Monday, September 28, 2015

OUR PRINCE CHARMING; by Jean Hathaway; January 1925; part 2 of 2

LIKE FATHER (Second Prize Winner)

Dear Miss Hathaway:
An unknown future Prince
Charming--He would be
about 99 years old if
alive today

What must my Prince Charming be? He must be a man like my father: kind, honest and willing to earn a good living for his family.

Must he be a farmer? Yes, I think he must. What place is better than the farm? There is none. If operated properly, there is a good living in farming.

My Prince Charming must be educated, not necessarily in Greek and Latin but must be able to think intelligently and manage his business in an intelligent way. He need not be handsome, for "handsome is as handsome does," but must be neat in appearance, mannerly and self-confident. He must have religion, the kind that is with him seven days in the week.--B. M. L., Minnesota.

HE IS ATHLETIC (Third Prize Winner)

Dear Miss Hathaway:

My Prince Charming is not a dream person but a real live man. I can not call him a "red-blooded American" for his native land is far away across the sea but he is one hundred per cent American if there ever was one. His hopes of studying medicine were dispelled when the American college he was to have attended had to be taken over for war purposes.

He can speak several foreign languages and is now devoting his time to the study of English and at the same time endeavoring to obtain a business education. Between times he works saving what he can for his future home.

He is kind and generous, always has a happy smile for everyone and is ever ready to speak an encouraging word or lend a helping hand.

He is polite and courteous at all times and to all people but is especially devoted and respectful to his parents and the aged.

He is a member of a Church and the "Y."

He is entirely at home on the athletic field having won many prizes there in competition with men from Yale, Harvard and Columbia Universities.

I have visited in his home and discovered that he is a Prince Charming there also. He is his father's right hand man--his mother's pride and joy and the adviser of his younger brother and sisters.--L. B., Massachusetts.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

OUR PRINCE CHARMING, by Jean Hathaway, January 1925; part 1 of 2

Miss Jean Hathaway directed a column devoted to young women. She writes:

Sometime ago I asked the girls of The Farmer's Wife to write us about their Prince Charming, believing that their letters would give an interesting word picture of the young man who ranks high in their esteem.
A rare color picture in the January 1925 issue

The tall, dark--no, not handsome, but athletic--man received decidedly the vote of approval as to looks and yet, when it came to a final choice, many agree that other qualities rank above looks.

His occupation, our girls decided, is not of prime importance if it is the occupation at which he is happy and the one for which he is best fitted. All admire the man who is ambitious, thrifty and willing to work; they say that wealth does not count.

No "sissies" if you please! This does not mean that a man should lack culture and refinement. No indeed! The way to most girls' hearts is a courteous way. Most of the girls emphasize good manners and an appreciation of the finer things: beauty, music, good books, and poetry.

Religious? Yes, he goes to church and practices the Golden Rule seven days a week. "If you could see him when he brings his mother to church, how he helps her out of the car and up the steps, you would think him a Prince Charming indeed." The girls all agree in their admiration for the boy who is thoughtful of his mother. I like very much the true story in one of our letters of a lad who quickens his steps as he nears home, "for Mother is usually on the porch waiting for him and when he turns the corner in the road he has a wave and smile for her."

Is this ideal man impossible? Not at all!

The following is the first of three prize winning letters about their ideal "Prince Charming:"

Dear Miss Hathaway:

He should have been tall and dark with wonderful brown eyes. But, Miss Hathaway, 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 every one would say is 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.---Alice Robinson, Ohio.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

CONTEMPLATION CORNER--GRATITUDE!; Part 2 of 2; by Ada Melville Shaw, November 1916

I can best answer by telling you an incident that came to my notice while living on my homestead...

By reason of illness, change of location and storms, John H--had had no crop for three years and the family's cash resources were at low ebb. This year the wheat was growing well, the vegetable garden would "help out" and there would be hay. Frost had spoiled the corn and the potatoes were a failure.

In one night, in an hour, hail threshed out all the tender wheat and ground the beautiful bluestem grass into pulp. A summer's work and a year's provision gone!

