A Message of Hope from Long Ago

My grandfather at Mount Rushmore, summer of 1936.

Greetings, friends. My summer was spent in quiet contemplation. I worked enough to pay the bills, but also read much and wrote much, took many walks in the woods, and cherished fresh, simple meals with Dave at the the end of every day. Wherever you are, I hope your summer was equally gratifying.

Recently, I happened upon this photo that my grandmother took of my grandfather, at Mount Rushmore, in 1936. Look closely. Two of the four faces are not yet present. Indeed, the story is not yet finished.

My grandfather was a farmer in Greene County, Iowa, and that summer, severe drought caused his crops to fail. (“We were burned out that year,” was the way my mother always told it.). There was little to do on the farm that summer that the one hired man couldn’t handle.

My grandfather at Mount Rushmore, 1969.

So, what did the family do? Grandmother, grandfather, and the four kids piled into a car with a canvas tent and a camp stove and went on a road trip, all the way out to Yellowstone Park and back. My mother would describe the way they’d simply camp alongside the narrow two-lane roads — the boys sleeping in the tent and Mom and Grandma sleeping in the car; grandmother would make bacon and eggs, there by the side of the road, for breakfast in the mornings.

As they neared home at the end of the trip, my grandfather reached into his pocket and showed his family the sum of all the money he had in the world: One dime.

I’ve always loved this story. What faith they must have had that things would turn out all right in the end. And they did turn out all right. As with all families, there were hardships and heartbreaks over the years, but my grandfather continued successfully making a solid living off of his modest 160 acres until he died at the age of 97.

During these times of uncertainty, of wondering “what’s next,” I try to be guided by this story of hope and daring.



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7 comments to A Message of Hope from Long Ago

  • Jo Gomez

    thank you! How we forget

  • Patty Dornacker

    Beautiful story! Perfect inspiration on this dreary day.
    Thank You!

  • Jackie

    Thank you for your family story. I found it very positive.

  • Muriel

    Love this story of Grandpa! This picture will be framed!

    • Wini

      Thank you, Cousin! Seriously — isn’t it just great.

      An amazing side-story: Recently, when my sister posted photos of her and her daughter at Mount Rushmore, I thought, “I need to find that photo of Grandpa from the 30s!”

      I have dozens of photo albums in all kinds of boxes, and I thought: This will be a needle in a haystack. I’ll never find it!

      I was going to let it go without trying, but one photo album caught my eye — from the 60s — and I just decided to open it. And there was the photo, tucked in the inside front cover. Right there. Waiting for me. The very first album I opened.

      It felt … ghostly — and beautiful!

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four + = 11