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"Well, I started working for them [the Wessels family], I think I was about 13 years old, hauling grain for the threshing machine. And then, I wasn't very much older, I scooped corn for them, too, ear corn. When I was about 16 or 17 years old, I had a burst appendix. I was in the hospital for a month. And then I didn't heal up. The outside did, but the inside, I had a hernia. So, then I had another surgery, so I was about out for a year. I know that after that, in harvest time, we had oats and Dad was in the thresher with the Wessels, and the oats had smut, or whatever you call it. All I had to do was just load the grain wagons by the machines. And God, it got so dang – You could hardly stand to get your breath."
     Question: "From so much dust in the air?"
     "Well, from that oats, from that smut there."
     Question: "You kept working for them through your high school years?"
     "I didn't go to high school. Well, I started high school, yeah. We was in the high school district. Now we moved that next spring. But, my sister got scarlet fever and we was quarantined for three weeks, and I had to help my Dad pick corn all that while. And when I went back to school, I didn't – I was so damn far behind I couldn't get caught up. Then we moved, and the house we moved on needed a lot of work on. He says, 'You better get the oats ground ready.'
     "Well, I says, 'Then, I'm going to quit school.' And I did. I don't know if that was smart or not. I got this far anyway."

Elroy Hoffman – Working for the Wessels

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Other Excerpts from Elroy Hoffman's Interview:

Grasshoppers
Farming Evolution
Cream and Eggs
Lanterns to Electricity
Electricity for Farmwork
Getting Married
Dust Storms
Getting an FSA Loan