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Everyone in the house had had a party except Grandmother. Mother had entertained twenty friends at cards and Janet had had a dancing party. Bob had a fine time giving some of his chums a sleigh ride following with a dinner at the club and Father had just bowed his last guest out from a dinner.
“Now it’s Grandmother’s turn,” said loyal Bob. “She ought to have a party. And have a party she did.
Never was more pleasure given to twelve elderly ladies than was theirs on that lovely September afternoon. The whole family entered into the spirit of the affair. Bob insisted that his part was to get the flowers and vines to decorate the house and Janet could arrange them. “I’m not going to have any of your ordinary garden stuff,” he announced,”anyone can have that. Grandmother’s party is to be the best ever.”
He always knew just where the most decorative things grew in wood and field and often brought home specimens the family had never seen nor heard of. So he came home laden with quantities of bittersweet, clematis, goldenrod, asters and the lovely berries of wahoo, Solomon’s seal and the wild smilax. These gave the keynote to the affair and the party grew into a real autumn party in every way.
Twelve of Grandmother ‘s friends were invited and word was sent to them that they would be called for at half past two o’clock on Thursday afternoon. In the neighborhood lived a man who was the proud owner of an old white horse that could hardly ever be persuaded to hurry. He had, too, a comfortable surrey with low steps, exactly right and easy for elderly people to step into. Mother asked him to call for all the ladies and then later (after supper) to take them home, especially the ones who were not well and strong.
It was a pretty picture, this one of twelve ladies in dainty gowns sitting with their work and visiting about people and customs of long ago. They had dainty work in light pretty colors—baby socks and lovely little sweaters, mittens and wristlets and beautiful stripes for bedspreads. After a while three little tables were brought in, each one daintily spread and decorated with Bob’s choicest berries. At each place was a four-leaved clover attached to a card that bore an appropriate wish. Then came refreshments, just the things that were dear to their hearts—the things they used to serve long ago! There was pressed chicken and cold tongue, raised biscuit, pickled peaches, dainty little crullers, pound cake and quince sauce. They sat and chatted and sipped their tea as only dear old ladies can. After supper Janet read a story—one of Mary Wilkins’ best, The Parsnip Stew. Then someone suggested a song and the picture of those happy grandmothers leaning back in their rockers, singing the old familiar words, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot,” will be with me ever. Never was music sweeter and never did words come from happier hearts.
The old white horse came entirely too soon. With many a sincere word of appreciation and joy, the guests drove away and Grandmother sat down to think and talk it all over and to tell us that after all her party was the very nicest of all, to which Bob responded heartily, “You’re right, Grandmother. It was.”—
“How precious are thy thoughts to me, Oh God.”
The unfolding of the blossom is a revelation of the precious thoughts of God. I am overwhelmed at times with the thought that God has been forgotten in our homes and in our land. In the early days, Minnesota was a glorious garden of flowers and all the air was laden with the breath of their smiles. Man turned His flower gardens into wheat fields, but it is too bad they did not remember what He can do for them. Flowers are His songs unsung, silent poems, eloquent with His praise.
How many battles have been lost in our great cities when there were only dingy walls instead of God’s green fields.
A friend of mine had charge of the railroad gardens of one line entering one of the neglected portions of Boston. The directors said “You need not try anything in the city limits. The hoodlum’s will tear them up as soon as you plant them.”
“Leave that to me,” he said, “There is a fine piece of ground and I want to show you what I can do with it.” He commenced work and the children of the slums gathered around him, boys and girls in dirt and rags.
He asked, “Have any of you seen the Boston gardens on the other side of the city?” Some of them had and gave glowing descriptions of their beauty.
“Now,” said he, “You boys and girls haven’t had fair play. They have put the flower gardens on the other side of the city and now l am going to plant some for you.” The little fellows were anxious to take hold and help.
“Now when the the flowers blossom, you must not touch them, for they are for everybody, and if you pick a flower it will be robbing the rest and it won’t be fair.” There were hundreds of plants left over and he distributed them. Tin cans were hunted up and filled with dirt and girls and boys took them home. And there were signs of improvement right along. A poor woman in her poverty and want sat in her dingy rooms in a great city. She was sick and depressed. A kind girl, one of God’s sunbeams, which He sometimes sends into the darkness, visited her and diagnosed the case. Next day she brought in two pots of roses in full bloom. Their beauty and fragrance were as ministers of light. How she loved them and cared for them, and from that day on she began to improve.
Sometimes the soul gets sick and needs feeding. Often on the farm there will be abundant food for the palate and stomach. Many a well fed woman has a great longing for something beautiful which will feed the higher nature, and that is why this love of the lovely is implanted in our souls down here. It is not safe to starve the best that is in us.
Practical education seems to be the cry of the people, especially in rural schools where only a small per cent of the children ever go beyond the eighth grade and of those who go through high school still fewer go beyond.With that thought in mind I aim to teach sewing two Friday afternoons a month. I plan the sewing and do the cutting and either do the basting or show the children how to do it.
The girls very readily took up with the sewing plan, but at first the boys thought it would be very queer for them. If it is possible, the boys work at carpentry.
We talked of things that boys and girls could easily make and each child selected his article, the material for which the parents gladly furnished.
The various articles which have been made so far this term are:
Pincushions, two boys, four girls.
Sofa pillow in cross stitch, one boy.
Sofa pillow, crash, fringe edge with initials, one boy; two girls.
Fancy-work aprons: three girls
Handkerchiefs: two girls.
Dresser scarfs: three girls.
Towels, hemming and monogram; two boys; two girls.
Kitchen aprons, cross stitch; two boys.
There are fourteen pupils in my school and everyone, even the smallest, has finished at least one piece and all take an interest in the work.
When there is any machine sewing to be done, as with the kitchen aprons, the mother is asked to do that at home. We use two rows of cross stitch to hold the hem down and have some simple design worked above that on aprons.
The children can easily be told where and how to begin work. Children will to do ripping in many cases but will be more careful the next time and they usually do it cheerfully when they see the difference in the right and wrong way.
I use my own original designs when anything is to be monogrammed or embroidered.
The parents are very much in favor of this work. They say, for the girls especially, that they are taking an interest in sewing which they never before showed. Those that hated it, are now liking it. There is no lack of interest on the boys’ part, for they have asked to be allowed to take sewing home to work on, the boys can make useful things.
Sewing for the wee folks requires more planning and I sometimes have them work at other things as color work, paper cutting, etc.
Some of the work begun at school is finished at home but even if it is not done exactly right it stimulates the child to greater effort and in time he will learn the difference between good and poor work.
It is best to plan things as simple as possible, for children from 6 to 12 years old are not very persevering and well enough instructed in the art of needle craft to do difficult work.