Saturday, August 29, 2015

SCHOOL DAYS GONE BY, 1925 & 1926

From Anna Reinken--One bright February morning I started across the prairie with my dinner pail and my books under my arm. Mother told me not to come home if it should storm but wait at the schoolhouse for my father. When I reached the school which was about two miles away, I was very cold.

Shortly after recess a black cloud rose in the east which kept spreading over the sky until the sun was quite shut out. The wind began to blow and the snow came down as if it were rain. In less than an hour the wind was so strong that it shook the schoolhouse and the air was so full of snow that one could hardly see through it. At four o'clock the storm was still raging and the teacher told us that we must stay where we were and not try to go home.

As night came on we were all frightened. The coal was nearly all burned up. The teacher was about to use the desks as fuel but just then a man came with the coal. He said it had taken him four hours to come over the last four miles. He was nearly frozen. After he had gotten warm, he said we must all go home with him to his house for the night. I was very glad for I was beginning to get hungry.

The storm kept raging for three days but the next afternoon Father came to take me home. There had been some very deep snow drifts but I held to my father's hand and reached home safely. I was very glad to get home again to see my little sisters and brothers.

From Hazel Summers--I go to school and am in the sixth grade. Our school is one story high. It has eight teachers and six class rooms. Then it has a kitchen, a long hall and a cloak room for the boys and one for the girls. We have twelve grades. There is a little "Red House" on the back of the school ground where hot lunches are cooked. The community thought it was mighty nice, indeed, of Miss Elizabeth Word, our principal, to have hot lunches for all the hungry students after studying so hard.

Dorothy Brandt--At school we are having a contest. We call it the "aint contest." If anyone says aint (instead of "is not" or "has not" or "have not"), he gets one mark. Some of the children have over fifty or sixty marks. To the one that has the least marks, our teacher gives a prize. My sister has the least marks, she only said it once.

Monday, August 24, 2015

MATILD's ROSES, by Cola L. Fountain, July 1926

Once upon a time, in the fast-dimming long ago, a woman, called Matild' Waters, lived "by the side of the road" in a low ramshackle house. She had poverty to deal with, and drunkenness and shame to endure from her husband and his people, who came and caroused within her lowly door.
July 1926 Cover
Matild' had children and they did not all "turn out well." The example of their father and the legacy of his unstable character told on them and they were not strong enough to conquer their inheritance. Matild' lived to know the bitterness of the hand of the law against her sons and to see her daughters sicken in poverty and die for lack of medical aid.

Matild' was a woman with a soul starved for beauty. No matter how hard her burdens pressed upon her, she would stand in the cottage door for a brief moment just to contemplate the spring green stealing over the mountains, to catch the flicker of a bluebird's wing or to glimpse the flames of the western sun reflected on the lofty ledge of rock behind the house.

There was no material beauty inside her home. Matild' had braided a rug one winter from odds and ends of woolen cloth, with red flannel worked in here and there. She had made it in the long midnight hours while waiting for the man of the house to come home. When finished she had placed it on the floor in the "other room" and used to go in now and then just to feast her eyes upon it. One day it disappeared and she never found it. The saloonkeeper's wife over at Hooker Mountain had one just like it shortly after but Matild' never knew.

A stranger driving by the cottage one afternoon, with his carriage full of rosebush slips and plants which he was delivering far up in the mountains, stopped for a drink of water. Moved by the heart-hungry look in the eyes of Matild' he handed her a little bush and drove away.

She planted the slip behind the house but when people were about paid no attention to it. It grew and throve. She mentioned it in her husband's presence only as a "pesky nuisance," so he left it alone.

