Saturday, August 29, 2015

SCHOOL DAYS GONE BY, 1925 & 1926

From Anna Reinken--One bright February morning I started across the prairie with my dinner pail and my books under my arm. Mother told me not to come home if it should storm but wait at the schoolhouse for my father. When I reached the school which was about two miles away, I was very cold.

Shortly after recess a black cloud rose in the east which kept spreading over the sky until the sun was quite shut out. The wind began to blow and the snow came down as if it were rain. In less than an hour the wind was so strong that it shook the schoolhouse and the air was so full of snow that one could hardly see through it. At four o'clock the storm was still raging and the teacher told us that we must stay where we were and not try to go home.

As night came on we were all frightened. The coal was nearly all burned up. The teacher was about to use the desks as fuel but just then a man came with the coal. He said it had taken him four hours to come over the last four miles. He was nearly frozen. After he had gotten warm, he said we must all go home with him to his house for the night. I was very glad for I was beginning to get hungry.

The storm kept raging for three days but the next afternoon Father came to take me home. There had been some very deep snow drifts but I held to my father's hand and reached home safely. I was very glad to get home again to see my little sisters and brothers.

From Hazel Summers--I go to school and am in the sixth grade. Our school is one story high. It has eight teachers and six class rooms. Then it has a kitchen, a long hall and a cloak room for the boys and one for the girls. We have twelve grades. There is a little "Red House" on the back of the school ground where hot lunches are cooked. The community thought it was mighty nice, indeed, of Miss Elizabeth Word, our principal, to have hot lunches for all the hungry students after studying so hard.

Dorothy Brandt--At school we are having a contest. We call it the "aint contest." If anyone says aint (instead of "is not" or "has not" or "have not"), he gets one mark. Some of the children have over fifty or sixty marks. To the one that has the least marks, our teacher gives a prize. My sister has the least marks, she only said it once.

Monday, August 24, 2015

MATILD's ROSES, by Cola L. Fountain, July 1926

Once upon a time, in the fast-dimming long ago, a woman, called Matild' Waters, lived "by the side of the road" in a low ramshackle house. She had poverty to deal with, and drunkenness and shame to endure from her husband and his people, who came and caroused within her lowly door.
July 1926 Cover
Matild' had children and they did not all "turn out well." The example of their father and the legacy of his unstable character told on them and they were not strong enough to conquer their inheritance. Matild' lived to know the bitterness of the hand of the law against her sons and to see her daughters sicken in poverty and die for lack of medical aid.

Matild' was a woman with a soul starved for beauty. No matter how hard her burdens pressed upon her, she would stand in the cottage door for a brief moment just to contemplate the spring green stealing over the mountains, to catch the flicker of a bluebird's wing or to glimpse the flames of the western sun reflected on the lofty ledge of rock behind the house.

There was no material beauty inside her home. Matild' had braided a rug one winter from odds and ends of woolen cloth, with red flannel worked in here and there. She had made it in the long midnight hours while waiting for the man of the house to come home. When finished she had placed it on the floor in the "other room" and used to go in now and then just to feast her eyes upon it. One day it disappeared and she never found it. The saloonkeeper's wife over at Hooker Mountain had one just like it shortly after but Matild' never knew.

A stranger driving by the cottage one afternoon, with his carriage full of rosebush slips and plants which he was delivering far up in the mountains, stopped for a drink of water. Moved by the heart-hungry look in the eyes of Matild' he handed her a little bush and drove away.

She planted the slip behind the house but when people were about paid no attention to it. It grew and throve. She mentioned it in her husband's presence only as a "pesky nuisance," so he left it alone.

Years passed. The house became more tumbledown, the family more reduced. The roses alone flourished. Today Matild' and her husband sleep in the sandy little cemetery in the shadow of the mountain. Their children are scattered and gone, some dead, some far away. The house has fallen into decay. The ramshackle barn burned down

years ago. As you walk along the road in June a fragrance sweet and lovely envelops you and the wind wafts away. You turn the bend of the road and a marvel of pink and glowing beauty meets your eye. The yard of the old cottage is full of roses. They have spilled over the broken fence, they have crossed the road and are marching down the ravine like an army with banners. Though the woman who planted the first little bush has long been dust and few who live in that section even remember her face, yet these flowers are known everywhere by the name of "Matild's Roses."

They are gathered by the whole neighborhood for weddings and for funerals; children carry them up the dusty country road for the "last day" at school; lovers wear them in their buttonholes; tourists passing through this as yet uncharted road on their way to a better highway stop to gather and bear away Matild's roses to far-distant points.

To some it is given to live long enough to receive the applause of the throng for their deeds done on earth. Others suffer depths of shame and humiliation and never know the extent of their influence or the joy of work successfully accomplished. How many of us can leave behind such real beauty and sweetness that ever growing will blot out the remembrance of our suffering and failure, fill the hands of strangers with fragrance and loveliness and teach once more the old, old lesson that however narrow and shadowed our pathway may be, however small may seem our opportunity to brighten it, if we but do our best with what we have, there is no end nor limit to its influence and power and so, verily, our "works do follow us."