Saturday, April 19, 2008

Life Stories

Just finished Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression, a memoir by Mildred Armstrong Kalish. She spent summers on her grandparents' farm, where food was plentiful and came from your own work on your own land.

I always like to read accounts of a hard life from my own comfy bed! This was similar to listening to an old-timer's stories of walking to school five miles in 10-below weather - uphill both ways. My mother-in-law has a million of these stories. Fortunately, her granddaughter thought to get one of those memory books with questions to answer about how your life was lived. Most of the stories are written down there - good material for a book someday.

Here's one: One summer day on her homestead farm in North Dakota around 1915 when she was barely grown, M was sent to retrieve a food scale lent to a neighbor a few miles away. She rode a horse bareback to get the scale and began to ride home carrying the scale. Along the way, the horse was startled and reared, throwing M and the scale to the ground. She knew she was seriously injured, because she was in pain and couldn't stand. The horse calmed down and began to browse the prairie grass next to a nearby fence. M managed to grab the scale and crawl to the fence where she finally was able to get to the top rail so that she could call the horse and shift herself onto its back. Then she slowly rode home with the scale. When she got to her farmyard, white-faced and slumped on the horse, her mother got her into the house. No doctor was sent for, and she spent several weeks in bed. Eventually, she was able to go back to her farm chores where she was sorely needed. Since there were no boys in the family, and she was the oldest and ablest girl, M was her father's main helper with the cattle and horses. For the rest of her life, she remained in robust health, and is still living today at age 108.

1 comment:

  1. Good story!

    Things were so much harder back then and the people had to be tough to survive!


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