Monday, January 31, 2011

COUNTRY COURTSHIP, by Velma West Sykes, 1929

He told her all the things he'd done that day--
Plowed all forenoon, and then had gone to town
For wire to mend a fence--and after that
Was done, the chores; and how he'd hurried through
To be with her. She blushed and swung her feet
And then began to argue how much more
She'd done that day--the butter that came slow,
The ironing that took up half of the day;
And then she showed a blister on her arm
Where it had touched the iron. His large rough hand
Closed over her small hard one, and their heads
Drew close together--breathlessly they kissed,
The drew themselves self-consciously apart
And laughed to hide the deep emotions stirred.

"Pa gave me the south eighty," he observed.
"It's got a house--not big--but good and warm."

"Ma gave me three new quilts last week," she said,
"My chest's so full the lid won't go clear down."

They kissed again, and apple blossoms fell
Around their feet and in the girl's dark hair.

Friday, January 28, 2011

HANDY HOUSEHOLD HINTS; #1; 1932

I put my wood box on caster. Now it is much easier to move it when I clean, and on muddy days it can be moved to the door to be filled with wood and saves cleaning the kitchen floor again. F.C., Minnesota

The thread in my sewing basket was always in a tangle until I discovered this kink.
I removed the cover from a talcum powder can, cleaned the can and put six spools of thread in it, three rows of two spools each. I ran the end of the thread from each spool through a separate hole in the cover and replaced it on the can. This permits me to pull the thread though as I need it and it is never tangled. Mrs. F.C., Texas

Use an egg timer to measure your time when making a long distance call. Place a three-minute egg timer near you. As soon as the connection is made, turn the egg timer over. This will save you overtime charges, which are often quite large. V.L.T., New York

If there is no fenced-in place for the youngster to play in, and if he is inclined to run away, put a small clear-toned bell, attached to a strap on his arm. Small children cannot unfasten this and he can always be located without leaving your work to find him. Mrs. I.F., Indiana

A small clock is a necessity in the sick room, but often its ticking will irritate a nervous patient. To overcome this, cover the clock with a glass bowl. It can be seen, but not heard. E.M., Illinois

A small board cut the size of the inside of a sewing machine drawer and with nails driven in it about two inches apart, makes an ideal place to keep spools of thread. Arrange spools with the number up and each color by itself. S.B.W., Indiana

Monday, January 24, 2011

AND NOW HE GOES TO SCHOOL, part 3; by Ada Campbell

One of the first amazing developments we noticed was a change in Sandy's speech. He had, up to this sixth year, spoken quite a good, pure English. But now he came home saying, "Ma, I ain't got no pencil at school; can I have a pencil, huh?" I covered my surprise and let it go. After all, if he hears the right things at home, it doesn't matter what his playground talk is like.

Of course, he brought home slang in large quantities. I expected this; just the same it is startling to have your child say, "O. K., pal," when you are accustomed to "All right, mother." Yes, when a child goes to school he ceases to be a part of your generation, and becomes a member of his own.

When Sandy had been in school for about a month, I was glad to receive a note about a parent-teachers' meeting soon to be held. I had wanted to see the room where my boy spent all day, the wonderful desk he kept telling me about, and the other children I had come to know through him. I would have gone to visit the school before, but I was afraid of the teacher. It would be terrible if she found out that Sandy's mother was so foolish on the subject of Sandy! But now there was to be a meeting, and it was all right for me to go.

It was in the afternoon, after school. We met in the auditorium, and heard talks by the principal and district nurse, who turned out to be quite human persons. Then we were invited to wander about the building. In Sandy's room, beside the cluster of miniature desks, stood his teacher receiving visitors. Around the wall was hung a row of drawings--each one depicting a girl with an umbrella. It was astonishing how good most of them were. But Sandy's! What a scrawl is was. His teacher came near, and I apologized for my child's art. "Sandy certainly shows very little promise in drawing," I said to her. She smiled. "But he reads so well!" she answered. I tried not to look too pleased. But what can you do; maternity isn't a rational business, and never was. Don't you remember the mother who heard all these things about her child and pondered them in her heart?

