Monday, July 23, 2018

Kimono Carelessness; 1920

The title of this article intrigued me. I could not imagine what American farm women could know about Japanese kimonos! So I did a search for "1920s kimonos" and I found this picture. Kimono means "robe." Now I get it!

No matter how many children you may have or how much housework you may have to do, do not let yourself fall into the kimono habit. It may sound exaggerated but it is nevertheless true that this one habit alone has broken up happy homes. Once let it get its clutch on a woman and she loses all proper pride in her appearance. It is difficult sometimes to look neat and trim and it is perilously easy to slip on a kimono....

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Soapmaking--Still a Useful Skill

Lately I keep running into people who want to learn how to make their own soap.  Soapmaking can be an art form, most definitely, but it should also be a basic skill.  After all, up until the last hundred years or so, nearly all housewives knew how to make the soap for their families' needs.  Even though I make soap regularly and sell it here and there, I would like to see more people making their own.  There's nothing quite as nice as making your own anything.  So, R, I, and T--this tutorial is for you!  (And for you, too.)

This is my version of a fruit/veggie wash soap, using just olive and coconut oils, based on this recipe from the Soap Queen blog.  It's a mild, unscented soap, and very simple to make.  Although the original intention was to wash produce, these days I use it as a hand soap. It makes my hands so smooth and soft!

Here are the very basic supplies you'll need--

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, July 16, 2018

How I Spent My Dollar, part 2; by Lelia Printz; 1925

Not very long ago, my aunt gave me a dollar to spend anyway I wished. I went to the city to spend the afternoon and I also spent my dollar. I paid a quarter to see a movie, a quarter for a new magazine and because my best girl friend had one and because I wanted one like her, I bought a harmonica for fifty-five cents. Then I bought a nickel’s worth of...
Party Dresses from 1925


To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com


Thursday, July 12, 2018

"Doing Just Nothing at All," 1879-1898

from 1898-- Our life is so active, so filled with excitement, that we are much too little given in these days to quiet thought...there are very few of us who would not be the better for sitting down every day for a half-hour, with folded hands, simply for the purpose of thinking, or of letting the mind lie fallow without much effort at consecutive meditation.

I know how many women will smile when they read this, and will say, “This writer does not know what she is talking about” but indeed I do. I have led for many years an intensely occupied life myself, and I never the world would you have gotten through one-half or one-quarter of the necessary things if I had not made a point of quite often sitting down, folding my hands, and doing just nothing at all.


To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, July 9, 2018

My Summer Garden, 1870--Week 7

I am more and more impressed, as the summer goes on, with the inequality of man’s fight with Nature; especially in a civilized state.
“Impressed” isn’t the word that springs to mind when I consider the battle I’m fighting and quite possibly losing, but it is rather remarkable. It’s not even a fair fight. What was a tame little patch of lamb’s quarter that rounded out our salads, is now 5 feet tall and blocking the raspberry patch. The growth is staggering; I’m not sure when it happened...

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Wild Grapes for Jelly, 1907

Recently I discovered an essay written in 1907 entitled “Wild Grapes for Jelly.” The author writes of the summertime treasure that wild fruit can be to the select few who are willing to claim it. She says this about wild fruits, specifically grapes:

They yield their riches to those who know them best and who most desire them. If you have found them, then it is you only for whom they have ripened, a free gift of nature’s bounty.
It sounds romantic--a warm summer afternoon trot to the countryside, filling a basket with wild fruits, which then becomes a shelf of jam to enjoy all winter.

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, July 2, 2018

How I Spent My Dollar; part 1; by Irene Tibbetts; 1925

I am going to tell you about a dollar I spent.

It is very seldom I go to the city to trade, so when I do I always have a list of things I must have and a list I would like to have if I have enough money left. The last time I was in trading I had bought all my necessary things and was wondering what I would like best to get for Mother as it was near her birthday....

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Trying Out a Simpler Life

This past month we took our summer vacation. We spent a week on a lake in northern Wisconsin. We rented a teeny 1930s-era cabin at an old-fashioned "resort."  The cabin had electricity, a kitchen sink, and a toilet. (The shower house was a short walk away.)

