CGP Community Stories

C. David Smith, November 05, 2015

Title

C. David Smith, November 05, 2015

Subject

Dairy Farming
Springfield (New York)
Carpentry
Construction
Firefighting
Politics
Contemporary Generation

Description

C. David Smith is a retired local farmer and carpenter who has been involved in the community of Springfield, New York throughout his life. Born in Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York and raised in Springfield, Smith always has held his community in high esteem. Always very cautious in his approach to life, Smith persisted through the challenges faced by most every farmer by not overextending himself too far. After taking over the family dairy farm, Smith decided to pursue his passion of carpentry along with farming. Following the realization that the modernization of the farming industry would require a large financial commitment to stay viable, he decided to sell the machinery and cattle and dedicate himself to creating a largely successful construction company, which is now owned by his nephew.

Outside of his careers, Smith was a dedicated community member, who went out of his way to help his neighbors. Not only did he develop valuable business relationships, he was also a volunteer firefighter and fire commissioner, as well as a local representative for the Red Cross. Smith did not stop there; he was also involved in various farming organizations and served on the local school board.

I interviewed Mr. Smith at his home in Springfield Center, a house that he built himself. Now retired, Smith and his wife spend time together at home and travel when possible. He has had a lot of time to catch up on the political climate of today. A registered Democrat, he shows a genuine concern for the future.

Mr. Smith speaks fairly clear, so it was not hard to capture much of what he was saying. However, he does have a very effective tone when speaking; therefore, I highly encourage researchers to pay close attention to the audio recording for the nuances that simply cannot be transcribed.

Creator

Brandon Emerson

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta

Date

2015-11-05

Rights

Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY

Format

Audio/MP3
28.8 mB
Audio/MP3
26.4 mB
Image/jpeg
2448X3264 Pixels

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Coverage

Upstate New York
1928-2015
Cooperstown, NY

Interviewer

Brandon

Interviewee

C. David Smith

Location

134 Country Highway 29A
Springfield Center, NY

Transcription

CDS= C. David Smith
BE = Brandon Emerson
[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]
BE:
This is the November 5, 2015 interview of C. David Smith by Brandon Emerson for the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s Research and Fieldwork Course recorded at Mr. Smith’s home in Springfield Center, New York. Can you tell me when and where you were born?
CDS:

Bassett Hospital [is where] I was born, but I’ve lived in Springfield all my life.

BE:

How was it growing up in Springfield?

CDS:

Alright. How far back do you want to go?

BE:

Why don’t you start with some of your earliest memories?

CDS:
Well, I was born and raised up so forth about three-quarters of a mile up the road on this same road [State Route 29A]. At that time there was no electricity going up the street. No telephone. As time went past it got electricity and telephone and so on.
CDS’s wife:

Good Morning

CDS:

Small dairy farm, so forth.

BE:

What did you do for fun as a kid?

CDS:
We played on the farm; got a little older we used to go down to the lake and swim, rode bicycles.
BE:

When did you start working on the dairy farm?

CDS:
By the age of twelve, more or less. You had to go get cows or do this sort of thing in between, whenever, as soon as you got old enough to do it. It’s actually, probably twelve, fourteen something like that you worked during haying in the summertime. At that point you didn’t actually have milking machines. You milked by hand at that point.
BE:

How big of an operation was the farm?

CDS:
It was small—twelve, thirteen cows. Eventually I got out of school and took over the operation of it and so forth. And I built it up to where when I sold out I had forty-three milkers and twenty some odd young stock heifers and so forth, along with farming.
After I got into farming and got out of school I did carpenter work [when I could leave the farm]. To work with another fella, he and I did carpenter work and in ’64 I sold out on the farm operation and went full-time into carpenter work. Ran a crew of men and built houses for a living.
BE:

What consisted of a typical day on a farm?

CDS:

When I finished or when I started? [Laughter]

BE:

When you started.

CDS:
You milked by hand. There was no electricity in the barn or anything. You had an icehouse where you put ice in in the wintertime and took it out and washed the sawdust off the ice. A block of ice would go you two days. Concrete cooler somewhere in the milk house to cool the milk. You mowed hay with horses, a team of horses. You had a rake. I never got where you had to pitch hay. That was before my time, we always had a hay loader. It went from that to a bailer.
BE:

Were you still involved in the manual labor aspects of it by the time you [ceased farm operations]?