I saw John and his wife early the morning after the disaster. They were smiling when they met me and their bright calmness made me weep. What they said to me, out of honest hearts, they had said to each other while the storm thundered on the roof and they guessed what was doing in their fields, "We are so thankful it was no worse. We have each other and the children, unharmed. The stock is not injured. The land is there. There is so much to be thankful for!" Then the dear farmer-wife and mother, turning to me, the older woman, said tremulously, "Don't you think we ought to be thankful of all of it? Surely there must be a good reason or it could not have happened? I'd be afraid to feel too badly!"

I looked thru tears over the stricken fields and the sun was smiling on them. I watched John carefully after this to see if the spirit of thankfulness was born of the hour's emotion or was deep-rooted. What I saw was a deepening of the accustomed reverence toward the Power that is above ours, even more tender watchfulness over wife and babies, an increase of industry and economy, a tightening of bonds between himself and neighbors who had suffered common loss. In short, by the exercise of humble gratitude in the face of the storm, he was a greater, finer man and every quality in him necessary to worthy success in life was made to develop faster and more fully by the presence within him of the fruitful spirit of thanksgiving.

"I thank you!" The simple, gracious words are like a prayer. Shall they not stand for a prayer-habit of our minds, sung gaily in the sunshine, whispered in the storms, heard always by the One who, the heart of the storm and sunshine, understands? The prayer will bring reply!

Monday, September 14, 2015

CONTEMPLATION CORNER--GRATITUDE!; Part 1 of 2; by Ada Melville Shaw; November 1916

I have come to greatly admire the author of this article, Ada Maud Melville Shaw. She was a Canadian immigrant to America; a widow at a young age; a writer of prose, poetry and at least one hymn; a homesteader in her middle years and the editor of The Farmer's Wife magazine from 1919-1928. There is no record that Ada had children or remarried after the death of her Christian evangelist husband. She died in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1937, at the age of 74.

Wisdom from Mrs. Shaw:

I had been telling a friend the story of my venture in pioneering and when she had heard me thru she asked, "Can you tell me what has been your leading thought or feeling thru this whole experience?"

I answered quickly in one word, for my unique experience had left me with a clear-cut impression:


"For what?" pursued my friend.

"Everything! For the privilege of entering upon so difficult  an undertaking; for strength to carry it thru; for the sense of being protected by a Higher Power when, for reasons of solitariness and remoteness from neighbors, I was unable to protect myself; for the whole wonderful experience and what it has taught me of self-reliance, courage, patience."

She looked at me earnestly and then said, "That very quality of gratitude on your part made it possible for you to have those things for which to be grateful."

When I was a little girl I fell into the habit of saying briefly in response to courtesies of friends and playmates, "Thanks!" A saving reprimand came from an elderly woman who said to me, "If a thing is worth receiving at your hands it is worth three words from you. Cannot you take time to say, 'I thank you'?"

Perhaps if I had not been given the first simple lesson to ponder and practice, I might not have been ready for the greater suggestion offered later, to wit, that a grateful spirit invites and even brings to pass further causes for gratitude!

When a farmer's wife hurries thru the morning's work, bathes and dresses two babies, hitches up the team and drives several miles on a hot day, opening three gates en route, that I, her neighbor, may not be lonely, my answering gratitude is in proportion to my understanding of what she has done and my own unselfish desire not to be a burden to her.

When I meet her and her babies at the door, if I have this understanding of what she has had to do in order to be generous to me and if I have truly desired that my burden of loneliness should not be a burden to her, my answering gratitude for what she has done will be the genuine article and have a wholesome reaction upon my own heart. I will not be able to hide my appreciation of her kindness; I will resolve to try more than ever to meet my condition of loneliness so cheerily that it will not be a burden to this little mother; I will find my heart and thought seeking for ways in which to give kindness for her kindness; and as I try to be a better neighbor to her I cannot but be a better neighbor in the community and so a better woman in every way.

