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.

The Fireless Cooker, 1909

The fireless cooker. It was invented in the 1800s but reached the height of its popularity in the early 1900s. I came across the concept awhile ago and it had me curious. Basically, it’s the original slow cooker, a non-electric way to cook meals while conserving fuel.

There are many different versions of this cooker, also known as a haybox. The simplest homemade cookers were made using boxes with hay or sawdust as the insulation and eventually were manufactured and become more sophisticated, but kept to the same general idea. The basic concept is very simple. Food is brought to boiling, then the pot is insulated and the residual heat finishes cooking the dish.

Besides being a fuel-saving appliance, the fireless cooker keeps a kitchen from getting too hot, perfect for summer cooking. It also contains the cooking odors that can turn you off. after awhile. And if that isn’t enough, a fireless cooker solves the “servant problem” and free up the cook or housewife’s time. According to a book written in 1909 on the fireless cooking, “When cooking no longer ties one to the kitchen, is no longer a labour that monopolizes one’s time, dishevels one’s person, and exasperates the temper, the cook may go. We shall save her wages, her food, her room, and her waste, and have more to spend in ways that bring a more satisfactory return.” Really, what can’t this handy dandy little gadget do?!?

I think it’s still a useful cooking method. I have an electric pressure cooker that I use all the time, but if I’m not in a hurry, why not save the electricity or gas and use a (mostly) fuel-free method?

 

I’ve used this method several times to cook beans. After I soak them overnight and bring them to a boil, I tuck wool blankets and heavy quilts around the pot. Hours later, the pot will still be hot to the touch. It can take anywhere from 8-12 hours to cook the beans, but you don’t have to worry that the water will boil away and burn the beans or that they’ll overcook. It’s really handy if you leave the house for the day or want to cook overnight.

getting tucked in!
soft, cooked beans

I’ve also used the method for cooking beets so the skins slip off easily. Instead of boiling them for half an hour and making the kitchen hotter and steaming up the windows, I bring them to a boil before I go to bed at night. In the morning they are perfectly soft and no longer too hot to handle.

You may not need to conserve fuel or use alternative cooking methods, but it never hurts to have another skill if an emergency ever happens.

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!