Monday, November 30, 2009

THE PRINCESS OF THE VIOLIN, part 1 of 9; by C. Courtenay Savage (1920)

In spite of the light whirl of snow which everyone said was seasonable, considering that Christmas was only three weeks off, there were a score of people waiting before the ticket window of the Thompsonville motion picture house. John Higgins, the proprietor, saw the crowd and smiled. He knew why they were there twenty minutes before show time, and with the air of a man regarding a great possession, glanced proudly at the showy billboard.


He read the sign a second and a third time. Then he went quickly into the box office and opening the window, began to sell tickets.

It was half-past seven when Mary Jennings made her first appearance that night, sandwiched between a comedy picture and the big feature of the evening. She was a small woman with dark hair and eyes, no longer really young, and in appearance, foreign to the stage. In her simply cut dress, she could hardly be called good-looking but she had a radiant smile that was all-enveloping. When the spotlight caught her as she entered from one side of the stage, there was a heavy roar of applause which the lifting of her violin checked abruptly. Those out front did not wish to miss a single note.

Mary Jennings had played the violin since childhood and she could make the instrument laugh and sigh, weep and sing and dream. As she swayed the bow over the vibrating strings, so she swayed the hearts of those who listened. She was not a great artist. She played with divine temperament.

Tonight she played three semi-classical melodies and then, with a friendly smile and words, asked her audience to tell her what they would like. The first two "request" pieces came quickly and then with a joyous clamor they called for Home, Sweet Home--old-fashioned, forever beloved, Home Sweet Home. Just as a certain great singer had always sung that ballad best, so it was the choicest number in Mary Jennings' repertoire.

After she had bowed acknowledgement to their sincere applause, they settled back for the feature picture and Mary Jennings' work was over until it was time for the second performance.

Tonight, as she entered the small, scrupulously clean dressing-room to await the second call, she found John Higgins there, and with him a stranger whom he introduced as Mr. Helm.

To be continued...

Friday, November 27, 2009

OVER-WORK IS UNDER-PLAY, by Florence Longley Fosbroke (1918)

There is hardly one of us who has not heard, from physician or family or friends, a great deal about the dangers of over-work.

Today, when we are all trying to do more work and harder work than ever before, the danger bulks very large and close at hand. But--I honestly believe that there is not one-half the danger in over-work that there is in under-play.

Under-play is something about which we have heard very little. Has it ever once occurred to us, for instance, that the woman who one day dropped her pots and pans and fled out into "A vagrant's morning wide and blue, In the early fall, when the wind walks too," was doing a virtuous thing! Why, no, indeed! she was leaving her work undone, her day's plans all awry. What of her beds unmade and her twelve o'clock dinner to cook?

"Efficiency" is the modern cry. Efficiency is an excellent thing in my kitchen but it must leave some room for my soul to grow. A schedule of duties is an excellent thing, in my day, if it be elastic enough to include other values than those of immaculate floors and carefully prepared food. We are all of us too apt--and this applies especially to the most conscientious of us--to postpone the things we should like to do until the things we think we ought to do are done. And that time seems never to come.

We plan for cooking and cleaning; for washing and ironing; for canning and preserving and sewing and mending; for special duties of winter and spring and summer and fall. Do we plan as carefully for reading, for pleasure, for outings or pleasant home afternoons and evenings? And--let us put this question,--even when we do claim for ourselves, either deliberately or on sudden impluse, a little leisure for enjoyment or diversion, do we include the family--all of the family--in our pleasure and rest plans?

To be a Home Mother is the biggest and most beautiful part of being a Housekeeper.

The human relationship is the most valuable thing, as well as the most mysterious and beautiful thing, in the family and in the world. The woman who is merely a mechanic as far as life is concerned, getting work "done" and losing soul-contact with the workers, is cheating herself of the charm that is her birthright and of the love that is her due. You and I simply cannot afford to get along without the intangible possessions of life, which, after all, are the only "real." The state of being a real mother or a real daughter or a real friend, is the only "real" estate which does not change value or suffer loss! I shall never tire of the story told in verse, of the woman who, having only two loaves, "Sold one, and with the dole, bought hyacinths to feed her soul."

Inevitably, as she enriched her own life, she enriched those about her. I can admire even more that woman who, not daring to sell the one loaf which must feed her children, should presently take those children with her out to the fields where daisies grow. To my mind, one of the most wonderful individuals I have known is a washerwoman living in a large city, who, after a hard day's work in another woman's kitchen, takes her two little sons, in the evening, to a free municipal concert to "feed her soul" and theirs.

We have never needed to cherish our ideals as we need to cherish them now. And that we may cherish our ideals it is absolutely imperative that we perserve our necessary leisure and fill it full of warm and pleasant thoughts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

THANKFULNESS (1930 & 1934)


In such a moment of doubt as comes to most of us at times, a reader of The Farmer's Wife writes to us to say:

"Thanksgiving Day approaches again, but how can we be thankful in our community where hail and drouth and other ills of agriculture have given us a lean year and empty purses. I am not irreverent when I say that it is not easy for me to lift my voice in thankfulness and praise."

While it must always remain a personal matter with our friend and with each of us whether or not we find cause for thanksgiving in what has happened to us, yet we suggest that there are good reasons for gratitude which apply to all of us.

Thanksgiving Day is not a time only for giving thanks for larger crops and herds, better prices, and more cash in the bank. If it were, it would be a poor occasion--pitifully poor.

But it is also a time for measuring those things that feed and clothe the spirit--the unseen things that are most able to make life more abundant.

And what are they? Love that we give and that we receive; the sacrifices that grow out of love; freedom to think, to speak and to do; the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; the guarantee of opportunity for all; the knowledge that each day is a new day, and each year a new year, bringing new hope; the assurance that God is still in his world, and that Christ's teachings are still able to save it.

In our land, these are gifts which all of us have, and how could there be greater?

We find a helpful suggestion for Thanksgiving in these words from Paul's letter to the Corinthians:

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, and the things which are not seen are eternal.

IT DOESN'T COST A PENNY--Rainbow, South Dakota (1934)

It doesn't cost a penny: To let my imagination go window shopping while my mind's eye furnishes our homesteader's shack with linoleum in black and ivory squares.

To paint the furniture in ivory with black and rose trim, and the walls in ivory and green with ceiling in apricot.

To curtain the many-paned east windows in shades of apricot and ivory and honeydew.

To replace my worn bedding with rain-bows-round-my-shoulder.

To re-read the stack of good magazines saved from the pre-depression era, and regain the old inspiration.

To rise from bed while the starlight is paling and climb a hill.

To drink deep draughts of cool dawn, and descend a cool, steep canyon for a few strawberries and flowers from God's garden.

To ignore the heat, the drouth, the depression, strikes and rumors of war and find pleasant topics of conversation.

To remember that some kindly wise man said, "Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy."

To read God's Book of eternal truth and gain courage and peace from His word.

To pray unceasingly, with hope and faith, not for material blessings so much as for spiritual development and the salvation of us all.

To remember that the best things in this world, and the next, are without money and without price.

The end...

Happy Thanksgiving to you all,