Monday, June 28, 2010

THE DIARY OF A DISTRACTED MOTHER; by Sally Sod Herself; part 1; 1927

TUESDAY. Dear Diary--Hello Diary--there, now, you see just how little I know about keeping a diary. But this much I am sure of; I have always wanted to keep one since that day that Alvina put it into my head.

"I always kept a diary when I was in high school, she said. "And the years that I worked afterward. I can go back to it and tell about all the parties I went to and all the beaux I had. The night that Tom proposed to me I put it down: 'Tom popped it.' I even can tell the date--if I want to. But I don't."

"O, see what I've missed!" I thought. I already had had two perfectly good proposals and no record whatever of them.

Now, just seventeen years later, I saw you, Diary, in a store window and couldn't resist the temptation. Was it a flight of fancy or just a lapse of memory that made me part with thirty-five cents to bring you home? You looked so cool and composed with your pretty bright red cover, with "Diary" printed in gold letters in the corner.

I don't expect to write down any proposals now for the simple reason that I met "the man of me choice" fifteen years ago and begorra he's still that today. And not only have I the man but I have ten children. So when I come to you in the evening to talk things over, you'll know what to expect from me.

Some people say you should keep track of your work in your diary so I will say, I did my house work, took the car and drove to the depot to ship a can of cream. Others say you should put down your thoughts. For this I will say, I guess I was crazy when I bought you today for I don't believe you're worth thirty-five cents.

WEDNESDAY. Diary, Oh Diary, can you tell me what feet were invented for? Was it for any other reason than to ache, I wonder? I have been on mine since 5:30 this morning. FEET! Who said they were feet? I think mine are yards for maybe even rods the way they feel tonight.

But thank goodness, I'm mighty glad I had them with me today and handy. I was just scared stiff when I looked out in the yard and saw Junior on top of that hayrack. How he got there is more than I can see. There is no more than a toe-hold of him any place. When I got him safely down and was back in my kitchen I stopped and thought, "Now, I wonder, was that a sin?" My thoughts, I mean. I have been reading a lot about evolution. No, I just won't allow myself to think it. I want to believe I can trace my ancestry back to the Garden of Eden and not to the jungles of Africa. But it is still a mystery to me how he ever got there. You know he is only four.

Friday, June 25, 2010

THE CANDY HABIT; by Dr. Ella S. Webb; 1914

The greatest menace to public health in America is the pernicious cane-sugar habit cultivated by all forms of pastry and candy. Once fastened on you it is more difficult to break off than the liquor habit. If you don't believe this, try to stop eating all sweets for a month, but those contained in fruits and honey, which contain the true natural sugar. The ordinary sugar of commerce is an irritant. It is the chief ingredient of the candy of commerce, the mainstay of the straw food sold in pastry restaurants and of the housewife's palate ticklers. Investigation will show that hundreds of thousands of working girls spend fifteen to fifty cents a day on cheap candy.

The temperate eating of natural foods, deep breathing, pure air, sunshine, rest, thorough mastication of foods, no fluids at meals, plenty of water between, daily bathing, no stimulants of any sort, cheerfulness, absence of worry and haste, with the practice of self-control, are the essentials of a long, right and happy life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

COUNTRY GIRL STORIES; part 3; 1915

"Soon after dinner I begin raking again and rake until six o'clock. Father and the hired man draw in six large loads of hay. The haying for the day is done and it is pleasant to lie in the hammock and read a paper or book while the men finish unloading their last load. But before I enjoy this I must take care of my horse and carry him a drink of water from the well. After supper my sister and I help with the dishes and then run off to play in the swing while the men finish milking. When the milking is done we take the cows and horse to pasture. Then we feed the calf, Claire by name, who is a very dear little creature and always greets us with great joy when she sees us coming. We shut up the chickens also. Then there is about a half-hour or more left for play, and we have a good time, forgetting that we ever worked.

"All our days are not as busy as this one; and when the haying and summer sewing are done, we have a chance for good times. Our haying was done this summer in eight days or perhaps less. At quarter of nine we go to bed. I read a chapter or two in some book I am reading, but by ten o'clock we are both asleep with the starlight and the moonlight shining in on us through the open screen. Indeed my sister and I love the farm very much and have no desire to leave it. We often declare that we would not live in the city for anything."

