Struggling to Feed a Family in 1930 Steprock



rkansas is known for its wonderful gardens, but I remember one year when we failed, almost. The year was 1930. We lived on “the Big Road” in Steprock. Mailboxes lined the road bank in front of our house because mail wasn’t delivered to homes on the side roads. Every day, hard-working farmers came out to meet the mail carrier. They really had nothing else to do. They would kick in the dust, pull their hair and worry about how and what they would be able to feed their families through the winter.

It hadn’t rained for weeks. No crops were to the point they could be harvested. The fruit and vegetable canning jars remained unfilled.

Finally, it came a good rain. It was almost too late for anything to “make” before it came a frost or a freeze.

My father* promptly hitched Old Red and Kit to the plow. He prepared a plot of ground for us and then crossed the road to fix a garden plot for the Wiggs family. William W. Wiggs, having been injured in Germany during World War I, wasn’t able to do much work for himself.

Mother’s seeds were scarce and precious. We carefully made beds and planted those precious seeds. I was seven years old and my brother was six. We were allowed to drop seeds but not to cover them up with soil. The things we planted were quick-growing like squash, green beans, onion sets, all kinds of leafy vegetables and some turnips.


We could also see the Wiggs family out working in their garden. Then they had a visitor. That man told Mr. Wiggs that his garden wouldn’t make a thing since it was being planted under “the wrong sign.” That poor crippled man got down on his hands and knees and picked up his precious bean seeds to plant them again a few days later when the “sign” would be right.


Our garden came right up, and it grew very fast. Almost everything produced some, but winter came early and with a fury. We bundled up and gathered everything that could be eaten or canned. There was no time to pick the beans, so we pulled up the entire stalks. We picked the beans off the stalks inside by the fire.


We even shared what we were able to have with the Wiggs family. You see, their garden didn’t make it in time. So much for “signs” and “taking chances.”


            (The author is a member of the White County Historical Society.)


* - The author’s father was Paul King, May 10, 1902 – July 3, 1990. [See “Orphan of the Storm”, 2000 White County Heritage.]