What do you feel when everyone knows everyone else, when you have 50 or 100 relatives within 10 miles, when everyone knows you are poor and helps when you need it most even though they are poor too but not quite so poor. You have enough to eat, clothes to wear even if only one pair of leather boots do for winter and summer, the metal clips the toes and heels from wearing out. The soles are replaced by your parents on their own last. Goose grease keeps them waterproof and soft. Most of your shirts and overalls are made from flour bags bleached or dyed accordingly. You have skim milk to drink from an Uncle's farm when your cow is dry. You borrow a horse to cultivate, plow or draw in the hay. You cut grass for 1/2 day to earn 15 or 25 cents and save it for school books. You pick strawberries for 2 cents a quart or raspberries for 5. Your car is a 1924 Ford with no heater, no windshield wiper, no antifreeze and is needed for peddling vegetables door to door.
You feel humiliated, sad that your father is sick, angry or upset because outsiders think he is dangerous because he shakes and he sits straight and stutters. You feel pride in being honest, having good marks in school, coming from a good family, working hard. Ashamed to have a pail for urine in the kitchen. Disgraced at not having electricity.
Tired from working to the limit of your ability.
get time to go fishing, or skating or playing ball.
Scared and terrified by reading war stories at age 10 or 11 because you have read all the library books for younger ages already.
Bad or ashamed because you fell in the mud and your mother has to wash the clothes by hand.
Conspicuous in homemade clothes, with a haircut by your mother.
Astounded when a fish so big that it breaks the bamboo pole is caught.
frustrated, angry when I competitor peddler buys cantaloupes from you and
then goes to the next village and sells them a lower [higher?] price than
he paid and claims they were his own.
Proud, pleased, rewarded when you beat him and the smart girl of the school in a competition.
Proud to be able to shingle the barn with your 14 year old brother when you are 13 and to shingle the house alone at 15.
Proud to be first in the class at graduation from Grade 11 at age 16. But worried about lack of jobs.
Tired but proud after working a 95 hour week at age 16.
frightened, terrified when the boat you and brother and a cousin swimming
from blows away from you all in the middle of the lake.
Proud of your father but puzzled when your father algebra can solve problems that you can't but doesn't know how he does it.
betrayed, bitter, disappointed, sad, angry, distraught, frightened,
helpless, low, let down, sorrowful, vulnerable, when your father dies 3
days after your 15th birthday and you don't know if it was your fault,
your family's fault, the doctor's or nobodies fault that he wasn't kept in
a warm room. The doctor says it's too late to move him now, he would only
get worse with the "sleepy sickness" "maybe even have become violent." The
undertaker lets you and your brother take a pail of your father's blood to
bury behind the barn because you wanted to be helpful.