RURAL REFLECTIONS: Farming in the dark
My legs were short and my view of the world was narrow.
This child stood with her Dad in the backyard of the house looking towards Dayton. Huge searchlights scanned the skies. We could clearly see them from 35 miles away.
World War II was over, yet our country was still living under the fear of what had just passed.
Even though it was after the war and the early 1950s, TV infomercials still showed children how to hide beneath their desks should an attack occur. Classroom drills were not unusual, as we tried to tuck as much of us as possible beneath our small desks. We weren't too sure why we were supposed to be there. We did not have first-hand experience as to what bombs could do.
Ignorance was a blessing.
"I think it was during a blackout," my sister Peggy recollected. "I remember playing with June by the dim light of the base burner beneath the stove in the living room. The blinds were drawn during a blackout. Dad had not been able to get into the fields. The plowing season had been rainy. He took advantage of dry days when they came along and worked until dark."
As darkness thickened on this particular night, Dad flipped on the tractor light. Answering lights in a vast, night sky soon turned my fearless father to a quaking man. For as quickly as Dad turned on the single light, a plane turned on landing lights aimed right at him. He always said that he turned the lights off faster than he turned them on.
Perhaps Dad thought the pilot of the plane thought the field was a landing strip, or more likely, it was just time to turn on the landing lights as the plane began its descent into Dayton. Either way, Dad felt vulnerable. The fear of attack from the night sky was deep within those who lived through WWII years.
During those war years when the houses were draped and dark, the farmers still saw to their animals and farmed when the weather permitted. I was a postwar baby, but the memories of a fearing nation remained. Peggy (10 years older) certainly had a different view of those years.
Dad farmed during the war to feed Americans. He worked the farm and drove a milk truck doing his part to keep his family, livestock and nation fed. Luckily, a garden and livestock could keep the family supplied with what was needed.
Neighbor watched over neighbor. Families supported families whose sons and husbands had gone to war. When the weather was poor, the farmer continued to work. When tools or parts were unattainable, the farmer made his own. When someone needed help with their own farm, the community pitched in.
Wives helped feed families who had less than their own. Children worked for a few coins trying to help. It was a dark time where families huddled together in prayer.
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