Living and Loving in Hard Times
Robert Earl and Jennie Rogers married in 1929. He was 19 years old and she was 22. They were farmers in western Oklahoma. A year later, their first child, Francis Earl, was born and died at nine months of age. Five more children were born to Robert Earl and Jennie – Eva Mae, Elsa Rae, Wynona Earlene, George Alton, and Robert Elton.
It was the 1930s, years of economic depression, dust storms, and drought. Robert Earl and Jennie had five children to feed. Farming was almost impossible. They worked hard to put food on their table.
My Mother and her sister talk of when their Dad made and sold beer and whiskey to make a living.
“The authorities heard Dad was making whiskey. One day, Dad and I saw revenuers near the house, watching us through binoculars. His whiskey still was hidden near the creek and he stored whiskey in a water well. Later on, the revenuers made a raid on our farm in an attempt to find Dad’s whiskey still. We quickly collected jars of whiskey and hid them in a bucket of food scraps (slop) that we kept for the pigs. I was terrified that the revenuers would see the jars because they kept floating to the top of the bucket. Mom also hid the worm (a vital part for a still) in the bucket of slop. We narrowly escaped the raid but later Dad was arrested and taken to jail for bootlegging. The court said he would have to serve 30 days in jail and pay a $30.00 fine.” Wynona Rector Davis
“When they locked Dad in jail, Mother had to find a way to feed us so she dressed us and took us to the courthouse. She sat all five of us on a bench and told the judge, ‘You locked up their Dad so you’re going to have to feed them’. Then she walked off. The judge quickly reversed his decision and released Dad from jail.” Elsa Rector Leatherwood
NOTE: Oklahoma became a state with prohibition as part of the state constitution. Numerous efforts to change the law were unsuccessful. All the while, the bootlegging industry flourished.
The battle against illegal booze in Oklahoma was eventually settled when the prohibition law was overturned in 1959.
ANOTHER NOTE: Many survival stories – more to come. Would love to trade stories.