“This farm isn’t big enough to support you and your brothers, too. You’re the dumb one, so you’ll have to go to college.” That was what Walter Khlem’s father told him as he graduated high school.
Walter was born in 1900. He grew up on a farm in Iowa, with several brothers. It was a time when sons got married and built a house on “the home place” and went to farming with their fathers. Even with buying some more acreage, or renting some, and with the more labor-intensive farming of the day, a farm needed only so many hands. Walter’s hands were not included.
So he went to college. Studied agriculture. And industrial arts. Taught them. Got a PhD. Taught those subjects in college. Became the Dean of the College of Applied Technology at Eastern IL U. In retirement he owned a bunch of apartment buildings. Did all the maintenance on them himself.
In his last year of life, he told me that story. “I did okay, by going to college,” he said, “but everyone back home always thought I was the dumb one.”
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