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  • Writer's pictureKim Richardson

The Road to 1940

Have you ever wished you could gain a glimpse into the life of an ancestor? Take a look back in time? I had that chance not long ago.

I was driving along a Louisiana highway when I realized that I was very near the place my great grandfather first farmed when he moved to the area in the late 1930s.

I turned off the busy asphalt onto the dusty, narrow dirt road. There was nothing to see in any direction but the crops and the dirt. There were no other cars. There was no one else around. There was no noise. It was a world all to its own and seemingly untouched by time.

Farming road in Madison Parish, Louisiana

I thought about how hot it was, how tough farming must've been. I looked at the parched ground and and wondered how he was able to grow anything.

I thought about the time period he lived there. I remembered seeing his World War II draft registration card. He would've gone to town from the farm that day in 1942 to register, and knew I was on the route he would've taken. I thought the roads couldn't have changed much, if at all. Again, as I looked around, I felt like I was looking back in time. I wondered how long it took him to get there. I wondered what he thought about as he made the trip. Did he think of the events that had lead to that moment? What did he think about Pearl Harbor? Did he feel some of the same things about that attack as I feel about 911? Did he worry about what it meant for the future in light of the fact that he was registering for the draft at 50-years-old?

Still pondering his point of view, I rejoined the fast-paced highway traffic. I realized how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to be there. There's nothing like seeing an ancestor's home place, especially when the land still looks like 1940 and not 2016. Just by looking around for a few minutes, my great grandparents' way of life became tangible and gave me a new appreciation for them.

Who is it that you want to know more about? Whose world would you like to see?

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