Friday, June 18, 2010

COUNTRY GIRL STORIES, part 2; 1915

The following is written by a sixteen year old girl:

"Haying time is a very busy season for all on the farm. At 5:30 o'clock Mother comes to our room, saying 'It is going to be a good hay day, girlies. You must get up now; the men are nearly through milking.' She is forced to call several times, but finally we are up and dressed; we help finish getting breakfast, feed the chickens, and drive the cows to pasture. After breakfast my sister and I take the milk to the milkman who carries it to the milk station. Father hitches our horse and loads the milk for us, and then hurries away to begin his mowing so that the hay will have time to be well cured in the afternoon. We drive a half mile to the milk stand where our milk is unloaded by the milkman; exchange good-mornings with him and perhaps with a neighbor or two, and drive back home. We take care of our horse and wagon and then help with the morning housework. About half-past eight my sister and I start out after huckleberries in a near-by field. It is a beautiful morning and we enjoy the walk. We pick enough berries for a pie and for supper that evening and a few more. But we hurry back in order to have a little rest before half-past ten, when I must start raking. At half-past ten, then I hitch my horse to the rake and ride off to the lot to work. I rake until dinner time and have perhaps a third of the raking done. I unharness my horse, water him, and put him in the barn. I go to dinner with an enormous appetite and a feeling of anticipation, both of which are soon appeased."
cont...

Monday, June 14, 2010

COUNTRY GIRL STORIES; part 1; 1915

A fortunate country girl when asked to write a description of a representative working day of her life, sent the following joyous account. She is fifteen years old and lives on a medium size farm in the Northwest.

"I get up at about half-past six in the morning, and have breakfast at seven. Then I help Mother what I can before I start for school. Mamma puts up my luncheon while I get ready. About a quarter past eight I start on my two mile walk to school. For about three quarters of a mile I follow the road, then I turn off into woods. By following a half-beaten trail for a ways, I come to a bridge made of wire. The sides and bottom are of wire; on the bottom are laid rows of planks with cross pieces to keep them where they belong. The bridge sways when you walk on it and sometimes it sags quite a little. Across the river I go through more woods. The schoolhouse is set on the top of a little hill. There are about twenty pupils in the school. At recess and noon we often play baseball. We have a fine teeter and swing. At noons all of the girls and sometimes the boys take their dinners and go out and find some pretty spot in the woods to eat. Several times we took lunch to an unworked mine near by and enjoyed the beautiful view and amused ourselves by picking gold out of the crevices in the rocks. In the springtime we often go flower hunting. I never get home in the afternoon until about half past four. After school I play, sew, or help in the garden till supper time. After supper I do the supper dishes, then we all have a nice time sewing, reading, or playing games around the fireplace."

Friday, June 11, 2010

WHEN AMBER CRIED ENOUGH: by Marguerite Mohler Hanson; part 8; 1932

The whole thing broke that evening. Dolly rounded up Drag and Henry when she found out she couldn't stop her mother, and the three started up the hill to the Chapelle house on the run, Dolly panting explanations.

"Mother talked all afternoon about giving Amber a piece of her mind and then she called up Mrs. Morris a few minutes ago--said she was coming up to see them. I phoned Amber to look out--Mother was on a rampage."

Drag groaned and lost a step.

"Amber's a good sport. She promised to hide in the silo if necessary."

"My heavens, what she must think of this family!" moaned Henry.

"Likes us," panted Dolly. "Says we're fun."

They found Mrs. Morris and their mother in the yard looking for Amber.

"I can't imagine where she's gone," protested Mrs. Morris. "I heard her answer the phone just a few minutes ago. She might be out at the calf yard."

They all trailed round the corner of the house. Drag caught his mother's arm. "What's this I hear?" he whispered.

"I know what I'm doing," she responded with dignity.

"Have a heart, Mother," he begged. "Be good."

"I'm going to give Amber a piece of my mind."

"You start something," he warned, "and I'll pick you up and trot you home." She knew he could do it, too.

They came in sight of the silo which was a thirty foot pit with a circular, cement wall extending a couple of feet about ground. Suddenly Drag remembered what Amber had said about the silo. Maybe she had meant it.

