But before I tell you this memory that came to me, I need to preface it with a bit of explanation. I tell you this story not to evoke some emotional response from you, but simply to make a point. What is more, when I tell you this little memory, I know it will be one to which most, if not all of you, will be able to relate in some way. I know you will be able to relate to it because many of you here grew up in this area during the same general time as did I.
When we were growing up, Northern Wisconsin was not a wealthy area. It still is not, of course, but for you younger people and for those who have moved here, it is much different today than it was in the 1960’s. In 1964, as part of what then President Lyndon Johnson’s called “The War on Poverty,” Price County, Wisconsin was named one of the poorest counties in the United States.
Most of us who grew up here grew up in very humble circumstances. Interestingly however, probably none of us realized it. Our neighbors lived in the same conditions that we did. In our farming communities, we always had plenty of food to eat. We grew up happy. President Johnson may have said that we were poor, but we just laughed at that notion.
But in retrospect, we probably were poor. At that young age, I was unaware of the struggles that my parents may have had financially. I did not know what they talked about after all of us kids were in bed. I do not know of their worries and concerns. I do remember that my dad painted the back-seat windows of our 1955 Dodge Coronet, because of some loophole in the Wisconsin DOT laws, the sedan then qualified as a pickup truck. In that way dad could license it as a “farm truck,” and save maybe five or ten dollars every year.