This & That


| February/March 1989



R I Box 63 Avoca, Iowa 51521

Farming has never been easy. During the Great Depression and early 1930's, this would have been a monumental understatement! I recall a few things myself and have talked to some of my older friends. One incident I recall was that already then, I had respiratory problems. The doctors of that day didn't understand allergies etc. and would say, 'it's all in your head.' Nevertheless, I could not breathe through my nose as a boy of possibly 4 or 5 years old. I was constantly running with my mouth open in order to breathe. One day in such a situation, a chinch bug flew up before me and into my mouth. They were a small black bug, but small or no had a terrible flavor and odor. I spit for half an hour before finally getting free of the awful taste. I recall friends telling of the waves of these bugs crossing a corn field. The bugs would envelop a stalk of young tender corn, then the top would slowly begin to topple over and fall as the bugs worked their way across a field. It was said that one could see the wave of corn slowly fall.

My father would take his single bottom plow and make a furrow across the wave of bugs' path. In our case, it was oat and wheat fields. He would pour some solution in this furrow. As the bugs would topple in they were supposedly killed by this liquid. Later, he would set the furrow on fire. The smoke would roll and that also made a terrible smell.

Some of the farmers would erect a barrier of black building felt paper. Then, every so far, dig a post hole in front of the barrier, filling this hole with creosote or diesel fuel. The chinch bugs were to fall in this hole when reaching the paper barricade. It was not taken into consideration that they also could fly Many millions of bugs were killed in the trenches and pits. However, many millions also flew over the barricades and continued on across the fields annihilating what crop was left.

Eventually, the dry weather was broken by rain. The chinch bugs evidently thrive only in hot dry weather. Or one might say the Lord felt the lesson he wished to teach had been completed.

During these hard times, I recall it being unbearably hot. The south wind was parching. There wasn't a lot of shade although our farmstead had what we thought was an abundance of shade trees. Another thing that entered into it was the people of Oklahoma had evidently plowed every available acre of pasture and hillside in order to plant. I recall, vaguely, on some days the air was filled with dust, when the wind was from the south. Looking up the hill from our house to the east, there seemed to be a fog or haze in the air.