- Posted October 8, 2008 by
lake Charles, Louisiana
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The Great Depression
Living in a barn
My dad, Bob Holland, was born at the height of the depression, in 1933. His dad, Orville, was a printer in the midwest. After years of poor harvests coupled with the dismal economy, my grandfather could no longer support a family of five when there was just no printing work left in his small town.
The Hollands loaded up whatever they could pack, and set off in a Ford Model T to find work. At some point during the journey, the car broke down, literally in the middle of no where. The family picked what they could carry out of the car and began walking - never to see their car or their belongings again.
They came upon a farm worked by a Native American family. The Hollands were allowed to sleep in the barn with the animals in the hay, milk the cow and pick vegitables from the garden. Leaving his wife, infant son and two daughters, my grandfather continued his walk for work.
During his absence, my grandmother cleaned laundry in a huge iron pot over an open fire. When some long-forgotten illness restricted her ability to walk, she dragged herself through the garden on her elbows to gather food for her children.
In those days, telephone were few and far between across the Great Plains, and months elapsed with no word or money from my grandfather. The coming winter was a serious concern as they considered the threat of living in the unheated barn.
As fall approached, the story continues that my grandfather returned in a borrowed car. He had walked, hitchhiked and ridden the rails until he secured a job, saving every penny to finally rent a place for his family.
As the depression gave way to World War II, business picked up and my dad's family slowly raised their standard of living such that my dad eventually graduated from college and raised his own family.
In the late 1980's my grandmother peacefully passed away. As her childen were preparing her tiny house for sale, they discovered her bed sheets were literally patches upon patches. However, in her top dresser drawer were pristine, unused sheets yet to be removed from their packaging. According to the sales receipt, the new sheets were at least 10 years old. Obviously to her, the sheets on her bed still had enough useful life that she hesitated to splurge by treating herself to the replacements.
Photograph: Bob Holland of Lake Charles, La. with wife Nancy on the occasion of their wedding in 2007.