Throughout the week, I kept noticing ways in which life in our Northwoods cabin differed from our everyday life. Here are a few of things that I noticed the most:

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, June 25, 2018

Don't Save Your Pretty Things For Wife #2; 1937

Whenever I am tempted to put pretty things away and not use them I think of a neighbor I had. She was fine to visit with over the garden fence or in my home, but it was no joy to go into her home. It was beautiful--but the polished floors were covered first with new rugs and then with old rugs and where there wasn’t any “rug” there were heavy papers, so you couldn’t possibly mark the floor. The chairs were all covered so they wouldn’t get dusty or scratched....

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Vic and Sade, 1930s & 1940s

A fun way to get a glimpse of home life “way back when" is to listen to an old radio show called Vic and Sade. Vic and Sade was a daily 15 minute show so popular at the time that each episode aired several times a day. Most of the episodes have been lost or destroyed but the ones that remain are available online. You can find some of them...

To continue this post and get the link to the Vic and Sade show, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, June 18, 2018

Juneberry (Saskatoon, Serviceberry) Jam, 1924

I recently read an article in a 1924 issue of the Farmer’s Wife magazine on using wild fruits. At first glance, I didn’t think I had access to any of the wild fruits mentioned, like red haws, pin cherries, and chokecherries. But then I had a chance conversation with a fellow camper over the Memorial Day weekend...

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Are Wives Loyal? 1937 & 1938

Letter 1--

It seems I am never with some of my married friends--girls my own age as well as those of the older generation--but they are complaining about their husbands, or criticizing them, one way or another.

Perhaps you would not call that a lack of loyalty, but I feel that it is.

I have been with these same husbands a lot, and have been more or less in their confidence. It is seldom, if ever, that they say one word in criticism of their wives.

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, June 11, 2018

Balancing Our Lives--Two Perspectives; April & July 1938

The following letters appeared in The Farmer’s Wife magazine and illustrate the age-long struggle women face in achieving a balanced life. Although I cannot say that I completely agree with either woman, I do lean more toward one of their positions. What do you think?

Dear Editor:
After looking around at some of my friends who are in a rut, I have resolved not to allow myself to become one of them. I will not stay home day after day doing the same old things,--washing, ironing, cleaning, baking, and endless other chores; I will not spend all of my evenings mending. I will see that all these things are done for my husband and two small children, but they shall not take up all of my time, for my family’s sake as well as my own; everyone likes a happy, contented wife and mother...

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Minimalism and the Housewife, 1907

It is not easy to determine, in detail, just which things are really necessary to refined and beautiful living, and which are the evidence of...ostentatious waste. -1907
The lifestyle of all the cool people nowadays--minimalism. Like most extremes, it’s the reaction to the opposite way of life of the last several decades known as materialism.

Have you ever looked at pictures of a minimalist home tour? To generalize my observations, they’re usually condo/apartment type homes consisting of one or just a few people. A twin bed, a nightstand that doubles as a dresser, and a small table with an uncomfortable looking, modern chair. Is it my imagination that most minimalists seem to be bloggers and writers? I’ve yet to see a homesteading, DIY minimalist. Yes, there isn’t a smidge of clutter or disorder anywhere. But I don’t see the personality, either. Where is the cupboard of favorite teas? The photo albums? The boxes of craft supplies? And most importantly, where is the stash of mason jars?

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com


Monday, June 4, 2018

My Summer in the Garden, 1870--Week 2

This summer I’m comparing each week of Charles Dudley Warner’s gardening journal, My Summer in a Garden, to my own garden. I’m finding that I can relate to many of his perspectives, and this week, his thoughts are centered on weeds.
Hardly is the garden planted, when he must begin to hoe it. The weeds have sprung up all over it in a night.
 Ain’t that the truth. Warner continues...
The most humiliating thing to me about a garden is the lesson it teaches of the inferiority of man. Nature is prompt, decided, inexhaustible. She thrusts up her plants with a vigor and freedom that I admire; and the more worthless the plant, the more rapid and splendid its growth. She is at it early and late, and all night; never tiring, nor showing the least sign of exhaustion.
To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com



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Friday, June 1, 2018

Take a Weekly Vacation, 1927

Last year we took a vacation that lasted all summer and well into the autumn, and yet the actual “vacationing” took place on only one day each week. John and I both believe in the re-creating powers of an occasional outing, and since we could not leave our little farm for more than a day at a time, we hit upon this plan.


Every Sunday morning last summer we were up before dawn and while I packed a well-planned lunch, John took care of the chores. When everything was in order for the day, our little car slid down the shadowy driveway and out into the open road. And with what joy we went out to meet adventure!