Some parents hate to see their children growing up. But I enjoy my boy more and more as he gets older--he is much more companionable than the cute baby I used to have.

Friday, January 21, 2011

AND NOW HE GOES TO SCHOOL, part 2; by Ada Campbell

Eleven o'clock now. I put the potatoes in to bake, and wondered what to do next. Mending? No, that was too poky. Neither did I care to finish up my ironing. I looked outdoors. It was a glorious day; I might as well start now and walk slowly over to school. It seemed a bit foolish, going so early, but I could wait on the stone wall across the street.

It was good to be outdoors—the house had been so quiet all morning. Almost there, I caught sight of the stone wall. There in the warm September sunshine sat three other mothers ahead of me!

When it was almost noon, a late comer dropped down next to me. “You have a youngster starting in today?” she asked.

I talked about Sandy. Then she told me that Geraldine, who also began today, was her sixth child. “And I don't know what's got into the kid that I had to bring her here today and come after her. She wouldn't run along with the other children at all. That's what comes of spoiling the baby! I told her I'd come this one day; but I've got too much to do to traipse after that young one very long. It's a blessing when they get old enough to be off to school,” she said. “Then you can really get something done at home.”

At this point my earlier acquaintance, Margaret's mother, motioned across the street. The children were coming out; at least our first graders were. They were shrieking with joy! Sandy rushed across the street, bringing me a paper. On it there was drawn a round swirl of orange crayon. It's a ball, mother—we drew balls! And we had a good time!”

In a week I had myself disciplined to the extent of letting Sandy make the school trips by himself. The first day, I glued myself to the window and watched. From twelve o'clock until ten minutes after was a long time, but finally Sandy came running. He was pleased with himself.

And then be began to learn things! Important things. That he must put on his own rubbers, for example. How to play a game with twenty other children, and not take the center of the stage for himself. When to speak up, and sometimes to keep still. These were the things my Sandy needed to know, because he has to live in a world full of people and this is the time for him to learn about them.

Monday, January 17, 2011

AND NOW HE GOES TO SCHOOL, part 1; by Ada Campbell

It wouldn't have been so bad--his first day at school--if they didn't have this high iron railing around the school yard. But there we stood, twelve of us mothers of first graders, clinging to the fence, oh, so helplessly!

The woman next to me moved closer. "Is yours a girl, too?" she asked, gallantly smiling.

"No," I said. "Mine is Sandy. See, Sandy is that curly-haired one standing there on the first step."

Mrs. Other Mother found Sandy in the little crowd. "Oh, the rascal," she said. "Why, he's right next to Margaret! Look, do you think Margaret's dress is too short?"

I was about to say that Margaret's scrap of a frock was perfect, but just then a brisk, efficient-looking young lady came sweeping down the schoolhouse steps.

"Come, children," she directed. "We are going in now." Several of the youngsters turned to wave an adventurous good-by. One boy--the biggest of them all--began to cry, whereupon the teacher gave him a gentle but determined shove--up the steps! Mrs. Other Mother and I looked at each other. Fortunately, it had not been Margaret or Sandy.

We regained our composure in just a few moments. "I suppose they have to be firm," my friend said. For we were friends indeed, after what we had just been through together. She continued, "Anyway, I often push Margaret around much harder than that teacher did."

"Yes," I admitted, and managed a grin. "And after all, I never really heard of a child being injured at school!"

We set off for home. We would see each other again at noon, we said.

There are days, you know, when a person can't accomplish a thing around the house. I tried to do a little cleaning, but somehow it didn't seem to make any difference whether the place was dusty or not. Then I had a wonderful thought. What a grand lunch I would get ready for Sandy! Baked potatoes, scalloped carrots, and cocoa with a marshmallow in it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

FARM WOMENS' DRESS; circa 1932

In answer to an earlier published "Letter to the Editor," this woman tells of a different perspective of farm women becoming lax in their appearance.

