Monday, November 28, 2011

IN QUEST OF THE SUNSET; by F. Roney Weir; part 1 of 4; June 1915

A woman of sixty-six does not like to be “grandma-ed” indiscriminately. Back in the country where Mrs. Herron came from, it would have been different. There were grandpas as well as grandmas there and great aunts and uncles. Here, on Tolby Street, there were men—just men—girls and imitation young women.

Ah, how different from the days on the farm where life went leisurely and was not one long breathless effort to keep up; when people met together for friendship's sake and there were grandfathers as well as grandmothers!

As Mrs. Herron thought it all over she was strengthened in her determination to run away that evening from Vesta's dinner party. Vesta would be provoked and the girls would be angry but it would all blow over when at the end of the month grandma, as usual, helped out with the bills.

Tolby Street was supposed to be very neat and beautiful, but the bank of towering buildings at its foot shut it in at the west. Mrs. Herron longed to see the red flame of the sun low on the horizon. She would run away and go hunting the sunset!

The electric car seemed fairly to bore its way into the brightness of the afterglow. The evening wind, dead ahead, smote Alvira's cheeks pleasantly. It seemed to blow away the years and leave her young again. She was Alvira Herron now, not “Grandma Herron.”

Ahead loomed a great building set in a pleasant ring of shrubbery.

“Hospital?” Alvira Herron inquired of the woman who shared the car-seat with her.

“No, Soldiers' Home.”

“End of the line!” sang out the conductor and Alvira left the car with the other passengers.

Inviting benches line the broad walks under the trees. Alvira saw a woman with two little girls wander off among the greenery. If outsiders were allowed in the grounds, she would squander an hour here watching the yellow sky.

Her mind was filled with the mellow peace of the place. Up near the buildings a veteran in a wheel chair was being pushed by an attendant. Another mowed the lawn. His machine made a cheerful clatter suggesting hominess and content. The car which had brought Mrs. Herron went back to the city and presently another arrived. Two or three people descended, among them a veteran with a springy, youthful gait unusual in an old soldier. His cheeks were age-withered but rusty-red with health. A stubby, snowy beard concealed the contour of his chin but his sharp blue eyes were clear, alert and kindly.

He was about to pass on with a respectful glance of interest at the lonely figure on the bench when Mrs. Herron glanced up and their eyes met. He stopped in front of her suddenly when advanced with outstretched hand.

“Alvira Dole, or I'm dreaming again!”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do You Want Your Daughter to Marry a Farmer? Extra Letter; by Mrs. N. M. M.; Westchester Co., N. Y.; 1922

I can think of no other sphere into which, with less hesitation, I would wish my daughter to enter. I would take exception however, to her marrying a farmer still employing old methods. A man, well versed in agriculture, willing to keep abreast of the times and to take advantage of the resources at his command, is bound to make a success of farming. Selecting a particular branch of farming to be chosen with due consideration of the section of the country and of his own abilities, and concentrating his efforts in a systematic way, he will evolve maximum results with minimum hardship.

We farmers' wives of today have few of the problems of a century ago to contend with. Modern conveniences such as sanitary plumbing, the telephone, lighting and heating systems have made her home as comfortable as any of those in or near cities.

The problem of a child's education was, in the past, always a trying one. Where farms were situated far from towns and well-organized schools, a child's training was apt to be desultory. If a rural school were near, it was probably more or less inefficient. It was a difficult question to decide whether the advantages a child gained from a healthy out-door farm life with its opportunities of learning the innermost workings of nature, outweighed the handicaps of being deprived of a regulation education. Today the question has been practically obliterated by a better supervision of schools and the greater possibilities of keeping in communication with towns due to the ever-increasing use of automobiles.

To the lot of an enterprising farmer's wife no longer falls the task of assisting with milking cows, harvesting and other outside work, added to her already sufficient task of housekeeping if she has her definite duties, such as attending to the creamery or to the poultry, the labor thereof is minimized by the proper utensils and proper places in which to work.

I would not under any circumstances consider the marriage of my daughter with any but a progressive farmer, a man aware of the fact that he has a three-fold duty to preform to make life pleasant and profitable for his family, to keep in touch with the affairs of his community and to avail himself of all advantages being introduced into his special branch of farming.

