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Farm Life in the late 30’s

Written By | Jun 24, 2015

ST. LOUIS, June 24, 2015 – Growing up on a farm in the 1930s was a wonderful experience.

We grew up showing respect, to our elders and to each other. Words like “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir” were regular parts of our speech. No “yea” or “whatever” for us.

Chores were part of our lives. Children had chores starting at an early age, for example. I remember cutting fire wood for the stove at 8 and having a rope tied around my waist and attached to a garden plow to get the earth ready to plant seeds for growing vegetables.

Instead of feeling abused by these chores, we felt proud. We were important members of the family, important members of the team. This was also the beginning of the development of a work ethic.

Sunday’s were important family days. Most families dressed up in their Sunday best and headed to church. Church was not only to worship God, but also a place for people to get together. Some came to church from quite a distance, and all would join in discussions with neighbors about families and how their crops were doing.

Sometimes we had elaborate meals, with everyone bringing something to share.

Children loved the get-togethers, as it was one of the few chances they had to play with other children.

Crime was simply not part of our lives then. If there was a crime, even a small transgression, it was dealt with immediately.

People living on the farms ate some of the best, freshest meals one could imagine. A breakfast might consist of ham and sausage, fresh fried potatoes and made-from-scratch biscuits with homemade butter or jelly. Round it out with some eggs and gravy, which we sopped up with homemade bread. Wash it all down with black coffee.

Around mid-day, someone would bring black coffee with biscuits to the men and boys working in the fields.

Around noon, the workers came in from the fields for dinner (not lunch). Before the workers ate, we unharnessed the horses and led them to food and water.

Mealtime was organized. The senior member said a prayer and then people ate. No one talked, and children ate on the porch.

The workers would lie on a concrete porch to take a nap for about an hour and then got up and went back to work.

Supper was another fantastic meal, taken with family. Before bed, everyone would eat some homemade ice cream or fruit.

The food was fresh, almost all home-made, and without the chemicals you see today.

How did the women and girls save money for the future and maybe for some store-bought pretty dresses?

They sold eggs from the farm and quilts that they made by hand.

When there were extra calves, boys and girls were given a calf to raise and eventually sell, and they would get the money from that as well.

The elderly were taken care of at home by members of the family. Nursing homes were practically nonexistent. Men would consult with their elders on farm matters, and the older generation was seen as a valuable resource.

The days were simpler, cleaner, than they are now, filled with family and community. No one was bored, no one complained, and we took great joy in the small things, like fresh ripe strawberries or an ice cold soda.

It was a way of life worth living.

However, that’s from a time and place I am from.

Charles Vandegriff, Sr.

Charles spent a fifty-four-year career in technology, retiring at the director level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a freelance columnist, he has published three books, made over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, and been involved in numerous radio interviews and one television commercial. He has been married for sixty-five years, and has four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great-grand children. Charles is also a Navy veteran.