Wisconsin native Ed Wendland was born August 28, 1933.
The 89-year-old reflects on his time growing up in his book “A Kid Called Eddie: Growing up in the Depression and War Years.”
WTMJ’s Libby Collins had the chance to talk to Wendland about that and more on this week’s episode of WTMJ Conversations.
Listen in the player above.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: But I’m wondering, with all the hardships that you and your family endured, and the conveniences you didn’t have then but you have now, was life better then?
ED WENDLAND: That’s a hard thing to answer, I mean, nobody wants to have hardships. I think the difference is people understood each other better, there was less — less challenging. You gotta realize, some people were very, very poor. I mean, we didn’t — I never felt poor at all in my family. I thought we had a very good life. When I wrote it, I thought we had a very good life. And so, we had radish sandwiches for lunch, you know, we didn’t — we had lard sandwiches for lunch. I mean, that’s just what you had, you know what I mean. You fished all the time because that’s all you had was fish, because you couldn’t kill your layer chickens, so you couldn’t kill them all the time, so you had to eat fish, eat fish all the time.
So, we have wonderful benefits today and we have wonderful people, but we had people that had nothing, absolutely nothing. And my folks used to fill up these bushel baskets with preserves and potatoes and a couple of chickens and we’d — my dad would — we’d go out and my dad would drop them off. I thought they were customers, because customers would buy from us, buy the chickens. I always thought they were customers.
I ran into an attorney out of state — out of town, I should say, out-of-town attorney, and I said, “Did you grow up in our area?” And he says, “Yeah, I don’t want to remember it though.” And I said, “Why is that?” And he said, “We had nothing.” He says, “If it weren’t for your folks and the neighbors that helped us with clothing and these other neighbors, we would have nothing.” People helped each other. No matter how little you had, you shared it. And that’s what it was.
The one thing that’s different is, with me personally is that I can adjust. I can adjust to a lack of things, and I can adjust to good things. I don’t — if things are tough — you know, and as a consultant, you have good times and bad times, I could adjust to it. It didn’t bother me. I could just adjust because I was used to adjusting as a kid. You were used to it.
LIBBY COLLINS: You said that this is being made into a movie.
ED WENDLAND: Well —
LIBBY COLLINS: “A Kid Called Eddie: Growing Up in the Depression and War Years,” tell us a little bit about that.
ED WENDLAND: Well, first of all, I say in there it’s a dream, and it was. I used to dream about my place. I remember I’d wake my wife up, I said, I dreamt it again, the same dream, same dream. I loved the place. I loved the whole history. But after I wrote the book, my — my wife was the writer in the family. She was a beautiful writer, her book is out there, and her editor was the one that talked me into doing this. Well, after I did the book, a writer from Atlanta, Georgia, a professional writer, picked it up and she asked if she could write the screenplay. And so, she wrote the screenplay, and the screenplay was submitted in Hollywood.
And so, people in Hollywood, she had — she worked for the top names. She was not a top-name person, but she worked with the top names, all the big directors and producers. And so, it’s being — it’s being —
LIBBY COLLINS: It’s in development.
ED WENDLAND: No, it’s being — it’s being promoted. It’s being promoted.
LIBBY COLLINS: Okay.
ED WENDLAND: But I don’t know where it’s going to go. I would love to see it done though, but I don’t know if it’s too boring for today. Everything is shoot ’em up today. And this is low key — this is a little kid getting in trouble, this is — you know, even though there was — there’s some pretty dangerous stuff, but I don’t know if things like that sell today.