CDS:
Oh yeah. Yeah. My father was still living at the time, well he passed away four years before I finally sold out. Otherwise he did a lot of the tractor work. I hooked things up in the morning before I left for work, doing carpentry work. He would do that during the day and I’d milk at night and morning. When it came time when you had to do crops, you were done with carpentry work. For fall whether you got caught up and moved where you were back doing carpenter work again. It was hit and miss in between anytime you could.
BE:

What impact did your father’s death have on the farm?

CDS:
Impact I couldn’t tell you what. I had already bought out my brother and sister and he did the farm work or a lot of it. He did tractor work, anything, all he could do in that respect. He was along in years, but he could still do the tractor work and that type of stuff. Never was capable of hooking up the plows and tractors or mowing machines and that stuff to the tractor. If I did that he’d get on and do the rest of it.
BE:

What was a tough time you experienced during farming?

CDS:
It all was tough. There wasn’t any money. You made a living. If you bought a piece of machinery you had to borrow money from the bank to pay for it, work at it until you got it paid for and move on to the next piece of equipment you wanted. The majority of the time the carpentry work is what paid for the equipment, or helped pay for it.
BE:

Did you feel obliged to keep the farm going because it was a family farm?

CDS:

Somewhat yes.

BE:

What made you decide to finally sell it?

CDS:
Everything was going modern and the only thing modern I had ever done on the farm was put in the barn cleaner. I didn’t go bulk tank. I didn’t do siloing motors or anything like this. And I put in the barn cleaner because the other fellow and I that did carpentry work started putting in barn cleaners for a machinery dealer and in order to help ourselves get along and get out quicker in the morning to go to work, you put in your own barn cleaner. You bought it at cost and we put it in ourselves.
BE:

What does a barn cleaner do?

CDS:
It takes manure out of the barn and so forth. It pushes it up on a manure spreader. You don’t have to do that. So you can be doing something else. My father always cleaned the barn. While I was finishing up milking or doing something else. Just a matter of pushing the buttons and driving the tractor head or driving ahead or driving back and that was all there was to it. He took care of that and we cleaned the barn twice a day. But that was the only modern thing I’ve done at all and I was doing so much carpentry work. At that time I was renting two other farms, small farms, running roads all the time. I made up my mind I just as soon do carpentry work rather than go further in debt because of bulk tanks and all that type of stuff.
BE:
Did you ever experience a tough time paying off loans because of the machinery you had to purchase?
CDS:
No. You lived within your budget. I knew what I could make and did carpentry work along with it and that helped pay for it.
BE:

What was one of your fondest memories of life on the farm?

CDS:
Doing the work. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed farming. I had no ill feeling about it at all. It was just a question. It was a small operation and I wasn’t about to go head over end in debt and buy other farms just in order to keep at it. I enjoyed the carpentry work too. I had the opportunity to do it so I did it. You could dive right into it and go. The first year I did it I subcontracted with another outfit to do the work. The following spring we started out on our own and hired a crew of men and did it for twenty-five years.
BE:

Why did you decide to buy out your brother and sister?

CDS:
I was the one doing the work. I was the youngest of the family and the rest of them had already left, living away and doing other work.
BE:
So you said that you did a lot of carpentry work, what are some of the objects that you’d make?
CDS:
We’d do anything, almost anything. The fellow and I worked together. We’d put up silos; we put up milk houses. Put in kitchens for a couple people. Anything, it didn’t make any difference what it was if we had time enough to do it.
BE:

What did it take to make a silo?

CDS:
You didn’t make it. You just set it up. It was already bought. [Unadilla] silo outfit down in [Unadilla] made them. They were wood staves. You had to dig a trench and put in a foundation for it and set up the silo. Just a matter of climbing and doing it.
BE:
When you sold the [cattle] was it just you and your partner that did the construction and carpentry?
CDS:
No. He worked for me and at the point I hired two men to start it with me and another fellow. The other fellow was a brother-in-law. From there on in we usually carried four or five men. My wife was a bookkeeper and a gopher after material and all that sort of thing. It was a combination arrangement. Never out of work or whatever; in the twenty- five years we had lots of work and when I got done I turned it over to my wife’s nephew and he is still running it.
BE:

Did you mainly focus on building houses?

