In October of 1929, the stock market crashed, sending the United States into a decade-long depression that really didn’t lift until a world war broke out in the late 1930’s. In the Midwestern states of Iowa and Missouri, small farm communities like Wayland, Iowa and Trenton, Missouri were also hit hard by the long drought – an absence of rain that caused the Dust Bowl. While Nebraska and Kansas were hit the hardest, my mom and dad would tell me about the brown haze that would sometimes linger over their communities on hot summer evenings in the mid-1930’s – dust blowing in from the Plain States, brought in by the hot southerly winds.
It goes without saying that money was tight for the Bollers and Boyers throughout the 1930’s, just as it was for nearly every American family. Yet my parents were always quick to tell me that they were still blessed because both of their fathers had jobs throughout the decade. Waldo Boller, under great duress, kept Boller Furniture Company afloat, serving Wayland by offering both furniture needs and the services of a trained mortician.
In an article written by sports editor Al Grady (1976) my dad, George Boller, shared one of his “depression” stories…
The years 1931 through 1938 were depression years…(George) recalls that in 1933, in the midst of the depression, he saved enough money from his paper route to buy tickets to Iowa’s three home games for both himself and his father, the tickets having been reduced in price that year to $1.50.
In Trenton, Missouri, my mom, Dixie Boyer, recalls the blessing of her dad, William Hollis Boyer, always having a steady job with the Rock Island Railroad. Throughout the depression years, while the country’s economy would ebb and flow, the one certainty was that the railroad kept running. Living very close to the Rock Island rail yards (see above), it was very common for the Boyers to have unemployed men, and sometimes even whole families, drop by their home at 1913 Lulu Street, asking for a meal or a lead on any kind of work. My mom told me that while times were tough, Hollie and Edie Boyer would always have some extra food on hand to give away to those in need. Click here to read more about the Boyer family and Trenton, Missouri.
Despite the depression, George was still able to take in the Chicago World’s Fair. While Waldo stayed back home in Wayland, working at Boller Furniture, family friends, Paul & Mildred Rainier, took my dad, age 12, to the Windy City in August 1933 to take in the fair. Read more here.
While my dad, George Boller, attended Wayland High School from 1934-1938, my mom, Dixie Boyer went to Trenton High School from 1936-1940, graduating in the spring of 1940. Below is a picture of Dixie’s square on a quilt made by the entire senior class of 1940 – one where every student had a square representing their name.
After graduating from high school in the spring of 1940, Dixie attended Trenton Junior College. In those days, a degree from a junior college was much more education than many women would aspire to, but Dixie Boyer just wasn’t your average woman!
Dixie thrived in her educational pursuits, and after graduating from TJC in 1942, she transferred to the University of Colorado in Boulder to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Her aunt and uncle, Jay and Hazel Wilson, lived in Denver, so it was a natural fit for this adventurous Missouri girl to go off to the Rocky Mountains to pursue her dream.
(P-0135) (P-0286) For George, when it came to picking a college, it was a no-brainer. SUI was the only place he would ever consider. So, immediately after graduating from Wayland High School in the spring of 1938, off my dad went to Iowa City – his home away from home for the next two years. For more about Iowa City in the late 1930’s – click here.
Just as George was entering SUI as a freshman, Iowa football was about to experience a season like none other. Once again, I’ll turn to Al Grady’s 1976 article on my dad…
“Boller was graduated from Wayland High School in 1938 and arrived as a freshman at Iowa in 1938 just in time to be part of the unforgettable football renaissance brought by the immortal Nile Kinnick and the Ironmen. ‘I’ll never forget that season, says George…beating Notre Dame one Saturday and then Minnesota the next was something I’ll never forget, and of course, in those days since I was a student, I got to know quite a few of the players.’ George collected a number of autographs and photos from the coaches and players from that Ironmen Iowa squad, including Nile Kinnick, who went on the win the Heisman Trophy (college football’s highest award) in 1939, only to die serving his country as an airman during World War II.”
Sadly, in 1940, my dad had to step away from his college work in Iowa City. Trouble was brewing back home in Wayland and the Boller family really needed George to help get them through it all.
My grandfather, Waldo, was suffering from exhaustion and despair as he attempted to keep the family business, Boller Furniture Company, afloat during the depression years. You can read the full story here. Waldo died, at age 57, in November, 1941, just a couple of weeks before Pearl Harbor and the start of WWII. Sadly, my dad was never able to return to Iowa City to finish his SUI degree. But, before I tell you more about that, allow me to share with you a Boller love story that I’m particularly thankful for!
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.