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Some adults refer to the 1930s as "the olden times" or "those were the days," while others classify them as "hard times to make ends meet." After all, a Depression was upon us. But as a young farm boy from Western New York, those times were special for me. After all, they were the days of my youth.
Our family farm was located in the Boston Hills, just west of Colden. Rural electrification had not yet arrived. Wood was our chief source of energy. Kerosene lamps were our source of illumination and the kitchen wood stove and a circulating heater served as the main source of heat.
Indoor plumbing was rare in our rural area. It did not come to our home until some years later. The pick-and-shovel-dug well was our source of water, with a hand pump in the kitchen. And with no running water or electricity, clothes washing meant a hand washer and ringer, a wash tub and a wash boiler. Mondays were my mother's traditional day to do the wash. On Tuesdays, she did the ironing, with flat irons heated on the wood stove. Mom made sure my siblings and I always had clean, pressed clothes for school, church and special occasions.
We had a dairy and vegetable farm, and each member of the family had chores to do. There was spring planting, summer cultivating and autumn harvesting. There was the gathering of hay and grain to feed the livestock. And there was the harvesting of vegetables, such as peas, beans, corn, cucumbers, cauliflower and potatoes.
Much of the produce was taken by truck to the Clinton and Bailey vegetable market in Buffalo. Day after day, in the heat or the wind or the rain, the harvest must move forward. One must harvest at just the right time of ripening. A day too soon or a day too late could mean a partial harvest loss. As my Dad would say, "the pickings are slim but we will make ends meet."
There was work time, but there also was some play time. Occasionally, nearing twilight, the neighboring farm youths would gather for a quick softball game, or play hide-and-seek in the hayloft.
And if we were lucky, we might catch, on our battery-powered radio, a segment of "Jack Armstrong" or "The Lone Ranger" or "The Green Hornet," the latter two shows created and written by Fran Striker, a Buffalo native. I remember well sending in two cereal box tops and a self-addressed envelope to receive a special coded ring, the type worn by the Lone Ranger himself when on a secret mission! When the ring arrived, all one could say was, "Oh boy, oh boy!" The words "awesome" and "cool" were not part of our vocabulary.
Our sources of information were the telephone, the newspaper and the radio. Our dial telephone was connected to 10 customers on one party line; most calls were placed through an operator. Our barn radio carried the early morning farm reporter Al Fox, followed by the famous Clint Buehlmann. The Buffalo Evening News, as it was known then, was our chief news source. The first section of the paper Dad always checked was the Farm Produce Market Report.
These are a farm boy's memories of times past. Many things have changed over the years: agricultural practices, living styles and the normal events of each day. For sure, there was something very special about those years. We learned resourcefulness, resilience and responsibility. For you see, in my small world, those days are a treasure trove of memory!