Monday, September 10, 2012


An ad for Sun Maid raisins by Norman Rockwell (August 1927)
“Sunday is my day of rest. I don't bother with potatoes that day. A little extra baking on Saturday leaves me more time to myself: 'I work hard all the week so that I will know enough to appreciate my rest when it comes.'

“My little trips are a pleasure, too. They give me a few breaths of air, a change of scenery and a little chatter along the way. All three of which are very refreshing.

“I can't do any Community work. But,” brightening, “Elwyn always gets me out to vote. He says, 'It's a duty now that women have the ballot.'

“One of our greatest compensations is reading. We are all great readers. We read everything we can get hold of. The source of our supply is two of Wayne County's circulating libraries and the grade school and high school. Between these we can get any kind of book any time.

“We have the daily papers, the farm papers, the general run of magazines and The Farmer's Wife. What are you editors doing? Giving the magazine more milk and sunshine, or what. It seems to be improving right along.

“Astonished at the amount of work I do? Well, there is more to that, too. You see my health is fine, 100 per cent, and I am still young.

“Moreover, there's my Husband. He's the backbone of this institution. I wouldn't be anything without Elwyn.

He's a fine farmer, and a fine man, too. Every year I see his work all done so well.

“We're doing general farming and specializing in Holstein cattle with a registered sire. The cattle are the cause of the children's health. Milk saved their lives. O, I wouldn't dare to live in town with this 'bunch.'

“One thing I find in your Success Stories. All the Success women have modern conveniences of 1926 while I have the inconveniences of 1890...But you may look over the place for yourself.

“Just see our 115 acres of low, flat land. It's so flat that sometimes I think it must ache, like Mexico and China, for a little uprising.

“Back to the house. It was built new for us when we had one baby and here it stands,--made strong and warm. But it was either stunted at birth or else it developed the rickets immediately after, for it has failed to keep pace with our growing family. Five rooms. No more; no less. Not a porch, cellar, cupboard, clothes-closet, well or cistern. So if I am a Success, you see it is in a cramped and cluttered way.

“I had no training at all for farm life, though I was born on a farm and lived there till I was four years old. I was the youngest of six and so much younger than the rest that I grew up almost alone.

“If there is anything sweet and gentle in my nature it came from my Mother. You know her kind. She was Grandma Hughes to the whole neighborhood.

“It was from my Dad that I got my ability to 'laugh it off'; also my square shoulders. He was a hard-working man, a horse-shoer by trade. At the age of 76 he still has a hearty laugh, can crack a joke and dance a merry jig.

Fashions of Spring 1927

“When I was a small child, we moved into town and I went to grade school and had two years of high school. Then I worked one year in a paper mill and that's where I met 'me gude mon.'

“Elwyn was sick. He couldn't stand inside work,--couldn't eat. That's why we decided to come here to his father's farm. I was only 18 when I came here as a farmer's wife. I didn't know a thing about housework. Couldn't boil water without burning it. They laugh at me still because I tried to freshen salt pork in boiling water. I don't know whatever I would have done if it hadn't been for my Husband's three sisters. I do wish you would say that what I am in the line of cook, housekeeper and seamstress, I owe to them.

“Of course I've been too busy raising children to help financially. The only money I've ever made has been from The Farmer's Wife. First there was ten dollars for a prize letter, “Writing Home to Mother,' and then the money for the 'Sally Sod' letters and the 'One Month' article. When your letter came telling me they were accepted, I drew a deep breath and was transported straight through the air to the southwest corner of a gloriously pink cloud. And there I am yet.

“It has been one of the greatest desires of my life to burst forth on a printed page. But I never expected it to happen.

“And the money...I really didn't know I had that many dollars worth of brains in my dome. Elwyn insisted I should spend it all for myself, but of course I wouldn't do that. It meant a lot to the little Greens, coming just before Christmas, as it did.

“I had no idea that the simple expression of my feelings would cause such an outburst. I wish I could answer all the nice letters that have been written in reply. But that would be quite an order. I had to smile when I read them. I couldn't help thinking, 'How human these women would find me if they could see me reading their letters leaning on my mop handle.”