LEAVING HOME

As I came in from the corn field, Sarah ran up to me, her tattered dress blowing in
the wind.. I bent over and gave her a huge hug, lifting her up. She had just had her eighth
birthday last week, but she looked so much older. Her face sagged and she was missing
several of her teeth. Pa didn’t know if it was normal to lose so many, he said I never did,
but we didn’t bring it up to her.
“Where’s Pa?” she asked, as I put her down.
“He’ll be coming.” I took her hand and walked back to the house. “He’s talking
to Frank right now.” I held my hand in front of my face to shelter it from the dust and dirt
that constantly went into all of our eyes. Lately the ground just wasn’t keeping it’s dirt
down. It was making it a lot harder to grow anything to it’s full potential.
When we reached the house, Sarah pushed open the door. “Mama, Jim’s back!”
she yelled. I winced at the sudden sound and Mother scolded her. The one room house
was only twenty feet long, the girl didn’t need to shout.
“Where’s your father?” Mother asked.
“He’s out in the field talking to Frank,” I went over to the bucket in the corner and
scooped out a glass of water. My mother paused for a minute and I couldn’t tell if I saw
puzzlement of worry on her face.
“I wonder what about.”
Sarah looked up at Mother, “Is something wrong?”
Mother put her hand on the child’s head, “No, no, I don’t think anything would be
wrong.” She turned to the cutting block and began to chop some vegetables. I knew she
was lying, after eighteen years with my mother, I like to think that I could read her rather
well.
It was over an hour before my father came in from talking with Frank. He smiled
at all of us as if nothing had happened today, and sat down at the table. About halfway
through supper, he presented us with a piece of paper from his front pocket. He glanced
down at his hands, and then turned his gaze to the family.
“I reckon we might be in some trouble,” he said sheepishly, clearly ashamed. But
ashamed of what? I reached across the table and took the paper. I read it to my mother
and sister:

June 17, 1933

Dear Tenant,

The McNeel Bank of Oklahoma regrets to inform you that you have breached the
requirements you agreed to uphold in your contract. In consequence, we have no
alternative other than confiscate your land in payment.

Our Thanks,

Samuel R. Grange,
President

“What does that mean, Pa?” Sarah asked, clearly ignorant to the change that
would occur very shortly in her life.
“I’m afraid it means that we are going to have to leave here, Princess. I’m sorry,
but we have no way out,” he apologized as he began to pick at his food with his fork. Pa
had a way of trying to play things down in all the wrong ways.
“Why’d this happen?” I begged of him.
“It’s all the loan’s we took out. The new land, the machinery, it was all on credit.”
“Wait! How soon?” Ma exclaimed putting her hands down on the table. “It didn’t
say how long.”
“Frank says we have two weeks,” he said as he continued to pick at his food.
“What are we gonna do?” I asked. “We don’t have a auto.”
“Frank is putting something together. Now, let’s not here any more about it.”
For the next two weeks, Pa said I didn’t have to work on the farm anymore. And
soon he confronted us with what we were going to do after getting kicked off our land.
Our family, along with three others were going to go down to California. Two of the
families owned autos. One was a truck, and the other one was just a regular car. None of
us wanted to leave, but the bank sure did. And Frank said they would have ways to make
us leave. When the day to leave finally came, I felt like I was leaving my entire existence
behind.
We all piled up in the back of the truck and watched as our homesteads shrunk
away, smaller and smaller; until it was like where I lived never existed. Pa said that the
trip would only take about five days. Frank had brought along a ragged copy of Gulliver’s
Travels to pass