Monday, April 14, 2014


Dear Editor:

While children are small it seems to me it is better to teach them to look for pleasure and happiness in their own home. I've heard children cry to go some place until after about so much of it the mother would say, "Oh, go on if you are going to make such a fuss about it." I wonder just what kind of grown persons those children will be.

We have two boys, one in school and one pre-school age. Money has been a scarce article with us the past two years, but I've tried to make home a happy place. In the evening there are always stories to tell or read, and games to play. I've helped our older boy with his school work till his grades are quite good.

"Read a story, Mamma," our four-year-old often says in the evening, and I recite something I learned in school days.

"Your turn, Daddy," he says when I finish, and Daddy recalls something from boyhood days.

"It's your turn, Buddy," he says next. And brother always has something to add to our bedtime program.

"Now it's my turn, Four-year-old, and it's surprising how many rhymes and bits of songs he can repeat.

Then there is the Book of Bible Stories we bought several years ago when times were better. How much good we are getting from it now! Brother is learning Bible history and has his favorite stories which he likes to have read over and over.

In spite of hard times, I'm trying to add a few new things to our home, pictures, some new drapes, and little touches that count. I think children like an attractive home and can be taught to care for home furnishings.

There are so many things on the farm to enjoy--things that can't be bought. We love to watch "the sun go to bed," to watch the clouds and the new-fallen snow. There are squirrels in the cedars and birds looking for crumbs. It seems to me we can be happy while waiting for prosperity.--Homemaker

Thursday, April 3, 2014

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES; March 1939 & December 1931; Iowa

Dear Editor:

Although I have only two little girls, sewing, cooking, and cleaning and occasional outings keep me busy. After a particularly busy day I made the not-too-affectionate remark that they were "always under foot." Immediately the little one remarked, "Mommy, is we too many?" Too many? No baby of mine will ever feel again that she is anything but a precious little person.--Ashamed

Dear Editor:

Our little six-year-old had been getting perfect spelling lessons for some time. One day his paper was marked "Good+." This grade was nothing to worry about, but we questioned him as to his lower grade.

"It must be the depression, Mother," he said. "It does so many funny things."--Mrs. R.L.W.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A NEW DEAL FOR WOMEN; April 1936; Virginia

Dear Editor:
I, for one, think it's high time that we hear something about a New Deal for women. I make the motion, second it, and unanimously decide that we women initiate the following New Deal to begin on the next sunshiny day.

1.   A couple of hours off for rest and recreation each afternoon--and by recreation I don't mean darning socks or struggling over Junior's homework.
2.   A discard of all those faded, shapeless house dresses we've been wearing and some new ones of bright gingham, print or lawn (pink's a nice color. So's yellow. And don't forget the ruffles.)
3.   Less attention to dusty corners and more to face and figure--after all, John doesn't notice a shiny house so much as a shiny nose.
4.   More smiles and less spanks for Junior.
5.   More kisses and compliments for Friend Husband--"My, you're good looking this morning, darling."
6.   A rousing, peppy song several times a day, even if it does frighten the cat (she needs some excitement.)
7.   One meal a week of everything that you like instead of cabbage for John and cheese straws for Junior.
8.   A beautiful verse or quotation committed to memory every day.
9.   Time off to attend home demonstration meetings, club pow-wows, and other things, "just for myself."
10.  Less worrying--after all, what difference will it make a hundred years from now?

And remember--good humor is to a home what salt is to soup.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

FOR THAT LITTLE FARM IS HOME, By Bachelor Girl, New Jersey, May 1931

Spring is in the air! I just had to get out my nature book, which really is a scrapbook which I started some years ago on the farm, not a hit-or-miss scrapbook for it is divided in subjects.

First, poems and pictures on nature in general, such as God of the Open Air by Henry Van Dyke, Back to Nature, Out in the Open, and Better Things. Then several pages are devoted to Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter with a page for each month of the year. February and July are still empty. Poets seem not to like to write about those months.

