Visit on September 8, 2005
About the Great Depression:
Well, it kind of struck us, first of all, that it could happen. I can remember that life was just going along pretty smoothly and then in 1928, 29, all at once we were getting word that the banks were closing and Dad lost money in one bank – couldn’t get any money out of it. But I remember the over-all effect was when the word came out the banks were closing kind of a feeling of disaster, and people were quite depressed. What was interesting about it was that about the time the Depression really hit was about the same time that the Great Drought or dust storms came along. That kind of doubled it. I think at that time there was kind of a sense of doom in many people. I think religious faith was certainly a great salvation in many ways. We had our church, we worshiped, we had our faith that God was in control. There were many people, of course, who were – bankers and so on were jumping out of upstairs windows and so on. There were quite a few suicides, and people just got into debt and new they couldn’t pay off and they committed suicide.
About the Drout:
Very much, very much. In the 30’s – I think the Drout had broken in 1938 – we had three years that were pretty dry. Times were hard. We on the farm, where Dad always had his anxieties trying to raise a family with income like it was and the economy like it was, nevertheless we always had security. We had our own eggs, our own meat, we had, uh, even at the worst of times we had something to eat from crops, and so we had security that way. Didn’t have a lot of money to spend. A nickel for candy was pretty valuable. We drove old cars. We had one that we had to, the kids had to sit on the front fender and hold the light sockets in at night. Finally moved up to something a little bit better around 1928 or ’29. But, really, it’s a sad thing to say but the war improved a lot for many people economically. I know it did.
The Drought ended about . The real Depression just seemed to gradually ease up in particular – uh, I don’t know how it came about. In particular, it seemed that gradually we began to have a little bit more. When the war came along, somehow that did something for the economy.
And chinch bugs – they would destroy the corn crop. They were little bugs that got in around the stock where the leaves joined the stock, get in there and kill it. They moved over ground – didn’t fly. And what we did for them, we made a furrow around the field and put in poison for them to eat, and that was for the grasshoppers, too. And also we used creosote that turned chinch bugs back. But we made poison bran for the grasshoppers – got bran and put poison in it, and spread that, and they’d eat that and it killed them.
It would take care of some rodents, too, but we were desperate to get rid of the grasshoppers. They could move pretty fast, almost like a cloud at times.They called them locusts. I think they were a grasshopper, actually. Yeah. We just didn’t have the seagulls to help us out.
About the Second World War:
I remember my dad was always worried because us boys were the age that we could go to war. And I remember Dad just – he really got quite depressed. He’d listen to the reports and hoped we wouldn’t have to go, so it had him quite worried. And of course, us boys, we were old enough except Bob, to have some connection with World War I, because there were still some of those veterans around who had been crippled, one leg, or maybe they had gone insane under the pressure. So, there was a – memories of World War I made us really very uneasy, and our parents.
About Pearl Harbor:
I remember the suddenness of the news. I was in Milton College, and I was the assistant janitor. I did the night janitor, and the regular janitor, he came to me, his eyes just flashing, and said, “You know what those dirty Japs did!?” And so, he told me about the attack on Pearl Harbor. And that’s how I got the news.
I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind that we would win out. I did realize that it would be a horrible battle to win because I realized that Nazi Germany had been preparing for war and they had their allies; and so I knew it was going to be tough, and I knew that all of us boys of service age would probably be called up. I was, but by a fluke I was not taken. But Bob went, Bob was called up. Merlin went very late, but was put in counter intelligence. Charles was exempt because he was farming. I was called up. I was turned down, and as a result, I had gone, I got some help with my college education financially. I was told that I probably would be called up again. I never was.
The head of the draft board – Dad knew him –he told Dad he was sure glad I didn’t have to go; he said he wouldn’t have had to tell us he dropped out of college, but he did. “I’m glad he didn’t go.”
About the End of the War:
This thing had drug on so long, there was a generation that could hardly remember anything but war. And so, there was a lot of excess celebration that came about because people were so delighted when it ended.
About the Future:
Well, I think the future’s not going to be easy. I don’t have [a vision] of the perfect world. I do think that in the end, with the transcendent power of God that is going to lead the final solution that we see in the end of Revelation. I have no doubts in the world about that. But, I don’t think it is going to come smoothly. I think we are going to continue to see war, continue to see tragedy, but the good side of it is that there is always going to be people of faith, working with a sovereign God for good. Maybe it [is] outnumbered, but like Jesus said, “You are like leaven in the world, like salt.” And I think it is that smaller group that is the hope of the world. And right now it is a little bit like that story of Hans with his hand in the hole in the dyke, that saved the people. I think it is about the situation that we’re in – not hopeless, but just recognizing that we are key people, it’s people of faith in God and Christ.
About Challenges to His Faith:
False hope was one of my problems because I had accepted the idea that if you had faith nothing bad could ever happen. It did. And it crushed me. And with these other things, too. It was just an overload that I couldn’t handle. And it was a time of crisis where I had to face realities I never had before, period. And it took a while to get over it, and it effected me mentally, and it effected me physically, and in every way.
Mom: I know the telegram arrived at night that his father had died, so the nights, I think, were the hardest for him, and I think for many people, nights are hard. But all of a sudden, he couldn’t breathe, and his stomach had trouble. So he ended up in the emergency room over and over, and they would give him calmatives and send us home until he finally felt like, you know, this isn’t really physical. It is something else. And he got slowly, very slowly, quit the ministry . . .
Dad: Well, of course, I was in the midst of the course there and I talked with my favorite professor and he agreed maybe it was time for me to drop out for a while. But, I remember when I flew up to the funeral I was just so overwhelmed. And after the funeral I started home on the train. I just got desperately sick. I ate a big meal. I thought, “You know this is over.” And I ate a big meal, and I got terribly sick. I never thought I would arrive home alive. And, I did. But, this thing hung on, and the thing that really helped me was to get back into an occupation I liked and to get to work. So I went back to the linotype operation and I gradually just got better. Work was a therapy.
Rob: You had some friends in seminary that were killed about that time?
Dad: Well, there were some that were killed. They were out on a mission. And they – on the way back some drunk came across the highway and hit the car head-on. And one or two of them died and one of them was so injured mentally, his brain, that he never would be right again. That just seemed to me that things like that shouldn’t happen to people of faith. And so that was part of the whole thing. It was a crisis. I think that everyone that really thinks goes through some kind of crisis in life. That’s where the big decisions are made.
Well, I just got busy, and in time I began to feel better and more confident, and then I got a call to a pastorate. And I just announced that I was going to go back and was able to do it.
Mom: But you felt all the time like we were going to get through it because all our furniture and things, we didn’t take them with us.
Mom: We went up home, actually. Mom and Dad said, “Come up here.” So, we were up there through the summer when Richard was born, ‘cause Richard was born at Clarksburg. And then, in the fall you got the call, and we went back. And he continued to linotype work while he was pastor in Paint Rock.
Dad: Huntsville, Alabama.
About Mom’s Recitations:
Dad: That’s the West Virginia culture, a lot of that – a lot of the sayings, and so on.
Mom: I had to memorize a lot in school. They just don’t memorize a lot like we did back then. . . .
Dad: They are, West Virginia mountaineers, were – had a lot of interesting poems and so on, and they are great story-tellers. They’re great story-tellers.
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