Years passed. The house became more tumbledown, the family more reduced. The roses alone flourished. Today Matild' and her husband sleep in the sandy little cemetery in the shadow of the mountain. Their children are scattered and gone, some dead, some far away. The house has fallen into decay. The ramshackle barn burned down

years ago. As you walk along the road in June a fragrance sweet and lovely envelops you and the wind wafts away. You turn the bend of the road and a marvel of pink and glowing beauty meets your eye. The yard of the old cottage is full of roses. They have spilled over the broken fence, they have crossed the road and are marching down the ravine like an army with banners. Though the woman who planted the first little bush has long been dust and few who live in that section even remember her face, yet these flowers are known everywhere by the name of "Matild's Roses."

They are gathered by the whole neighborhood for weddings and for funerals; children carry them up the dusty country road for the "last day" at school; lovers wear them in their buttonholes; tourists passing through this as yet uncharted road on their way to a better highway stop to gather and bear away Matild's roses to far-distant points.

To some it is given to live long enough to receive the applause of the throng for their deeds done on earth. Others suffer depths of shame and humiliation and never know the extent of their influence or the joy of work successfully accomplished. How many of us can leave behind such real beauty and sweetness that ever growing will blot out the remembrance of our suffering and failure, fill the hands of strangers with fragrance and loveliness and teach once more the old, old lesson that however narrow and shadowed our pathway may be, however small may seem our opportunity to brighten it, if we but do our best with what we have, there is no end nor limit to its influence and power and so, verily, our "works do follow us."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

ARE YOU HAPPY? By E.H.C., North Dakota, June 1925

Dear Farmer's Wife:

Our happiness depends on ourselves and not our surroundings, our circumstances or our associates. It is not having what we want but making the most of what we have.

My desire has always been to have a home full of my own children, not three or four but a dozen or so with at least one pair of twins! Instead I find myself "an old maid," my sisters and brothers all away from home and my nieces and nephews so far away they seldom even come for a visit. But his old world is just full of children--I have some under foot most of the time--and there is a world of joy to be had from these children that are not our own. Then there may be a father, grandmother, grandfather, uncle or aunt in the home or near us who is hungry for the love that we could give them. Do not think their life is overfull of pleasure because they do not complain.

Have you lost one very dear to you? Do not waste your life pining and regretting. They are just a few steps ahead of us and waiting for us. Do what you cannot do for them for someone else. There are other children who need love; someone else's mother to whom you may be considerate and gentle; some young person away from home who could appreciate your help in any way. Do for them what you would wish done for one of your loved ones if among strangers. At the same time enrich your days and make a glow in your heart. All of us have happiness within us if we only cultivate it. Above all, never sour your heart with a grudge. Grudges are poison. What has happened to you is only "bad" in the degree you make it--forget it and be happy, if not because of your trouble, but in spite of it.

Friday, July 3, 2015

LIFE HAS LOVELINESS TO SELL; The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt; Pages 88-89

Dear Friends:

I want to express my thanks to those of you who have taken the time to leave a comment about one of the letters. Forgive me for not always responding, but please know that your input is much appreciated. Thank you for your kindness!

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed rinsing and cutting up strawberries yesterday. The window was open and the wind was blowing and I was standing at my kitchen sink! When we bought our property sixteen years ago, it had two homes on it; a large, old farmhouse, and a small, equally old, little house. We have been slowly fixing up the little house and I hope someday (I am 59 years old) to retire there (at least as much as a housewife ever retires!) The big house kitchen sink faces an inside wall, but from the little house sink, I can see the clothesline, a cornfield, the garden, and best of all, the sky.

From "Wealthy" Minnesota; September 1935; Quilt Block: Sara

Years ago I remember Mother asking Dad to cut a window above the kitchen sink. He finally did, after some coaxing, and I helped him with hammer and nails. I doubt if either of us understood just why she wanted a window there when all she saw from it was the road going out to the highway, and the spirea hedge and the pansy beds. Then it came my turn to have a kitchen sink, with a window above it, and I remember my mother's insistence.
Several hours a day I stand or sit by my sink and watch the parade of beauty pass my window: Spring, with its new buds and clouds of plum blossoms, its rain-drenched lilacs and flash of returning birds. Summer, with its blue skies and blooming flower beds, its afternoon picnics in the shade of the big oak, with sunlight filtering through the leaves to fall on tousled yellow heads. Fall, and sturdy young bodies marching off to school, turning for a last wave and smile.