From my own experience I know of no happier life than that of a well-organized, well-equipped farm, where a girl is certain of getting out of life all that she puts into it. The freshness about her keeps her young. She can give to her children their righteous heritage. She soon becomes her husband's unfailing helper and companion. She finds a combination unequaled in any city, the joys of nature coupled with the available pleasures of the world. She is not far enough away to be isolated, nor near enough to be contaminated.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

BACK ON THE FARM; part 13; By A Farm Woman Who Went Back; 1930

When I was married I said that at forty I would be ready to die. "By forty," thought twenty, "the thrills of life will be gone. One settles down to a humdrum existence. One's husband decides by that time, no doubt, not to love that old frump any more." Now, looking through the doorway of forty I have no fear of entering. Never has life looked so alluring. Never, I believe, have I meant so much, as partner and comrade, to my husband.

Scoffers there are no doubt, who may say that I have written in effervescence of spirit, that my joy is ephemeral. I know there will be hot, discouraging days this summer at whose end, after hours in the garden, or over a hot cook stove, canning vegetables I picked, I will fall into bed exhausted. Yet deep within me is the conviction--of which, perhaps, I can convince no one--that though my body die, my joy in this farm will go on forever.

By those to whom soil, sunlight and fresh air are but names, by those who love city joys, no enjoyment will be found in these lines, for the source of my thrills can be to them but incomprehensible incidents.

I ask only the disgruntled farmer--who is a farmer at heart--to count his blessings before giving all power to the dollar sign and bowing down to the town man's salary. For that salary, before town demands, is but paper fed to an ever hungry fire, while the average town man, like the average farmer, gets no more than a living, and not so much of a living at that.

In much that I have said, or all, I may be wrong. Too often I have been so to lay any claim to infallibility. This I know:  That every moment I lived in town I was hungry for country sights and smells and sounds; and once more I am content, now that I have my family back in overalls.

The end.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

BACK ON THE FARM; part 12; By A Farm Woman Who Went Back; 1930

As to fresh food! I have always said that, no matter how small my income, (and heaven knows it has been small enough) a good share of it must be spent for milk and butter that my children could have all they wanted of these commodities. But no one knows how hard it has been many times in town when I have seen them, undaunted by any market price, consuming great quantities of both, not to cry out, "Oh, go easy.  Go easy."

Now, when I go into my pantry where there are pans of milk covered with thick yellow cream, though I know that milk is costing both time and money, I am filled with gratitude.

Then there is peace. In town often I went into my garden early, so fresh after the sprinkling my husband had given it the night before, to try and imbibe some of the peace there, to store up a little equilibrium against the day's irritations. I never got there early enough. Invariably somebody's automobile would begin chortling and choking, frightening away the song birds. Its gas would taint the fresh morning breeze. Cars would tear madly down the highway, or an early milk wagon would pass. So now when I stand on my back porch, soon after dawn has lifted, and look over the plowed field--a velvet brown oasis in a green desert--and hear only the birds singing, or a rooster crowing; inhale only the fresh mountain air, heavy with perfume of wild azaleas, well--I could more truly worship God there than in any church I ever entered.

So much for our joys and blessings. So many of them still remain unlisted. Especially these two:  fresh air and sunlight. Whenever I go into a building where there are ventilators, or read an advertisement for a product that is better than sunshine--those gifts with which God is so lavish--I wonder what God is thinking. I think of a certain Bible verse:  God has created man honest and upright, but man has sought out many inventions. While I may recognize the need of such inventions, a sense of defeat comes to me. God arranges it so that man must work for his bread ( or has man arranged that, too?) but to even the laziest and most undeserving He would give air and sunlight. Yet how few have its full benefit!

And I believe that we are meant to be creatures of free air, free soil and free sunlight; that the sun must seep deep into our bodies, the soil must send its magic up through our limbs, that the freshest of air must reach every part of our lungs if we would be the whole creatures God intended. Whatever we do to confine ourselves hampers our powers rather than enlarges them.