Velma Wancura

Velma On...

May 1, 2013

As my time with Velma Wancura draws to a close, Velma and I talked about some of life's nuggets.  These are some of her thoughts about:

Prejudice and Pride

Apr 23, 2013

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. 

The Root Cause of Stingy

Apr 16, 2013

Go back to May, 1935.  Velma and Ted Wancura have a young son.  They haven't had a wheat crop in years, or rain for that matter.  Most of their cattle herd has been lost in the dust storms.  A tornado took their house.  The Wancuras moved a vacant house in to replace it.

Dark Cloud on the Horizon

Apr 9, 2013

The mid 1930's were the dry years on the high plains.  The drought has taken so much, a tornado took their home, but one young couple continue to persevere.  Velma and Ted Wancura were creative problem solvers.  They had 150 head of cattle, but no grass in the pasture. so   Ted and his brother harvested the cactus that remained for feed.  After burning the spines off with a blow torch, the cactus were placed in a cattle tank where the were well received.  When they were gone, Ted fabricated a truck bed to haul beet tops from the Garden City sugar factory, approximately 50 miles away, where the farm land was irrigated.  That solution worked until weather conditions worsened. 

No Home to Go To

Apr 2, 2013

In 1935, there had been no rain and no wheat crop for the Wancuras.  One day, Velma and Ted decided to drive to Beehler to a farm sale about 14 miles north.  On the way home, they stopped at her parent's home in Beehler to say hello.  The weather turned.  Velma's dad told them to stay for the night. 

The next day they started out for home.  They met a neighbor on the road, who told them there was no reason to travel any further, a tornado had destroyed their home.  It was scattered for miles.  

The Dry Years

Mar 26, 2013

The hard times began long before the dust storms that inspired movies, documentaries, and books.  There was no rain, no crops, wheat was .25 cents a bushel, which would have been something if there was any wheat to harvest.  For Velma Wancura, the dry years meant going back to work as a teacher.    That wage supported her family.   

Back When Horse Power Meant Barney and Joe

Mar 19, 2013

Velma Wancura's dad wanted to be a farmer, so he traded a house in McCracken, Kansas for a quarter of land south of Beeler.  He was a good farmer, and it took the whole family to make it successful.  The kids helped  milk eight to twelve cows twice a day, separated the milk, and sold the cream.  Velma also remembered the horses.    She recalled two by name, Joe and Barney.  When Velma was six or seven, she started driving the team.  Looking back, she said, "The horse looks so tall and big, I don't know how I did it."   

Life is What You Paint It

Mar 12, 2013

Can you imagine living over 100 years and only having two regrets?  I can't.   It is one of the things that amazed me about Velma Wancura. 

I met Velma Whipple Wancura two years ago.  Her grandson, Dan Wancura contacted me, telling me I needed to meet his grandmother.  He said the story of her life was simply amazing.  He was right.