Last Updated: 06/05/04
                        H.G. Turner
                        Depression Brings Tragedy


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  On August 26, 1934, a day before my 10th birthday, things were falling apart at our house. My dad was out of work, drinking heavily, and his brother was pressuring him for money he had borrowed to get our 40 acre farm.

Dad came home from the tavern and it was apparent he had too much to drink and seemed very depressed. Dad couldn't find any booze in the house and went wild. He accused mother of hiding it on him. They had a fight about his drinking, which was nothing new. These were tough times for everyone and it weighed heavily on dad. In the heat of the argument, and because of his depressed state of mind, he threatened to kill himself. Sadly, this was something he had threatened to do many times before.

Because of his constant threats of committing suicide, my mom had taken it upon herself to hide his rifle. However, dad knew where the gun was hidden and retrieved his weapon. Mom, Doris (my youngest sister), and I grabbed on to him, begging him not to end his life. Finally he agreed and said, "Iím going back to see my brother."

He left the house with his rifle and ammunition in hand, and got into his truck. He started the engine, pulled ahead a few feet, and then stopped. Mom, suspecting something was wrong, started to run towards the truck, as did Doris and I. When we reached the truck we found dad slumped over the steering wheel unconscious with a gunshot wound to his head. We ran to the neighbors for help and to call the doctor. It seemed like an eternity before a doctor could get to the farm.

The accident blinded him and eventually took his life. My dad lived for about six weeks before finally passing away on September 23, 1934.

Bad times didn't stop there. Shortly after dadís funeral our mother received an eviction notice. Mom didn't understand what was taking place. My uncle had already taken our truck and was now after the farm. We went before a judge in Lancaster, WI, concerning the eviction notice. After hearing motherís sad story, the judge gave her three years to stay on the farm before foreclosure would take place.

Harlie and Mother In addition to problems with the farm, several local farmers offered to take my brother Donnie off my motherís hands. Donnie, age 11, was a hard worker and would be a huge asset on a farm. In those days, at least around our area, there wasnít anything called adoption. You just took a kid and raised them like they were your own. Mother however, wouldn't hear of it. Even though times were tough, mom always looked after her children.

One day a beautiful new black car with California plates came down the lane to our farm. The car owners were my dadís uncle and his wife who had settled in California and had become quite wealthy. They had come to Wisconsin for a vacation when they found out about our destitute situation. They had no children and wondered if mom would give me up as they would love to have a son. Needless to say when I heard that, I fled for cover. I didn't come out from hiding until I saw that big car leave the farm. Mother wasn't about to give me up, but I didnít want to take any chances.

During the depression years, mother qualified for twenty dollars per month for widows' pension. One of my uncles ran the farm, and with the small income we received from share cropping, we squeaked by without any additional assistance. We all worked on various farms for twenty-five to fifty cents a day. However, the eviction was still looming over us like a dark cloud. Before long, the three years had passed and we were evicted.

The depression continued to hit our family hard for the next couple of years. Finally, it was time for me to move on.

 

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