I Glory in My Job; 1932; Part 1

When the census-taking man called at our home, I parked the babies in the sandpile and sat for half an hour answering his questions. When he came to my occupation, he looked from under his brows in all solemnity and asked, “You don’t do anything, do you?” Without even awaiting a reply, he wrote, “Occupation–Housewife.”

I protest! I refuse to be draply set aside. I demand the title of Homemaker (LOL I like either title but prefer “Housewife.” To each his own!) and defy the world to say that homemaking is doing nothing. It is a profession, and those of us so listed labor at it. It is a labor of love. There is no monthly salary. The pay is merely the little sweetnesses of everyday family life, and I must sift them out of their attendant pains and sacrifices. The business of making a home–an honest-to-goodness home, with cookies and pillow fights and firelit hours and books and beds and joys and tears–that is a job–a great, grand task.

I happen to be not only a Homemaker but a Farm Homemaker. I glory in it.

That I am only one among thousands of others is a point to be stressed. I am representative of my class, and I am decidedly not stooped nor wrinkled. I am sun-tanned and straight two pounds underweight from a summer of strenuous hours in Ye Olde Swimming Hole (I do a rather nice crawl stroke, too.) My hair has a natural wave, and doesn’t string, and I never wear sunbonnets. Instead of drab calico, I make my own house frocks of gay, fast-colored prints with fresh white collars, and I wear happy-looking aprons over them.

While we are getting acquainted, I might add that I have been at my present job for five years, and am still in my twenties. I earned my own living for five years before I married, and at present have two sons–husky young lads of two and three.

From a honeymoon of care free happiness, I came to our Old Homestead, a rambling farmhouse built half a century ago, and typical of the times–high ceilings, plastered walls, no closets, wood heaters, not enough windows, coal-oil lamps. There is a big zinc sink without a drain. Running water has been installed, but drinking water is still drawn from a well with a rope and bucket and pulley. There is a temperamental wood range for cooking, and you raise a door and go down a flight of steps into the dim, dirt-floored cellar.

To be continued…

Happy Homes; 1913

May I say a word to the wife whose husband prefers some place else besides home. See if you are the cause…

Nothing will send a man away quicker than a quarrelsome woman. Be kind to those around you and you will be thought more of; try to keep your clothes and the children’s clean and tidy, and he will be glad to come home finding you looking nice. When my better half is away for a day I try to have the house and myself and children look as if we were expecting some company, for after all, our own are company and we can depend on them for true friends if we treat them as we should. One rainy day he came home and I had everything slicked up and a white table cloth on table and vase of fresh flowers in the center. When he came in the room he said, “You have everything slicked up and nobody came.” I said “yes they did–you–and that was who I was looking for after evening work was over” and I passed around the little dainty lunch I had prepared. I couldn’t see that the rainy day had made him gloomy because he couldn’t work in the field. He was glad to be home, let us all do what we can to keep our family happy.

The Special One Among Your Flock; 1914

Very often in a family of several children, there is one who is not as quick to learn as his brothers and sisters. He is usually a very nervous and sensitive child and his feelings are often cruelly hurt by being taunted as being a “dummy” or in other cruel ways being reminded of this weakness, which he surely cannot help.

Dear mothers, if you have one of these among your little flock, be infinitely loving and patient, helping him all within your power by kind words and deeds, for your more fortunate children do not need you so badly as this little innocent. Some children who are slow to learn “booklore” are singularly gifted in other ways, and parents should earnestly endeavor to find out their other talents and help to develop them. One boy I know, was continually drawing pictures on his slate instead of “doing sums” and thereby drew down upon his head the severest rebukes from parents and teachers. Now he is an illustrator of note, for several of the largest magazines, drawing a very substantial salary. His talent for drawing which teachers and parents considered sheer nonsense years ago, is now his life’s work.

Another example: A girl, the oldest of five, never got beyond the fourth grade at school, being positively unable to keep up with her class-mates. As a child even, she had a singular gift for cooking and baking. In sheer despair her mother gave her a course in domestic science and now she holds a lucrative position as chef in a large hotel. If this child of yours possesses no especial gift, never taunt or allow others to taunt him upon his weakness for such treatment will only help to increase it. Many apparently “dull” children if properly treated with kindness and encouragement will, in time, grow more proficient. If his reports at school do not meet with your expectations do not allow him to see it, if you are convinced he is doing his best. Always praise him for worthy effort, thus doing all within your power to make his lot easier. If he is sure of your unfailing faith in his ability to learn, he will never cease trying, whereas if he sees you have no confidence in his efforts he will soon cease to care and then there will be no hope for his ever becoming more intelligent.

Good Luck to Cora Belle!, by Elinore Rupert Stewart, 1915

Cora Belle, a half child, half grown woman was so unconsciously brave, so pathetically buoyant, asking little of Life and receiving so little. She lived with her grandparents, two useless old people who drank up each other’s quack medicines and frightfully neglected their poor little granddaughter. She was stout, square-built little figure with long flaxen braids, a pair of beautiful brown eyes, and the longest and whitest lashes you ever saw, a straight nose, a short upper lip, a broad full forehead–the whole face, neither pretty nor ugly, plentifully sown with the brownest freckles.

The child did all the housework for her rheumatic and ignorant grandparents and took care of the livestock. From the big sheep men that passed their way, she begged the “dogie” lambs which they were glad to give away, and by tender care she preserved their lives. Soon she had a flock of forty in good condition and preserved from attacks by the wolves. The next step in her progress was that she began to help cook for the sheep-shearer’s men in order that her sheep might be sheared along with theirs. The one to whom she appealed was kindly disposed and he hauled her wool to town, bringing back to her the magnificent sum of sixty dollars, all of which she soon had the hard luck to see paid out for more quack medicines. And Cora Belle went on wearing the poor gingham skirt that was so unskillfully cut that it sagged in the back almost to the ground. No wonder that this unselfish, hapless little girl touched the heart of the capable young woman homesteader so that she made a party all for her, giving her a few simple presents, some underclothes made of flour bags that she had carefully preserved, a skirt of outing flannel and a white sunbonnet built from a precious bit of lawn and trimmed with an embroidered edging.

Cora Belle came to the party driving her lanky old mare, Sheba, hitched up with the strong little donkey, Balaam, who balked every three miles and had to be waited for. The grandparents were in behind all wrapped in quilts, and they were as astonished as modest Cora Belle herself to find that it could enter anybody’s head to appreciate and honor that small child. Now–good luck to all the Cora Belles! And may everyone of them find such a friend as this girl had found!