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, May 28, 2018

My Summer in a Garden, 1870

A few months ago, I discovered a book called My Summer in a Garden. It was written in 1870 and unlike many books from that period, it was funny. The author had me laughing over his frustrations and perspectives regarding a vegetable garden, which 150 years later, still resonates with modern gardeners. Here is how he introduces the subject of gardening:

 “The principal value of a private garden is not understood.  It is not to give the possessor vegetables or fruit (that can be better and cheaper done by the market gardeners), but to teach him patience and philosophy and the higher virtues, hope deferred and expectations blighted, leading directly to resignation and sometimes to alienation. The garden thus becomes a moral agent, a test of character, as it was in the beginning.”

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Growing Old Gracefully; 1928

"Growing Old" is not a very welcome subject in America just now. [Or in 2018!] Beauty experts and Keep-young-societies are filling the land with Anti-wrinkle Truth, yet the simple fact remains that our yesterdays do not come back.

For most people, the advancing years are a blessing for through them we grow away from the follies and fictions of life to a real understanding of the meaning of things.



Growing old gracefully is largely a matter of living gratefully. 

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Sunday, May 20, 2018

So I Shall Forget Me; 1923

When I was a little girl at home, I was unsatisfied. I had lots of troubles and disappointments, brooded over them and could never see the bright side of life. An old lady who had lost all her relatives came to live with my folks. She had her share of troubles, the poor old soul. We adopted her and called her Auntie.

She took a liking to me, although I do not see why she should as I often thought I was the most miserable child in the world. I was sensitive and easily hurt and many times I would go off by myself and cry myself to sleep. Old Auntie would come and sit down by me....

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Consider the Garden Huckleberry

The problem with growing your own fruit is that you often have to wait years after planting the trees and bushes to get a decent-sized harvest.  Enter the garden huckleberry.  Garden huckleberries are unique because they are annual plants. The berries are firm, shiny, black, and grow in clusters on bushes approximately the size of a tomato plant.  

(For my "way up north" readers in Alaska and Canada, think of big crowberries.)  This isn't the sweet wild berry popular in the Pacific Northwest that resembles a blueberry, but a completely different berry.

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com
 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Working Without a Plan--1915

I found out that trying to do too much without planning how best to accomplish it was like borrowing from a loan shark--it meant physical bankruptcy sooner or later. Nature may honor an overdraft for a time, but she extorts pay in the shape of wrecked health, discomfort to the family, and doctors’ bills. -Iowa Farm Woman, 1915

Does anyone in business (including the manager) enjoy working without a clear plan of work that needs to be done, where basic supplies are missing or in disarray, and every day is hit or miss? Would you work for a company that managed the same way that you run your house?

To continue this blog post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Be a Real Vamp: 1924

The modern definition of a vamp is a woman who is "striking, exotic, or overtly glamorous" and who is "usually a heartless, man-eating seductress." Oh, my! Such an interesting phrase to describe the ideal farmer's wife!  

Have you a little vamp in your home? Now don’t look so shocked because, I’m going to say something worse than that. You should have one. You should be one!

When you have done the weekly wash and scrubbed the cellar and the porches...

To continue this post written in 1924, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Cuisine a la Can

In my perusal of mid-20th century cookbooks, I've noticed the recipes contain a stunning array of canned foods. It's my guess that when the modern convenience craze began rolling in a big way and homes were being filled with "labor-saving devices," food manufacturers jumped at the occasion with a little too much enthusiasm.  (The very fact that food could be considered "manufactured" should have given someone a glaring clue...)


I suppose housewives, enthralled by the idea of spending an extra hour or two at Mildred's bridge party, thought they could come home, open a few cans, gussy them up, and ta-da! Dinner!

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, May 3, 2018

"Trees" and "Knees" - Humor From the 1930's and 1960's

Are you familiar with the poem Trees, by Joyce Kilmer? "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree..."?  It's a classic poem teachers have long assigned to their students for memorization.

In case you didn't know that the poem had been set to music, here is an unforgettable version, whose haunting melody will do just that.  Haunt you.  You'll never be able to hum it in key ever again...