The law of continuance of influence sees to it that the good begun by my visitor, who generously gave of her time and strength for me, continues to spread, to act and react until the farther waves of influence have passed beyond our ken [one's range of knowledge or sight.]

Shall we look at the reverse of the shield? Let us suppose these conditions to exist: I was lonely indeed and in my loneliness turned my thoughts inward in self-pity. I looked out toward my neighbor's distant home with the feeling that "Surely she might come to see me! It is a shame I am left alone this way! It is little enough for any one to do. She has horses, she can hitch up. She might!

Either I do not know or do not care that this neighbor has limited strength, more work than she can well do and that it is no small undertaking to manage two babies and two horses and three heavy gates.
The view from our local post office and bank
One day she comes. Do you suppose for a moment that I can receive her with an honest heart of truly sweet and humble gratitude? The very attitude I have been holding of self-consideration, self-pity and criticism, kills gratitude in me as surely as the touch of flame shrivels the petals of a rose. My outward pretense of appreciation might deceive my caller and even myself--for a time--but the end of genuine unthankfulness is the loss of genuine reasons for thanksgiving. People may continue their kindly acts to me for one reason or another but the bond between our spirits is not a living, loving bond and must naturally in time cease to operate. When people are friendless in this friendly world there is a reason not far to seek.

This is the Thanksgiving season of the year. It follows upon the harvest time. Not so few and far between as we wish are those homes that, in the golden autumn lull between summer's work and winter's cold, are looking upon a harvest of disappointment instead of the prayed-for fullness. Can they be grateful? Should they be grateful? What will genuine gratitude in the face of bitter disappointment do for them?

I can best answer by telling you an incident that came to my notice while living on my homestead...

Saturday, September 5, 2015


From Maude Stella--When Great Grandmother was a girl they had no telephones, electric lights, automobiles, victrolas, aeroplanes or radio. I was telling her about the aeroplane I saw at the State Fair and I heard her whisper to Father, "What in the world is the dear child talking about?" Then something wonderful happened. 

It was at circus time. I bought Great Grandmother two balloons to remind her of when she was little like me. That evening we were out admiring a rainbow when we heard a noise in the sky and there was a big aeroplane flying like a bird right over our farm. Father carried Great Grandmother out to the edge of the pasture so she could get a good view. She had the strings of her balloons in her hand and she was so excited she let them go and up they flew. 

Next thing we knew, the 'plane was landing in our pasture! We all ran like the wind and Father carried Great Grandmother and what do you imagine? There, caught on the edge of one of the wings, was her red balloon bobbing about as jolly as you please! Great Grandmother was going to be ninety years old the next day and she said it was worth living so long to see so wonderful a thing as a "sky ship!" The only thing that went up when she was little was a balloon. Some difference, eh?

From Hazel Summers--Once when I was visiting Overton Park, I went to see the beasts. I saw a mother lion and her babies. How she roared at me! I saw the bear, tiger, elephant, camel, zebra and some monkeys. I also saw the fowls, rabbits and the snakes. After seeing all those things, I bought some pop corn, candy and ice cream. Then I went out to the playgrounds and had a splendid time. Then I went home and dreamed of my pleasant trip.

From Ella E. Lapoint--I live in Maine. One day last fall, two families and our family went clamming. We went in automobiles. We had to inquire the way to Searsport. The people said it was two miles. It was about twelve more! Papa got out of gas. The gasoline tank did not hold the amount we were told it did. We got to Searsport about one o'clock. We dug some clams and steamed them and had some for dinner. We ate in an old station because it was raining.

From Steena Shaw--In our county we are all working for a library. We live so far from town we cannot get books to read and no one can get the books at the Sunday School unless they belong. So an old lady who lives on the way to town said we could have our library in her front room. We gave two book socials and to get in you had to bring a whole year of a good magazine or a book. Now we have seven shelves of books in Mrs. Grafton's parlor and she is librarian for us. I have read Robinson Crusoe and Little Women and Bob, Son of Battle, and my baby sister had a Brownie Book to read. We just love our library.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

SCHOOL DAYS GONE BY, 1925 & 1926

From Anna Reinken--One bright February morning I started across the prairie with my dinner pail and my books under my arm. Mother told me not to come home if it should storm but wait at the schoolhouse for my father. When I reached the school which was about two miles away, I was very cold.

