July 15, 2020 |
We Shall Persevere - A Look at 100 Years Ago
PERSPECTIVE: 100 years ago - in 1920 - at the Johnson Farm (aka Sunnyslope)
Circa 1954, Owner Fred Johnson Jr. with grandfather, Frederick William Johnson.
- My grandfather, Frederick William Johnson, is building an apple cold storage shed. He frames it out with big timbers repurposed from a dairy barn that in turn was built about 1820 by William Peacock. The cold storage shed is now our winery and the those original 1820 timbers still hold the roof up.
- His wife of 3 years, Nan Scouller, has presented him with a baby daughter, Antoinette, who in 1920 is about to turn two. My father will be born in September of 1921. The brick house next door that he has been fixing up since 1911 is now fully ready for his young family.
- The fourth wave of the “Spanish Flu” epidemic has just ended. It killed 675,000 Americans and perhaps 50 million people world-wide. There is no vaccine.
- The country is in a severe post-war, post-pandemic recession. There are race riots in Chicago and anarchist bombings on Wall Street.
- President Wilson is pretending to govern the country from his sickbed. FDR, running as Vice President, will get trounced in November 1920 election: 404 electoral college votes to 127.
- Prohibition becomes the law of the land, and grandfather reputedly makes his first batch of wine that fall.
- The Dust Bowl (Like Erie is over five feet below its current high levels), the Depression, World War II and the atom bomb will all follow, but Grandfather’s little farm enterprise prospers in good times and survives in bad.
So here we are, one hundred years later, struggling to navigate the latest pandemic, looking forward to a great harvest, but uncertain about political, economic, and environmental futures. But we have been here before. We will persevere, as will you. As farmers, we know that there will always be challenges ahead, both man-made and God-given. But we are always optimists; determined optimists, dedicated to always leaving this place and our customers and community a little better and a little happier than they were before.