Frost laying a mantle of white over the green grass, giving a thousand colors to elm and oak and maple. Winter, with snow piled high against the hedges, casting blue shadows for snowbirds to bathe in. Sunshine on ice-coated evergreens and spruce; a snow fort and snowmen.
Dishwashing and canning make the kitchen sink a busy place. But with my window to let in beauty of sound and line and color, it ceases to be merely a busy place and becomes a marketplace, for, according to Sara Teasdale, "Life has loveliness to sell." And we may buy it at the kitchen sink. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Dear Mothers: 
As the mother of four small children ranging from eight to one and one-half years, it seems to me that there is nothing I can do for them that will benefit them more, socially, than to teach them good table manners.

Good table manners are not acquired in a moment; children must grow up with them. And the time to begin teaching them is when they start to eat alone. When baby starts throwing his oatmeal on the floor, he should be gently but firmly corrected. If we laugh at him and say, "Oh, he is little," our task soon becomes difficult for he grows older a day at a time. 

I have seen little children come to the breakfast table unwashed and in their night clothes. Nothing encourages a child (or grown-up) to act his best, more than a neat, clean, nicely-arranged table. 

 Children should be taught the use of table napkins so they become a habit of their everyday life. A napkin is a necessary.
We should teach our boys and girls that mealtime is a time not only to satisfy our hunger but should be a time for cheerful, pleasant conversation between parents and their children. Quarreling and "telling on" each other at this time should never be allowed. 

Where there are several small children, accidents are sure to happen but little mishaps should not be enlarged upon too greatly. Some small punishment, as being sent away from the table for a few minutes is far more effective than too much scolding. 

The little ones should be be encouraged to take a moderate and respectful part in the conversation. They can relate what they did in school that day, tell some story they have read or heard or tell something they have observed in Nature. Each child should be taught to listen attentively to the one speaking. We should see that they chew quietly and slowly, impressing upon their minds the value of thorough mastication. 
Thus it seems to me that children properly instructed will grow up and go out into the world with an ease of manner and consideration for others that will do a great deal for them. 

Friday, June 26, 2015


This blog was created not to share my own thoughts and as much as possible, I will try to keep to that same purpose for this post. Today I am disappointed but not surprised. I will try to remember God's promise, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear..."

One of my favorite hymns is "Faith of Our Fathers" by Frederick W. Faber who lived from 1814-1863. Although I have seen at least one modern hymnal change a few words to make it more "cheerful," here is the original:

"Our fathers, chained in prisons dark, were still in heart and conscience free;
 How sweet would be their children's fate, if they, like them, could die for Thee!"

Selections from the Biblical book of Hebrews, Chapter 11

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible...By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants "as the stars of heaven in number and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore."All these died in faith, without receiving the promises but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He has prepared a city for them...And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

And from the last few verses of the Bible, Revelation 22:17-21

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book and if anyone takes away from the words of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

And lastly, just eleven days ago, the Lord took His faithful servant, Elisabeth Elliot, home to be with Him. You can hear her broadcast "Gateway to Joy" at the following link:

May God bless you all...

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Last week I was asked to complete a written interview for an upcoming quilt magazine article. A few of the questions revolved around The Farmer's Wife magazine and it got me to thinking that although I talk about the magazine when I speak at quilt guilds, etc., I rarely mention it on my blog. So for this and a few more blog posts, I will be writing about an issue that is hundred and one years old this month.

Yes, the condition of the magazine is rough, (the cover is detached, too) but I dare say none of us would look much better after 101 years!

Although I will call it a magazine, as you can see the complete title is just, The Farmer's Wife. It is never referred to as a magazine, but rather a paper. That makes sense because not only is it made of newsprint, but it is as large as a folded newspaper measuring 11" wide and 17" from top to bottom. The interior is written in black ink; the only color being on the front cover.

