During the Great Depression, (1929-41) the tenant farmer (or sharecropper) felt no difference in the crash of the stock market. He lived in a rundown shack with his wife and seven children. This was before birth control, and big families were of the norm. In ways it became a blessing. The more helping hands the better the crop, however, it didn’t outweigh the extra mouths to feed and bodies to clothe.
The 40 acres, which was not prime, was plowed with an ole mule. The seed was bought on credit; weather, health and blight were conditions that could make or break you. The landlord’s share always came out of the crop first, many times not leaving enough to pay the expenses.
The whole family had to pull together to survive. While sitting on the front step, Mom scrubbed their tattered clothes on a wash board. She watched her husband work the mule and plow. His dusty face was burnt from the hot sun, where his worn out fedora did not shade. The dust adhered to his sweat soaked shirt. She worried, “What would I do if something happened to him.”The older siblings were busting sod and planting the potatoes. The little ones were feeding the chickens, carrying wood for the cook stove and hand pumping water from the well. Many young ones did not go to school, or only for a few years. They had to stay home and help with the crops. Fathers only live so long, before they are worn out.
It sounds like a brutal way to live, however I am sure it was not much different for the coal miners, the factory workers or the rest of the laborers. The end result was, they were so busy making ends meet, that the rest of the world went unnoticed to them. Unfortunately, these people were the Back Bone of America.