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The Depression brings a new venture into the family of the Double M. When Suzanna buys K-Chemical, she becomes a businesswoman. The purchase is for her son, Jeff, as she desperately wants to keep in on the Double M and not lose him to the larger cities of the East in the way her mother lost Mallon.
World War II brings the loss of life to the families in and around Corbit. As the shock wears off, Suzanna, now a widow and Ralph, who has been widowed for several years, find love and happiness in each other’s arms.
As Suzanna’s life draws to a close, she looks back on the things she has accomplished. She has lived through two world wars, the great depression, Korea and Vietnam. Her ranch business interests have prospered. Now her grandson, JP, is ready to take on the challenges of running the Double M.
Depression! It spread from coast to coast like a prairie fire in August when there had been no rain. To say Corbit, Montana remained untouched by it would be a lie. Like many other communities across the country, small ranchers were being forced to sell their property for pennies on the dollar.
Although they were doing well, those who lived on the Double M Ranch felt the impact of depression. Thanks to the ranch manager, Ralph Jennings, they were in fairly good shape. Perhaps they couldn’t pay the top wages they had in the past, but they had work for those who wanted it.
Ralph, like his father, put little faith in banks and kept only the working capital for the ranch and enough personal finances for both himself and the Parkhursts for a one month period in them. The rest of their money was kept in the vault his father built in the basement of his home.
As properties surrounding the Double M became available, Ralph advised Clay Parkhurst to buy them. By 1934, the Double M had tripled in size. As for Ralph, he limited the investments he made to ranches closer to town.
Ralph, like Clay, now had considerable holdings, although he was quiet about what he purchased. From all outward appearances, he wasn’t investing as heavily as he advised his employers to do. For that reason, he was surprised when Alf Kline, owner of K-Chemical, Corbit’s largest manufacturing plant, called to arrange a meeting. It had been set for noon, and now Ralph waited anxiously for Alf to arrive.
As he leaned back in his desk chair, he could hear his wife, Barbara, preparing lunch in the kitchen. He glanced at the clock. It read eleven forty-five. Clay and Suzanna as well as Alf would be here any minute.
Lunch was friendly and had no tones of the business meeting to follow. Ralph noticed that he, like Clay, seemed edgy about the coming meeting, while Suzanna and Barbara engaged the older gentleman in spirited conversation.
After lunch, they took their coffee into the living room. “As you know,” Alf began, “I lost both my sons in the war. Now I’m an old man, who has nothing but a business. Granted, it is a good business, but it isn’t family. My wife died thirty years ago and we had no other children, so there’s no one left to inherit what I built. Recently, the doctor told me I only have a few months to live. I have cancer and it’s too advanced for him to do anything to help me.”
Barbara and Suzanna both gasped, holding their hands to their mouths in horror.
“Don’t be upset, ladies. I’m not in much pain. What hurts is there is no one to take over K-Chemical. That’s where you come in. I’ve been watching the four of you.
“When this depression hit, most people were wiped out, but you’re like me, you’re survivors. Somehow, you’ve prospered, even grown. From what I hear, this ranch is three times its original size, and you, Ralph, have considerable holdings of your own.”
Ralph could hardly believe that Alf knew what was going on in his life. He thought he had kept his personal holdings a well-guarded secret.
“Don’t look so shocked, young man. I ask questions. I’ve done it for a reason. I’ve come here today to sell K-Chemical to the four of you. I know you folks would run it, love it and make it prosper, as I have since the day I first conceived the idea. This depression won’t last forever.”
“Look, Alf,” Clay said, “we’re honored you think of us this way, but I know I speak for Ralph when I say we know nothing about the chemical business. We’re ranchers, plain and simple.”
“I agree with Clay,” Ralph added. “I can balance the ranch books and keep our heads above water, but in an office, I’d be lost. I couldn’t just get up when I got bored and ride out with the men.”
If you enjoy Barbara Taylor Bradford's sweeping family epics, but are a little short on time, this might be considered the "light" version of one of those. by Amanda
As you read this amazing story you will be pulled into it as I was. There are so many characters that I couldn't begin to name them all. As the century moves along a lot of things happen that will have you crying, cheering and urging these wonderful people on. Terri from Romance Junkies
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 292
Paper Weight (lb): 12.6