I am thinking of a woman with a large family. I know her very well. She is my mother. Two or three times a year my father would hand her ten or fifteen dollars. That was to clothe nine children and herself. But, shopping as carefully as she might, the results were rather pitiful. Mother's hats were out-of-date when she brought them; her shoes, from the bargain counter. It was not a case of going without that she might lavish clothes on her children, there simply was not enough money to go around. Five girls and four boys to dress for school. Shirts, overalls, shoes, and ginghams for dresses.

So, she sewed and washed; scrimped and planned, beside doing the myriad other tasks that now were hers. I know there must have been times when she was far too tired to care how she looked. Times, too, when she wore her cheap, out-dated dresses, smiling cheerfully, with an ache in her throat. For my mother had not lost her pride, had not grown lax and shabby from choice.

Her children are grown now. Mother dresses neatly and with good taste. She has time to study the lines of her dresses and the angles of her hats. She does not have a great deal of money to spend but she has leisure to plan.

Remember, folks, when next you see a shabby woman. Do not at once decide that she is habitually careless and lacking in pride. If you can, help some poor, tired mother to alter her last summer's wardrobe. Quoting the editorial: "Not many women can afford to wear a shabby dress." That is all too true. But I would like to add, not many do--from choice.

Monday, January 10, 2011

THAT OLD-FASHIONED COUNTRY GRIN; Indiana; circa 1932

Dear Editor:

I was much interested in the letter of Doorkeeper, for it seems that here is one person, as least, who really appreciates what the young people of today are up against. As she says, our plans certainly have gone “haywire.”

My schooling is finished and there is no work to be had. This summer has found me at home with nothing more interesting to do than to experience growing pains. For a time I had my back to the wall, but at least the door has opened, and I have learned how to be satisfied.

No, Doorkeeper, it isn't birdlore, nor music, nor even dancing. It's simply keeping busy. It's being interested in everything. Planting flowers, feeding chickens, doing the many little things around the farm that I used to ignore, has kept me busy and has given me satisfaction.

I have found good comrades in the neighborhood. And how we have enjoyed the picnics and old-fashioned parties we have had!

So, members of this Younger Generation, get wise to yourselves! Don't sit around and mope because you haven't the opportunity to go to school or to get a job. Get interested in things around you. Plant something and try to see beauty in everything. Call the neighbor's children and have a party. Keep busy! Grab yourself a handful of sunshine and paste an old-fashioned country grin on your face! You, too, can find a door in the wall.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A VACATION FOR MOTHER; by Mignon Quaw Lott; June 1929

Mother's job is too often a lonely one. She cooks, cleans house and washes. When one works alone it is very easy to get into a rut, a sort of heavy routine that is deadening if carried on too long without a break of some kind. Normal, healthy housewives in town and country, realizing the need for change and variety, are getting it.

I know of a mother of five young children who keeps one hour of the day for herself alone. She tells me this quiet hour restores her good nature, common sense and tolerance, in addition to keeping her in fine physical trim.

A young mother with three small children has made an arrangement with two neighbors by means of which she tends the neighbors' children one afternoon a week, getting two free afternoons as a result. The grown-ups are not the only ones benefited either, as the youngsters are becoming socialized by playing together.

So much for the daily vacation. What about a weekly one? Now most workers get one day out of seven in which to rest. This is usually not the good fortune of mothers, for this rest day which sees everybody at home is one of her busiest days, with a more elaborate dinner than usual and frequently a houseful of company.

What would mothers do with this weekly vacation, once they have obtained it? At first they are like birds that have been caged for a long time. They are reluctant to get away. “Oh, I guess I'll stay home and put up strawberries!” or “I think I'd rather darn the stockings,” they will demur. In some sections of the West they call this stay-at-home habit, “cabin fever.” And like all fevers, it takes some time to throw it off but is well worth the effort.

I know of one mother who used her day off to get acquainted with the civic and social institutions of her city. Another woman pursued her hobby of Nature study. Another entered a training class for nurses which met once a week.