So I Shall Forget Me; 1923

When I was a little girl at home, I was unsatisfied. I had lots of troubles and disappointments, brooded over them and could never see the bright side of life. An old lady who had lost all her relatives came to live with my folks. She had her share of troubles, the poor old soul. We adopted her and called her Auntie.

She took a liking to me, although I do not see why she should as I often thought I was the most miserable child in the world. I was sensitive and easily hurt and many times I would go off by myself and cry myself to sleep. Old Auntie would come and sit down by me and read to me from her Bible. Then she would listen to my troubles and tell me they were very small to what other people were suffering in this world and she always would end up by saying: “Troubles and cares will do you good, my dear. Ask God to help you see the good.”

One day Auntie told me about New Year’s Day. I did not know that it was the day to “turn over a new leaf” and try to be a better girl. I was nine years old at the time and have been trying to change ever since.

I did not marry a rich man but I married a good man. We started out on a homestead in Montana. We were out on our homestead five years and were dried out every year but we proved up and it is ours now. My husband had to work out away from home and leave me to hold down the claim. We had two children then and I would take the two and the rifle and hunt rabbits and sage hens for food. When I would see anything to shoot, I would put the baby down on the ground and tell the other child to stand by him and then I would shoot my game.

One day, my tooth began to ache and I walked the floor for three days and nights and could not find any relief. Then baby got sick and I carried him on one arm and held the hot water bottle to my face with the free hand. I walked the floor this way until I was so tired I could not feel. Finally my jaws swelled shut and I could not eat. Then I took the two children and put them in the baby cart and hauled them three miles over sage brush and rocks to my neighbors’ house. They took me to the doctor, twelve miles away, and I had my tooth pulled. All the time I was suffering so, I could just seem to hear old Auntie say, “troubles and cares will do you good, my dear.”

The did do me good. I see life in a different light now. We came to Wisconsin and here is our great purpose for 1923: to get a farm and make good. And I want to help everyone I can to see the bright and better way, and to remember this: one can never have such great troubles that others have not had worse. So I shall forget me and think of others.

 

Be a Real Vamp; 1924

The modern definition of a vamp is a woman who is “striking, exotic, or overtly glamorous” and who is “usually a heartless, man-eating seductress.” Oh, my! Such an interesting phrase to describe the ideal farmer’s wife!  

Have you a little vamp in your home? Now don’t look so shocked because, I’m going to say something worse than that. You should have one. You should be one!

When you have done the weekly wash and scrubbed the cellar and the porches, besides your daily dozen (which includes the dishes, cooking, sweeping, chickens, beds and–Oh! Why mention them? You know what all I mean, and sometimes it seems more like a daily thousand than a daily dozen) and you have had baking, and perhaps churning too, thrown in for the day and you are tired but you still have a half hour before you need to start supper. Don’t change the papers on the pantry shelves. I know they need it but you are so much nicer than any pantry shelf you ever saw. Let them go and give that attention to yourself instead.

Wash face, shoulders, arms and feet (of course, a complete bath would be better if you have time.) Cold cream your face and then lie down and relax for three minutes or five or more. Depends on how much time you have. I mean relax completely. Not a tense muscle in your whole body. Not a solitary wrinkle in your face. Chase that pucker out of your forehead and rela

This period over, put on your white shoes and stockings, wipe the surplus cream off your face and put on some powder, fix your hair prettily and top all with a clean dress. Nothing fussy.  A blue percale bungalow apron will be just fine.

Now look in the glass. Did the pantry shelves with clean paper ever look prettier than you do? No. They did not. Now we’ll get supper.

My! How John watches you. Really good to look at. Had almost forgotten how pretty you were. Supper tastes so much better too and although you were so tired an hour ago you feel rested now. And it has a soothing effect on John’s tired body to see someone pretty and cheerful opposite him instead of a tired, bedraggled old farm woman.

The woman in the home is the real home-maker and the morale of that home is raised or lowered just so many points by her daily appearance and her outlook on life and its problems.

Finally John says, “Why are you all dolled up tonight?” And when you tell him, “Oh! Just for you,” don’t be surprised if he doesn’t take you in his arms and pet you a little because he probably won’t. He might, of course, but more likely he’ll reach for his pipe and say, “Golly! I hope that rain holds off till I get the West Forty done. I stepped right along today.” Don’t feel slighted because he takes more interest in the Forty and what he is doing than he does in you. He noticed you, didn’t he? And, way down inside he feels flattered because you did it for him. He’s just a child grown up and he is as susceptible to flattery as any child. Tell him, “Yes, I noticed that you were working pretty steady.” Doesn’t make any difference whether you really noticed it or not. You know he was. Take an interest in his accomplishments. More flattery. And a vamp never overlooks the possibilities of flattery. Never carry it so far as to sound insincere. Just be interested.

