- JT: There was no state or national welfare system or assistance programs
whatsoever. The county maintained what it called the County Farm. It was
a great big house, north of town, where people who got old and had nowhere
to go went. They raised their own food and got along very well. I remember
passing it many times. It was always full of people. The help that people
received was from their neighbors and the churches. The churches were big
on helping people. But as far as national figures, the school kids paid
very little attention to them. Our national hero was probably (Charles)
Lindbergh, who'd flown across the Atlantic in 1927. All the kids were infatuated
with aviation and flying.
- SH: My professor told me that you could find humor in almost every
situation. I want to know if you have any funny stories that have to do
with the depression?
- JT: Gosh, that would be a hard time to find any funny or humorous event
because people were so deadly serious then. We had lots of entertainment.
There were tent shows, silent movies, carnivals, circuses, and that sort
of thing. As to any local incidents, about the funniest thing I remember,
this was before air conditioning, was at church. I attended the Methodist
Church and one hot summer day, about 1929 or 1930, I must have been on
good behavior because my parents let me sit up front with my friends. A
lady sitting across from me had on a hat with a veil. There was a great,
big June bug crawling across that veil and we could not restrain our laughter.
The preacher finally saw what was going on and told the lady to swat that
bug off her hat because it was causing a distraction. She swatted at it,
but it would not come off because it was tangled up in her veil. The people
got to laughing and it nearly broke up church. One of the funniest things
I remember seeing was that lady trying to swat that bug off the veil of
that hat. We have trouble realizing how deadly serious people were then.
No, I don't recall very many funny incidents. Another incident was when
I was in about the forth grade. As usual, just as now, there were some
knuckleheads in the class that aren't going to do anything right. We had
one fellow who just wasn't going to pay attention and mind the teacher.
The teacher got exasperated one day and came after him with a switch about
six feet long. That dude jumped out the window! (Laughs) That was a funny
sight. He just went tumbling out the window.
- SH: Did she chase after him?
- JT: No. She let him go and yelled at him not to come back. (Laughs)
- SH: Did he ever come back to school?
- JT: Yes, back then when a kid got kicked out of school their parents
and the student themselves would try their best to get back in. They knew
if they didn't get some degree of an education they were doomed to labor
jobs the rest of their lives. They would do anything in the world to get
- SH: Can you think on anything else that happened in Prescott during
- JT: One thing I remember and never will forget: A lot of people in
their desperation burned their houses down to collect insurance. That happened
many times. In fact, it got to where it was a daily question, "I wonder
where the fire will be tonight?" (Laughs) I told you earlier that
I lived upon West Main Street? On the left of us, two houses burned. And
on the right, one house burned. And behind us, on Elm Street, one house
- SH: So everyone was burning down their house to collect insurance?
- JT: It was happening very frequently. That was just a sign of the times.
Those houses were insured for maybe $800-$900 and, Good Heavens, that was
a fortune in those days.