Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Have you read about the Iowa lady who claims to be the champion dishwasher? With all the pride of an Olympic hero, she avers [to declare positively] that for thirty-four years she has done her dishes promptly after every meal.

How much the poor dear has missed by not learning the art of stacking the dishes and saving them for later! Now, honestly, wouldn't you be ashamed to admit that you had such bossy old dishes? That they let them run you? So much can be lost in the way of accomplishment, health and happiness by allowing any task to tyrannize over one.

It often proves a real saving of time and gas to accompany the husband on one of his hurry-up trips to town and do the family shopping rather than make an extra trip, even though the dishes must sit. Although you do not need to buy, the ride may do you good, give you a new slant on life and renewed vigor. Perhaps when the car goes it will be a good chance for you to make that long-promised call on your new neighbor or have a delightful visit with your old friend.

Front Side of Small Antique
Cardboard Needle Holder
It means so much in the way of accomplishment to do work when the spirit moves you. On certain days I just love to sew. At such time, if my family meal is not too large, I stack up all the dishes and just sew. On such days I sew well.

At other times, I will obey the call of the out-of-doors. On bright, blue October days I will hie [to go quickly] me out into the sunshine to rake the yard, dig up the cannas or plant tulips. Dishes can be done when the shadows are falling and I am the gainer in every way.

Then there are those stifling summer days when after rushing through work all morning, dinner is finally stowed away and dishwashing looms up. Have you not then had a very real attack of dishwasher's colic, when it seemed as though that job were the last straw? Of course, you could make yourself do them but at the cost of feeling fagged all the rest of the afternoon. An hour's rest immediately after dinner would put you in good trim for the rest of the day's work. Indeed, doctors tell us it is actually necessary to good health.

Reverse Side of the
Needle Holder--Measures
2.5" x 5"
Perhaps reading rests you. If so, proceed to get a new line of thought. What does it matter if some one calls and the dishes are unwashed? Don't apologize! Your reading should at least enable you to talk intelligently about other things than neighborhood scandal.

Live your life to suit your own needs instead of on the basis of what other people will think.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Dose of Youth, by "Eighteen" from West Virginia, 1934

Ever since I was a little girl, people,--my teachers, friends, relatives--have talked college to me. We never did have much money but still it always seemed to us that when the time came I would go to college. Now I have been out of high school a year and we are practically certain I cannot go.

It is harder on Mother and Dad, I believe, than on me for people talk to them as if they should sacrifice everything just to give me an education. Goodness knows they have already sacrificed enough! And besides, I honestly do not believe that education is everything.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to write. That is why they advocate college so strongly. But there are heaps of things to write about--farm and village life, for example. I could not feel about a city as I do about our valley--a deep dish scalloped round with hills with the sky for a cover. I could not love city crowds the way I love Mrs. Brown who has five children and who wears a little blue hat she has worn for three years because her husband says "it matches her eyes," and because--well her husband hasn't been doing well.

When I get to thinking about the dreams I used to have (I thought being grown up would be heavenly!) it hurts, so I have to slip off to the haymow and cry a little, but I get over it. I think growing up must be hard any time. There are so many hurts and perplexities that one must hide. I would almost die before I would admit some of the things I think, or some of the funny little things that make me want to cry. It hurts to be young and uncertain. It is doubly hard to be young and want to so something--and not know what.

I have always wanted to be happy--and gallant. Maybe I can learn to be with all this time I am going to have.

There will still be the fun of putting on an old slicker and walking with my face upturned to the rain. It is easy to make Mother happy; I can think of loads of things to do for her. Dad is tickled pink when I am interested in the things he likes. This winter I am helping my sister with her lessons. I can still study people and imagine stories about them. If I just forget myself I think I can be happy. Perhaps I am just having a dose of Youth.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

THE MAGIC JAR, by "Bookworm" from Wisconsin, 1926

There is a round, blue jar on our bookcase at home. Once or twice a month I pour the accumulated contents into my hand and count, "50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 82 cents." Then I grin with satisfaction. That will be enough to buy A Lantern in Her Hand (a good book by the way, by Bess Streeter Aldrich) or some other coveted book which I've been wanting for months.

