Heartbreak Hill

Yellow Skinner book 75This farm has a history of breaking hearts. The first heart belonged to my great-great Uncle T.C. He bought the farm in 1909 just after his father died. Uncle T.C. moved down from Iowa and bought this farm with his inheritance. It’s pretty easy to imagine how happy it must have made him to actually own a farm. How do I know? Because, as I’ve mentioned before, he named it. An early plat map of the county has the name “Plainview Farm” written across his quarter-section. You don’t name a place unless you love it. Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. You might name a place “Misery Acres.”

Uncle T.C. did pretty well with this farm for a couple of decades. And then the Great Depression came along.  Long story short, my grandfather loaned his Uncle T.C. money so that he could keep up with the payments on the place. But the day came when even that wasn’t enough and the bank threatened to foreclose.

The ultimate result was that my grandfather ended up taking over the payments and thus became the owner of the farm to keep from losing his own investment. Uncle T.C. was forced to move off. In my mind’s eye I can see Uncle T.C. packing up his belongings and trailing his farm equipment out the driveway and down the road on one of the saddest days of his life. He never forgave my grandfather for “taking” his farm. He held a bitter grudge to the day he died. His wife even forbade my grandfather from attending T.C.’s funeral.

In the years that followed, my father and mother raised a family on that farm. Then when they retired and moved to town, we kids were more or less okay with selling the farm in order to get clear of the constant maintenance that it represented. It was only when our father died a couple years later that it became clear that most all the memories of our beloved parents were on this farm. We wanted it back but it was gone. We had our own feelings of deep loss about the farm that lasted for years.

The new owners, on the other hand, were elated. They were embarking on a life’s dream. They had long admired this place. They were moving rapidly up the Slope of Happiness.

Time passes. Now it is twenty-two years later and these folks’ dream of sustaining the cattle feedlot they have built has fizzled. They are forced to sell. I’m not sure how depressed that actually made them because they got a good price for the farm, but it still must have felt like some of their hopes and dreams were dashed when they had to move off the farm.

So a new chapter begins. Will the happiness we currently feel as the present owners last? Or will it someday turn to disappointment again? Only time will tell. I hope it’s not bad karma to even raise that thought. I only know it seems useful to keep in mind that neither happiness nor disappointment last forever.

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2 Responses to Heartbreak Hill

  1. Bobbie Groth says:

    Wow, did this bring back memories of the farm in Maine when we bought it–forced into a sale because 11 heirs fought over it too long and the roof had gone. Before we bought it, it had been in the same family since 1804 when it was first deeded– from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, because that’s what Maine was in those days. Trips and trips and trips to the dump with rusting trash. You name it, we hauled it…. Thanks, Don, for inviting me to your blog!! Bobbie

  2. You’re welcome, Bobby. Is your farm still in the family?

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