An Accidental Pioneer by Lorene McCormick Burkhart

An Accidental Pioneer by Lorene McCormick Burkhart

Author:Lorene McCormick Burkhart
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Hawthorne Publishing
Published: 2013-05-23T16:00:00+00:00

World War II was just a memory by 1950, but the news that year was frightening when North Korea had invaded South Korea, capturing Seoul on June 25. The U.S. Army called one hundred thousand young men into service, preparing for American participation in the Korean conflict. My brother Don escaped the draft for two reasons: one, he was married, and two, he was responsible for running the family farms.

Despite the looming conflict in Asia, prosperity was on the rise in America. I remember seeing the ads in newspapers and magazines for products such as Crosley, a radio and television manufacturer (CBS had just begun to broadcast in color); Samsonite (a two-suiter piece of luggage cost twenty-five dollars); Willy’s Jeeps; Western Electric; and Kraft, who offered a macaroni and cheese dinner that could be ready to serve in an unbelievably fast seven minutes. The hit of the year was the “comeback” car, the Studebaker. It was advertised as low, long, and alluring, and even confirmed homebodies would start thinking up new reasons to go out, just for an excuse to drive it. And driving then was an economical pastime, with gasoline costing only seventeen cents a gallon. New cars themselves sold for about fifteen hundred dollars. We bought a new Chrysler that spring and thought we were really hot stuff.

In Vincennes and the surrounding community, my family was perceived to be well-to-do and “special,” and by local standards, I suppose we were. By 1950, Dad was making pretty good money in his grain-bin-building enterprise. But farm equipment was costly, and as we expanded the acreage we farmed, more tractors were needed, as well as trucks, combines, plows, and discs. Farming definitely was no way to get rich, and by then the farms essentially were supporting two families — the one still at home, which included Dad, Mother, Ed, and me, and Don and his new bride, Gladys, just down the road from us.

We were never extravagant, though, and lived well within our means. I made all my own clothes, so I didn’t need much spending money. One spring, though, Dad decided that it would be a good experience for me to have a revenue-producing project for the year, so he bought two dozen baby turkeys for me to raise. He built a wire cage to house them until they were big enough to run around the barnyard, and I was to tend them. It turned out to be a good deal for me financially. Dad paid for everything for the birds’ upkeep, and I managed to talk others into feeding them (Dad, off in Washington by then, didn’t witness that part!). When November came around and it was time to sell them for Thanksgiving, I got the money. I opened my first bank account with the three hundred dollars I made and later purchased a sewing machine with it.


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