On my shelves are Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth, a complete Shakespeare, Alcott's Little Women and Little Men. Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles and a volume of modern American poetry, all the result of accumulated pennies.

Pennies may be few, but eventually if each one is saved there will be enough to buy a good book or magazine. We have our own library, and though it is small the books are of such a nature that they can be read and re-read with enjoyment.

There are those who think that farm women who spend time reading are lazy and "highbrow." Besides, of what use are storybooks to women who work in the fields and come home to milk cows? All the more reason, I say, why a farm woman should escape for a few minutes into a make-believe world where her spirit may be eased.

"And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear land of Storybooks."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Nellie Joslin Weston was a "no nonsense" farm wife who described her life plainly and honestly. Her story appeared in a magazine article published in December 1931. In part the article reads:
Mrs. Joseph (Nellie) Weston

The little shack where the Westons started so modestly has given place to a modern bungalow with hardwood floors and all the coveted conveniences. And responsibility finds time for hobbies,--tea roses, etchings, friends.
"I don't want to paint country life too rosy," Mrs. Weston said. "It isn't all roses...No, not even in Missouri. The most I can say is you can make a living if you're willing to work hard enough.
Mrs. Weston's Home, "Spring Branch"

"A good crop from my orchard would be 35,000 bushels (a bushel of apples is approximately 48 pounds or 22 kg.) But I do not average that by any means. Something always happens. That's where the catch comes in; something is always happening on the farm. Anybody who goes to the country thinking he is going to have a snap, is bound to be disappointed...
Of course, there are pleasant surroundings in the country. But I can't say that I am any happier here than I would be in the city. In fact--I'm lonely--desperately lonely."
"I think," she added slowly, weighing her words, "I think that wherever we go, Life is Life."

Margaret Ellis Shellenberger and her mother gave up life in the city to go back home and save the farm--a stretch of rich acres in a cuplike valley high up in the Allegheny mountains of Pennsylvania. The house is a colonial mansion of red brick, one hundred years old.
A Young Margaret Ellis
"Grandpa and Grandma simply couldn't think of leaving the old home at their age," said Mrs. Shellenberger to her visitor from The Farmer's Wife in February 1926, "so there was nothing for it but for Mother and me to come home and keep things going. Mother was very frail and I was only eleven. There were no conveniences in the house--not even running water. From the beginning I helped with whatever Mother did. The summer I was seventeen, I built every stack on the place. My brother, Edgar, was home for vacation and he and I took a turnabout in barn and field. We two cut and hauled ninety acres. The first year that Edgar went to college he ploughed fifteen acres for wheat before he left. I harrowed it alone and a neighbor helped to drill it. It was the best yield per acre of any farm around here--and we were proud!

"At first we were exiled up here in the mountains without even mail. Mother and I drove around and secured the signatures necessary for rural free delivery and telephone service. Our worst problem was roads or rather the lack of them. I had read about a road drag that was used through Missouri so talked to the road supervisor about it and he said, 'Well, if you want it done, go ahead and build a drag and supervise it.' I suppose he thought I'd never do it, but I did improve a few miles of road. After that, the same supervisor wanted me to have some hauling done. So I hired four or five teams and managed that job. I also put in a small plank bridge. I continued in the road work for a year."

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I am sure that I am not the only one who is saddened by the fact that children are not allowed the independence to "go about the countryside" that was once common place. The following four excerpts are from children recalling the fun and freedom of childhood more than 85 years ago.
Embroidered Morning 

"One bright Saturday morning several of my friends and I went on a bicycle ride in search of nuts. The wind was blowing briskly and the bright yellow leaves were blowing all over. It was a bright day. We rode about four miles before we built a campfire where we roasted hot dogs and potatoes. After we had eaten, we played games. It began to rain.

