Caroline,faced living during the great drought of the mid-west has choices to make.
Reaching over, and turning off the radio, “he’s a God Darn liar too; just like all of dem know-it-alls. Not a darn one of them know shit! I’ve been hearing that same story since 1934, three years later, and they’re still saying it. How in car-nation can they ‘spect me not to despair? They are talkin’ shit out of a radio-box; but, they sure ain’t walkin’ ‘round here starvin’ none. They don’t have three children staring at ya while starving the days away. They don’t have empty cupboards and growling bellies. They only have empty promises of a better tomorrow – a tomorrow that just don’t get here.
They speak of the Government Relief Effort, but they really means is giving the folks God-Darn cans of Po’k. Every darn time I turn around; they are throwing more cans of po’k at me. I have eaten that crap so many days and nights that I can’t stand the sight of it, the smell of it, or even the sound of the word po’k.
I have eaten po’k loaf, po’k sandwiches, po’k casseroles. I have shaped it to look like a chicken leg, a fish, and even into a fritters. Still, cans of po’k keep on-a coming. The promises keep on-a coming too. But we starving-all of us in Croweville. It’s not just me and my family; it’s the whole darn valley.”
“A barren wasteland is all that’s left,” Caroline stated, while looking out her screen door. “That used to be a nice town out there; full of lots of people that were as busy as a bunch of bumblebees. A hardware store was up at the corner, but now that’s an empty box. Our market square is all but dried up too. Now, its where folks take their used stuff they are trying to sell. There ain’t no farmers bringing their vegetables to that market no more. It’s a living hell ‘round here if you ask me.”
Bang! Bang! An occasional wind gust rips through the valley. Caroline is startled; the screen door slams into the side of her shack. Then another gust and it slams back the other way; just as violent as the last time. The rhythmic, and almost musical, metallic clanging of pots and pans far off into the distance, brings a smile to Caroline’s dust covered face. “They are hung out so the wind can blast them clean,” she mumbled and turned her head to look at me.
Yet, as hard as she is, mother nature manages to show a softer side. “The beauty of those tones,” while closing her eyes she gives it a listen. “I could listen to those notes all day. They take me away from this hell. A pleasant valley of tranquility.”
“That feels so darn nice,” she states as she holds a tall, cool glass of iced tea to her face. “In an instant it washes away the troubles of yesterday. Like a gentle whisper that reassures you there is a better tomorrow out there; just not makin’ it here any time soon.”
Again she looks at me and manages to construct a half-hearted smile. This time I can see her clearly. There is a deeply embedded sadness in her eyes. Her soft tanned skin is covered with the dust of this place. She bares the scars of her torment in her stare. Those beautiful, brown eyes are deeply sunken into her face, and that brings a sorrow to my thoughts; my heart bleeds for her.
As reassuring as those tones may be; there is a harshness to this place. A harshness that can’t be ignored for any too long. “The sun is a blazing at my front stoop by nine o’clock in the morning. Never does he give me a break; shining his mean ol’ sunbeams right down on my house. Just sitting here and I sizzle; just like a big ol’ slab of bacon on the fryer. He boils and bakes every darn one of us. He fries us and every animal out here feels it too. Even the darn ol’ dirt is scorched!