He knew that the morning before an itinerant outfit had begun filling the Chapelle silo. They had dropped in a few loads of fodder and then encountered engine trouble and quit. Now, with fermentation at its height, the pit would be a poison chamber filled with carbon dioxide.

Did Amber know of this danger? Had she crept down ignorantly, into that deadly, odorless gas?

Drag quickened his step to a run. The pit was deep and dark. But he fancied he could make out a lighter shadow at the bottom. Mrs. Morris had said that Amber wore a white dress.

Henry appeared at his side. They called a few times. With the machine out of order, air could not be blown down to purify the hole. There was only one thing to do. Drag swung over the rim and started down.

"Wait," Henry caught at him, "there's a gas mask in the house."

Drag shook his head, "I'm afraid to wait. It's a matter of minutes. I'll take the chance. Get the mask. Call a doctor. Maybe I won't make it."

A crowd had collected, including the village fire department which brought a pulmotor.

Amber was the first to regain consciousness. A few minutes later they quit working on Drag. He struggled to a sitting position and saw Amber bundled against a cushioned tree trunk near by. Hardly knowing what he did, he staggered to her side, knelt down and took her hand, unmindful of the crowd.

Amber moved over and made room for him against her tree.

"Let's not play that game any more," she whispered plaintively.

"Not so good, was it?" he answered noticing the shadows under her eyes.

The doctor had watched them, smiling; and then turned to the two older women. "We'll give them a few minutes together."

They felt better with every breath they drew.

Amber resumed her drowsy whispering. "I've been listening. Henry saved us both. He's a hero. He had a terrible time with you. He's so small and you're so big. You were very foolish to come down without a mask."

"Being foolish is the best thing I do," muttered Drag.

Amber put a hand on his arm. "But that is not enough," she whispered.

He looked down at her quickly, his heart beginning to pound. There was something in her eyes, in her voice. He bent, kissed her and kept on kissing her.

The scandalized family formed a screen around them.

Amber was struggling in rosy laughter.

"Drag--you goose--not here! Drag, please, enough--enough!

Drag smiled and let her go.

"At last--enough!" he said.

Amber looked up at Mrs. Flemming ingratiatingly. "Are you still angry at me?" she asked.

The older woman's eyes twinkled.

"Forgive me, Amber, I misunderstood. It wasn't done this way when I was a girl.

Monday, June 7, 2010

WHEN AMBER CRIED ENOUGH, by Marguerite Mohler Hanson; part 7; 1932

He next saw Amber one afternoon as he was finishing work with three horses and a "fresno" along the Chapelle line fence. He was unhooking to go home when she came strolling across her own field and joined him. She was dressed in dark breeches and a gay red sweater that struck high lights in her brown velvet eyes. Drag thought she had the sweetest, freshest, prettiest mouth he had ever seen in his life. And he knew just how it ought to be kissed. He dropped his eyes guiltily and kicked at a sod, his gleaming hair ruffled by the wind until it offered almost irresistible temptation to feminine fingers.

Amber told him she had come over to ask the time.

Unsuspectingly, he lifted his wrist.

She caught it daintily and drew it close.

"Just the watch I should have," she observed.

He unbuckled the strap and adjusted it to her arm.

"Thanks," she said demurely. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

Drag grinned and said nothing. She gave him a quick look. He was gazing at the horses.

"Want a ride home?" he asked.

She was delighted. He tossed her lightly onto old Jerry's broad back, holding her by wrist and ankle until she found her balance. Then he bounded to a place before her and headed the three prancing monsters for home.

He turned so that they sat side by side as if sitting on the parlor sofa.

Amber chuckled. "If my city friends could see me now!"

"I suppose you have a lot of them."

"I wasn't exactly hated."

"Do you miss them?"

She shook her head and lifted her eyes to his gaze. "I love it here. This is the life for me."

Mrs. Morris rose from her chair in surprise as the three big horses clumped round the corner of the Chapelle porch.

Amber slid down old Jerry's tail before Drag could give her a hand.

"This is Henry's big brother," she told her aunt by way of introduction.

"What monstrous horses you have," said Mrs. Morris. "Are they your own?"

"They belong to my mother," Drag answered hastily.

Amber's lips twitched. She smiled at Mrs. Morris' retreating back and then she stepped close to Drag.

