Wednesday, October 30, 2013


My California home seems far distanced from my childhood's home of Maine, but your magazine is a "link that binds." The long evenings are with us and my husband and myself are trying to make our home as pleasant for our children as did our parents away back in "Old New England." Our evenings spent by ourselves in playing instructive and entertaining games are bright pictures to look back upon.

My father was one who seldom forbade us doing a thing, yet if we took a "youthful" notion to dance or play cards, or even play checkers, he had a way of never refusing or antagonizing; instead he would come home from town with games which he considered more proper and would enter into them with us in such a spirit that we would forget we had wanted something else. He did not empty our lives by forbidding us to go here or there, but on the other hand he filled them so full of going with us to places that he preferred for us, that we forgot we had wanted to go elsewhere.

Idle hands, or heads or hearts are Satan's best workshops. The youth of our children will soon pass, the long, blessed evenings when we may have them with us will soon have fled never to return. Can we not study more and more to fill their lives so full of good interests that there will be little or no room for bad influences?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

COUNTRY GIRL STORY; part 2; 1915; From Her "Beloved Southland'

It is evident that her share in the housework is not a small one. She does the sewing and much of the gardening, taking entire care of the flower-garden. She does marvels of canning; she keeps the accounts; she straightens up the rooms, and helps with the cooking. She runs the errands, waiting on the father, who is permanently disabled. To facilitate her work she has a sewing machine, an oil stove, a pump near the door, and a wheel-hoe. What she desires in the way of equipment in order to make her housekeeping easier are these only—her thoughts for herself have not flown very high!--a kitchen cabinet and a clothes wringer. Since they eat a great deal of cream cheese and lots of fruit and vegetables raw, she does not feel that they need a fireless cooker; but she does greatly need a canner.

The recreations of this hard-working girl consist of reading, going visiting, walking, studying nature, making a flower garden, and writing letters. She also naively includes going to Sunday School among her recreations. She takes an excursion to the shore once in a great while; but only seldom has she the time for that. In her community there are perhaps twenty-five young people. They have a dance once or twice a month and a picnic twice a year; and there is a school social every two months. The village has a hall with a platform, a two-roomed school house, and a tennis court, as facilities for a social center.

With delightful frankness this efficient County Girl recounts her financial endeavors. Her chief way of earning money is by raising vegetables for the table and by cutting down expenses by careful planning of the diet. During one year the family of four had only to pay out $71 for bought groceries.

In her earlier girlhood her father paid her a salary of ten dollars a month for her household assistance. That first money she earned, she saved. She let it accumulate for a time and when she had a good opportunity she bought a lot with it. After a while she moved a house upon the lot and fixed it up. The family lived there for about a year and then she sold it, making a good profit. During that time they owned a garden and a cow. The garden was held to be her own special property; but her enthusiasm for the whole farm project was no doubt to a good extent the result of the training in responsibility she had received at the hands of her wise parents.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

COUNTRY GIRL STORY; part 1; 1915; From Her "Beloved Southland'

The following account is written by a single woman in her early twenties. She lives in her “beloved Southland” on a farm of two hundred acres, twenty-five of which are cleared. The nearest village, which consists of twenty or so houses, is three miles from her farm. This is the way the farm looked when she first saw it:

“Around the house was an old-fashioned flower garden planted years before. The woods and creek were beautiful. The day we arrived, after we had crossed the creek and were inside the clearing, what we saw made us forget the long drive through black stumps and fallen trees. The oaks were just coming into leaf. The dogwoods formed a semi-circle around the place and were white with bloom against the green of the pines, while the wisteria hung in great clusters and the bridal wreath was one heap of white flowers.”

This was the first entrancing glimpse. But any one who knows about farm work, realizes that this view of a run-down, neglected old place means a long struggle. Nature has reached out hands to pull the whole cultivation back into the wilderness. In that tangled fragrant clearing was waiting a severe test for a trained farmer, not to say, for a beginner. But this girl was determined to live on the farm, and she stood ready to face all difficulties in the attainment of her desire. That neglected garden was typical. She soon had it cleaned and the bulbs reset, and it was not long before there were flowers for every month in the year. All difficulties seem to have been met with a spirit of determination and of cheer. “We were crazy,” she declares, “to live on a farm and determine not to fail; but as soon as one problem was solved, another would bob up. There was never a day without some unexpected happening, and adventures were plentiful.”

An average day of her life on the farm is a busy one. She says:

“The sun wakes me up in the morning, or maybe it is the mocking-birds singing. I work in the garden gathering the vegetables, picking the flowers, or cultivating, until breakfast time. After breakfast I make the beds and straighten the bed-room; then I work in the garden again until about 9:30 or 10:00 o'clock. Then I come in and help with the dinner or sew or study or write, and if it is bread-baking day I always knead the bread and prepare it for the oven. As we have breakfast about five-thirty o'clock we get so hungry we have dinner about 11:30. After dinner we rest a half hour either by reading or by lying down. In the afternoon after a bath I study or sew until it is cool enough to work in the garden. For supper we only make coffee and warm over something left from dinner. We have supper at five o'clock, but usually have a bowl of clabber or a glass of milk before going to bed. I work in the garden until dark; then we talk a while and go to bed about nine o'clock. In the winter we talk or read after supper until bed-time. However, in canning time the study, the sewing, and a good part of the reading are put aside.”

