farm boy

The Iowa Farm Boy



chore deliver discharge
dawn sibling campaign (2)
brick consist moreover
dusk area (2) bright (2)
remain potbelly sweetheart
verge draft (2) on the verge
navy forever venture (2)
fiance appliance eye-opener
assign plant (3) munitions
afford district aircraft carrier
attend veteran component
furnish suburban prove (2)



Patty talks about her grandfather, Ernie

A Farm Boy in Iowa

It all started on a corn (maize) farm in Iowa, in the Midwest of the United States. This is where Ernest “Ernie” Strother, my grandfather, was born. Like other children in the area, he helped his parents with the farm chores.

Off to School

From an early age, he would get up every morning before dawn to milk the cows and deliver the milk to neighbors.

He and his siblings would then walk the 2 miles (3.2 km) to the village school. Their schoolhouse consisted of a one-room, brick building with a potbelly stove.

Baseball and Radio

Later when the children were older, they rode a bus to a central high school in the main town of the district.

As well as studying the usual school subjects, Ernie played baseball and was in the radio club. He was also a Boy Scout.

Back to the Corn Fields

Though he had been a bright student and wanted to go to university, he couldn’t because his family couldn’t afford it.

Moreover, they needed him on the farm. So he remained there and continued to work with his father.


A few years later, Ernie was on the verge of getting married with his high school sweetheart.

Then suddenly — the United States entered the Second World War — and his life changed forever. He was soon drafted into the Navy and sent to the West Coast.

The Navy

This proved to be an eye-opener for him. It was in California that he saw the ocean and big cities for the first time in his life.

Indeed it was the first time he had ventured more than 10 miles (16 km) from his farm.

Ernie then trained in avionics (aircraft electronics). His fiance (my grandmother) meanwhile came to Los Angeles and worked in a munitions plant.

To Battle

After completing his training, he was assigned to an aircraft carrier. His task was servicing warplane electronics.

They sailed to the South Pacific and the Philippines where he took part in numerous campaigns against Japanese forces.

War Veteran

Following the war and his discharge from the Navy, Ernie settled in California.

Through the G.I. Bill, a government program for veterans, he was able to attend university. He studied engineering, then found work at a company that produced components for spaceships.

The Suburbs

Soon afterwards, my grandparents got married. They bought a suburban home and furnished it with new, modern appliances such as a washing machine, dryer — and of course, a television.

Here they raised four children, including my mother. They had three cars and even a small swimming pool.


In 1986, Ernie retired. He and granny then began playing golf, traveling, and raising fruits, vegetables and flowers in their garden.


*     *     *     *     *     *


1. Ernie spent most of his childhood watching TV. True or false?

2. His parents drove him and his siblings to school. Is this right or wrong?

3. Did her granddad only study, or did he also engage in extracurricular activities?

4. He wanted to attend college. Is this correct or incorrect? Was he able to attend college after high school?

5. He moved to California. Yes or no? Why did he move to California?

6. Was it a culture shock for him? Why?

7. Did he drive a tank into battle?

8. What did Patty’s grandpa do after the war? How was this possible?

9. Was his old and new life very different?


A. My father, grandfather or great-grandfather was in the military. True or false? Was he in the army, navy, air force or marines?

B. Have you, your parents or grandparents moved from a village or farm to a city?

C. If yes, what was it like for them? Did they experience culture shock or difficulties adjusting?

D. I was the first in my family to graduate from university. Yes or no?

E. Who in your family experienced the greatest change in their lives?

G. What are some great changes that you have experienced in your society and life?



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