Next, and my favorite of all, are sixteen pages filled with beautiful pictures and poems called On the Farm, and a dozen blank pages left to be filled, for I suppose I’ll be clipping and pasting the rest of my life. The remaining subjects in the book are Trees, Flowers, Birds, Gardens, and Night.

When I get homesick for the farm I usually find something in my book that comforts me. Had I been a boy instead of a girl, wild horses could not have dragged me from the farm, but after Father’s death, my brother married and wished to continue farming, so Mother and we three girls moved to town. My mother and younger sister being invalids, my older sister and I decided we must have our work at home, so we care for elderly ladies, three at a time, making our home a House of Seven Women instead of a House of Seven Gables. My sister looks after the nursing end of it, while I go ahead with the cooking.

When I read the Letters From Farm Women--which I enjoy so much--life on the farm with all its ups and downs does sound so attractive. Hard work? That's everywhere. We make our own garden and used $60.00 worth of vegetables from it last year. We can everything from dandelion greens to soup and blackberries from the surrounding country. We mow our own lawn and do our own laundry work, and tend our own furnace.

We think we live in an ideal country town with its paved streets, beautiful trees, a lake, rolling golf links, churches and schools, nestled in a valley surrounded by hills. I try to be content, yet my heart goes out to the farm. Quoting from my book:

"There's a little farm that nestles in the shadow of a hill,

And a group of memories haunt me; I am sure they always will.
For a boundless love, far-reaching, stretches toward me where I roam,
And my heart is lonely, sometimes, for that little farm is Home!"

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

WHAT IS WORTHWHILE by Mrs. W.S.B., Iowa, 1932

It should come as no surprise that I nearly always post articles where I agree with the author's words. In this case, I do think that the author has some good points, but as you can imagine, I can't agree with her totally. Yes, I must admit that if we are neglecting important tasks in favor of quilting (don't look into my closets, please!) it is wrong. But in most cases I believe quilting has great value since it so often shows the "love and kindness" that the author mentions, and that we all should strive for.

One of the most loosely-handled expressions of the day is "worth while." Our living is so complex. Unless we budget time very strictly, and eliminate a great deal, we are apt to find ourselves rushing hither and yon, doing many unnecessary things and leaving undone some of the essential.

What is the yardstick by which we measure values? An older woman whose intelligence I greatly admire says, "Anything is worth while that we like to do." I wonder, might one not become very selfish that way?

Many women do things that to me seem time-killing. Cutting up perfectly good material and sewing tiny pieces together in an intricate pattern--enough of them to cover a bed! Yet, I cannot deny the beauty of it when finished. Is that enough,--just to have built beauty? Another woman,--and she has credits toward her doctor's degree in Home Economics,--has all of her washing ironed, even to turkish wash cloths. This is certainly not in keeping with my ideas of modern efficiency. I'm sure the college girl who irons them doesn't think so either. This heartsick old world need a lot of things more than it does marking time over housework.

It seems to me that the answer to what is worth while is service. Is what we are doing of any use? Is it making the world better, happier, kinder? I cannot name the author, but I read in a book by the title of this letter, "Only those things are worth while that go into eternity with us." That excludes worry, jealousy, anger and fear. It includes love and kindness.

Monday, February 10, 2014

HOW I STRETCH A DOLLAR; Nancy Ann; West Virginia; 1931

Dear Editor:

It used to puzzle me how some folks got ahead so fast and others who worked just as hard never had more than the shirt on their backs.

The only answer I can give is that these folks have never learned to stretch their dollars. While I have not accumulated enough to crow over, I do believe I've learned pretty thoroughly how to make one dollar do the work of two.

Shortly after my marriage, I bought for $25.00 a dandy sewing machine which cost when new $65.00. How proud I was of my $40.00 saving and a machine that no one could have told from new! Later, needing some rockers, I bought three used ones for what one would have cost me. We have from time to time bought other articles for about one-half less than the new article would have cost. I buy only what is in first class condition and what suits me exactly.

Then I purchase clothing in the "off" season, thereby effecting a great saving. My two ten-year-olds both needed new coats last winter. By waiting till after the first of the year, I got them both for a few cents less than one would have cost earlier in the season. Worth while? I should say so.

