Thursday, February 11, 2010
Only recently did I begin to wonder about coincidences. Like, how does last year’s Memorial Day Parade in Vermont fit in with a book I just read last month? Things just seem to fit together. Bits of information, like puzzle pieces, are coming at me from many directions.
In January I read about the Dust Bowl in The Worst Hard Time, learning a little more about the Depression. The entire book was fascinating, but one interesting point was that the government would buy dried beans to give to the folks in the Midwest. They could not raise crops due to the erosion of the soil and lack of rain, so government provisions would travel by rail and be given out at the station for those in need.
The book I’m reading now, Memories of the Ups & Downs of the Island Line, was from the library book sale in Vermont, held on the day the town has the annual parade. (The grandstand is set up directly across from the library, and the book sale does well with folks waiting for the parade to start.) The book is a compilation of oral histories about the railroad, which was a very important factor of life in early rural VT. One narrator tells of how the farmers in the northern part of the state would grow and dry beans to sell to the government for money during the Depression. There was a building where they would sort and clean them, and bag them to be put on a freight car. Knowing the area, I imagine the farmers bringing wagonloads of beans to the rail yard. It is fascinating to think that the beans grown in the northern regions of Vermont (my home for 24 years) might possibly have helped feed families in the Midwest.
There are so many more resources for first-rate information on the Depression. What I need is the time to read them!