the people before you. Remember your heritage. Remember their hard work and also the God of all Gods whom they served. Vote and then pray that Gods grace will continue to shine on this nation. Pray that this nation and its churches repent. Pray that sinners seek the Lord and repent as well.
Time is short. I can hear my mother and her mother telling me to write and warn. I can hear the Lord telling me to write and warn. I can still see Granddad on his small Farmall tractor (which look huge to me at the time) out in the fields. Days have gone by, Dad is older now, and mom is gone. Generations pass and new ones take root. Alone on that road were Dad and I. I felt like I was the lone descendent of my Grandfather looking at history past. The generations before me fought their battles.
Today, it is my turn and those of my generation. The battle is intense. It is for the survival of America. The problem is America has been betrayed by politicians and big corporate giants. The America my Grandparents knew is not the America I am living in today. Ethics and life were basic. Work Hard, Fear God and Go to Church, Know youíre an American, Keep your Word, and raise a family. These were the simple rules then. Today, these basic values are hard to find in our society.
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