Friday, August 24, 2012

DEAR EDITOR; from Sally Sod; January 1927

"Curiosity once killed a cat." Well, I am no cat and hope my curiosity will not kill me but it surely has prompted me to ask a question or two.

The Farmer's Wife being the only farm paper I am interested in at present, I am directing my questions to you. All the members of my family enjoy the magazine. The stories are good and clean. I can hand The Farmer's Wife to my little ones without a thought of their running into something I would rather they would not read.

I do not always read the stories myself. I am more interested in the human side: The Contest Letters and the pages devoted to "How Some Farm Women Succeed." These features are really the cause of this letter.

How do you figure success? It is always and only from the financial standpoint?

I know only too well that only a few will go down in the "Hall of Fame" but how about the rest of us, "of the common herd?" I am taking myself for example and know that there are many, many more situated as I am, asking the same question in their own minds. I am in the ranks known as the "ungainfully employed." I can work until I am unable to do anything more. But do I bring in any cash? No, not one cent.

Sometimes I feel like a howling success and again like the flatest failure. The latter is the way I feel today.

I am a farmer's wife and never do a thing out of doors. Lazy? Maybe--but I am trying my hand at a different kind of crop.

It is raising a good American family. We have ten children. It is when I look at them that I figure myself a success for they are all well and generally healthy. I am convinced they never would bring a prize in a beauty contest; but put them up against a family of the same size raised in the city, and I firmly believe that, as far as health goes, they would carry off the blue ribbons.

Not one has every seen the inside of a hospital, nor ever failed to pass with his grade in school. I have six of school age. My oldest boy, just thirteen, is a Junior in High School and an A student; the next two have also won prizes in their classes. Seven of my children are girls and as I do all of my work myself, sewing included, you can see that I find myself quite busy.
But this does not get me anywhere. I mean in the line of money. The only money I really have earned since I was married was the ten dollars I won as first prize in The Farmer's Wife Letter Contest.

Another thing my curiosity has prompted me to do is this: I kept account of my work through the month of August...just the big many times I washed clothes and cleaned floors; the number of articles I sewed; the amount of bread I baked; and how many meals I cooked extra for hired help.

I just stopped to read my letter and some of it already looks foolish, but I shall send it anyway and hope it will be received in the spirit in which it is sent, as I am writing it with fullness of heart and an aching back.

I think my question amounts to just this: Does the average farmer's wife deserve even honorable mention if she does nothing more than raise a family?


From Laurie: Sally's question interested me, probably because I remember the first time that I felt the same way she did. It was after the birth of my fifth child, with my oldest being just ten. I was so overwhelmed with everything I needed to do, plus homeschooling the two oldest children. This was in the mid-1980s when the modern homeschooling movement was very new. Each month I received a homeschooling magazine that had a feature story about a "Perfect" homeschooling mother. I didn't receive the magazine for long, since it depressed me much more than it encouraged me. I just didn't measure up to those "Perfectly Amazing" women with their "Perfectly Amazing" children!

It is a shame that we women can be very hard on ourselves sometimes. We forget to acknowledge and rest in the fact that we are working and trying to do the best that we can. It seems obvious to me (and probably to you, too) that, Sally, as the mother of ten children with the oldest being just thirteen years old, did not need to feel bad about her accomplishments. Just the fact that she had the time, and her wits about her to write a letter to a magazine says a great deal about her success as a woman.

More about Mrs. Green (aka Sally Sod) in my next post.