Sunday, October 13, 2013


This is a follow-up to my last post. Missy Shay made a comment that she would like to read the original editorial. I do not own all of the 1913 issues, so I wasn't sure that I had it, but happily, I found it. The editorial was published in the October 1913 issue. I think many of us would like to join the campaign, but unfortunately we are exactly 100 years too late. What a pity! 

The Farmer's Wife feels like shouting glory halleluiah and grasping hands with every woman of whatsoever creed or color, in the campaign for wider skirts. If this campaign would please include longer sleeves and higher necks and thicker waists, The Farmer's Wife would like to take hold of both hands of every campaigner. May the good work go on. May every woman or girl in the country who has respect for decency and orderliness lend her influence to this reform. The lax, loose, at the same time hobbled style of dressing of the day is one of the blots upon 20th Century civilization in our country. If women refuse to wear indecent things, fashion makers will eventually be boycotted and stop making them. Manufacturing houses are not in the habit of making things they can't sell and if women refuse to buy, the question solves itself at once.

The point is to educate ourselves not to patronize these styles and not only ourselves, but our daughters, if need be our mothers, our aunts, or our cousins. If perchance the "gude mon" [good man?] does the buying, educate him, too. In season and out of season let the slogan be sounded "Decent Clothes."

I would like to close this subject with a quote by Tasha Tudor (1915-2008) that I discovered on this lovely blog: Thanks, Miriam, for posting it.

Why do women want to dress like men when they're fortunate enough to be women? Why lose our femininity, Which is one of our greatest charms? I'm very fond of men. I think they're wonderful creatures. I love them dearly. But I do not like to look like one.

Tomorrow,  I plan to post a "Country Girl" story.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Mrs. Annis Farnsworth wrote a column for The Farmer's Wife entitled, "Our Home Club." The following letters, published in the November 1913 issue, were in response to an earlier editorial piece written by her. Times have surely changed in the last one hundred years, but perhaps not always for the better.

 Please extend to me "both hands" this morning. I am in the fight for wider skirts, higher necks, longer sleeves and thicker waists. Our pastor says the form of dress today has a bad influence over everyone and cites how some cities have issued the mandate against slit skirts. He says we do not see the extent of it in the country. So narrow are some women's skirts in the cities that they fall on the sidewalk andthe policeman have to assist them "to foot" again.-- Mrs. E. T., Oklahoma

I was delighted to see the editorial screed about wider skirts, etc., in your last issue. Higher necks and longer sleeves are sorely needed, but so are more petticoats. If the country needs a reform of any kind just now it is on the dress question. I see the Minnesota Club women have endorsed a "two-yard-wide" skirt. Good! May the blessed work go on.-- Illinois Mother

Three cheers for your suggested campaign against narrow skirts. Let me join. And let every woman in the country get busy in the good work. My heart ached the other day when I met a sweet fifteen-year-old girl with a waist (blouse) cut so low that her busts were almost visible, unless she stood with the utmost rigidity. And her mother made the dress for her! When will mothers learn what such an influence on a young girl means to her future life?-- Mrs. L. A. C., Wisconsin


Saturday, October 5, 2013


Five years ago, I engaged to teach in one of the rural schools of my county. It had long been my ambition to become a successful teacher, and realizing that my first day at school would either make or mar my success, I gave much thought as to how I would begin.

A few days previous to the opening of the session I managed to get the names of all the children who were most likely to attend school the first day, also the names of their parents. Having secured these, I managed to see the parents and ask as many as possible to come to the school-house Monday morning and let us co-operate and begin work together.

At the appointed time there was a large number of parents and children present to greet me. First, I met and talked with each parent, asking such questions as I thought necessary in order to begin right. Upon seeing my interest and that I was going to work for the good of each and every child, they also became interested.

Then turning my attention to the pupils present, I tried to impress upon them what was right and what was wrong, telling them obedience and courtesy were necessary.
Next I turned my attention to the studies, taking one at a time, beginning with mathematics. That always seems to be a very hard study for children, they master it easier early in the day, when their minds are fresh. Next came spelling, then reading, geography, history, hygiene, etc. I tried to show them the best way to prepare the different studies to get the most from them--in short, I showed them how to study. Few children really know how.

At 12 o'clock, the time that all rural schools give recess, in which the pupils eat their lunch and play different games, I told two pupils to get the hats and lunch boxes and deliver them to their owners. Then I instituted a marching scheme for them to leave the building. This prevented much confusion.

After lunch came play-time. In this I took part, going out and being one of them.

The program for the afternoon was prepared with equal care and just before dismissing for the day I assigned the different little duties that must be done in the school-room,--such as sweeping, dusting, arranging flowers in the room, keeping the sash washed, bringing in wood and water, etc., each to do the work assigned for a week, when some one else would be appointed.

Taking it as a whole, I had a very successful school-year.