quick to help those in need
by Delbert Trew
we have to look hard to find a "feel-good" story among the anguish
of war, catastrophe and crime headlines. Recent photos in the Amarillo
Globe-News showing neighbors gathering together to harvest the crops
of the murdered Conrad family of Pampa
brought back memories of similar feats that happened in my past.
I can remember at least a dozen times when sudden injury, disease
or catastrophe laid a good man low in spite of his best efforts. Depending
on the season or occupation, neighbors planned and provided the help
needed by the helpless victim to survive and continue on.
Several times, like in the Conrad story, they brought combines and
trucks to harvest ripened crops and haul them to the elevators, usually
free of any cost to the owner. At other times I have helped plow or
plant crops as needed to keep the farm going. Time and again I remember
the victim's church providing meals and snacks or the wives nearby
bringing food to the harvest crews.
Numerous recollections down through the years bring pictures to mind
of cowboys and ranchers coming together to round up, brand or ship
the cattle of an injured or deceased neighbor. It seems when roads
allowed faster travel, this speed took its toll and most injuries
came from wrecks. It made no matter as to fault, the neighbors always
came and "took up the slack."
The Great Depression and Dust Bowl history is filled with stories
telling of worn-down, desperately poor neighbors coming to aid those
needing help. In 1932, a widow in Nebraska could not make a $400 payment
on her farm note and was forced into a liquidation auction by the
lender. A group of equally poor neighbors passed a hat, came and offered
the receiver $100 cash in total payment to forestall liquidation.
When the man refused, the auction was held. The total proceeds from
the sale came to $100 and the receiver had to approve the note paid
in full. After he signed the release, the farmers who had bought the
sale items donated them back to the widow so she could continue.
Time and again, neighbors butchering a hog or beef distributed meat
to needy neighbors in the community, expecting nothing in return.
My own parents told of receiving a fresh pork shoulder in early 1933
when Dad was out of a job with nothing in sight. They never forgot
the neighbor-giver nor the favor and when better times arrived, they
always stood ready to help others in need.
No matter how hard the times in the past, honesty and trustworthiness
was never forgotten. My favorite Dust Bowl story tells of a farmer
in Oklahoma who finally starved out and packed up to go to California
hoping to find a job. He rented his farm to a neighbor hoping he could
return sometime in the future.
The neighbor asked, "What kind of rent do you want me to pay?" The
departing owner replied, "If you ever make any money on a crop, send
me some." Now, that is trust.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
February 14, 2006 Column