Monday, April 30, 2012

CHUMMY CHATS FROM OUR GIRLS, Part 2; 1931

Letter #1 We still have girls with the pioneer spirit! Isn't this a new idea? Lucy Frederick's (Wisconsin), ambition is to be an employee of a government or state game preserve. She says, “I have always been interested in the out-of-doors and its inhabitants. I have always had animals around me, both domestic and wild to feed during the winter months. Of course, I know it's strange for a girl to want such a position; yet I don't see why one in good health with a good education and a desire for out-door life cannot do it.”

Letter #2
In April the country girl is in her glory. She sees the first crocus come through the soft ground and watches the daffodils open up their faces to the sun. She spies on Robin Red Breast to see where she builds her nest, and she delights in the croaking of the frogs. What fun to watch the lambs and calves kick up their heels in the pasture! And better still, to make each of them a jolly pet!

Letter #3 “Advice Column”
At school I feel miserable because I am lonely and my classmates go by themselves. I am left alone for the recess and noon periods to read, write, or do something else which I do not enjoy. I have to do this to keep from getting lonely. All this makes my head ache terribly, and my heart ache, and makes me ill-tempered and feel like doing something terrible. I think the trouble is that my desire to join in their games and sports is too great, and because I do not get enough exercise during the day. I never smile because I am too unhappy. I am 14.--A miserable 6th Grader, Michigan.

Little Sixth Grader, won't you give me your name and address, so I my answer your other questions personally? Will you promise to do one thing even if it is hard? From the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed—smile!! Do it until your face hurts from over-exercise, and the “achey” feeling around your heart will be forgotten. Say something jolly to all your school mates. The minute the bell rings say, “Let's go play,” and be one of the first ones out. Above all, never feel sorry for yourself. Play hard and be a good loser. What I have suggested will be the hardest thing you ever did, but it will be worth it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

CHUMMY CHATS FROM OUR GIRLS, Part 1; 1931

Mildred Draper of Ohio seems to be one of our lively girls who doesn't miss a thing. She says, “I'm just another girl who has no particular problem—just wanted to write 'for fun.' I have come to the conclusion that I haven't any hobby. Instead I have hobbies!--many of them. I cannot decide what I like to do best, write letters, or poems, draw pictures, ride, drive a car, read or play the piano.” Mildred collects poems and writes them when she's “in the humor,” and she also has a box of pictures she has drawn besides many which she has collected. She enjoys riding--”in anything from a Lizzie to a Pierce-Arrow (or a wheelbarrow!!!)”

Gertrude Anton, North Dakota, enjoys her community. She says they have a party nearly every month. “We always enjoy ourselves at these parties, and they give us something to look forward to. One always feels better to have a little pleasure mixed in between the working days. We like coasting and skating, too. If it is too cold to go out, we stay indoors to play games and pop corn.”

Elizabeth Wilson of Indiana didn't waste time in writing to our page for she wrote the first day she found it. At first you'll feel sorry for her when she says, “I live on a poor farm!”--but at that she likes it. “My father is superintendent of the Infirmary (Note from Laurie. Perhaps this was an "old folks" home?) and my mother is matron. We have an apartment in the same building with the inmates. With the 102 inmates we have quite a large family. I enjoy it here as something new and exciting happens every day.” Perhaps some other time Elizabeth will tell us about “the old negro lady who is over 100 years old.”

What a good way to spend Sunday afternoon Dellora Glebe, Minnesota, tells about. "Five girls and six boys gathered at a neighbor's one afternoon. When tiring of other games we tried impromptu dramatics. We dressed up in clothes to impersonate various people and each one put on a little act. We had the best time!"




Monday, April 16, 2012

AND AWAY WE GO!, Mrs. F. G. K., Indiana; April 1931

We live on an 80-acre farm, off of good roads, about nine miles from our county seat, are in debt some on the farm, have seven children in the family, three of school age.
Four years ago the school authorities tried hard to force us to send our two older children, a girl fifteen, and a boy thirteen, to high school, nine miles distant. We simply couldn't do it. If the trustee had furnished transportation, the children would have been graduated from high school now. But he would not, so they were denied, to our regret, the high school education. Some thought we should have let them go to town and work their way through. But we felt that home was the best place for young folks at this age.

The boy wants to farm, is satisfied here, and just now, at eighteen, is a fine hand at almost anything you put him at, farming, repairing tools, and the like. Healthy, clean-minded, no bad habits.

The girl would have enjoyed school if she could have gone, is nineteen, strong, loves home, reads good books, is good at sewing, cooking, baking, baby tending, and all housework; makes good wages helping our nearest neighbors in busy seasons or in sickness; enjoys 4-H Club work, winning prizes both years she has been in the work. Last year she served as leader for a group of ten girls and was awarded a free trip to Purdue.

