A Summer to Remember

April 28, 2011
By , Pittsburg, KS
May 14, 1934
Today was the last day of school. Cheers and students filled the schoolyard as the year came to a close. I’m so glad that it’s over. One less stress for me to worry about. It seemed like every time I turned my back, a new worry came about. I look back and don’t know how it happened. One minute, my beloved childhood farm is bursting with life and color, and the next, its barely surviving. All I know is I can’t stand to see it go.
May 17, 1934
What a day. I woke up early and headed to the river with a canvas and paint and worked on a portrait of the river. Painting had always been one my favorite pastimes. When ever I needed a break from life, I turned to my canvas and paint.. I especially enjoy painting the river. The same river that I spent summers playing in, swimming and splashing water around. Mom, Dad and I would invite people over and we’d have picnics out by the shoreline. My friends and I would sit on the banks gossiping late into the night. Then there was last summer, the summer I spent realizing who I wanted to be in life. The river had brought me so many memories and letting it go would surely be a rough time. A piece of me would always be attached to that river.
May 18, 1935
Living on a farm has its ups and downs. I remember when I was little and use to go out and feed the animals every morning. Chickens, cows, a couple pigs and goats. I use to love waking up in the early morning sunshine before school and feeding each one of them. I even had names for them all. Now, we are limited to a couple cows that we barely make enough money to keep. Then, there are the corn and wheat crops. They’ve been struggling a great amount lately due to the dust storms that keep rolling through. One storm is enough to knock down a good section of crops. But, we’ve been better off than some of our neighbors. They’ve almost lost everything. Sure, we should be thankful for that but at the same time, we’re about to lose our farm just like a majority of the rest of the Midwest.
May 19, 1935
I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining but losing the farm isn’t the only trouble my family has been going through recently. My mom just had a baby exactly 2 months and 15 days ago. She is the absolute prettiest girl I have ever laid my eyes on. Emma Jo is her name and fits her to a tee. I’ve been playing her mom these days which doesn’t actually bother me at all. For some reason, my mom got really sick after Emma was born. The doctors aren’t really sure what’s wrong with her. She’s just been really tired lately and just hasn’t been herself. I don’t know what to do. Dad has to take care of her all day too. It’s wearing on me and anymore I wonder how long I can take this responsibility.
May 20, 1935
We took my mom to the doctor today. I sat in the waiting room with Emma while mom and dad went in. Emma was good today, she’s learning more by the minute. She is such a happy girl and I can’t help but to keep a smile plastered on my face when she’s around. Mom was in the office for a long time it seemed. Or maybe it was just me being nervous that made it seem longer. Finally, after what seemed like hours, they came out. I couldn’t tell if they were sad or just content. Dad didn’t say much. That worried me. He’s usually a talker. I could always count on him to bring up a conversation. But here and now, only silence filled the room. I guess they just didn’t feel like sharing the outcome with me was a good idea. And maybe that was a good thing. Of course, I’m hoping mom will be just fine, and deep down I know she will be. Mom is a fighter and I hope one day I can be as strong as she is. We all went to lunch afterwards at the local deli. Nothing fancy, just a sandwich and chips but still, the pride of our town. The rest of the day was pretty quiet and exhausting. I think its time for me to go to sleep now.
May 23 1935
I wrote a little poem today…..
The girl I was, back when I was a child
Wild and crazy, letting her hair run wild.
A free spirit, who did what her heart desired
Ran around the country, until she was tired.
Barefoot in the mud, flip flops in the hay
Well hold up, she has something to say.
Never had she thought she’d have to grow,
To an adult, now, with something to show.
Strength and determination are on her mind,
Not one to settle, no she’s not that kind.
Well she’s the kind to hold a fight,
Never wonder if what she’s doing is right.
She wants what she wants and wont give in,
Not one to lose everything she has to win.
Well, time has shown that she has to prove,
She can save the farm before they have to move.

Simple, yes, but maybe it shows how badly I want this. . Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would risk everything just to have it? Risk your reputation, family life, friends, or getting your heart broke? To me, life is all about the risk. It’s thrilling, and the passion behind it is what keeps me going. To me, life is too short to sit around and wonder what could have been. If you want to know what could have been, go out and make a difference. My favorite saying has always been, “forget the risk and take the fall, if it’s meant to be, it’s worth it all.” I don’t know, just something about it inspires me to live in the moment, follow my dreams and know that anything is possible.

