Friday, September 7, 2012


These little ones would be at least 85 years old if still living
Flaxen-haired, pearly-teethed “Gladys—with—the--joke.” She was standing a little apart, bubbling over with amusement. It danced out of her eyes and rippled out in her voice. And finally, with a little coaxing, the secret popped all the way out in one breathless rush.

“I knew Ma wrote those Sally Sod letters. She didn't tell us. But I guessed it, 'cause Ma had counted up what she had done in August. And I knew no other mother had. So I guessed it.” And Gladys laughed—such a rippling little laugh, mischief darting from her eyes.

Jessie, nine comes next. All the babies love her. She's a good scout and a born little mother.

Marian, eight, is a dyed-in-the-wool flapper.” At which Marian looked up all smiles and dimples.

Next came seven-year-old Evelyn, the Brownie, brown hair, brown eyes, brown skin, a real nut-brown maid.

Little Miss I-Don't-Care,” said her mother.

Then Cecil, the five-year-old beauty, with a turned-up nose and wonderful golden hair with a permanent wave.

Next is Farmer John, my pride and joy. This boy was born under the worst possible circumstances. I had whooping cough together with seven of the children when he was born. He weighed only four and a half pounds at first; was raised in a market basket till he was seven months old. The first few years he was very delicate. Our doctor took such an interest in him that he said: 'When you call me, tell if it's John and I'll burn up my little old car to get to him.' Now, at four, John’s quite a boy.

And so he is. A sturdy, square-shouldered little fellow with a sweet serious face.

Frances, two years old, is 'Pa's baby.' Though for the matter of that, they're all father's babies. They're all crazy about him. Elwyn, my Husband” (we capitalize Husband because that's what Sally Sod did with her voice) “says it's my fault because I tell the children 'how nice Pa is.'

Our little 'Ma-Ma Doll,' the baby, is Laura Nadine—sweetest of the bunch.”

Then hastily, lest some one should be hurt: “Of course, they've all had their turns at being 'the sweetest.' But their turns have been rather short.

You can see that all I've ever had a chance to do is to raise children. I have six in school and four at home. What I told you in 'One Month Out of My Life' is absolutely true and is a sample of what's happening here all the time.

Of course, my work runs largely to 'eats.' I'm keeping house for twelve healthy, hearty people. And every one of them has a good out-of-door appetite to be appeased three times a day. My cake-baking averages around five cakes a week; I peel an average of a peck of potatoes daily and everything goes in the same proportion.

My 'daily dozen' and forearm developer is mixing up 14 loaves of bread.

Our weekly washing usually consists of one big family wash and three smaller ones. One week there were 42 dresses and in one single wash there were 22. I put them on the line and looked them over. Nineteen I had made myself.

“I suppose you are wondering, 'What about the ironing?' I do my ironing as some people can fruit. The cold pack method for mine. Lots of the washing is folded at the line and put away. I iron only the best clothes, school dresses, shirts and table cloths. My little girls are learning to iron their everyday clothes.

“Then there are trips that I make. Some to town; some to mill; some on errands; some to get milk cans. I figure that these save my husband's time as I take the car and make them all during his working hours.

“Now that my children are growing older they can do lots of the smaller jobs which leaves me more time for the big ones. And I think you will agree with me that it is time I need. Mervin, here, is quite a cook. O, but you should hear 'the bunch' sing at their work!”

“Yes,” piped up Gladys-with-the-joke. “And Ma always says, 'Stop that groaning.'”

When the laugh subsided Sally Sod went on unperturbed. “I don't want this to sound like a long drawn out wail of misery, because life always has its own compensations. When I work my hardest, my little ones smile their sweetest. And it's many a laugh we have over their queer sayings.

“The other night when I put my little two-year-old to bed, I said, 'Good night, Darling.' And she answered, 'Good night, Sauer Kraut.'