It’s Doc Mehl’s new weekly feature: TUESDAYS WITH GARTH! When I gave Garth Brooks permission to present a few of my poems on stage… I was confident that he would take it pretty seriously. These photos show Garth and me both performing… “The Great Depression.” An inspirational performance, Garth.
The Great Depression
Copyright 2-2004 Al “Doc” Mehl
In junior high, while tryin’ to complete a his’try lesson
At home, I asked my dad if he recalled the Great Depression.
Now dad was usually helpful, but he answered, “Mostly, no.
See, I was awfully young back then. I have one mem’ry, though:
Let’s see, I was just a boy, ’bout five years old… no, maybe four…
When a family with three children come a-knockin’ at our door.
Now, our home was in the country, we were far from any town,
And weekday visitors, they pur’t much never came around.
But here stood five thin people. They looked like skin and bones.
And in one carpetbag, the dad had pur’t much all they owned.
With outstretched arms, the mother held the children by her side;
The daddy stood behind them. I could sense his fading pride.
The word ‘depression’ comes from economics, son, but it also paints the mood.
You see, a man gets feelin’ pretty low, with first no job, and then no food.
Their clothes were lookin’ threadbare, and their shoes, some holes were showin’.
No idea where they’d come from, or where they might be goin’.
‘Pardon, ma’am,’ the man said, then slipped his hat down off his head;
‘Ain’t right for me to ask, but… could the children have some bread?’
Askin’ for our food? It seemed to me this man was crazy.
Just a low down, unemployed freeloader, a lazy
Kinda bum. Heck, we were strugglin’ too. I guess ‘poor’ is the word I mean.
Or, you might say we were ‘dirt poor,’ but that’s not bad as it seems.
See, by ‘dirt poor,’ what I mean is that we owned a piece of land,
And on that patch of dirt, we made a livin’ with our hands.
Through the bounty of a harvest, we’d put food upon the table,
And mama was ’bout to show me that we’d share, when we were able.
‘Yes,’ my mama said, ‘Yes, of course, please do come in.’
And then she served each child a bread slice from the battered kitchen tin.
And then… to my amazement… those children tried to fill their bellies
With slices of dry bread, without no butter or no jelly!
Well, bread without no jelly? I couldn’t imagine such a thing!
And so I whispered to my mama, and asked if I could bring
A jar of jelly to the children, and her smile got big and bright,
And she spoke to all the guests, ‘My friends, what say we do this right?’
So I was sent to set the table with three different kinds of jam!
Mama peeled a couple cucumbers, and sliced some salted ham,
And I picked a bag of snap peas, and we scrubbed a dozen carrots.
The children washed their hands, and then we all sat down to share it.
And then that family bowed their heads. The mama cried into her sleeve.
The daddy prayed, ‘Dear Lord, please bless this food we now receive.’
And then we had ourselves a feast; that memory’s clear through years gone by.
I think I learned about the spirit of Thanksgiving… that July.
Those are my only memories about the Great Depression,”
Said my dad, and then he added, “But it sure taught me one lesson.
See, were we poor, or were we rich? Well, there’s a fine distinction there;
I’d define it, not by what you have; instead… by what you share.”
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