CDS:

Mainly yes.

BE:

What?

CDS:

This is one. I built this.

BE:

What was one of your best projects?

CDS:
Probably before we got done on the last end, we worked basically for the same person for between four and five years, building very fancy additions on his houses and other work for him and some pieces of property he bought and fixed and resold. He was a very nice gentleman to work for.
BE:

How expensive was it to start up your carpentry business?

CDS:
What I did, I took out a franchise for National Homes Corporation. The biggest part of your problem was you paid for the house package before you got it and if you had two or three of them at one time you had to borrow the money from the bank to make those payments. I had a very good relationship with the bank and everything worked out fine. As far as the payroll goes, you made it work that’s all. There was never anything that was yours until you got all the bills paid.
BE:

What was the National Homes Corporation?

CDS:
It was a prefabricated outfit. It worked out of Horseheads [New York]. Well the main plant was in Lafayette, Indiana. But I got supplied out of Horseheads. I put up I think seventy-nine national homes in the twenty-fives years. Plus a few stick built, whatever you want to call it, conventional built houses. Repairs and remodeling.
BE:

What were some smaller scale projects you’d work on?

CDS:
We do everything. We did everything. Had a bulldozer with a backhoe arrangement. You might go somewhere where they’d drill a well and somebody wants you to dig a ditch and put a pump in for them and put it into the house. You’d put a roof on a house for people. You might put a roof on a barn or just put up a milk house for them. It was local people.
BE:

What was your relationship like with people in the community?

CDS:
Very good. I had a good relationship with them. No problem whatsoever. The building supply places, I had a good enough situation with them where I had an open account with all of them. Give them a call and tell them what you want. As long as you paid your bills everything worked fine.
BE:

So outside of business, how do you interact with the people in your community?

CDS:

What else did I do you mean?

BE:

Yeah.

CDS:
Farming, I served on a good many farm organization outfits. There was ASC [Agricultural Stabilization Committee] outfit, NYABC [New York Artificial Breeders Cooperative] outfit, farm bureau, and Grange. I served ten years on the school board, twenty-three years as the fire commissioner. I’m still on the cemetery board of directors and that’s been fifty-two, fifty-three years. I have sixty-eight years in as a volunteer fireman.
BE:

What is the ASC?

CDS:
The agricultural stabilization committee. It’s a county outfit that’s got farmers on it.
BE:

What is their responsibility?

CDS:
They just try to coordinate and keep things functioning for the farmers, keep it in line. The NYABC is the artificial breeders association, the New York Artificial Breeders Co- op. It was run out of Cornell University.
BE:

What was your responsibility on the NYABC?

CDS:
Nothing, they just served as the local board that’s all. I did go a couple times out to Cornell as the state representative from this area. You just served onto it. They kept a board and if you had complaints you registered them. If you had complaints over the technician that was doing the service work or whatever you heard the complaints. Very seldom I ever had anything I should do. You just served as a committee and in case there was a problem, you were the ones that they came to or whatever.
BE:

Were there any major complaints that you dealt with?

CDS:

No, no.

BE:

During your time on the school board what issues did you run into?

CDS:
The main thing is you have very little to say. The state gives you all the things you have to do and your choice is very simple. You just have to do as your told. You do hire and interview your superintendent. The superintendent more or less hires the teachers and all that. You get a brochure on them so that you know what’s going on a little bit, but he’s the one that actually hires the teachers. He’s got more contact with them than you have. You do interview the superintendent or principal. You hire them. You have a little hassle once in a while; you have a parent that comes in because of some disciplinary problem that they didn’t feel was handled the way they’d like to see it handled or whatever. So be it.
BE:

Was there anything that the state wanted that you disagreed with?

CDS:
Not really. It’s all for the good of the education, there is no question about that. The idea of tenure is one of the things that always stuck in my crop. If you weren’t satisfied with the teacher, if they had been there for three years it was practically impossible to get rid of them. It’s unionized. As long as they keep their shoes under their own bed there’s nothing much you can do about it. ¬Now you wouldn’t have to worry about that even.
BE:

Did you ever get into any fights with the unions?

