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The Depression years caused much hardship to many families. There was very little of any kind of employment so that money for food, or essentials was not available. Welfare was as yet not a possibility. Men tramped the roads or rode the rails looking for work.

We lived on a farm, and although our menu did not consist of a variety of food, we were never hungry. Nor did Mother ever refuse a hand-out to the hungry, weary men who came to her door looking for a bite to eat. In return for the lunch, they offered to repay her with work. The wood for her stove had been split and neatly piled, and the gate and fence repaired. They were grateful, not only for the lunch, but for the opportunity to feel useful.

It was late one afternoon when Mother heard another rap on the door. As she opened the door she faced a young man standing on her doorstep. He seemed weary and dejected. Her heart went out to him because a vestige of pride caused him to hesitate in asking for a bite to eat. "Just sit on the step, and I'll prepare a lunch for you" Mother said. Then she realized she had given the last of her bread to a young man who had just come before him, and the fresh batch she was preparing was not yet ready for the oven. However in such circumstances she usually had a replacement -- a type of biscuit she called cream cakes. She took four of the biscuits, which she sliced, and laced with her homemade wild strawberry jam. To this lunch she added four raw potatoes, a couple slices of a salt pork roast, and a sliver of butter.

As she handed the simple lunch to him she advised him to go a short distance down the road to a gravel pit. Here he could make a little fire, roast his potatoes, and eat his lunch. As he accepted the lunch, his eyes met Mother's in gratitude and thanking her he turned away. Mother watched him disappear down the highway, and she wondered. "What did the future hold for that young man?"

It was not too difficult to find the gravel pit, and soon he had a little fire blazing brightly. By then, twilight had settled in. Through the pines of the pine grove he could see a rising moon. From behind him a whippoorwill called, to be answered by another from somewhere in the forest. His eyes rested on the potatoes roasting among the coals of his little fire. His body began to relax. And he began to feel a peace overcome the tension and dejection that had plagued him for the past months.

What was he doing walking the roads? But he knew there were many other young men who like him had degrees and training; yet walked the roads searching for employment. But as he ate the simple lunch that had been prepared for him, an idea began to form in his brain. Why not go home, and in a shed on his Mother's property, open up a small business of his own? That way he had nothing to lose.

He was right, and as the depression began to loosen its throttling grip on the economy, his building products came into demand. Soon he had to enlarge his shed, and hire two employees. And still the demand for building products increased. The years passed, and as Bob stood before his office window looking out at his fleet of trucks parked below him, from nearby he could hear the hum of machinery working to capacity in his factory.

His thoughts again turned to the woman who had given him the simple lunch. He turned to his secretary advising her he would be away for a few days, and left the office.

Mother was sitting by the window in her rocking chair when she saw the sleek black car pull into the driveway. "A salesman " she thought. But when she opened the door and saw the well-dressed young man standing on her doorstep, her memory flew back over the years to the young man who had sat on her doorstep, weary and dejected, with his head on his arms while she prepared a lunch for him.

He held out his hand to her while she heard him say. "I had to come back and again thank you for the simple meal that had inspired a dream." Over tea and cookies he wondered if he could in any way help Mother, but she only smiled. After all, she felt she had not done anything spectacular. Merely given a lunch to another hungry young man.

By Granny Tooley

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