We scooted to a farmhouse. We knew the people and spent a happy hour there playing games. We started for home when the rain had ceased since it was growing dark. We had to go through a great many mud puddles. We reached home safely, wet, happy and without a single nut." By Katherine Moore in 1926

Darold and Eva Huddleston with "Sunshine"

My brother, Darold, and his friend, both seven years old, and I (Eva, age ten) drove our pony "Sunshine" to my Uncle's who lives eight miles from town. This was quite a ways so we started early in the morning before it got so warm. We did not know much about ponies so did not know just what they could stand. So I made the boys get out and walk up every hill and stopped at two or three houses on the way down and back too, and watered him. We stopped at the alfalfa fields and picked alfalfa and fed him several times. While he ate alfalfa we picked flowers and decorated his harness all up till he just looked too cute for anything. Now, I am not going to tell you how long it took us to go down or come back, for we took our time at it and mama and papa have laughed at us so much about it, but "Sunshine" had just as much fun out of it as we did. By Eva Huddleston, circa 1915
Flossie Meredith, "Pat" and Friends

I try to get time to take a pleasure ride with my pony "Pat" every day and I think more of him every time that I ride him for he is such a nice saddler...He enjoys going after the cows and sheep of evenings. I carry a lunch twice a day to the field for my father and brother and he likes to go to the field for they always invite "Pat" to eat with them and he always accepts the invitation...I ride "Pat" to town about twice a week and the children gather around with something for him to eat. The people say he is the finest pony that ever came to town. By Flossie Meredith, circa 1915

Although I (Anna) am so young, I can hitch and unhitch him and do everything for him. I want to do all for him myself, he is so gentle and kind...Sometimes I drive home alone if papa isn't quite ready to come. We only live about half mile from Fair Grounds but I pass a great many autos and other vehicles. I have always been used to horses so that I have no fear about driving alone. Anna Ruth Miller, circa 1915

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


The following account is of a nineteen year old girl who lives on a hilly farm in Idaho. The farm consists of 160 acres and they live six miles from town. A friend of this young woman asked her to write an account of a single working day of her life.

"One bright morning in early July I was awakened by my mother who told me that it was half-past four. I arose immediately for I had had a good night's rest and did not feel sleepy. I dressed in my riding habit and went to the barn and waked my brother who was sleeping in the hayloft and asked him to come and saddle my pony, 'Daisy.' He saddled her and I mounted and went to the timber for the cows. The air was fresh and cool. It filled me with joy and seemed to affect Daisy the same, for she threw her ears forward, listened a second for the cows, and hearing the tinkle of the bell she started out on a gallop. After about a half hour's ride I found the cows and drove them home. When I had taken the saddle from Daisy and given her her breakfast and a few loving caresses I left her and went to the house, arriving just in time for breakfast. After breakfast I told my two sisters I would do the housework myself while they washed. I had an early start, was in high spirits and ready for the day's work before me. It did not take me long to plan my dinner, which I decided should consist of baked potatoes, creamed carrots, greens, and radishes, all fresh from the garden. For dessert I made blanc mange with cocoa sauce. I had plenty of fresh butter, cream, and light-bread at my disposal. The first thing I did on entering my kitchen was to mix up my light-bread. It did not take me long to clear off the breakfast table and put the dining-room in order. When I came to the kitchen I did not find it so easy; but my greatest delight being to set a kitchen in order I did not mind the task before me; but before starting it I did up the milk work which only took me half an hour, there being no churning that morning. I had my kitchen in order and the bread molded by ten o'clock.

I then cleaned myself up and read a short story in the Sunday School paper before starting my dinner which I did at ten-thirty. My dinner was a success or at least my father pronounced it so when he had finished eating a not small portion of it.