If he jollies you or teases, don’t fail to jolly back. Flirt with him. Vamp him. If you don’t, somebody else will. And men like water, traffic and other things too numerous to mention, follow the line of least resistance. Make it easier for him to be with his cheerful pal, his chum, his wife, than to be away from her.

Through your comradeship and the resulting wholesome atmosphere of your home, your family will gain a prestige in the community that nothing else, not even wealth, can give. The result will be well worth your effort. Start now.

Rest Where You Are, 1925

With the exception of one aspect, I have truly loved my 40+ years of being a housewife. What is my one exception? The following old saying states it best: “A man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s (housewife’s) work is never done.” Since my home is my workplace, my many duties are always in plain sight staring at me, begging to be done! Although I knew that I needed a change of perspective rather than a change of job, I was never able to grasp a solution to my problem until now. A teenage girl from Nebraska, born more than a century ago provided me with the answer.

I am a high school girl and know the meaning of hard work. My mother is an invalid and I have five brothers and sisters and so have housework and school work both to do.

I want to tell you of some magic words I found. Maybe you will not think they are magic if you read them casually. I don’t know who wrote the verses but I do wish every harassed house mother and others who are overworked, might try their potency. Read them slowly with the idea of getting their full meaning. There is something almost mysterious about the way they fit each hard day.

“When spurred by tasks unceasing or undone,
You would seek rest afar

And cannot, though repose by rightly won,
Rest where you are.

“Neglect the needless, sanctify the rest,
Move without stress or jar,

With quiet of a spirit self-possessed,
Rest where you are.

“Not in event, restriction or release,
Not in scenes near or far

But in ourselves are restlessness or peace,
Rest where you are!

“Tasks, unceasing or undone,” which spur you unmercifully on–isn’t that sometimes true of housework? If you cannot be spared for a vacation, why “rest where you are!” I know it can be done.

“Neglect the needless” and half of your load is lifted. “Sanctify the rest.” After all is there any office on God’s green earth so well worth filling as that of caring for your home?

“Move without stress or jar,” in other words, take your time and do not worry. Now say the rest slowly. It is magic!

I may be little but I have found the magic within which makes me bigger than the biggest day’s work that ever comes my way.

Her Own Prince Charming; 1920’s

More than 90 years ago, Alice Robinson from Ohio, won first prize in a contest where she was asked to describe her “Prince Charming.” 

“If you had asked me not too long ago, I would have said that he had to be tall and dark with wonderful brown eyes. But he has come and our little home is being built. Just after the New Year, the most wonderful honeymoon that ever happened (to us) will be in progress.

My real Prince is as little like my dreams as anything could be. His light hair and blue eyes (which are always shining with kindness and merriment) are more wonderful to me than I ever dreamed anything could be. I dreamed of a rich man who could furnish me with a magnificent home. My merry farmer lad is giving me a tiny bungalow with everything modern and convenient, if you please, which no one would call magnificent, but everyone would say was adorable; they couldn’t help it. And in it with Christ’s help and blessing, we shall be happy, forever and ever because I know I am getting the world’s truest and best. And ‘he’ says he is satisfied.”

The following is a simple plan for a garden wedding. What a lovely and unstressed way to marry Prince Charming!

My cousin is going to be married early this summer and we are planning for the happy event together. Neither of us have any sisters so we are real chums even though she is a little older. They have a large shady lawn with pretty flower beds and bushes on it and she has chosen this pretty place instead of the church or house for the place of the wedding. My mother has given us permission to take over our piano and I am to play for them. My brother has a lovely voice and he is going to sing several pretty songs that cousin has already chosen. We are going to decorate the lawn with rugs and benches and the prettiest pillows we can borrow from our friends. Brother will make an altar near the piano. We shall borrow the large candles and candlesticks from the church so that in the evening the lawn will be lit up and that is when it will show it’s splendor. The altar and piano we shall decorate with wild flowers. The ceremony will be before dinner and the reception held under the shady oak trees out on the lawn. We shall make everyone present feel that my cousin’s outdoor wedding was a happy and successful affair.