Jacob Henry: I am interviewing Lynn Waters. Today is the twelfth day of December 1997. How old were you during the depression?
Lynn Waters: I went to high school in 1929 when the Depression started. When the stock market crashed.
Jacob Henry: Where did you live when the stock market crashed?
Lynn Waters: One block from Main Street. In the south western part of town.
Jacob Henry: Did the crash of the stock market have a great effect on you?
Lynn Waters: It didn't have much of an effect on us. We were just hard working people. We weren't rich people, and never have been.
When the depression hit, there wasn't any work except for the farmers. We worked in the beets and in the hay and whatever when those things came along, when the farmers had to hire help. Of course wages werewell you sometimes got a dollar an hour [a day?]. I know people that have got less than that. Of course, in the beets you had to stoop over with a little short hoe or else go along and thin the beets.
They paid us according to how many rows we done. How many acres we got done. It got so that I used to jap, we called it japping beets. That's where you used a short hoe on a handle about two feet long and you had to plant the beets in a row where they was just right close together and they wanted to make em' about a foot apart. Well pretty close to that; it wasn't quite a foot maybe eight inches across. between each row. Then you took all the little beets; you had to take 'em out with your hands; you could strike it and make a single one come out alone. I learned that trick pretty good so I made a little money doing that.
Then in the fall they would top beets; they let school out; they let the kids out of school so they could help the farmers get the beets to the beet dump. You had a knife about this long, and it had a hook on it. The farmer would go on ahead of you; they'd pull the beet loose; it had a kind of a plow on both sides. It would loosen the beet and you'd hook that beet and put it in your hand, whack off the top, and throw it in a row and then you'd have to help the farmer load the beets on his beet rack, and we'd sometimes even make two and a half, three dollars a day doing that. Sometime, like I said, we'd make a quarter, sometimes a dollar in a day, and that's all we'd get. You'd work for the farmers if you had the chance, if you were big enough work in that . The smaller kids would go along and pull out the extra beets and the weeds also.
That's most of the things you could do. You could chop hay or pitch hay and that's the only jobs there were around here. Those jobs were for only a few days at a time. We didn't save much. My dad had a little farm, and he just raised hay on that farm and enough potatoes to take care of us. And that wheat we could harvest it and take it over to Glenwood to the mill and make flour out of it, and we had enough to last a year. We'd take our wheat over there and sell the rest of it. We had enough for Mom to make bread out of it. Those are the kinds of things we had to do in those days.
We had to make up our own kind of entertainment. The church was really good for that. Of course, we had to hire people to play the music and all of that stuff when we had a dance. We used to pay fifty cents to get two of us into the dance. We were just working a few days to save up enough extra money to go to the dance. We didn't go to too many dances. We had a free dance every once in a while. The free dances were connected with mutual or something like that and not too often. We didn't have to pay much tithing to the church because we didn't make much.
The depression lasted all of the years that I was in high school, and afterwards the government had what they called the CCC. I was in that after I graduated high school. But before that I joined the National Guard; we could make one dollar by going to training once a week. We could make a whole dollar in one week. To buy books for high school, well we barely got through.
Well, my dad was the hardest working man I've ever seen in my whole life. He had to work hard all his life. You might say he had a depression all of his life. Practically he never did ever have much. Well, they raised us and we worked with my dad; we raised a garden, we put up fruit and things like that, so we could make it.
We never did have much entertainment. The only thing is we usually had a suit to go to church in, some clothes you could wear to church. Of course a suit didn't cost what it does now. You'd get a new pair of shoes or two every year. You would have a pair to work in and a pair to wear to church. A nice shirt mom could wash every week so that we could wear it to church.
One thing I can remember from that period of time up here in front of where we lived after Christmas was over everybody would put their trees out for to get rid of them and we would go around and gather up all of the trees and we would take them over on my mother's flower garden and pile 'em up there; we'd get a hundred of them sometimes. Then on New Year's Eve we'd have a big fire out on the street. We'd have people from all over town, well kids from all over town would come to that place. When the first snow came on the ground, we used to get all the kids on the block, who would get buckets of water out right on the street. There weren't many cars then. There's so many now there isn't room for the people. In those days there weren't many of them but we'd kind of keep the fire on one side. In those days they had the telephone poles going up the middle of the highway, or in the middle of the street. They didn't put them out on the side like that, we used the side for making our bonfire. We'd have our sleighs out in the area with all of the ice that we made on our own.
