A Summer in the Depression Years by Jack Scott, November 2010
During this long hot summer, I remember the summer of 1936. I had finished grade school in Brandenburg in April, and my brother Walter decided to rent a dairy and tobacco farm on U.S. 60 about halfway between Lexington and Winchester. The owner was an old lady, Susan Darnaby. She lived in a large old house set back from the road. The tenant house where we lived was down a narrow road beside the Windmill Restaurant on the highway. Walter, Amanda, and I were comfortable in the house. Amanda was a nurse and worked in Lexington.
We planted a garden beside the tenant house. There was a path through two fields from our house to the barn. Each morning at five were were at the barn milking the 27 Jerseys by hand. There was a day labor hired man to help us. I usually milked seven cows while Walter and the man did the rest. One weekend both Walter and the man were gone, and it was up to me to milk all the cows morning and night. This took me most of the day.
When it came time to set tobacco, about six acres as I recall, we were able to get a used horse-drawn setter. We had three work horses that had been purchased for about twelve dollars each. They had been brought in from the Dust Bowl area of Kansas. After milking, my morning job was to bridle two of the horses and ride them bareback as fast as they would run for about 30 minutes each. This was to get them so tired that they would settle down and pull the setter at a slow pace. I got my fill of riding that Spring.
By late June the drought of '36 had set in, and pastures and hay dried up as did the tobacco and garden. The milk production went down, and by late July, Walter was broke. He sold what little he had left, and Amanda's income kept us in groceries, but it was time to move on. I went with Amanda in the car back to Brandenburg. Walter packed their sparse furniture in the farm wagon along with a little feed for the horses. Driving the team, with the extra horse on a rope behind the wagon, he started for Meade County. It was a long and slow journey down Highway 60 from Lexington, Frankfort, Shelbyville and Louisville to Stith Valley in a horse drawn wagon.
Jesse and Frank were visiting Brandenburg from Washing DC. Jim and I went with them to spend the rest of the summer in Washington. We left home on my birthday, July 27, 1936. I was now 14. Near Shelbyville, we met Walter, with his wagon and horses camped on a farm. After we had lunch with him, we went on our way.
This story from the Woodspoint Newsletter, Alice Bondurant Scott, editor, November 2010. The last two paragraphs edited by Jess Scott based on conversation with Jack Scott December 1, 2010.