The following account is of a nineteen year old girl who lives on a hilly farm in Idaho. The farm consists of 160 acres and they live six miles from town. A friend of this young woman asked her to write an account of a single working day of her life.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Last fall we roamed the woods for wild grapes.

It was good to be alive; it was fun scrambling through the underbrush. The woods were full of the mysterious sounds of the forest. Then we heard something quite alien to all this--the cry of an infant. Curious to find the source, we made a search and discovered modern cave dwellers! There was a dugout in the hillside in which lived a family of seven, father, mother and five children from six weeks to six years of age.

The man-of-the-house talked with us a while; he had fish to sell. Presently the mother came out. She was young, astonishingly pretty, exceedingly plump, and surprisingly cheerful. On her invitation to "come in and see our house" we entered the one dark room with its table, stove, two beds, one chair, and keg of dill pickles.

The woman was not a bit apologetic, either. They couldn't afford anything better at the time. Here they had a warm place, "hole-in-the-ground" though it was. The surrounding woods supplied them with berries for jelly and sauce, dead wood for fuel, and rabbits for meat. The river gave them fish and water. Their garden patch furnished most of the other foodstuff. And the father had part-time employment on a neighboring truck garden.

The pity I first felt for the mother was soon replaced by admiration. I can see her yet as she looked when we were leaving, the baby in her arms, other little ones clinging to her, a smile on her lips and contentment,--not merely resignation,--in her eyes.

"I envy nobody, no not I.
And nobody envies me,"

she seemed to say. Since then I have often thought of her, wondering what was her secret of happiness. It's a wonderful secret that enables people who have but little, to carry on without fear or loneliness, while others who have more, are miserable, dissatisfied, fearful.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I (Laurie) was raised in the Los Angeles area of Southern California in the mid-1950s and moved away when I was 18 years old. I have been particularly interested in the Lucky Pony Winner Crystal Andreas since she lived only fourteen miles from my childhood home. 

Crystal Andreas and "Marmalade" (1914)
Unfortunately, I can find very little about her. I know that she was born on January 3, 1905, in the state of Indiana and was living in California when she won her pony in 1914. It appears that Crystal never married, and died in Los Angeles, California, (about 35 miles from her home) in 1977 at the age of 72.  For quite sometime, I have wondered if her family's unusual rock home was still standing, and because of the newly released 1940 census records, I can happily say that it is. 
Crystal and "Marmalade" on the Rock Home Steps (1914)
In 1940 her parents, Godfrey and Carrie, were living alone in the rock home since Crystal and her younger brother, John (born in 1908) had grown and moved away. The home sat on what was considered a farm, but no acreage was listed. Godfrey was a rancher and his yearly income was $1,200 (twelve hundred.) He owned, not rented his rock home (not a surprise) and the value of the home was listed as $4,500 (four thousand, five hundred.)  I  do not know what became of Crystal's mother, but her father died in 1942 at the age of 60.

The Rock Home Today--Note the Palm Trees on Either Side

The surprising part of the census for me, was that it listed the address of the home, and that address has not changed in 73 years. With that information, I found that the rock home is no longer a part of a farm, but is surrounded by miles and miles of other homes. Only one half acre and several large palm trees are left of the original farm property. I discovered that the house was built in 1913, just one year before Crystal won her pony "Marmalade," and is rather large with over 3,500 feet of living space. Although the address hasn't changed in all these years, the price of the home certainly has. According to public records, in 2010 Crystal's rock home sold for $485,000, which was down from the price it sold for in 2006 of $730,000.  What would her parents have thought of that?

The Andreas Family Would Be So Proud
The Andreas' family home is 100 years old this year (very old for a California home, by the way) and it is good to see that it has survived beautifully. In nearly 30 years I have been back to the Los Angeles area only once, but I hope to go again someday. When I do, I will be sure and take a drive past Crystal's home and try to imagine the fun she had living on her farm with her pony so very long ago...