We had more fun then than you guys ever had! I'll tell you that for sure; we learned how to do it. We made our own fun and I suppose we got into mischief too. I know I did, and everyone I knew got into some mischief or another. We weren't perfect little kids. We didn't cause a lot of problems in our day. We had a lot of fun in our days. We got so at the church after the depression started to go away we would have a dance once a month. We could buy a ticket for a year I think we paid a dollar for every dance we went to. We'd take our girlfriend if we was old enough to have a girlfriend.
When we went into the CCC camps they paid us a dollar a day. To work in the CCC campsworking in the timber or whatever kind of project. I worked at building dams in the cricks and things. One summer I was in Salina Canyon. We made the biggest dam that they made in this part of the country right in Salina Canyon. It was thirty feet high and sixty feet across the front. We had a cement mixer on each side that you had to shovel it in and then pack it out in a wheel barrow. Pack it over along there and we'd get it about that high in the crick. It was the biggest one we built in this area, I guess it was one of the last we built . I didn't join the CCC camp until I got out of high school, and a little before then they had a few smaller camps around the country. And then I joined the National Guard a couple months after that.
We never had anything to spare. If there's one thing I'll say about my situation, between working with my dad on the farm we had and jobs at other farms. We never had to go without any food We always had what we needed. We raised a pig every year and killed it every year, and we'd sometimes kill a sheep too. So we had enough for meat, having sausage and everything. In other words, we had to get along without going to the store for everything we had. When I was eight years old, my dad took me out in the corral and gave me a stool and a milk bucket and said, "You can milk this cow over here every night and morning." We had our milk and our own cow and our own separator and we separated the cream from the milk and my mother made butter out of the cream. She sold some of that to the stores up town. We had a cheese factory that would make butter and take it to the store that would sell it for fifty cents a pound.
We always had just a little bit of money around if we got sick and went to the doctor, but sometimes we just didn't go to the doctor. I took a dive one time and landed right on my nose breaking it all to pieces inside I never did go to the doctor. I could still breathe so we didn't even worry about it. These last few years I have been picking bones out of my nose. I've got them all cleaned out myself. There wasn't really much during the Depression except they killed a lot of cattle just to get them out of the way. The government bought some of the grain from the farmers and would take it to some farmers who didn't have enough to feed their cattle. It was just hard times, that's all there was to it.
My dad had two or three hundred dollars in the bank and then the bank went broke, and my dad lost every nickel that he had in the bank. He usually kept enough money in there so he would have enough money to pay taxes. When the depression hit, he didn't have any money in there any more. We didn't have a lot of things. The poor people now live like the rich people did back then unless they were very rich and had a lot of money in the bank but most of the people lost a lot of money when the depression hit. During the bank situation a lot of the banks went completely broke. We just had to get along with what we had to get along with.
Jacob Henry: How do you feel that your attitudes have been affected by the depression?
Lynn Waters: Well, I'm sure they did. I got to the point after the depression was over that I went on a mission when the depression was over while my dad, in the meantime, had started up a little business over in my back yard. he had some old iron-tired wagons that you use to load beets on to haul them to the dumps off of the ground that had just been plowed up. It was hard to pull the beets off of that ground. With those iron-tired wagons most of the time we had to hook two teams onto one wagon to get it off of the farm. My dad figured out a way to take some of these old wagons that was kind of old. The wheels and things couldn't pack a load like that. Well, we tore them down and we went up to this garage; some of the garages in those days at the end of the depression you get more cars around and a few trucks. Dad would buy one of those old trucks. Usually the car companies would make the cars and trucks. After the car or truck went far enough that it wasn't worth repairing anymore as far as the motor was concerned, they used to give the car or truck to one of the dealers to just get rid of it, just get rid of it. So we bought some of those old cars and I spent a lot of time just tearing those old cars down so that we could put those rubber-tired wheels and things onto the wagon. I guess my dad and I built about a hundred of those wagons. And that's about all that I did before I went into the mission field and by that time the depression was over.