The number of pages in each issue varied greatly throughout the years. In this issue there are only 24  but since the type is so very small (readers must have had excellent eyesight!) it would take several hours to read it thoroughly.

Photographs were frequently used, but I imagine even when the magazine was brand new the images weren't very sharp. More often than photographs they printed pencil or ink drawings of the best quality as illustrations.

The following two pictures were included to illustrate two different fiction stories. The stories must have been extremely popular since they always held prominent positions in the magazine. Although some of the stories were complete in one issue, some continued for six months. An excellent way to sell magazines, I think!

The following two letters were printed in the magazine under a column entitled, "Our Home Club." The Home Club was a catch-all of letters to the editor, recipes, requests for advice and handy hints.

KEEPING HAPPY AT HOME; J. K. from Missouri

I think there is no kind of life more happy in average than the good farm life. When we came to this place eight years ago there was nothing but a house and barn in the middle of a field. We went to work with zeal and worked hard. Now we have the most attractive place in the neighborhood. First we planted fruit and shade trees. Now we have fruit in abundance and our shade trees are the envy of our neighbors. We also have small fruits galore. Our garden is a joy to all. We have many conveniences for making our work lighter. We put up ice every winter, then we can make splendid butter, as well as keep our food-stuffs sweet and fresh during the summer months. For the social side of country life, we have all sorts of affairs,--box socials, spelling bees--attended one last week and spelled down the entire class! I find much enjoyment in such things. Then I have my piano and I like to ride horseback and find entertainment in books. I always find plenty of time to do these things though I make all my own clothes and sometimes sew for others too.


I have always lived on a farm and consider it the best place in the world. I have six boys and one girl. My oldest boy is fifteen and my youngest boy two and I am a widow. My children and I carry on the farming with but little hired help. We live on a ranch of 720 acres, milk cows and take our sweet cream six miles to a separator every day in the summer. We have pigs, calves and chickens and some guinea fowl. My three youngest boys older than my two babies go to school most of the time. I did not see a woman from Thanksgiving till in March. Do not have time to get lonesome. I have made fancy work, pieced three quilts (crazy work on a machine), hooked a rug, besides all the regular work for a family of eight.

More about the June 1914 issue next time.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Today I am printing two pages from my new book The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Dear Farmer' Wife:

As I am reading other women's letters, I wonder if I might encourage some other mother to enjoy such a vacation as I have taken. I, like Sally Sod, have been tied with little ones, having five, the oldest 10 years old and the youngster 5 months. Also I know what hard times are, as I believe that if ever anyone has seen and felt them, we have. Therefore, I have stayed at home and worked and saved until even my husband seemed to be the ugliest man I ever saw, although I knew he was the best one.

I had not visited my parents for three years, although they lived only a day's drive away. They had never seen the baby. So I decided to leave my 300 chicks, goslings, setting hens and the dairy for my husband to care for and take the children and go home.

We just couldn't all leave, as we bottle and deliver our milk to town people twice daily. Our car is a 1923 model, arm-strong starter, and anything but good looking. My husband worked the engine over and had it in as good running order as he could make it.  We loaded it and started.

I put the baby in a wooden box with plenty of pillows in the back seat, with a youngster on each side of him, and two in the front with me. We left home at 7 o'clock in the morning and "pulled" into the nearest town to my parents' home at 5:30 in the afternoon. I sent a telegram to my husband and then went on the other three miles. What a happy bunch we were!

We stayed two weeks and every minute was full. We came back across the flint hills with all their rocks so much happier and just as anxious to get home as we were to leave.

We drove between 180 and 200 miles each way, over 400 miles altogether, and came back with the same air in the tires we had when we left (they weren't all new either.) Everyone says that I had lots of courage and nerve to start such a trip with so many little ones, but just the same we made it, and when we came home, it was to find the best looking man in the world and a house as clean as a pin with everything in tip-top shape.