May 25, 1935
I worked around the farm today. The fence needed fixed and one section took me about an hour and a half to finish. If I would have had another person helping me, it would have only taken about half an hour. But we can’t afford that right now. With all the trips back and forth to get wood from the barn, my feet began to ache and I was ready to take a break. A short break for water turned into an hour long nap under the old oak tree. That one set me back pretty far. I still had to paint the side of the barn, water the crops, plant some tomatoes in the garden and cut the grass. I’m getting tired of doing everything but I love this place so much. I don’t want to see it go.
May 26 1935
It seems like just yesterday, I was riding around on a tractor with Dad singing old country songs. When life was carefree and we didn’t have anything to worry about. He’d tell me stories about the old days, how he met mom, his parents childhoods, how he use to go to baseball games and sit on the left field fence. I always loved hearing those stories. The way those stories brought you back to a time where life was simple and there wasn’t a whole lot to worry about. Then with the war and everything, matters changed quickly. Worries turned real, and life was changed. The slow paced way of life of my grandparents turned fast in the blink of an eye. It’s a reminder as to just how quickly life can change. At home, life has changed so fast and left us with decisions that we weren’t prepared to make. My mom being sick has taken a toll on the family. All of a sudden, we had to change our priorities. Dad held the responsibility of taking care of mom and I for the farm. Not what I wanted but oh well. You have to do what you have to do.
May 27, 1935
Dad says we’ll be having a penny auction soon. I don’t know what that is but apparently it will help us keep the farm. Whatever it takes I suppose.
May 28, 1935
The penny auction went well. Dad says we got a little bit of money to help but some more seed and a few small work tools. Nothing big, but enough to take some of the weight off our shoulders.
May 30, 1935
I only have the rest of the summer to get the farm up and running before it is foreclosed. So technically around 75 days. 75 days to save the farm. 75 days to save my childhood. 75 days to save my family. 75 days to save what’s left of it anyway. 75 days to bring the farm back to life. Or 75 days to lose it all. 75 days and everything I had could be gone. 75 days, it’s too much time…or maybe not enough.
June 5, 1935
I’ve been busy a lot lately and haven’t had time to write. A big storm came through a few days ago and left the farm in near ruins. I could see the dust cloud rolling along the hills as everything disappeared in its path. We came close to evacuating but decided it wouldn’t be that bad. The only damage we couldn’t fix was a tractor that got buried in dirt. I doubt we could dig it out and even if we did, dust has probably settled in the engine and chances are we wouldn’t be able to get it to run. The fence I just fixed was knocked down also. I think I’ll just leave it for a while. The chickens all suffocated and the cows barely made it. But we were better off than a few towns surrounding us. East about 20 miles was a town that was basically swept away. Houses blew down. Grain elevators collapsed. I took a little trip over there and honestly could not believe my eyes. The damage was worse than what everyone said and on top of it all, everything was covered in dirt from the houses to the farm equipment to the play sets in the backyards.
I sure feel lucky now. Some of the farmers lost all their wheat and corn. Ours is leaning pretty badly but we think it’ll straighten out soon. We are looking forward to a successful harvest. Our neighbors unfortunately can’t say the same. Some managed to harvest a few bushels which could maybe bring in a few dollars but still their profits will be down the drain. Some have decided to abandon their farms and move to the city to find a job. I’m starting to think this wouldn’t be a bad idea after all. We could live closer to a nice hospital for mom. Dad could get a job somewhere. I could go write for a newspaper. The idea crossed my mind more than once to pack up our belongings and just drive until we get there. Dad still wants to hang onto the farm as long as possible. He grew up on it and spent his life just like I did, being a farmers child. Early mornings were spent feeding the animals. Days were spent by the river and nights brought us cool air and bonfires. It was a memory neither one of us wanted to abandon.
June 6 1935
So far, I’ve made no process in my attempts to save the farm. Losing a whole days work is turning out to be a bigger deal than it seems. I’m getting to the point where I can’t waste anymore time.
June 8 1935
UHGGG!!!! I’m so frustrated right now. Nothing is working.
June 16 1935
Well, to say the last week has been a success would be an understatement. Daddy got a call from the government the other day and they are giving us money to help us get back on our feet. Part of the new deal programs I suppose. I won’t reject it. I also heard of a possible job for myself painting a new mural downtown. A WPA Project. I’d be commissioned at the end when the job was done. It’d be a long task but at the end I’d be paid enough to restore the farm back to its original beauty.
June 26 1935
I’ve been working on some sketches for the mural. The mayor wants it to reflect the town’s history. That should be simple, just a barn in one corner and some crops on the other. But, I want it to be deeper than that. I want it to show the history of our ancestors, how they settled here and built the town up with their own hands. I want it to capture the essence of children playing in the streets. I want it to show the beauty of the sunrise coming up over the plains. When the mural is all done, it will capture the good parts this town has to offer.
June 30 1935
I began drawing out the mural on the side of the main building in town today. I probably won’t be writing as much in the future just so I can make sure I spend every waking moment painting the wall.
July 4 1935
I love the fourth of July. The big town parade kicks off the day followed by festivities in the park and lunch. Then at night the sky bursts with color as fireworks explode on the horizon. It’s a beautiful sight and reminds us all why we live in America.
July 14 1935
I’m almost halfway through painting. By the first of august I should be done. My deadline has been set at August 7. Hopefully nothing bad happens between now and then and I’ll be finished. I’m working on a replica of my barn right now.
July 26 1935
Almost done. Just have to put the finishing touches and paint the city logo and it’ll be ready for unveiling.
August 1 1935
As I’m writing this, a terrible dust storm has come through the town. Yesterday, the biggest one yet rattled through the town and with my luck ruined my mural. No words can describe the hurt. My whole summer was spent working on this and now, it has to be done in a week. The town said they’d help me out a bit but I just don’t think it is possible.
August 4 1935
I can’t believe this. The mural is almost done! Everyone has really rallied together to help me finish! Fingers crossed its done by the 7th!!
August 7 1935
Wow. Those are the first words that cross my mind as I stand before the mural. It turned out even better than I imagined. So much better than if I had done it by myself. I guess uniting this town was the best possible outcome of the situation. Pulling all of us together helped the town overcome its difficulties. Now they see that if they put their minds to it, something will work out and get them out of the depression. I was paid enough by the government in order to get the farm restored enough to get us through the rest of the year. Mom was able to get the treatment she deserved which allowed dad to go back to work. And as for me, well I’m just the same old girl loving my life on the farm. This summer taught me that I had to step up and do things for myself. It taught me that I know myself the best and know how to overcome a problem. Overall, I look back and wouldn’t change a thing. When the town looks at the mural on the biggest building in town, they’ll think of me and the summer I turned the farm around. They’ll remember how we all united and built back a part of our town.

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