Monday, April 29, 2019

THE WRONG YARDSTICK, by Marian Parker, Colorado, 1936

Words of wisdom from the Great Depression:

I am a bit disgusted with the hue and cry about young folks having to postpone marrying and establishing homes because they cannot maintain a proper standard of living. Far be it from me to advocate a lowering of the standards in our homes when it concerns the things that make for real

happiness, but I believe many have a mistaken idea of what constitutes a high standard of living. They think of it in terms of a fine car; over-stuffed furniture; radios; shows; good clothes.

A few years ago I bought a piece of linoleum for my bathroom and when I laid it, it was too short one way. I had measured my room with one of the best looking yardsticks I ever owned. But I found someone had played a mean trick on me--given me a 39-inch yardstick, while the merchant measured the linoleum with a 36-inch yardstick. I am afraid when some of these young folks check up on their lives they will find they are short two or three or five years of happiness because they measured life by a wrong standard. Someone has slipped them a 39-inch yardstick.

Love, courage, courtesy, patience, a willingness to spend and be spent, a capacity for simple pleasures, will assure them most of the things necessary for a happy home. With industry, economy, and pluck the other things eventually will be added.

Monday, April 22, 2019


I've truly found the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow. Just wait and I'll explain. I've always loved
washing. I enjoy seeing the clothes come from the suds clean and sweet. But no matter how well I like it, by the time I have the last piece on the line I'm just about ready to bite the dog should he happen to get in the way. And then one day it happened--

You see I've reason to get tired. Married just three years and three babies in succession. Although we have only two now that's enough to sap one's strength alone, to say nothing about the work on top of that. I've always done all my work alone; except with this last baby I had help until she was ten weeks old.

I, too, would start a wash-day bright and early with a song on my lips and I suppose I did prance once in a while. Baby, three months old, slept most of the morning and my little helper, just one and one-half years, busied herself with her doll or teddy.

But as the forenoon wore on, Baby'd get restless and Honey would have to come outside with Mother and first thing I'd see her way off in the pasture chasing Smokey, the dog. By the time I'd chase after her and get her back, either Daddy wanted a little help or Baby was crying. Time to get dinner and the clothes waiting to be taken out! Oh boy! The hardest work of all is to hold my temper then! And some times it did get away the least little bit.

I had an exceptionally big washing one day and as I hung the last piece on the line I rested against the post and viewed my work. I didn't say “O, what's the use?” My no! Didn't I say, “I love washing,” I counted those little dresses (mine are both girls), pink and blue and brown and red and white and even yellow. There were almost a dozen.
“How like a rainbow in the sunshine!” I thought. And then I wondered where the colors came from and what makes a rainbow? Turning I saw the answer to my question. Honey, who made that rainbow of little dresses possible was standing at the other end of the line, her golden hair shining. I laughed. I just had to. I had found the gold at the end of my rainbow.

Monday, April 15, 2019

In Spite of the Mortgage; Maryland; 1931

I imagine we are mortgaged about as heavily as the average young couple. Nevertheless, last summer we found a few extra dollars and a few days to take a vacation. My mother has lived on the same farm for over 60 years and never had been more than a hundred miles from her kitchen door; my mother-in-law the same. So we decided to take them and a neighbor with us. Bright and early one September morning, we left for New York City.

None of us shall ever forget that trip. We traveled through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and New York states, spending the first night in Newark, with friends. Putting the car in a garage, we took an electric car for Jersey City. There we entered the subway and rode under the Hudson River to New York. The wonderful work that has been done by human hands can hardly be realized. While we were in that tunnel with the river over our heads, we experienced a strange sensation. We felt dependent on a Higher Power that has made such marvelous work possible.

We saw the lights of Broadway, Wall Street, Fifth Avenue, the slums, the skyscrapers, Old Trinity Church, the Little Church Around the Corner, the ocean, the harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and Coney Island, the famous playground of America.

To see all this at a price of a cheap theater ticket! We has spent only 65 cents each on arriving back to Newark. It was money well spent. It was time well used.

From: The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt, pages 18-19

Monday, April 8, 2019

Just Minutes; Mrs. S. M. from Oregon; 1931

A few years ago I heard a little story which has had a marked and cheering influence on my life. It had to do with a famous pianist. Someone remarked on how wonderfully he played in thirds, and asked him how he had mastered this difficult feat.

"While I was yet a student, " a great teacher said, "it was necessary for me to earn my way by playing nightly in a dance hall. In the few minutes between the dances, I practiced my thirds. Today I reap the benefit from those minutes of opportunity."

It would have been easy for the pianist to say, "Art cannot thrive in the sordid atmosphere of this dance hall. It must be sacrificed to the lowly end of earning my daily bread." Instead he proved that where there's a will, there's a way.

This little story has been a source of great inspiration to me, because it shows that people who succeed seize on the great possibilities in small opportunities. Since then a moment has been to me something more than a brief lapse of time. Now the minutes are beginning to march by like well-formed lines of soldiers, each in its place, and each with a specific joy or duty.

For the busy housewife odd minutes here and there can contribute to self-improvement and the joy of living. By a careful budgeting of my time, I am finding more and more leisure for the things which I really want in life.

On the window ledge above my sink, there is always a slip of paper with a thought of some sort on it. Sometimes it is a little poem that cheers me, so easy to memorize with my hands in the dishwater, because dishwashing doesn't call for mental effort. Sometimes it's a list of words that I want to make mine--pronunciation and meaning--so that when I meet them again, they'll be old friends.

There are but two of my ways of using "just minutes." My ways would not be the ways of another, perhaps. That doesn't matter. The thing that matters, is to come to a realization that "just minutes," sprinkled through the day, can mean much to us, if we'll only use them.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Try a Little Honey, circa 1930

I have learned what I consider a valuable lesson in discipline and character building. That is, that praise is much more effective in the family than scolding or nagging.

It is especially true of children, but it makes me feel better when I use it with grown-ups too, and I am sure that it pleases them (meaning "him"). A man feels greater responsibility and is more easily discouraged than a woman. So praise is needed most, nagging least.

I find that my young sons respond and try to do even better when I pick out the things they do well and commend for these, saying little or nothing about the others. I praise for specific things, especially those which I have asked them to try to remember, such as little courtesies or acts of thoughtfulness. Also, when they are taking on new, even though small responsibilities, until the habit of doing them has been acquired.
And why not? We never think we are spoiling our friends when we praise them.

It does not mean that the boys won't do anything without having it noticed or praised but it does mean that our children are people and are human, and like a little approval and encouragement. It surely is saving my patience and nerves and helps make a pleasant atmosphere in the home.