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Growing Up in the Dirty Thirties
The day was as dark as the night. The dust was even blowing through the tiny window cracks of the house. The year was 1932. My great grandma Laurene B. was fifteen years old. It was also just the beginning of the dirty thirties. Imagine having to wear a chicken feed sack for a dress that your mom made for you. Imagine never going to town or walking to school with a tin pail over your head because it was hailing so hard. These are just some of the things that Laurene had to live with growing up in the dirty thirties.
Where were you born?
I was born southeast of Elkton about five miles outside of Ward. I was born at home on my family’s farm.
How many siblings did you grow up with?
I grew up with three other siblings: Raymond, Elva and Harry.
What was daily life like in the thirties?
I had to wake up every morning and milk cows. The morning was just as dark as the night because of all the dust blowing around. I had to walk a mile to and from school everyday. My family and I also had to shock grain. My brothers and sister and I made playhouses in the trees and ate apples from our apple trees, and when we misbehaved we got lickings with the switch.
What responsibilities did you have growing up?
The responsibilities that I had growing up ranged from taking care of the chickens, feeding pigs, milking cows and running after my sister Elva.
How far were you educated?
I went to a country school outside of Elkton up until my Eighth grade year.
Did you grow up in town or in the country?
I was born and raised on a farm just outside of Elkton.
How often did you and your family get to town?
During the spring and summer my family and I got to go to town about once a week. During the winter months though, we never went to town, my dad only went with a sleigh and horses about once a week to get groceries. My sister and I were taken to town on a date and we didn’t even know what an ice cream sundae was because we never got to town.
What did your parents do for a living?
My parents farmed for a living.
What were the different costs of items such as milk and gas?
Since my family milked cows we had our own milk for free. We never paid for clothes because my mother made them out of chicken feed sacks. I really never knew how much gas was either, because we never went to town, only my dad did. If I had to guess though I would have to say that gas would of cost about ten cents a gallon.
Were you or your family involved in WWII in any way?
My family was never directly involved in the war, but we did receive food stamps to by clothes and food.
How did you get to school everyday?
I walked to school everyday.
Were you involved in any school sports?
There were no school sports, but during recess we played baseball in the schoolyard.
What was the first car that you ever owned?
I owned my first car when I got married. It was a Ford Coupe.
Did you have a special family pet?
My family pet was a poodle name Peanuts.
What kind of farm animals did you have?
Our farm animals consisted of horses, cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys.
When did you get your first TV or radio?
My brother and sister worked hard to bring home our first battery powered radio because there was no electricity. I didn’t own a TV until I was married with kids in 1954.
How young were you when you got married?
I was twenty years old when I got married to my husband Leo Bergman. The year was 1937.
How many children do you have?
I have four children: Marlene, Marlys, Marlen and Marvin.
Did you and your family go to church every Sunday?
We went as many Sundays as we could since we lived ten miles out of town and sometimes the weather was too bad to go. We were members of the Lutheran Church in Elkton.
Did you imagine yourself growing up and living in Elkton your whole life?
I didn’t imagine living here my whole life, but I did move to Iowa for a little over three years right after I got married. Than I moved right back to Elkton where I have been this to day.
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