I was born in 1928 in Carmine, Illinois, where I live now. We raised watermelons and corn and you just couldn't sell anything. Nobody was buying any of our commodities. I remember we loaded them on train cars and sent them to Chicago to the market. And I can remember we sent them up there with the idea that they'd send us some money back. Well, the sellers went broke and didn't send us the money. And then we got a call from the railroad company wanting us to pay the freight [Laughs]. Back in those days, we didn't have anything to speak of didn't have electricity, didn't have indoor plumbing. We didn't even have a radio. I remember my mother wanting a telephone, and dad didn't think we could afford it. They had a heck of an argument over it.
It was rough, but everybody was in the same boat. Nobody had anything. Every room had a stove then, we didn't have furnaces, you know. And a lot of people didn't have wood and couldn't afford coal. People were actually burning their corn for heat. You couldn't sell it, so might as well do something with it. We came home one night and somebody had broken into our house and stolen all our food. They didn't want money, they just had to have food. We had livestock so we always had meat. We were pretty self-sufficient in that way. The people who were really hurting, I think, were the people who worked in the cities. The people who had jobs at manufacturing plants that went broke. Dad kind of griped about it, said, "All those guys who went off and made a lot of money in Detroit or Chicago or Toledo, now that they lost their jobs, they come back and try to get a job on the farm."
Back then, I was so young, I really didn't know much. I was just 6, 8, 10 years old when the worst hit. But I'm worried to death about the economy now. We've always owned ground and I've invested money and I've really taken a beating in this market like everybody else. When we put in the crop this year my son does the farming, I'm retired it cost him a fortune because herbicides and fertilizer and machinery costs are so high. And our commodities corn, soybean and wheat have lost half their value.
Next Fran Suddath, 84