CDS:

No, you knew what you could do and what you couldn’t do. Can’t argue about it.

BE:

As a volunteer firefighter, were there any major fires that you experienced?

CDS:
That big mill down here in the village that burned back in the fifties. Big fire. You get called to mutual aid to other towns. Richfield’s had a couple different fires we were called in on; they were good-sized fires. Had some fires down in Cooperstown that we’ve been called to that have been fairly decent-sized stuff that they go and help onto. You’re there as mutual aid when you go into the others, you do what they ask you to do, and the last thirty years I do nothing but be out in the middle of the road with a flag.
BE:

What ramifications did the burning of that mill have on the community?

CDS:
Just that it was a big fire. The mill itself was practically shut down as far as doing its work anymore as a gristmill. The farmers more or less do business with Cherry Valley, Cooperstown, or Richfield. The bigger mills where it’s all bag feed. That was the main thing, back in the years you did horse and buggy, you brought the oats in to be ground for the cattle and those days were over with at that time.
BE:

When you were younger, like teenage years, what was the community like around here?

CDS:
Much more relaxed, probably, easy going. People never locked their doors. You could ride your bicycle down the street, leave it leaning up against the post and it would still be there the day afterwards. If you didn’t go and get it, there was never any question about it. There used to be three grocery stores in town and you could pick up groceries, or candy, or ice cream, or whatever, if you had any money.
BE:

How do you feel about the move from these local grocery stores to chain supermarkets?

CDS:
It’s inevitable. They can’t compete price wise. The only thing they have for a grocery store here in town now is up here the convenience store on the corner that’s a gas station. Other than that the other three grocery stores are completely out of it, have been for years. They can’t compete with the bigger chain stores. Dollars and cents is what drive it. It’s sorry to see them go, but it’s the way of the times.
BE:

How do you feel about supporting local businesses and the economy?

CDS:
I try to. I do business with a garage down here. As soon as the warranty wears off on a car or a truck or whatever I come back here and do business and buy stuff to keep it. I’ve always tried to even when I was in business. He always kept the trucks going for me or fixed them, if I needed something done in a hurry, they did it. You have to take care of your own community.
BE:

What are some major ways you’ve tried to take care of your community?

CDS:
I’ve taken and did work for churches and organizations without charging them for it. Put on a ceiling here and there. It was a good little gesture. I picked no bones about it. The community’s been good and made a living for us; it doesn’t do any harm to reciprocate a little bit.
BE:

What church do you belong to?

CDS:
We don’t, I don’t. My wife is a member of the Methodist Church, which we’ve always attended until it closed. Now we go over here to the Presbyterian Church in East Springfield. I was brought up in the Episcopal Church, but never joined it.
BE:

Why didn’t you decide to join a church?

CDS:
I hadn’t joined. I attend and support, I just haven’t joined that’s all. I have no objection to joining it that’s not my point.
BE:
With the increased impact of tourism in the area, how have you seen that in terms of a positive impact or a negative impact?
CDS:
It’s a positive impact. No question about it. There’s no industry or income for the younger people growing up. You either have to work and do physical work for the people that are here or for organizations. There is never going to be industry here. The attitude of a lot of the people living is against industry if you even did have something that wanted to come.
BE:

Why do you think the community would reject the coming of an industry?

CDS:
They’re just opposed to it. They don’t want it changed. Probably over 50% of the people of the houses we built were people that came from downstate or out of state or whatever and moved up here. They moved here because it was country area and rural area and they don’t want it to change and the locals don’t really want it to change either. Yet, they want to flourish and have an income and have a community, but yet you don’t want to have what’s going to make the income. If I had to do it over again, start the business, I don’t know, you could probably make a living hardly building houses because of the amount of inspections and restrictions, the amount of acreage you have to have and the all the paperwork involved into it. The nephew that took it over, the majority of the time now he spends doing paperwork, chasing for permits and all this stuff now. It doesn’t work.
BE:

How do you feel about the increased involvement of government in businesses?

