HPPR hosts & contributors
High Plains History Episode
Tue February 19, 2013
Where I Come From
Virginia Kerns Frantz was born near Granada, Colorado on February 28, 1924. She remembers her childhood as a hand to mouth existence.
Her father was a young widower with three kids when he married her mother. She came along about a year later, her sister a short time after, and they had seven mouths to feed during the hard times of the 1930's. The family lived in a three room house, and there were seven kids, her mom and dad, and her paternal grandfather.
It was a bleak time. Sleeping arrangements were creative to make room for everyone. They typically walked 3/4 mile to school. Her older brother was killed in an accident the summer before she began sixth grade. She assumed the work of the brother that was lost. She herded cattle, walking them over the dirt drifts over the fences to find anything green during the day, and taking them home at night.
Her dad was a carpenter. There was no work on the farm outside Perryton, Texas, so her dad went to work constructing the oil refineries around Dumas. He would send money home for groceries, returning when he could. They were creatively self-sufficient in all aspects of life. Sometimes, he would come home bone tired, gather the kids together, and they would play baseball using a broken chair leg for a bat, and a ball made out of string and rubber bands.
Like her mother before her, Virginia had more than a handful of children. She was also just as determined and self-suffcient as her mom. With her kids in tow, she enrolled at Panhandle State University in 1966. She earned her teaching degree and spent twenty-two years teaching at Guymon High School. She returned to school to obtain her master's degree in counseling.
After she retired, Virginia has devoted her time to projects like writing, painting, singing, and acting. It's not unusual to see Virginia performing around the Panhandle as part of "The Leading Ladies," a women's barbershop chorus in Guymon, or "The Beer City Ladies," a regional theater group associated with the No Man's Land Historical Museum. She recently published Keepin' It Together, a young adult book about her experiences growing up in the Dust Bowl.