Love Poems and Sad Stories - Man of the House
It is 1913. The place is a small farm in North Central Wisconsin. A young boy is sitting alone in a darkened room as this true story unfolds. ( from the book "Love Poems and Sad Stories" by rjsadowski).
Man of the House
The small boy heard his mother sobbing quietly in the next room. He wanted to cry too but he had to be strong for her sake. In spite of all of their efforts, his father and older brother had finally succumbed to the dreadful illness which he later learned was diphtheria. His two younger brothers had also managed to survive somehow.
For some unknown reason he and his mother had not gotten ill which was fortunate so that they were able to take care of the others. The burials had occurred very rapidly since everyone was concerned about the disease spreading. Now they had to plan what to do about the spring planting.
Although he was only eight years old, he knew that the fields had to be plowed and the potatoes had to be planted if they were to have enough food to survive through the winter. Fortunately, he had watched his father and older brother hitch up the team of mules and plow the fields in previous years. He was pretty certain that he could figure out how to do it too.
Of course his mother would be there to help him, but as the oldest remaining male it would be his job to make sure that things got done. He would have to quit school since taking care of the farm would now be a full time job. As he looked out the window at the melting snow he tried to plan just what he would have to do.
His thoughts were interrupted when he heard his mother come into the room. She had stopped crying but her cheeks were still wet from tears. She clutched the small boy to her breast and suddenly the tears started again. "What are we going to do?" She cried out. " How are we going to survive?" "Don’t worry ma," the small boy said. " I’ll be the man of the house now."
They manage to survive until his mother marries a widower with a large family. Little is known about this period in his life. The story resumes in 1933.
The young man is now grown up and married but it is during the Great Depression and he is unable to find work. To feed his wife and two small children he is forced to go through the rich people's garbage to gather Rags Bottles and Paper.
What is Diptheria?
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North Central Wisconsin where my father grew up
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