CDS:
They’re way overboard, way overboard. They can’t handle what they got now and they want to take over more.
BE:
How would you go about talking to your governmental representatives in a way to change some of the control they have?
CDS:
I don’t know how you’d actually get them to change. They got the power once and they’re never going to give it up. They are way overboard. As I said before they can’t do and control what they’re doing now, yet they want to take over more. It’s just a want to be big government and I’m thoroughly opposed to it. Who am I to say? It isn’t going to happen just because I want it. I grew up in a time when you looked after yourself and so forth. I can remember as a kid people here in town, it was a shame if they had to ask for help. They felt embarrassed, ashamed and so forth if they had to ask for help. They’d practically starve before they’d ask for help. Nowadays, they got their hand out and it can’t come fast enough. That’s the way the time has changed is all, in my lifetime.
BE:
How have you seen that play out in the community? How have you seen people step back and ask for help more?
CDS:
You probably won’t like my attitude. I can name people in town that have signed over everything and everything to their children, so that they can take and qualify for stuff that is freebies coming down the road. Now in years gone by, older generations wouldn’t have considered such a thing. You pay your own bills. If you die broke you die broke, but they wouldn’t take and ask the government to come in and pay their doctors bills and all this stuff so that they could leave a big chunk of money to the kids and sign your house over to the kids previously. This is just the way the country is. It’s ridiculous, but that’s the way it is nowadays. You’re not going to change it I don’t think. They’ve gotten used to it once. I don’t know how you feel about it, but you’re asking, I’m answering that’s all. I don’t go for it.
BE:

How would you describe your parenting style?

CDS:
We have no children. We paid our way all the way along. I expect to pay mine until I die with my boots on or off, one way or the other.
BE:

So you said you sold off the business to your wife’s nephew.

CDS:

I didn’t say sold it off. I said we turned it over to him.

BE:

What was that process like?

CDS:

No problem. He had worked for me for eighteen years or something like that anyway.

BE:

Do you still see any kind of benefit from the business?

CDS:

No, nope.

BE:
So, with signing that over to him, do you think he is going to play the role of the parent that gives to their children?
CDS:
He has one daughter. She’s not interested in the business, I’m sure of that. She’s married and employed, working semi-professional anyway out doing her job. She isn’t interested in that. So what he does, I have no idea.

[START OF TRACK 2, 0:00]

BE:
Going back to the community, what are some of your relationships with specific people, like friends?
CDS:
I’m friends with most of them. I’m friends with the town board. I’m friends with all of them, firemen more or less the older ones, the younger ones I don’t know who half of them are. I know them when I see them, but I couldn’t put a name to a lot of them. I know the business people. The garage and gas station, I know them all.

BE:

What are some of the things you do with members of the community?

CDS:
Not much of anything, other than with the fire department nowadays. I go to fires or fire meetings. We go out and support the church. Anything the church has going on to raise money or something the library is doing for some sort of a show. We always attend that. There is not much going on in the little communities as far as that’s concerned.
BE:

You said you were the fire commissioner for a number of years. What was the job like?

CDS:
You negotiated buying trucks, how much money you had to raise in order to keep your buildings going and put additions on the buildings. We put up an addition on the firehouse in East Springfield over there for a meeting room, a kitchen and so forth. During the process of all that, the two original buildings were [built]. We negotiated that. The fire commissioners actually paid for putting up the shell of the building. The firemen, themselves, did a lot of the work of finishing the rest up. The commissioners paid for the material, but the firemen went ahead and did all the rest of the work themselves. That was our Tuesday night fire drills. One winter we poured the floors, did the plumbing and the wiring. The crew that I had we did plumbing, wiring and carpentry. We went nights and worked right along with them doing it. It was just if you were on the job you went over and worked at it. You donated your time.
BE:

How did you feel when you would experience a devastating fire?

