This is a poem by my great grandmother. As you can tell, it's a plain, unpretentious snapshot of rural life at the dawn of the twentieth century. My great grandparents were neither poor nor rich. They worked all their lives until they were too frail to. They survived The Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. Their son, my grandfather went off to World War II, but it ended and he was discharged before he got a chance to fight. When I read this poem, it makes me feel sorry that I wasn't alive to enjoy this version of America.

By the way, the place names are towns in Kansas.


You've asked me when I came to town
And even how and why;
I believe that I can tell you,
If I think real hard and try.

'Twas almost nineteen years ago
My dad and mother knew
They could no longer carry on
As they were wont to do.

And so they sold the old town place,
Sold the stock and sold the farm;
They chartered a car, packed each table and jar
And railroaded down to Concordia.

Of course, in my single carefree days
My parents they sheltered me;
So I followed them down to this friendly town
And lived there contentedly.

I was hired to teach the school at Rice
O, you know the ways of a maid;
There I met a young man I thought was very nice,
We were wed and at Rice we stayed.

For two long years we tilled the soil,
Fought drought and bugs from early morn
Discouraged at last, we gave up our tasks
And raised no more wheat or corn.

We came back to town thirteen years ago,
Now reside on Olive Street
Chester earns our "chow" by the sweat of his brow
He's a molder of concrete.

Ruth Engle McWilson, c. 1910

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