Living on the farm of course we produce much of our food. By watching the corners one can, however, save on those groceries which must be purchased. We use about five pounds of sugar a week. Buying it in 25 pound bags I find I can save 46 cents. In most instances large packages are a more economical purchase than small ones.

Two pairs of hose of the same shade will give almost as much wear as three pairs of different colors. Usually one stocking is worn out and the other quite good. The good stocking from each pair can then be worn together. Where there are several girls, this one saving amounts to quite a bit in the course of a year.

Our income is not great. It is only by such economies as these that we can keep out of debt and have enough left to meet the payments on the farm. I am not a tightwad, but I believe it is as much the homemaker's job to spend wisely as it is her husband's job to earn. It requires thought and careful management to "stretch" the family dollars but it is a fascinating game. Try it and see.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

THE SIMPLE LIFE; J. M. L.; Ohio; April 1931

Dear Editor:

When I think of leisure I think of two classes of people, those who become so absorbed in their work that they forget leisure, and those who become so absorbed in their leisure that they forget work.

In the first case, I have in mind the nervous, fretful, eternally-driven people who refuse to take time off to gain control of themselves by thinking their way through. And in the second case I have in mind the selfish people who must have their rest, must have their recreation, in fact must consider themselves first.

Then I remember a certain Nazarene who gave Himself wholly in service, yet often went alone to the mountains to think through life's problems. I believe that the safe-and-sane course even for the self-sacrificing farm mother is to take time "to have a minute to herself."

Then I am face about to the question, What is leisure? It is one thing for one person and another for another. It may mean just a simple half-hour rest a day. It may mean a certain time each day to give wholly to the children, or to get out-of-doors, or to attend a social gathering, or to read The Farmer's Wife. It may mean many different things but whatever it means to each individual, I'm sure it will mean one thing to all--better wives, mothers and homemakers.

I realize what an almost impossible thing leisure is to some homemakers. Sickness, little children, financial responsibility, all are robbers of leisure. And it is not an easy task for some women to so manage their work that leisure will result, and yet have a clean, well-ordered home and family. There are many homes where lack of equipment, lack of strength, or sheer inability to group, make the matter of leisure a real problem. Then the housewife must weigh values.

Certain standards of living have made us believe that many things are necessities. We can hardly bring ourselves to the point of taking them off the schedule. But for the sake of the balance, poise, and efficiency, that leisure brings, life should be made simple.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I THROUGHLY BELIEVE IN BUDGETS; 1920; by Louise G. Blankenship

During the seven years of our married partnership my husband and I have kept farm and household accounts. For the former we use a farm account book obtained from our Agricultural College at Fargo, North Dakota, at a cost of twenty-five cents. For the household accounts we use a fifteen-cent note book.

Our farm expenses and income are recorded in the farm account book. Our living and personal expenses we keep in the note book. We allow two pages of the note book for each month and have the pages ruled for the following headings: Food, house, doctor and dentist, clothing, postage and incidentals. Incidentals include church and lodge dues, stationery, newspapers and magazines, charity and everything not included under the other headings.

During the past few years hail, grasshoppers and drouth have shrunk our income and the high cost of living has made our expenses heavier. After consulting our account books, we know practically what our income will be and have made our budget to fit these conditions. So here was our


Beginning cash income               $1,600

Food -- $120
House -- $72
Doctor and Dentist -- $24
Clothing for two -- $96                   
Postage -- $12                              
Incidentals -- $72                          
Life Insurance --$130                      

SUB-TOTAL                                  $526

Farm expenses:

Taxes -- $270                                
Telephone --$12                            
Seed --$155
Feed and salt --$200                        
Labor --$20                                
Machinery & Equipment --$50            
Permanent improvements -- $200
Threshing -- $167

SUB-TOTAL                               $1,074


FINAL TOTAL                           $1,600


We live well on a cash outlay of less than $120 for food. We raise a large garden and we can 500 jars of vegetables, fruit and meats each year. We have our own sugar-cured hams, shoulders, bacon, lard, butter, cream, milk, chickens, turkeys, guineas, beef, eggs, potatoes, currants, gooseberries and rhubarb. The largest items we buy are: 200 pounds of sugar, 10 gallons of pure sorghum molasses, flour, cereals and fruits.