CDS:
You feel bad for the people. There is no question about it. The fellow who was the head of the Red Cross in the county asked my wife and I if we would represent the Red Cross here because of the fact that I was in the fire department and she was in the auxiliary. If there was a situation where people needed something done after a fire at night, he said you will know it, and would you do it? We said yes. We did. We moved stoves or beds or something in the middle of the night. We had arrangements made with a fellow in Richfield that ran a clothing store, if we needed clothes for the kids to go to school the next morning we gave him a call. He would meet us at the store in Richfield, no questions asked. He supplied us with the clothes, we signed the ticket and the Red Cross paid the bill. This fellow authorized us to do it and that is what you did. You put your time into it. There have been bad fires and there have been fatalities and there is nothing you can do about that. That is beyond your control.
BE:

Did you ever lose any firemen?

CDS:

No. I hope I never do.

BE:

Can you tell me a little more about that Red Cross representative as a person?

CDS:

Myself you mean?

BE:

No, the man that asked you to do it.

CDS:
Well he was the head of it in the northern head of Otsego County. He asked us to do it is all.
BE:
Going back to farming, how do you feel about the new trends in farming going towards more organic?
CDS:
It’s a good thing I guess. You don’t get as much of a crop as the other fellow that does the fertilization, but you have less money into it, a little bit. The runoff is not as bad I guess. As far as the phosphates going into the lake, and in the ground and the watershed, which is one of the big things affecting the watershed nowadays. The growth in the bottom of the lakes is far worse with the idea of some of that stuff. You’ve got now here in town the past few years two different situations where one fellow has some lands that he owns, rents more than he owns and another fellow has come in and bought all of his, what he is working on. Both of them are well over the thousand-acre figure I guess. They grow strictly soybeans and picking corn. Neither one of those guys plows the ground anymore. They use what they call a no-till planting situation, where you have no runoff or erosion from your soil. Say they take a new field where there has been hay; they spray it to kill the grass so that they can use one of these no-till outfits and they don’t plow it, don’t turn it, don’t do anything with it. I don’t know how many years they can get away with doing that. Maybe forever, I don’t know. They’re doing it and making good luck at it and so forth. Both of these fellows probably have over a thousand acres apiece that they are doing this with, so that there is no erosion. When you have rain and runoff and you work this soil, you have an awful lot of topsoil down there at the bottom in the creeks. They won’t have it this way because the soil is sealed over and is hard on top. When it goes through it’s got a cutting edge to it that sows the seed. It is the modern way of doing it.
BE:
You brought up phosphates in the lake and issues in the watershed, were those things you were aware of when you were farming?
CDS:

Oh yeah, sure.

BE:

What precautions did you take to prevent that on your own operations?

CDS:
You tried to not have too wide of a chunk of ground that you were working on at one time. Sort of stripping a little bit into smaller fields and keeping it that way. You did the best you could, that’s all. Where you had any sort of incline or grade to it, you tried not to have too many years in a row that you plowed it. You kept alfalfa or grass crops so that it doesn’t erode. We had two farm ponds we used and dug. Some of your soil went into those and didn’t runoff down into the other streams. One of those I did pump dry one time and had it all cleaned out. You started over again so that you didn’t lose the topsoil down into the creeks. You could spread that.
BE:

What’s your reaction toward modern environmental issues?

CDS:
Fifty-fifty. They have to do something; there is no question about it. You take what was out in Colorado where they took some drainage pond or something like that, the EPA themselves bored a hole in it or did something to it and it ran down into the stream. They don’t know what they are doing half the time. They aren’t accurate in what they are doing. The people they have in charge of it don’t know what they are doing. Just because they have a big fancy degree and somebody appointed them a job, that doesn’t mean that they know what they are doing.
BE:
How would you encourage change in environmental awareness so that people do know what they are doing?
CDS:
You have to have people that have done it. Nothing in this world out does experience. I had a lady onetime when we were doing some backhoe work, she stood there and admired the fellow scuffing the ground off and spooning it off, doing a nice job. She said, “My how long do you have to go to college in order to learn that.” I, [might as well have], spit in her face. I said you could go to college for the rest of your life. Until you sit in the seat and learn those levers, you haven’t learned a thing yet. She was furious over my comment. It’s the truth. You have to learn before you start out and try to tell someone what to do.
BE:

How far did you go in school?

CDS:
High school. I didn’t have any choice. There was no money on the farm and my father wasn’t capable of doing what farm work there was and I was the youngest.
BE:

How did you meet your wife?

CDS:

We went to school together.

BE:

When did you guys get married?

