Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Great Depression -- How My Father Started Over

The mid-1920s drought in South Texas caused my father to lose his cotton crop three years in a row, and a barn fire resulted in his losing the farm itself, in the end, by destroying his tractor and all his mortgaged farm implements.

The Cage Hardware and Furniture Company, which also sold farm equipment, held the mortgage on those implements, with the expectation of being paid after the crop was sold. My father went to see Mr. Cage and asked if there might be a way he could pay off the debt by working for the company. He was given a job as clerk in the hardware store. Within months Mr. Cage promoted him to the position of bookkeeper, and within a few years my father had risen to be vice-president and general manager of the entire company.

Below are some old snapshots of my father and mother. She was helping to bale hay for the horses, with which he tried to finish making the third year's crop after the barn fire. The loss of that farm was a bitter one to him. But he carried on and brought up a family of six children on the income from his new career. He was 40 years old when he lost the farm.

I used to ride my bicycle to town and go up to see him in his glassed-in office above the store, from about age 11 on.

On the San Patricio County Farm


1 comment:

  1. From one of my younger sisters:
    A very beautiful story of the creditor helping an honorable man regain his feelings of selfworth and to support his family! Mr. Cage's brother also provided additional work and income for him at the First State Bank, next door. Also a daughter of Verne Roberts, I worked in the office of the Hardware/Implement store for awhile. On occasion, I would be asked to take documents down a stairway through the wall to the bank next door. I believe that these were loan requests for customers buying furniture or perhaps farm implements. But on a personal note, as a teenager, I felt like Nancy Drew going down "The Secret Staircase."


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