"Thanks for the watch. "of course, you understand," she added, "that this is not enough." He saw her lips curve into a smile be she kept her eyes lowered.

"Wind it every night when you go to bed," he directed, "and think of me."

He turned and bounded again to old Jerry's back.

She watched him until he disappeared.

The next day noon Drag was combing his orange topknot before the back porch mirror when Dolly noticed his most recent loss.

"It was only yesterday morning," she giggled, "that I told Amber she had everything you own but your watch and your bank account. And now she has the watch."

Henry snickered, waiting his turn at the mirror. He was beginning to see the joke. "And when she gets the kitty," he boasted, "I'll marry her and live happily ever after."

Mrs. Flemming was standing in the kitchen doorway listening.

"I wouldn't put it beneath Amber to take everything Drag's got and not marry you either, Henry. She making fools of you both."

Drag laughed and went over and put an arm around her.

"See here, Mother," he coaxed, "when you're in a fix like this, you've got to go the limit."

"But Drag, it would be so much more simple to apologize. Not that you owe it particularly. She knew what she was getting and you were squeezing blind."

He gave her a quick, keen look. "So that has dawned on you."

"It's just like to give her a piece of my mind," exclaimed Mrs. Flemming. "The more I think about it the madder I get. And now she has your watch! She ought to be told some things."

He smiled and tightened an arm before he released her.

"Some champion, aren't you Mother?"

Friday, June 4, 2010

WHEN AMBER CRIED ENOUGH; by Marguerite Mohler Hanson; part 6; 1932

Drag had heard some news in town. He went to the telephone and called Amber.

"I understand your tractor went hay wire this morning," he said.

"It did," she told him. "And Jason says it's not worth repairing. We can't get delivery of another for weeks and we need one badly."

"I just received your note."

"Yes." Her voice was noncommittal.

"I have a tractor."

There was a pause; and then, "Your own, personally?"

"Yes, my own."

"You might send it up."

"I shall be glad to."

"Thank you. But of course,"she went on in the same level voice, "this is not enough."

Drag grinned and hung up gently.

"She can keep it a week," said Mrs. Flemming ominously, "that'll finish their work, and if she doesn't return it then I'll give her a piece of my mind. But you shouldn't have offered it to her, Drag."

"Why mother, you wouldn't let her bluff me out?"

"I know what she wants," stated Henry, suddenly inspired. "She wants you to apologize like a gentleman, and she'll ride you ragged till you do."

"Yes?"

"Why not apologize?" demanded Mrs. Flemming.

"I'd feel silly."

"He'd feel silly apologizing!" stormed Henry, "but he doesn't feel silly making her presents of twin calves and rifles and tractors. It's the talk of the neighborhood."

"She doesn't feel silly accepting them," Drag reminded him.

"Of course not, Simp. She's getting the biggest laugh of her life."

"I told her you'd do anything but apologize," confessed Dolly.

Mrs. Flemming turned on her in exasperation. "Are you helping this thing along? Drag's no millionaire that he can give away guns and tractors and the two most valuable calves in the county."

"I think it's funny," giggled Dolly.

Drag looked at Dolly. "What did she say when you told her I wouldn't apologize?"

Dolly giggled again.

"She said you made her think of vikings and warlords and Manchu intrigue--whatever that means."

"It means she thinks he looks like a Chinese Swede," jeered Henry.

"She wanted to know how Henry ever came to have a brother like you.

"That's what I'd like to know myself," growled Henry.

A few evenings later Henry took Amber for a ride in the moonlight, and came home surprisingly early, and strolled into the living room where the rest of the family sat, Mrs. Flemming busy with her mending, Dolly deep in a book, and Drag at his farm accounts.

Henry fussed with the radio until he had it going to everyone's satisfaction, and then he turned it off. He sat down and flipped the pages of a magazine. He go up and went to the window facing the Chapelle house and raised the shade.

Drag was watching him.

"Pop the question tonight, Henry?" he asked, shooting at random.

Henry turned on him.

"A lot of good that does when a guy's known to be blood brother to a nut. Says she's too old for me. Thunder!--she's a year younger. Says she's too ornery. Anything to evade me. Still I don't know as I blame her." He glanced at Drag. "Who'd want to marry into this family and take chances on bringing another specimen like you into the world."

"You think of everything, don't you?" remarked Drag.