CDS:

In 1949.

BE:

Can you describe your marriage for me?

CDS:

Very good. Excellent. No problems whatsoever. That is more than some people can say.

BE:

What did she do?

CDS:
She worked out some to start with before we were married. After we were married she continued to work out some, along with helping out on the farm. She had a chance to be a part-time postal clerk at the post office and she stuck with that for 35 years. She retired from that in 1988.
BE:

How have you guys spent your retirement?

CDS:
Traveled around a little bit, from the time when we quit work, when I got out of the building business, which was the first of July. In August we went to Alaska for seven weeks. We got to where we were going to Florida for the winter for a little bit for two or three months, four months. We had a condo down there, fixed that up. After we got it fixed up we went down one winter afterwards. There was nothing to do, we got sick of it, sold it and haven’t been back since. We stay here; I don’t have to be out at 8 o’clock in the morning doing anything.
BE:

Were those some of the first times you traveled outside of Springfield?

CDS:
No. We have been across the southern section a couple of different times. Out to Las Vegas and California. We’ve been around onto it, but there is nothing like home. You take this fall, the leaves all colored up, you don’t see it any prettier than that anywhere.

BE:

Where were some of your favorite places to go?

CDS:

I enjoyed Alaska, very much so. It’s nice up there.

BE:

What did you do up in Alaska?

CDS:
We drove around. We drove. When we went we were gone seven weeks. We drove the whole distance, out and back. We just went whatever and wherever, if we wanted to spend two days here we did, if we spent one night and moved one. You could see whatever you wanted to see. It is a beautiful country up there. Left the 1st of August and went up there, excellent weather. We stayed right in the van. You don’t find any area much better than what this is.
BE:
What are some of your favorite pieces to the area we live in?

CDS:

Favorite pieces? Such as what?

BE:

Scenic beauty.

CDS:
Right across this side hill there. When I was up on the farm up on top, right up the road here, I could look over and see all the hills all over Richfield and all that type of stuff. The scenery is beautiful. It always is. You take up along the lake in the summertime. Fall, the leaves are all colored up. The lake is just as smooth as a pane of glass and you can see the reflection of the trees colored on the side of the hill like that and right out onto the lake. You’ll never see anything any prettier, never. I don’t care where you go. You see the trees and you see reflection of it right in the lake, its just beautiful. That’s why they call it Glimmerglass, I guess.
BE:

Have you ever considered leaving this area?

CDS:

No. As far as to live you mean? No, I don’t think so.

BE:

What were some of the relationships like with your siblings?

CDS:
I guess we fought probably some when we were kids growing up, as you got old enough to know better you got along fine. Never had any serious fights at all. When we were kids we used to fight, my brother and I. My sister was a little older she didn’t get involved. When you got older enough to know better you got along fine.

BE:

What did your brother go off and do?

CDS:
He got drafted into the service, the time of the Korean War. He went to Fort Lee and worked down there after the service. He had a heart attack and died, died when he was 29 years old. He didn’t last long.
BE:

What impact did that have on you?

CDS:
I don’t know what impact it has. You know what you have to do and you do it. That part of your life was over with.
BE:

What was your mom like?

CDS:

We had a good family. We had a good family growing up and so forth onto it.

BE:

Do you have any memories that stick out about experiences with your family?

CDS:
Not particularly. We were taken to the World’s Fair in 1940-I guess it was. It was quite an experience for kids back in those days.
BE:
What do you remember about the World’s Fair?

CDS:
It was big. It was big! [Laughter] It looked big to me anyways. It was big. We were down there for a week.
BE:

Do you remember anything you did?

CDS:
We went to the fair most every day. I don’t know, one or two days the families we went and stayed with were friends that were up here at one time, they lived up here and moved back down there, there were two boys plus the mother. They took us around a couple days down there other than to go to the fair. When we went out to the fair, the two boys were old enough where they took us all to the fair. It was nice that’s all. We saw different stuff in the city. Of course they were familiar with it. Nothing really earth shattering to me.
BE:

Do you have a memory of something that kind of changed the way you see the world?

CDS:
Yeah, what’s going on with the government right now I think this is the worst thing that has ever happened to the country and it will never recover.
BE:

What specifically?

