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!

An Enjoyable Vacation at Home; Miss Gladys Harpold, 1914

Miss Gladys Harpold of Assumption, Illinois, won first prize for her story on the subject, “My Most Profitable and Enjoyable Vacation.” She was about fifteen years old when she wrote her story and married the following year. Gladys became the mother five children and died at the age of 90 while residing in California.¬†

School was over, and now I was to learn something not learned at school, and that was to cook. I was going to learn under whom I thought the best cook in the world, my mother. I was quick to learn how to prepare something for eating, but pies and bread were my failures. After many failures I did learn to make pies, but it seemed as if the art of bread-making would never be learned by me.

Learning to cook led me to want to manage the household also. I wanted mother to visit an aunt and let me keep house, but she decided that she had better stay at home the week I tried to manage everything. Later, I tried it by myself for a week, and father said that I did fine. He and I had coaxed mother to take a little visit. While she was gone grandma taught me to make the longed-for bread. Mother had only been home a few days when I received a letter from my aunt asking me to spend the remainder of my vacation with her. I accepted with pleasure and when I returned three weeks later I was ready to go back to school with the pleasure of knowing that I had learned to cook and keep house, and thinking that I had never had a better or enjoyed a vacation more than that one.

 

 

Sunday Dinners; by Rose Abnett; 1913

The following is one woman’s solution to simplifying Sunday dinners. Do you have a plan that works for you and your family?

We need to learn to prepare this meal before hand so far as possible. With a little fore thought this can be easily done, so that the Sunday dinner can be ready in fifteen or twenty minutes after you return from church.

Most housekeepers prepare only two meals on Sunday, with a lunch in the evening, so they have an extra good dinner, but do not want to stay at home from church to prepare it. When the family have to wait an hour or more for dinner they are very apt to eat too hurriedly and too much and consequently have a headache the remainder of the day.

Roast chicken and mashed potatoes or roast beef, roast pork or chicken pie can be used for the substantial part of the dinner. Baked beans also make an excellent dish for this meal. Plan to do all that can be done on Saturday. Clean and stuff the chicken on Saturday, put it away in a cool place till morning. Every housewife should have a good roaster, a self baster is best. Before going to church place the chicken in the roaster, or the beef with the potatoes placed around it. The oven should be quite hot when the chicken is put in. After doing this fix the fire so that it will give out a moderate heat. You will soon learn to do this and this portion of the dinner will be nicely done. Put the necessary water in the teakettle and place it on the stove. If you intend to have mashed potatoes, peel the potatoes, cutting into small pieces. While you are getting breakfast, put them into the kettle and cover with cold water.

As soon as you get home, before you change your clothes, turn out the cold water, and pour sufficient hot water from the teakettle and place on the stove. By doing this they will be done by the time the other food is ready. Make the coffee or tea and then you will only have to warm the baked beans and mash the potatoes. Pudding baked the day before can be used as dessert.

The Dream of a Tired Woman; by Mary E. Gardner; 1913

It had been a hard day.

I looked at my cross, tired face in the glass and noted bitterly, almost savagely, its lines of care; its drooping lips of dissatisfaction; its worldly eyes, and aging, yes, its unpleasantly aging, expression.

It was a depressed, discontented face that stared moodily back at me, and I did not like it.

“What’s the good of it all?” I muttered, sitting down on the edge of the bed and addressing, vindictively, no one or no thing in particular.

“What’s the use, tell me that,” I growled, banging my shoes, aggressively on the floor, “will you, of living, of life, anyway? Just moiling along day after day, to earn enough to keep you moiling along the next one. Ugh! I could have thought out a better world and system than this, myself, I do believe. It’s just a shred and a patch of creation, not getting anywhere or doing anything; anything worth while, anyway.” And so, with complaint and self-pity and discontent and all uncharitableness, my eyes closed and I was asleep.

In my sleep I dreamed. I thought I was walking along a shaded lane. Beautiful trees lined either side, both behind and before me. I could catch, though, occasional glimpses, when I raised my eyes, of rare cloudless, blue sky, far above. The lane, or road, stretched straight ahead, miles of beautifully shaded thoroughfare, until at a great distance, it reached a green hill, on whose summit I could see the sun shining.

All my discontent had vanished. I walked calmly, serenely, along the lovely road and my soul was at peace with itself and the world. I did not know where I was nor how I came to be there. Nor did I care. I was glad to be there and I hummed a merry tune as I sauntered along; one that belonged to the happy days of Long Ago Youth, and which I thought I had forgotten.

I saw flowers and tame wild animals but I did not pluck the one, nor scare away the other. Why should I?

It was so good to be alive that I would not have dimmed a ray of the day’s joy by shortening the brief life of a gay blossom, or disturbing the rambles of my little dumb brethren.

Presently, I saw afar off, a form appear on the top of the green hill. I watched with joyful interest. It was a woman. She was, I noted, as we drew nearer, stately in form, dignified of movement, and, where had I heard that phrase, “nobly planned.”

I muttered it confusedly as we approached.

“A perfect woman, nobly planned.” It described her anyway, that was certain.

We met. We clasped hands, and as I looked up into a face so calm, so benign, so peaceful, so free from hint of
passion or uncleanliness, yet so full of wisdom and dignity, I felt both abashed and comforted.

We did not speak for some time. Then as I gazed at the noble face of the woman, I suddenly saw a resemblance.
“Why,” I exclaimed, in all sincerity, yet with abasement and amazement, “You are like me!”

She smiled down at me and clasped more closely my hand.

“I am you,” she replied, in tones that were like the sweetest music. “I am what you should have been; what you were meant to be.”

The vision faded as it spoke. I held, or tried to, madly, the loosening hand and cried, “Oh, do not leave me, stay.”

I could not keep her, but as road, hill, woman, birds, flowers, all disappeared from my longing sight, I heard these words, this promise–

“Be Comforted. Be Comforted and Hope. I am what you yet shall be.”

I awoke from my dream and life was labor again, and oft the labor seemed great and the gain small, and I was still careworn and wrinkled and weary, but the memory of my dream abides with me and who shall dare deny, but that in some life, somewhere, sometime, I shall become through much tribulation, perhaps, but with final certainly, that which I was meant to be.

And this dream that I dreamed, was it for myself alone, or was it not meant rather for all the great sisterhood of women toilers; weary workers who lift tired, oft rebellious eyes and empty work-worn hands, to a silent Heaven and ask, “Why and for what was I born?”

It will be, I like to think so; to believe that in some Great Coming Time to Be, we shall all be what creative Love and Wisdom planned.

And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4