I am not boasting, but I think that farm girls and boys must be prepared for the positions we and our husbands are now holding. Would these two children have been any better prepared for the jobs of homemaker and farmer if they had left the home nest and worked their way through high school?

Although we grow discouraged at times, I wouldn't trade my home for one in town. We work hard but we have enjoyments, too. When we want a little entertainment, one gets out the “fiddle,” one a guitar, one a banjo, one Little Joe, one the harmonica, and Dad the knitting needles. Then Ma seats herself at the piano, and away we go!

My entreaty is: Raise the farm girls and boys to stay with the farm.

Monday, April 9, 2012

PERHAPS YOU KNOW HIM; February 1907

Perhaps you know him...
We don't know his name, occupation or from whence he came, but we do know he was a gentleman, a man with a mother that he loved and respected; perhaps he had a wife and sister, if so they were fortunate.

He was sitting in a crowded car. An old lady, with a faded sunbonnet and basket, got on the car at the door behind him, at one of those country stations and walked slowly along up the aisle looking wistfully to the right and left. She passed the man's seat; he looked up at her, quickly glanced up and down the car, saw no vacant seat and immediately rose, touched the lady's arm and said: “Here's a vacant seat, mother.”

The old lady looked at the strong young fellow and said: “Thank you, dear, but that is your seat isn't it?”

“Oh no,” was the reply. That seat belongs to the railroad company, and they sold you the right to sit in it. I have been sitting for a long time and need to stand for exercise.”

The old lady took the seat. The young man put her shawl and basket in the rack, asked her where she was going, talked about the weather and crops, and listened to a long story about her daughter, whom she was going to visit, ten miles up the road. When the station was reached the young fellow took down the basket and shawl and assisted the old lady to the platform, shook hands with her and said good-bye and returned to the car. The old lady watched him as long as she could see him and turned to her daughter who was waiting for her.

Not a person on the car but admired the young fellow, would have trusted him anywhere, and all wished they had the manhood to do as he had done.

Monday, April 2, 2012

AMELIA MERROW'S FOLDED HANDS; part 4 of 4; by Dorothy Donnell Calhoun; 1918


He was still puzzling over the problem that evening when Ma plumped herself down in the rocker across the hearth, determination in every kindly line of her soft old face.
“I been thinking, Abel,” she said firmly. “Lizzie's going to be married in the spring and it's natural for a girl to want to buy some things to start housekeeping with. The fifteen a month we pay her doesn't go far these days. There's just one thing it's our bounden duty to do and that's—raise Lizzie's wages! It's as plain as day.”

Abel groping in the mazes of his mind for words meet to express his views of Ma's guileless plan, found instead a familiar phrase that had done good service in their life together.

“Just as you say, Ma,” he nodded feebly. “Just as you say.”

Accordingly he hired girl's wages were raised and the weeks that followed were brimful of preparations for the wedding. Yards of unbleached cotton draped the sitting room; napkins, tablecloths in all stages of hemming, concealed Abel's pipe and farm paper from view. The air was redolent with the spicy fumes of baking fruit cake while Lizzie continued to crochet endless yards of lace to adorn the trousseau Ma was making for her.

Ma was gently radiant. “If our little Ellie had lived, Pa,” she told Abel, “we'd have wanted her to have a nice wedding.”

In May, Lizzie and Ruel were married. The little farmhouse overflowed with guests. Ma was everywhere, helping Lizzie dress, greeting the guests, arranging great platters of chicken salad and plates of cake on her best damask cloth in the sitting room, a busy, radiant little figure with excitement-pink cheeks and shining eyes.

Abel, jammed submissively into a corner of the bookcase, watched the simple ceremony wonderingly. He had always thought of Lizzie as homely but to-day in the dainty white dress Ma had given her she seemed oddly transfigured. Perhaps it was the bride-look that all girls, hired or not, poor or rich, wear on their wedding day; perhaps, he mused dimly, she looked beautiful to him because she was going away!

After Lizzie and Ruel were on their honeymoon trip to Centerville and the last guest had gone, Abel Merrows and his wife stood in the bay window, looking across the fields, the sunset light red on their old faces. The breath of apple blooms crept about them from the jars and pitchers of the pink blossoms clustered in the room. Outside in the soft spring dusk a robin burst into song.

Shyly, Abel's gnarled old hand went out seeking Amelia's. He drew her toward him and kissed her awkwardly like a boy.

“Pa!” Amelia cried softly. “Pa! The idea—old as we are!”

But she was blushing like a girl. To cover her confusion she turned from the window and looked about the disordered room; the light of eager planning crept into her gaze.

“After all, I don't know as sixty-five is what you'd call real old,” she said thoughtfully. “Pa, do you know, I don't believe I'll get me another hired girl—not right away. Now I've had such a nice rest and all, I shouldn't wonder if it would seem real pleasant to have something to do again!”