To view the video and see how Amalia could possibly link "Trees" and "Knees," please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, April 30, 2018

Rest Where You Are, 1925

With the exception of one aspect, I have truly loved my 40+ years of being a housewife. What is my one exception? The following old saying states it best: “A man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s (housewife’s) work is never done.” Since my home is my workplace, my many duties are always in plain sight staring at me, begging to be done! Although I knew that I needed a change of perspective rather than a change of job, I was never able to grasp a solution to my problem until now. A teenage girl from Nebraska, born more than a century ago provided me with the answer.


I am a high school girl and know the meaning of hard work. My mother is an invalid and I have five brothers and sisters and so have housework and school work both to do.

I want to tell you of some magic words I found....

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Making a Household Inventory; 1884

All this time I’ve been running a haven for orphan pillowcases and I didn't even know it!
...And the first thing...you want to make a list of all the housekeeping articles in the house, and the condition they are in. Women usually keep the run of such things in their minds; but it is more businesslike, and makes matters clearer to know what you have in writing.” -1884

It’s embarrassing. It dawned on me this spring that I’d never done a thorough cleaning of our linen cupboards. Our house has more cupboards, closets, and built-in drawers than we will ever use. So when we moved here, taking the house over from relatives...

To continue reading this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, April 23, 2018

Her Own Prince Charming; 1920s

"If you had asked me not too long ago, I would have said that he had to be tall and dark with wonderful brown eyes. But he has come and our little home is being built. Just after the New Year, the most wonderful honeymoon that ever happened (to us) will be in progress.

My real Prince is as little like my dreams as anything could be. His light hair and blue eyes (which are always shining with kindness and merriment) are more wonderful to me than I ever dreamed anything could be...

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, April 19, 2018

In Love With Her Life, 1915

It is dusk. The children and I have just come in from the corral, where I milked seven cows. I am so in love with life that I find a day very short to hold its allotted joys.

First, I awoke a little earlier than usual this morning and lay thinking over the “had-to-be-dones.” It is baking day; but that is a glad-to-be as well as the other, because I love to experiment outside of the cookbooks. At half-past five I arose and by half-past six had breakfast...

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Monday, April 16, 2018

No Dollar Signs on Women's Work, part 2

A couple of months after "Unknown's" first letter appeared, a response was written by a woman from Ohio, who signed her letter “Well-known.” She disagreed with the perspective of “Unknown," the beet farmer’s wife, writing, “I think Unknown and her men do not realize how far a clean, comfortable, pleasant home goes toward getting that beet check.”

Mrs. Well-known went on to say that “it is only through the economy of the homemaker that most taxes are paid, that there is money for beet seed, etc.” She asked Mrs. Unknown, “What would the beet check amount to if there were not three wholesome meals every day? How far would it go if the homemaker did not bake the bread...

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, April 12, 2018

No Dollar Signs on Women's Work, part 1

I can’t say I’ve ever heard a woman say she chose housewifery as a career for the usual reasons one goes into a particular field-- having the skills required for the job, the earning potential, the incredible opportunities for advancement, or even the prestige and glamour of it all.

In these oh, so enlightened times, when we’re all told to listen to our hearts, be ourselves, and do whatever it is that fulfils us, choosing to be a housewife is most certainly not one of the options that will catapult you to Nobel prize status or into the first paragraph of the family Christmas letter.

To continue reading this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, April 9, 2018

Drudgery? Not in Springtime! 1926

Drudgery! It is an old-fashioned word that we rarely hear today, but a century ago, it was used a great deal to describe housework in general, and often Spring Cleaning. In 1926, a woman from Iowa wrote,

“True, we have vacuums, dust mops, electric washing machines, and washable floor coverings...but there always will remain, to the conscientious housewife at least, a certain amount of dread because somewhere, try as hard as she may, there is bound to be more or less of drudgery in house cleaning.” ...

This spring I have decided to work out my own plan of escape from this drudgery. I am going to take a lesson from Mother Nature herself....

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, April 5, 2018

BLUE MOON--A GAME FOR ONE

April is living up to its reputation for showers, except that here in Wisconsin, it happens to be snow showers. Dr. Seuss summed up our spring pretty well. "The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day." We entertain ourselves these days often by looking at a screen of some sort, but don't you ever get tired of it? And haven't you wondered about ways people entertained themselves without technology? They had a rich variety of pastimes, which included solitaire games...

