Monday, February 25, 2013

MY HOME, SOUTH DAKOTA, 1934

My home: four walls of an ugly and old-fashioned farmhouse. A group of buildings in need of paint and repairs. A scraggly grove of trees that has suffered from the drought and a lawn invaded by thistles.
My home: Within these four walls I have known childbirth and child-death, sickness, worry, and hardship. Disappointment and frustration make bodily weariness doubly hard to bear.

My home: It is all of these, but oh! so much more. It is a shelter from the elements, from the heat of summer and the snow and cold of winter. It is a refuge from the unkind world. It is a sure haven in this time of chaos.
My home: Though I rebel because I am a prisoner here, I would not be free for anything in the world. Though sometimes the drudgery and monotony are hard to bear, I would not leave them if I could. Here I am necessary to three whom I love. Here I know I am loved and needed. Here I can be utterly myself, free from pretensions and subterfuges.

My home: It is sweet to hear my children laugh and play. There is still the romance in waiting for Daddy to come in from the field. There is deep content in having someone to quarrel with, to love, to take care of, to scold, and to forgive. There is still joy in a freshly-scrubbed floor, the smell of a freshly-baked apple pie, the crackle of the fire in the funny old heating stove.

It is the best place on earth to me--my home.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

QUILTING IN THE 1910s & 1930s

The evolution of craft patterns in The Farmer's Wife magazine is quite interesting. The 1920s saw almost exclusively crochet patterns until the very late 1920s. In the 1930s, many of you will not be surprised to know that quilting became much more popular, and the magazine published at least four separate quilt pattern booklets during that time. What did surprise me though, was the quilting patterns that were published in the 1910s. The first set of pictures below are of patterns published in 1913, all in black and white. At the bottom of this post are patterns printed in color in 1934. Sometime in the future, I will post some pages from the 1930s Farmer's Wife quilt booklets.
The following letter was printed in the 1913 issue:

My young daughter was not strong and the doctor prescribed sleeping in the fresh air, so she had her cot moved out on the porch and when it began to get cool and a quilt became necessary my inspiration came. We had plenty of nice, sweet hay, and I knew that hay was warm, so, why not a comforter of hay? I had never seen one, but I experimented, and this is the way I did it: I got enough dark blue flannelette for the covering, cutting it a little wider than the cot it was to cover. First I sewed across one end, down one side and then across the other end; then quilted across from side to side making the distances about twenty inches. Through the open side the hay was then packed in smoothly and evenly, and the remaining side sewed up. My daughter declared that this quilt was warmer than two or three blankets, and lighter. When the hay became limp, the quilt was hung out in the sun, and it soon became as crisp as if fresh. After the hay became worn and thin from constant use. I took it all out and refilled the quilt with fresh hay. With such a filling at hand there is no excuse for the farmer's wife to go without plenty of good light covering. Mrs. R.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

THE GOOD EARTH; by "Driven Back to Eden," Ohio; 1934

Four years ago my husband was an office man, holding a position that to us seemed as solid as the rock of Gibraltar itself. The "rock" was sandstone, I guess, for when the waters of the depression ran steadily over it, it wore gradually to nothingness.

So here we are with our two kiddies, an aged grandfather, ourselves, two hundred baby chicks, a cow with the grandest "hat posts" on her back side, a half dozen hens, and a shepherd pup; living in a little shack on a few acres of poor land, trying to raise our food. Seems easy, does it not? However, we are finding it a hard struggle, with no income at all, and all our nest egg gone. After the pay check twice a month and city conveniences, it is rather bewildering, and now and then we get frightened.

This is the black part of the picture. But the black is only the frame that serves to show off the picture to better advantage. Before, I used to watch my husband's weary form start each morning to hitch-hike from a small town to the near-by city, knowing that he would tramp the streets all day searching for work, and that he would come home at night discouraged, weary, and worn out, not from hard work, but from daily watching his family drop deeper and deeper into the pit of the unfortunate. Now he gets up in the morning, eager for the work of the day. Through the summer, when evening came, and the milk was bottled and cooled, we went arm in arm to our garden, to glory in the rows of green lovely vines and plants. Every new row was hailed with delight, and each tomato counted as soon as it formed on the stalks. The whole family went into raptures over each new thing that pushed its way up.

No longer do we sit beside our radio, and by the light of electric lamps, have a game of bridge or listen to our favorite program, for ours is rather a primitive farm with no luxuries; but instead, no beautiful sunset ever escapes us, each lovely moon is watched, and at night when we have earned our rest, we fall asleep with happy visions of the next day. Best of all, we are strong and healthy now from our rugged outdoor life. The Good Earth has meant much to us.