They arrived every summer, men seeking work and a place to lay their heads at night. The war had stripped them of what little security they had assumed. Memère and pepère struggled also, barely keeping ahead of the banks and the church donations, while caring for their seven children. But land had to be cared for, even (especially) during the Great Depression. Grandpa had no choice but to hire help, lest the fields be eaten by locusts or be buried beneath the October frost. The out-of-towners would be paid a few bits a day and found. For this, the men worked the fields six days a week, twelve hours a day. Some days, the prairie sun proved too much for any of them; they took respite in the Rat River that snaked along the East field.
Grandpa died before I came around; the stories I have I received from my beloved memère, who managed always with a good deal of grace and humility to tell me what it was like preparing food for all those hungry men, and caring for her children and their home. Her stories always ended with how much she missed her husband during those summers. Perhaps it was her greatest hardship.
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