From time to time I have written bits and pieces about segments of my life. Today, I started to write more stories about The Great Depression of the 1930s but decided I should write about a time before the crash of 1929, from stories my mother told.
My mother was without a doubt the most interesting woman I have ever known. She was extremely intelligent, without very much formal schooling. And despite the hardships she endured growing up she always seem to have this regal presence about her.
Both my parents were born in the Piedmont plateau below the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Georgia. My mother was a great story teller and growing up I have heard her repeat stories of her years from childhood, more times than I can recall.
My grandparents, both paternal and maternal were landowners and farmers. My great-grandparents were also farmers. However my great grandfather on my paternal side fought in the Civil War And I at one time lived in a house he built after the Civil War.
Because my parents were young, 18 years old when I was born, I grew up around grandparents, a lot of aunts and uncles, and remember one great-grandmother who lived with us.
In the early part of the twentieth century, more attention was paid to class in families than today. Out pictured in attitudes more than anything else. In other words the reputation in my family was that my father came from a better class than my mother. His family was better educated, with workers on the farm who did the labor. Domestic labor as well as working the crops on the farm.The land was dotted with these little shack house where the black workers lived.
My mother, on the other hand, grew up with a father and grandfather, who were landholders, but she had to work very hard in the fields as a child. She told stories of working from daylight to dark doing a man’s work in the fields, and taking care of animals, only going to school part-time through eighth grade.
Her father had a drinking problem and was quite mean to his children. As I grew up I heard all these tales about the things he did. Once when my mother was in the yard feeding chickens, on a drunken spree he shot a chicken and the shot went between her legs and killed the chicken. Another time he was shooting wildly and a woman across the road was nursing her baby on the porch and her breast was filled with buckshot.
Another time he was drunk, riding in a buggy, cursing the horse and kicked his leg through the buggy wheel spokes, which broke his leg in several places. And many such tales which fascinated me as a child when I heard them
Everyone was afraid of him. The farm workers and his children were forced to do extremely hard labor. Despite the fact he had money land and power, his children grew up being denied much in life except bare necessities. His father was very wealthy, and a large land holder in the region.
However, when my grandfather reached 40 years old he stopped drinking completely and became a changed man. Therefore my growing up around him, I saw a different person. A very charming charismatic person and I loved visiting him and my grandmother in the large house they lived in and being with my aunts and uncles. Some were older than I, some my age, and some younger.
Going back another generation to his father, my maternal great-grand-father was the most un-usual charactor in my ancestry. He was very wealthy with a lot of land and gold.
Just after I was born he divorced my grandmother. I have the divorce papers, and he paid my grand-mother ten-thousand in gold and I recall her living with us for a number of years. I was probably seven or eight when she passed. She had two children by him: My grandfather and a daughter.
However, my great-grand-father had dozens of illegitimate children by several different women living on his farm. I never knew him, but heard many many tales about him. Mostly about how charismatic he was and how wealthy he was and when he passed the battles between the women in his life who bore his children fighting over the stash of gold he had. My grandfather inherited several hundred acres of land which was willed down through three generations.
My mother was one of the heirs but the land had a number of legal entanglements, when in mid 1970s my mother asked me to help her and I spent ten months working on the land inheritance to straighten out with other heirs so it could be sold I worked with her, surveyors, and a real estate auction company to prepare for the legal sale of the property. It was in my research on the land inheritance, I discovered the divorce papers of my great-grand-mother.
The two large houses my grandparents lived in and I spent time in during my formative years are still standing about 75 miles from where I live today. Periodically I go back there and when I do, I can recall many childhood memories growing up in the Great Depression years.
Despite the fact I have written several articles about those years, I decided to write another one. At this particular time in the twenty-first century, there is renewed interest in The Great Depression era of the thirties as a result of the economics of this time in history, and a fear we may be on the verge of another Depression.
To present a clearer picture of what life was like back then; I thought some background history of my parents; grandparents and great grandparents would be interesting. Before the 1929 crash, the Hoover years and subsequent Presidency of President Roosevelt in the early thirties my family on both sides owned land, had gold and silver, drove t-model cars and enjoyed a pretty good standard of living before we had all the luxuries we have today.
CONTINUED PART TWO
LET FREEDOM RING
The Freedom Lady