Nobody know what that trip meant to me and the cost was little. I left with ten dollars and brought back over three dollars. Out of this little, trinkets were bought for the children as well as expenses paid.

I prepared plenty of sandwiches, fruit and cake for the children. Also a jug of water and a bottle of milk for the baby (yes, he
is a bottle baby), and with a can of heat it was warmed and he was fed and was so happy all day long that I was very much surprised.

Now I wonder how many mothers there are who would like to take a trip if only someone could go along, or they could leave the home with all its work. Just go with your little ones and enjoy yourself, because you don't know what a wonderful husband you have or just what he can do until you give him a chance to show you.

What I am trying to plan now is a vacation for him, and I think I can manage it, too. Here's hoping this will encourage some tired mother to try what I have accomplished.

I have lots of other problems just as other mothers of so many little ones, but try to carry on. Perhaps I will write again some other time.

Monday, February 16, 2015


It seems to me that a great many of us women when we come to old age, could look back with more pleasure on our lives, had we tried harder to attain true Christian courtesy which means "thoughtful kindness." Tactlessness can become almost a crime. We have all been more or less guilty of it. But while there is life, there is hope and most of us may frankly say of ourselves, "There is room for improvement."

"What! You spent ten dollars on that hat? I call that extravagance!" virtuously pronounces Mrs. Tactless. Poor Mrs. Timid blushes nervously. Her John told her to buy a really good hat this time as she was the best little wife in the world, but Mrs. Tactless makes her feel quite guilty.

"You don't mean to say you have four cats? What nonsense! One cat is enough in any house," says Mrs. Plain-Spoken. "Drown three of them." In vain Mrs. Lonely Woman tries to explain that their home is so quiet that the cats and kittens, with their playful ways, amuse her. "Drown them, shoot them, poison them!" is Mrs. Plain-Spoken's final command.

"My, but you're looking yellow and your cheeks are all fallen in," says old Mrs. Pessimist, who is kind in her way, not in the least realizing that a woman in her forties still desires to "look nice" and may be rather upset by the depressing greeting.

"Oh, thank you, but I guess I've got heaps of handkerchiefs already," is the ungracious way in which Mrs. Selfish receives a Christmas present.

"You're always writing letters when I come. What a lot of money you must spend on stamps and look at the time you waste. I don't write a dozen letters in a year," proclaims Mrs. Gadabout, who is always grumbling because the mail man never brings her any letters. Mrs. Letter-Writer thinks lovingly of her old parents, her aunts, her brothers and sisters and friends in distant places and of the happy bond that has never been broken yet owing to her own "extravagance" in stamps and time.

"Time you put up new wallpaper in your parlor," cries Mrs. Thoughtless. "It doesn't cost much and makes such a difference." Mrs. Poverty does not feel like telling Mrs. Thoughtless that it is all she can do to get money for real necessities.

"Now, you mustn't give way. It is selfish, you know. Your dear child is better dead. She was never very strong and she will be far happier in Heaven," is the only consolation Mrs. "All-For-The-Best" has for a heartbroken mother who never again will hear dancing footsteps, never again feel two loving little arms, never again look into a pair of sweet candid eyes.

"What, you're never getting married surely! I think at your time of life you should be above such nonsense. The folks will just laugh at you." In this kindly way does Mrs. Cold Heart welcomed the shy announcement of elderly Miss Lonesome.

"Well, I've heard you preach a heap better than you did today," is the unsympathetic verdict of Mrs. Fault Finder on a sermon by her hardworking, anxious minister.

"Oh, what weeds! You must come and see our garden," says Mrs. Boastful to poor Mrs. Drudge who has to combine the duties of housekeeper and hired man.

Such are a few glaring examples of the tactless speeches we have all had the misfortune to hear in greater or less degree. Let us try to avoid not only the substance but even the shadow of this particularly unlovely failing.