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Monday, April 2, 2018

KNOWING HOW TO STAY HOME

I have observed that we are now faced with a lesson our ancestors never even dreamed of having to learn--that is the lesson of knowing how to stay at home and enjoy the blessings of home culture. -1905
The writer goes on to mention the early 1900s trends of “rapid transit, cheap rates, and easy theatricals” that have made people “restless, nervous and incapable of self-amusement.”  (“Rapid” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of 1905 transportation…)

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Disappointed! Go Outside! 1925

Once upon a time, when I was a little child, there was to be held a splendid picnic on the last day of school. The morning dawned bright and cloudless, a refreshing wind was blowing, but the outlook was not bright for me.

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Sunday, March 25, 2018

First Things First, A 1928 Schedule

You’d never think that women a hundred years ago would have a problem fitting everything into their day. Really, how hard could it have been? They didn’t have to find time to update social media, manage digital coupons, schlep children to sporting practices, or watch a single tv show. But they did struggle, which shows that even without modern distractions, this housewifery thing isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows...

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, March 22, 2018

SUMMER IN THE SOUL

So there you have it, ladies.  This is our grand opportunity to be secret agents.  By all appearances, we’re mild-mannered housewives working in ordinary middle class homes, fighting a never-ending battle for clean dishes, laundry, and the Organized Way...

To read this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Sunday, March 18, 2018

SAIL ON!

Mistakes? I make ‘em every day, don’t you?
But no one said "Sailing On" was always easy!

It helps a bit to realize that mistake-making is universal. Only those who profit by the mistakes they make get to the point where they make few--a goal we all long for...

To continue this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

PEANUT MACAROONS

I prefer using old cookbooks in my kitchen. One of the reasons is that the recipes use common ingredients, many of which I grow in my garden, just like the cookbooks’ readers would have.
Another reason is that the recipes use those common ingredients in creative ways. During World War I, U.S. residents were encouraged to limit their use of wheat, meat, and sugar, and increase their use of fruits and vegetables. A century later, we’re playing the same tune…

To continue reading this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Monday, March 12, 2018

SEEK TO KNOW WAYS OF COOKING

Learn to cook with the simplest, most basic ingredients, which are often the cheapest as well. These include staple ingredients, like potatoes, beans, and vegetables, as well as those foods that are the foundation of other meals, like breads and biscuits.

To read more of this post, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

OH SING, SISTERS!

There's not enough singing in this world--of that I'm convinced. I don't mean singing on the radio, in school or in churches. I mean in the family. Before our family grew up, we were always singing. On Saturdays one sister and I might be upstairs...

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

MY DIY KITCHEN CABINET CURTAIN

I visited an elderly German lady last summer and was impressed by the simplicity of her little home. It reminded me of European kitchens that I've visited, very practical and not at all modern. I especially liked the beautiful linens...

To continue reading, please go to: http://ahousewifewrites.com

Thursday, March 1, 2018

LET NOT THE SUN


The little neighbor boy who used to catch polywogs with me has suddenly grown up and married, and I’ve written him a letter...

To continue reading, please go to:  http://ahousewifewrites.com

Sunday, February 25, 2018

NEW SITE ADDRESS

Dear Readers:

Our new posting days are Mondays and Thursdays. Please click on the following link and you will be directed to our new blog and the latest posting.

P.S. To receive every new post in your inbox just click on the "Follow by Email" link on the new blog. 

Thank you and see you there!

Laurie Aaron Hird
Amalia B. Clemen



Thursday, February 22, 2018

A NEW BLOG

Dear Readers,

I began this blog many years ago to share the abundance of historical articles that I felt were at risk of being forgotten.

I have posted the articles and stories alone, but beginning today, I will be joining with a fellow blogger who shares my love of history, Amalia B. Clemen. I am thrilled that she and I will be working together. I know her personally and love her writing style. She brings a unique perspective to the topic of home and family that I'm sure you will also enjoy.

Since this is a new beginning, we have created a new blog, A Housewife Writes. The Farmer's Wife Quilt blog will remain right here, but from this time forward, all new posts will include a link to the complete article on our new blog. Amalia and I would be so pleased if you would join us every Monday and Thursday at: www.ahousewifewrites.com

P.S. Please sign up with the "Follow By Email" tab on the new blog!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A PIONEER WOMAN'S GARDEN; 1910s

To encourage the settlement of western lands, President Lincoln in 1862, signed the Homestead Act. This law gave hard-working Americans 160 acres of land if they could live and work on it for five years. The following account is written by one of these homesteaders, in this case an exceptional one--a fifty year-old widow. 

