proto-image

Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress

Picking potatoes in San Luis Valley, Rio Grande County, Colo., October 1939.

Profiles: Margaret and Richard Deitrich

Sunday, December 18th, 2011 

Margaret Deitrich

Born 1934
San Luis Valley, Colo.

My dad was teaching at a small school in the San Luis Valley. It’s in southern Colorado. And they had housing. They had a little duplex there. The man who was the mechanic for the buses, and his wife, lived in one side, and my mom and dad and I lived in the other side. There was one bathroom in between the two, so we shared a bathroom. 

The school where her father taught wasn’t able to pay him, and the family moved to Nebraska for a year. 

He had the job (in Colorado), but they didn’t have any money to pay him, so he got promissory notes. So he found a job in Kimball (Neb.) for just that one year. He taught high school. They paid, so we moved there for one year. And I went to kindergarten there. 

When they moved back to Colorado, her father taught school and ran a farm.

I don’t know how he managed to teach and also run a farm, but he did. At that age, I didn’t understand how hard that must have been. 

Nobody had much money. I didn’t really realize how poor we were. It was just the way everybody was. And we always had enough to eat. 

 

Richard Deitrich

Born 1931
San Luis Valley, Colo.

Well, being young, everybody was in the same boat, so I didn’t know we were poor. And I think that was probably the case with almost everyone. 

It was difficult, and things were always tight. For example, I remember my dad would shave probably once a week, if necessary. Razor blades were expensive, relatively expensive, so my mother would put them in a glass and then run her finger with the razor blade around the side of the glass, and that would sharpen them. So she would save on buying new razor blades that way. It’d take several razor blades to get rid of a week’s worth of whiskers.

Interviews by Kat Aaron

This profile was produced with help from sources in the Public Insight Network from American Public Media.

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The Betrayal of the American Dream on Google Books

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