We dig our own coal and haul driftwood from the river for fuel. My husband does all of his own blacksmithing and repair and carpenter work. The allotment of $96 is not very much for clothing but I do all of my own sewing excepting my suits and coats and an occasional waist (blouse.) We always try to buy good things and they last several years. At present we have shoes, coats and suits and other essentials to last some time.

We have the dentist look over our teeth twice a year so our dental bills are not large.

Keeping ahead of our budget is a most exciting and interesting game. It restrains us from careless and unnecessary buying and keeps us constantly alert to find a substitute for an intended purchase and to increase our cash income. By using the budget we are playing safe if we have another bad year; however, if we have a good year we will be way ahead of the game.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

THEY PAID THE MORTGAGE; by Harry Botsford; c1910

After the sudden death of their parents in a railroad accident, Alice Tucker and her sister Mildred faced the world with a $1,500 mortgage on the 60-acre farm. There were three horses, four cows, a flock of chickens and two pigs. The house was well built and roomy.

The girls' equity in the farm was less than $500 and for a miserable week they almost decided to sacrifice the equity, sell off the stock and go to the city. Mildred was seventeen. Her sister, a trained nurse by profession, would have to be away from the rooms they intended to rent and hesitated to leave her sister so much alone in the large city.

The girls "put their heads together" and disregarding the comments of free advice givers, went ahead with a plan of their own.

The two horses and such part of the farm equipment as would be used with a team, were sold. This money was spent at once in putting in a bedroom and clearing away several unsightly buildings. Then a tennis court was built. Alice, the nurse, made a trip to the city and called on two or three doctors who knew her work and to them she explained a plan which met with their hearty approval and promise of support.

The girls were going to be ready to board convalescents who could afford to pay a good sum weekly for room and board in the country and attention from a registered nurse.

Before long, six convalescents were sent to the Tucker homestead. They found a large airy house comfortably furnished. The yard was shady and the rooms cool. There were plenty of good chairs and lounges, magazines and books; those who felt strong enough could play tennis.

The meals were a constant delight: delicious country ham and chicken, fresh crisp vegetables, home-grown fruit, good milk, cream and butter. The food was prepared by Mildred who was an excellent cook.

Alice, in white uniform, gave special attention to such convalescents as needed counsel--or comfort.

The expense of the establishment was not large. A neighbor's boy did the errands, milked the cows, fed the pigs and went to town for supplies and mail.

The first year proved very successful from every standpoint. The girls made money and the convalescents were full of praise for the enterprise. It was not long before there was a waiting list.

Part of the profits of the first year were used in improvements. The house was painted and two new bathrooms were put in. A man and his wife were hired to do the hard work. The man does the work on the farm and puts in a large vegetable garden which cuts down the food expense. His wife does the cooking under the supervision of Mildred.

Last year, there were twelve guests all summer, and before winter came, the "Tucker girls" drove their car into town and, at the bank, paid off the mortgage on the farm. The free advice givers have nothing to say and all their friends rejoice.

Monday, December 9, 2013


We were married during the war. I was a city girl and my husband a farmer. Money was easy to get in those times, so we lived in town and my husband drove back and forth to the farm every day. To live on a farm was not one of my ambitions and I never dreamed that I ever would.

After the war, prices began to fall and it wasn't long before we saw that we couldn't live where we were and continue farming; so my husband got a job. He never said that he was lonely for the farm, but I could see that he was. We could scarcely live on his salary and he was getting so discouraged that I suggested that we move to the farm.

I'll never forget how happy he was when he knew we were going. And I'll never forget how I fought it out alone. I was determined that I would go to that farm and like it, in spite of myself.

We have been here for seven years and not an unhappy moment have we had.  We work together and plan together. To be sure we have had disappointments, but they are a part of life, so we meet them together.

My only fear is that this depression may take away our farm as it has so many others. I can truly say that I want to stay here where I have been so happy.