In the one-eighth acre I planned to plant peas, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, rutabagas, carrots--oh, just everything! Why not? I had most industriously worked the soil beside the porch of my Homestead where I would plant the morning-glory and scarlet bean, adding a few seeds of wild cucumber, a self-sowing annual that would take care of itself once well started. I pictured the vine-covered shelter I should have from the heat of the sun. Someone had told me that if I would succeed as a gardener I must keep my hoe bright. Bright it was! I worked till every muscle was sore and every joint creaked. I planted my seeds with sweat and tears and the occasional drops of blood. Then I invoked the kindness of God and waited.

Slowly there struggled into warped and stunted being, perhaps half a dozen onion spears, half as many lettuce plants, two or three radish tops which fleas promptly destroyed. By the porch one wild cucumber squeezed itself out of its hard soil and spent such vitality as remained to it in climbing some five feet up a string and then died. And that was all--no, not quite. Over the entire unplanted portion of the acre, following the lines of disk and drag, something green appeared, a lusty weed. When it was a few inches high I examined it and gasped. I was sure it was Russian thistle and there were millions of it. This was too much!

Well I knew what a pest the Russian thistle is for it has made as deadly a record for itself in the peaceful areas of agriculture. I had heard homesteaders “cuss out” men who had abandoned claims where ploughing had been done, for the thistle grew thickly on the unseeded land, came to full growth and was carried by the wind to multiply itself as far as the wind could carry it. I had a hatred all my own for the Russian thistle. I had ridden behind the half-broken bronchos of the plains when they stood straight up on their hind legs or danced a break-down when the big prickly spheres blew against them. I had watched them bound and roll before the wind on dreary days when the clouds hung low and they were the only moving thing on the landscape. I had seen fences flattened by their mass against which the wind flung its weight. I had crossed coulees filled with them. The only time a Russian thistle could make me smile was when my dog Lassie would catch the short root of one of the huge prickly spheres between her teeth and with head up, carry it as sail, the wind bearing them along to her huge glee.
And now, on this beloved land of mine, which I had dedicated to fruitfulness, here was the pest! Could I by any possibility hoe out the young plants before they matured? I estimated the work. Surely I could. “It’s dogged as does it!” I simply would not let them conquer me. So that very hour I set to work, bent on doing so much every day till the last nasty weed was laid low. Heroic task! And not profitable in dollars. And I needed dollars.

One morning, I was resting for a moment on my porch when a cowboy rode in and asked me for water to fill his water bag. I was so tired that I pointed out the barrel to him, begging him help himself and adding, “If you want fresh water, you can get it over there,” indicating my neighbor, Mr. Quinn's place.

“Like some fresh, yourself, wouldn’t you?” he asked genially and taking my two pails, walked away in the direction of Mr. Quinn's pump. He was a handsome, likable lad and as I watched him go I envied the good son he could be to a good mother. He came back with full pails and hunting up a cup, brought me the “fresh drink” I so seldom had and seated himself beside me on the porch, frankly curious to know how I was “a-makin’ it all sole alone.” As hungry for talk as I had been thirsty for water, I found myself telling him some of my troubles and among them this Russian thistle aggravation.

“Too bad!” he agreed sympathetically. “But shucks! ‘Tain’t noways your fault, lady! I wisht none of those who come out here to take up land never did nothin’ no worse to us than that!” I did not need that little “us” to tell me he was western born and bred. “D’y’know,” he went on, “I’m hatin’ like everythin’ to see the little ole plains all messed with fences, tame cows and these here ornery shacks. Reck’n it had to be, though! Spoiled the place for me all right, all right. I’ll be movin’ on one o’ these days. One more round-up and then me for open country! Say, let’s have a look at these here Rooshin’ weeds you been tellin’ me about.”

I escorted him to the scene of struggle, he pulled up a handful of the weeds and looked, then threw his head back in a hearty laugh and patted me on the shoulder. “Shucks, lady! You ain’t wise! Them thar ain’t Rooshin’ thistles--I kinda thought they weren’t--I’ve knew folks been fooled before. Them thar is nothin’ a-tall but a rotten alk’li weed. It don’t hurt none--ploughs out and dies.”

“Are you sure?”

“More’n sure--sartain!

