(Written March, 2002)

I was born August 29, 1931 at the start of the great depression. There were three children in our family, and I was the second of three. Jerry Sanford was 20 months older and Martha Patricia Jane was about 13 months younger than I. We lived in a little country town by the name of Seventysix, and a country doctor delivered all of us.

There really wasn’t much employment in Seventysix. My grandfather, George Sanford Hatch, had a rather large orchard of apples, peaches, pears, plums, and some grapes. In those days people bought fruit by the bushel. Sources of employment were farming, working for my grandfather, or working on a Frisco railroad section crew.

In those days we farmed with teams of horses, and did a rather good job of living off the land. Cook stoves and furnaces used wood as sources of heat. We also slept in room with no heat and large comforters to help keep us warm. Cutting firewood was one of the main chores. Everyone had large gardens, chickens, hogs, and cows. There was canning of vegetables from the garden, meat and eggs from chickens, milk and churned butter from cows, and hogs butchered for additional meat. Fruit from the orchard was canned or made into apple butter for winter use. Water was obtained from springs, or from cisterns built to catch water from the roofs of houses or barns. Kerosene was purchased from country stores for use in kerosene lamps for light. The main commodities purchased were flour, sugar, and tobacco. There were not many automobiles, but as roads improved, there were more cars and gasoline pumps. I can remember community efforts to haul gravel from creek beds to put on the deeply rutted, dusty, or muddy roads.

My grandfather and father were some of the first people in the community to own automobiles. My dad was a rural mail carrier. He often used tire chains to help him carry the mail, and even then he might get stuck and need assistance from a farmer to help him finish his route which included the areas of Frohna, Brazeau, and Farr in addition to Seventysix. Mail came to the Seventysix post office by rail. It wasn't until the 1950’s that it started coming by truck, and that was when the Seventysix post office was closed.

Children of the area attended on room country schools. Seventysix had one school for white children and another school for colored children. The colored school usually received “used” books from Union School, the school for white children. Union School had a wood shed, and eventually separate out houses for girls and boys.

My chores included cutting and hauling wood, mowing grass, milking cows, churning butter, working in the garden, and helping with various farm chores like hay making and picking corn. Dad always planted a big garden and mom did a lot of canning. We had enough potatoes that we buried them in piles of straw so we would have potatoes in the winter.

My brother and I wore overalls. Mom made a lot of clothes for my sister on a sewing machine, and we got used clothes whenever possible.

I can remember my Dad buying two pigs for me, then I had to gather weeds from the garden to feed the pigs. Mom also assigned rows of vegetables in the garden for each of us children to keep weeded. Sometimes we made trips to Perryville, the county seat. We would trade tomatoes from the garden to a restaurant for Sunday lunch of open faced roast beef sandwiches.

Games played at the one room country school were: hide and seek, Andy Over, dodge ball, and fox and the hound. Sometimes we would build a playhouse and decorate it with moss, ferns, and wild flowers. Most every boy had a sling shot. We also did some hunting and fishing.

My dad liked to hunt squirrels. I never wanted to harm the squirrels, so never hunted them. Dad would let me go with him though, and sometimes I would point out the location of squirrels so he could shoot them.

One time my brother and I got a B-B gun. For some reason, on one day I started shooting at a bird. When I finally hit the bird I cried. Mom told me I didn’t have any business shooting at the bird, if I didn’t want to hurt it.

At one time Jerry, Pat and I found a nest of baby rabbits. We placed them in a cage, and fed them vegetables from the garden. This worked well while the rabbits were small, but as they grew larger they ate more and more. Dad finally decided to eat some rabbits, or course, we kids didn’t want to eat our pets, but dad’s judgment prevailed.

We ate lots of fruit. Mom made lots of cherry and peach cobblers and pear preserves. There was also apple sauce, apple butter, apple cider, and we usually had an apple in our lunch box every day, along with a sandwich and a small bottle of milk. One of the best trades I ever made was when I traded my apple to a school mate for a hershey candy bar.

Ways I made money were: mow our large yard for 25 cents. Swatted flies inside the house for a nickel a dozen (A few times I left the door open to let more flies inside). Dug dandelions from yard for a nickel a bushel. Mom would sometimes check our hands, and we got a penny for each fingernail that had not been bitten.

I was usually very tight and saved my money. At one time the Seventysix school competed with Brazeau school in an athletic contest. Dad gave me 25 cents for lunch, my teacher gave me a nickel, and a school mate bought me a candy bar. I came home with 30 cents.

Each year my brother and sister would visit our cousins in St. Louis. I could go along, but I stayed home and saved my money instead. I also had a tendency to save Christmas candy, and by July it was usually a melted mess.

In Seventysix there was a fairly large creek. We enjoyed visiting a swimming hole in the creek that was spring fed and never ran dry. It was especially refreshing to visit the swimming hole during the hay making season. We usually went swimming in our “birthday” suits, (naked).

Our little country school gave a performance upstairs in the old store building every Christmas. It gave the children an experience in acting and singing, and a chance for everyone to socialize. We really felt important giving that Christmas performance. The best part was that we got out of school for practice.

During World War II, we also got out of school to collect scrap iron for the war effort. We had a two wheeled cart, and collected a very high stack of scrap iron.

One of my favorite memories while attending Union School at Seventysix was a bus trip to St. Louis. We visited Shaws Garden, Pevely Dairy, Post Dispatch newspaper, and the St. Louis Zoo.

Jerry, Pat and I all had our tonsils removed in a Perryville doctor’s office at the same time while we were still quite young. I don’t think I had started to school as yet. The best part of this ordeal was that we got all of the ice cream we wanted to eat.

We usually had a dog on our farm. Our first dog was a poodle. Next was “Jip”, a German Shephard. I was very close to Jip, and even slept with him under bushes around the house during the summer. Jip killed a few chickens, and eventually got in trouble with some neighbors, so dad had to get rid of him. we then had a couple of Samo’s (a breed of Siberian sled dog that really wasn’t suitable for our farm). all of the dogs were good company.

During the 1940’s, Mom and Dad bought a house in Cape Girardeau where all of us kids attended high school and two years of college at Southeast Missouri State. Mom would stay in Cape Girardeau with us kids and dad would carry the mail and work on the farm, then visit us each weekend with produce from the farm. That was a big sacrifice so the three of us kids could get and education. Eventually we all received college degrees ; Jerry from Rolla School of Mines in chemical engineering, Pat from Iowa State in home economics, and I from University of Missouri in agronomy.

So much for memories of my childhood.