February 2023 - 29
AG LABOR REVIEW
Kitchen window view changes from farm to DC
rowing up, I would look out our kitchen window
and across the street I'd see a field that this
time of year would have the remains of the corn
harvest (or the sugar beet harvest, or the dry bean
harvest), clinging to the dirt clod scrabble patched here
and there with snow.
There was nothing to block my view from that window
and I could see all the way to the hills in the northeast
and see the few scattered trees that lined Rawhide
Creek. If I was lucky, I might see that ring-necked
pheasant rooster who had escaped me and my 12-gauge
more than once in the fall.
Now when I look out my kitchen window, I see the
dome of the U.S. Capitol framed perfectly by office
buildings. I can also see the tops of the trees that line
the National Mall. The buildings between here and
there obscure a view of the Potomac River and the trees
mustered along its banks.
When I juxtapose those different views from two
different kitchen windows, it makes me wonder how I
got from there to here.
My parents both came from humble beginnings.
Humble beginnings is another way to say they were
poor. Both had been raised in the same small town at
the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills where cattle were
the primary crop.
They were raised as America and the world was
struggling to emerge from the Great Depression. They
were also raised during that tumultuous time that
few believed could occur so soon after the Great War,
World War 2.
Perhaps that was part of the reason, in addition to
poverty and a lack of opportunity, that my father, the
youngest of ten kids, enlisted in the Marines. He left for
boot camp right after high school graduation and soon
deployed to clean up after a new war. This war, called a
" conflict, " had been in Korea.
While back home on leave, my father started dating
this cute girl who worked in the ticket booth at the
local theater. After he returned to Korea, he continued
correspondence with this young lady.
It was quite a scandal when years later the couple's
two preteen sons found a picture the young Marine had
sent to his then girlfriend while he was stationed at
the " Demilitarized Zone. " The Marine had inscribed his
feelings on the back of the Kodak picture writing, " Love
you Kitten, Billy. "
At the conclusion of his service to our country, my
father returned home and married his " Kitten. "
Still facing the same poverty and lack of opportunity,
the former Marine took advantage of a government
program called the Servicemen's Readjustment Act
of 1944. Most people called it the G. I. Bill. Important
to this former serviceman was the G. I. Bill's tuition
benefits which he used to become the first in his family
to attend college.
About 15 years later, my mother likewise became the
first in her family to attend college, while helping to
raise my little brother and me.
My parents read to me constantly when I was little.
They read to my little brother too. However, for me the
stories led me to read books all the time, often staying
up all night, being difficult to rouse in the mornings to
go to school.
I loved reading history and books about adventure.
I remember reading about George Washington and
" Honest Abe " Lincoln. I read about Daniel Boone and
Davy Crockett and Lewis and Clark as well. I also read
about Atticus Finch and about an old Cuban fisherman
brought to life in a book in an extraordinary way. I
also read about George Milton and Lennie Small, two
migrant ranch workers moving from place to place and
job to job in California during the Great Depression.
And I recall reading the newspaper I delivered and
gleaning from it the buzzy topics of the day. Some of
these topics were about protests of another " war, " and
protests about busing, and protests about the Supreme
Court, the President, and the Congress. And some of the
time it seemed the topics were protests about protests.
So, tomorrow morning when I peer out my kitchen
window enjoying a cup of coffee, I probably have a little
better personal insight as to how I got here from there.
And I will recall looking out of that other kitchen window
wondering what was harvested in that field across the
street this year.
FRUITGROWERSNEWS.COM | 29
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February 2023
February 2023 - 1
February 2023 - 2
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February 2023 - 29
February 2023 - 30
February 2023 - 31
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February 2023 - 36