Say, know what I’d do if I was you? I’d let this place go cheap to the first fellow wanted it and buy me a lot in town and build a little house on it and live comfortable. It don’t cost nothin’ hardly to buy a lot in town now. You can cook, can’t you? There ain’t much good cookin’ thar, I can tell you! Think about it! Well, I got to git along! Thanks for the water! So long!”

He rode easily away and I watched him disappear in the dust of the road--one of the last of the cowboys. Then I looked at the handful of weeds I still held. “Nothin’ a-tall but a rotten alk’li weed.” I felt let down. My big balloon of trouble and effort was a child balloon, and pricked at that! I thought of the check I could get for writing about this story and laughed. The Russian thistle had done me a good turn after all! I turned my back on the acre of barrenness and weeds and thought about the cowboy’s advice. Was it sound? Could I hold out? Ought I to?

She did stay...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

SHE NEVER KNEW DEFEAT; 1933; Oklahoma

Just before Thanksgiving we had some dear friends visit us,--a "used-to-be" prosperous farmer, his wife and children.

The little lady had always had a cheerful, jolly disposition,--never seemed to take life seriously. Though she had been a hard worker, she never appeared to worry if her plans were upset. But now, since I had learned of their misfortune, I thought probably she might be different. Their beautiful country home,--their life's savings--had been taken from them through a mortgage foreclosure.

If I had expected any difference in her, I was certainly surprised for she was her same dear, jolly self. Only once did she mention their misfortune.

"I know God will provide a way," she said, "if we will only trust in Him and do our best."

So the dear, brave heart had thought more deeply than I had thought, and although she secretly grieved for their lost home, she was ready to begin all over again. She smiled, and in that smile I saw her very soul, the soul of a fighter, one who never gives up, who never knows defeat.

As she was about to leave, I helped her with her coat. It was thin and especially worn at the elbows. Her toil-worn hands were gloveless. I watched her climb into the wagon beside her husband. They now had nothing but the wagon to ride in, having sold their car to pay a note at the bank. She seemed proud of her husband and he of her, and the children of both of them.

I watched them until they passed from sight, then I walked slowly into the house. All that had occurred had "put me under my thinking cap."

Thursday, January 4, 2018

PIONEER DAYS; by Mr. A. D.; 1949

                                 HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

If the following account sounds reminiscent of the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods, it would not be surprising. Mr. Dahlin was born less than a month before Laura, and his home was only 120 miles west of "The Little House" in the big Wisconsin woods.

I was born in Dalsland, Sweden, January 10, 1867. When I was two months old, my parents together with their eight other children, immigrated to America. Our belongings consisted of clothing, tools, food, and a very small amount of money.

After a four week ocean voyage we arrived in Jordan, Minnesota, where father obtained employment on the railroad at $1.25 a day.

In 1869, we moved to Belle Plaine where we purchased 40 acres of land. Here was built our first one room log cabin. With the aid of two oxen and one horse, three acres were cleared the first summer. The winter was spent in making railroad ties and barrel hoops. With the arrival of spring, it was a familiar sight to see buckets hanging on the trees, and to hear the echo of maple sap dripping into the containers. Maple sap was cooked in a huge iron kettle which supplied the family with syrup and sugar.

In 1875, the farm was sold and a 160 acre tract of land was purchased at $6.00 an acre in Hale Township, Mcleod County (about 50 miles away.) Here we built a two-room log cabin, with two windows, and a low slanting roof. Our furniture was made up of home-made benches, a table, and sleeping bunks. The cabin was lighted with candles made by mother. By this light she spun, knit, and made straw hats.

Mcleod County was a “Poor Man’s Paradise.” There was an abundance of all kinds of wild fruit, berries, and nuts; which provided food for the family table. On a moonlight night, one could see several deer in the rutabaga patch. Lakes were filled with fish, and pools were covered with ducks. The pioneer’s alarm clock was the song of the birds. It sounded as though the whole earth were joined together into one choir of song.

My father built the first log school house in 1877. In 1891, my brother and I erected a new building on the same lot and it is still in use. School was in session six months out of the year and attendance was largest on stormy days, as children had to work when weather permitted.

Every Sunday morning we walked six miles to church. Sunday afternoons, I attended Sunday School at one of the pioneer homes.

Spelling bees, square dances, skating, sliding, and husking bees were the main sources of entertainment. Many  hours were spent playing with a rag ball or mouth organ.