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HPPR People & Communities

Prejudice and Pride

Velma Wancura - 1966.jpg

It was hard to be German during World War I.  Velma Wancura's father hired extra help during harvest time.  She said you had to be careful not to hire a German sympathizer or a spy. 

She recalled two incidents.  The first was when two German men with different views were working at the same time on their farm.  They were bitter enemies.  One believed in the German cause, one was against it.  On Sunday afternoons when everyone was given a day of rest, her father would have to sit between them to keep them from fighting.  She also remembered a time when she and her dad were at the blacksmith shop in Dighton, and a German man brought his plowshares into be sharpened.  The smithie threw the plowshares into the street, and told the farmer he didn't work for Germans.  She felt the Germans were discriminated against in most everything.

It's also tough to be a woman, especially when you're working in a man's world.  Velma's husband Ted passed away in 1954.  Velma was 47 years old.  She had a son in college, and a daughter in high school.  Rather than follow the advice of others who told her to sell, Velma decided to run the family farm.  One incident in particular said to her that she didn't belong.    She was attending a farm auction at the sheriff's sale.  The farm adjoined hers.  She got a federal land bank loan, and went to bidding.  She paid $90,000 for 800 acres.  She won the bid.  As she exited, one of her neighbors commented, "I'd like to sell you my land for that."  In flooded the doubt, had she done the wrong thing?  That was a lot of money; had she made a mistake?  She survived making a living in a man's world by learning to ignore the comments and "advice" of others, and going on the way she thought was best for herself and the children.