CDS:
This outfit has put us an additional 8, 9, 10 trillion dollars further in debt and what do they have to show for it? And don’t take me wrong for politics because I’m a registered Democrat and I have been all my life, so don’t say I’m against the Democrats. That’s not what I’m going on. I don’t mind spending money, but I like to see something for it when I spend it and this has received nothing for what they have spent.
BE:

What do you see happening with the upcoming elections?

CDS:
I don’t know, I don’t know. There are so many people that have their hand out and will vote for it because they are going to get their hands filled up with something one way or the other. If that will actually swing it or not, I haven’t the faintest idea. It’s a hard job to read people. Times have changed from when I was a kid, considerably.
BE:

What were some of the proudest times for you in American history growing up?

CDS:
I was always proud of the community here. Always has been a good community. The people that have lived here made good friends.
BE:

Who were some of your friends?

CDS:
The kids we grew up with. I’m not going to put names down. If that’s what your fishing for. When you asked about that Red Cross business, I won’t give you the man’s name. Some people will know it. He was a good friend. He did a lot for the community, but I’m not name-dropping.
BE:

Well we have about five or so minutes left. Is there anything you want to talk about?

CDS:
No, not really. Times are changing, considerably, the way the farming is changing and the building business is changing. Some things are for the better and some things are not. A lot of the farmers used to take years gone by. When I was a kid the milk truck hauler that came and picked up the cans, I think there were 13 farmers that he picked up. Right now there is only one farm that is actually shipping milk out of those 13, shipping from that farm. But the land is all being worked. You got one farm here that is milking over 200 cows, the other milking 300 cows. This is what is being done other than cash cropping. It’s just different that’s all. Back in those days 90% of the farmers owned their own farms. Now some of these big farmers nowadays, they are never going to own it. They are just renting it that’s all. They are renting it from the creditors or the banks. They never make enough money to pay for them when you are a million dollars in debt.
BE:

How do you feel about cash cropping?

CDS:
It’s all right. It’s good, it really is. I can never understand how they control it. The government controls the milk price and they do an awful lot towards controlling the price of the corn and soybeans. When we were going to Florida at different times, we stayed at a mobile park for two or three winters. There was a fellow in there from, I couldn’t tell you, the Midwest. He owned 6-800 acres and when the government subsidies were good he would go back home and rent another thousand acres off of somebody else and plant that along with his 800 acres because he knew the government guaranteed the price. Now if the government wasn’t guaranteeing a decent price he went home and worked his 800 acres. You know what I mean? How can the government survive when people are manipulating it? They’re not stupid. It’s not that they are just saying we are going to help all farmers; they have people in there that are working it both ways. I don’t know. The price of milk this year, some of the farmers, your organic farmers are getting a good price I guess right along steadily. The non-organic, I think they are down around twelve something [unclear] now and a year ago it was twice that figure. Now how can they survive? You’re in debt and if you’re planning on getting 24-2500 dollars for your milk and you’re borrowing money and working towards whatever that figure is. And if you can only get 12 dollars for a while, to me it doesn’t balance out. I don’t know how the country is going to work. At my age I won’t be around to see it.
BE:

How do you worry for the future?

CDS:
Hope you have money enough to live. That’s the main thing. For us at our age above and beyond that I have no control. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. I feel sorry for people’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I really do, people who have that coming up with a head on it. What is it they say? They are borrowing, what did they tell the other day, 100 million dollars a minute. I think I saw that in the news the other day, they are borrowing 100 million dollars a minute. First thing you know they’ll talk big money. Granted we are running a big country, but I do, I worry about it. As far as any control I have there is nothing. I feel sorry for them. At some point in time, if you consider the amount of money they paid in interest, if you had that to invest into the country itself as an improvement to the country, man you could have this country up shiny and glory.
BE:

Alright, well I just want to thank you for your time for talking to me today.

CDS:

You are more than welcome. I don’t know if I’ve done anything to help you any.

BE:

You did thank you.

Duration

29:59 - Track 1
27:31 - Track 2

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps

Files

Citation

Brandon Emerson, “C. David Smith, November 05, 2015,” CGP Community Stories, accessed November 17, 2018, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/217.