Shortly after recess a black cloud rose in the east which kept spreading over the sky until the sun was quite shut out. The wind began to blow and the snow came down as if it were rain. In less than an hour the wind was so strong that it shook the schoolhouse and the air was so full of snow that one could hardly see through it. At four o'clock the storm was still raging and the teacher told us that we must stay where we were and not try to go home.

As night came on we were all frightened. The coal was nearly all burned up. The teacher was about to use the desks as fuel but just then a man came with the coal. He said it had taken him four hours to come over the last four miles. He was nearly frozen. After he had gotten warm, he said we must all go home with him to his house for the night. I was very glad for I was beginning to get hungry.

The storm kept raging for three days but the next afternoon Father came to take me home. There had been some very deep snow drifts but I held to my father's hand and reached home safely. I was very glad to get home again to see my little sisters and brothers.

From Hazel Summers--I go to school and am in the sixth grade. Our school is one story high. It has eight teachers and six class rooms. Then it has a kitchen, a long hall and a cloak room for the boys and one for the girls. We have twelve grades. There is a little "Red House" on the back of the school ground where hot lunches are cooked. The community thought it was mighty nice, indeed, of Miss Elizabeth Word, our principal, to have hot lunches for all the hungry students after studying so hard.

Dorothy Brandt--At school we are having a contest. We call it the "aint contest." If anyone says aint (instead of "is not" or "has not" or "have not"), he gets one mark. Some of the children have over fifty or sixty marks. To the one that has the least marks, our teacher gives a prize. My sister has the least marks, she only said it once.

Monday, August 24, 2015

MATILD's ROSES, by Cola L. Fountain, July 1926

Once upon a time, in the fast-dimming long ago, a woman, called Matild' Waters, lived "by the side of the road" in a low ramshackle house. She had poverty to deal with, and drunkenness and shame to endure from her husband and his people, who came and caroused within her lowly door.
July 1926 Cover
Matild' had children and they did not all "turn out well." The example of their father and the legacy of his unstable character told on them and they were not strong enough to conquer their inheritance. Matild' lived to know the bitterness of the hand of the law against her sons and to see her daughters sicken in poverty and die for lack of medical aid.

Matild' was a woman with a soul starved for beauty. No matter how hard her burdens pressed upon her, she would stand in the cottage door for a brief moment just to contemplate the spring green stealing over the mountains, to catch the flicker of a bluebird's wing or to glimpse the flames of the western sun reflected on the lofty ledge of rock behind the house.

There was no material beauty inside her home. Matild' had braided a rug one winter from odds and ends of woolen cloth, with red flannel worked in here and there. She had made it in the long midnight hours while waiting for the man of the house to come home. When finished she had placed it on the floor in the "other room" and used to go in now and then just to feast her eyes upon it. One day it disappeared and she never found it. The saloonkeeper's wife over at Hooker Mountain had one just like it shortly after but Matild' never knew.

A stranger driving by the cottage one afternoon, with his carriage full of rosebush slips and plants which he was delivering far up in the mountains, stopped for a drink of water. Moved by the heart-hungry look in the eyes of Matild' he handed her a little bush and drove away.

She planted the slip behind the house but when people were about paid no attention to it. It grew and throve. She mentioned it in her husband's presence only as a "pesky nuisance," so he left it alone.

Years passed. The house became more tumbledown, the family more reduced. The roses alone flourished. Today Matild' and her husband sleep in the sandy little cemetery in the shadow of the mountain. Their children are scattered and gone, some dead, some far away. The house has fallen into decay. The ramshackle barn burned down

years ago. As you walk along the road in June a fragrance sweet and lovely envelops you and the wind wafts away. You turn the bend of the road and a marvel of pink and glowing beauty meets your eye. The yard of the old cottage is full of roses. They have spilled over the broken fence, they have crossed the road and are marching down the ravine like an army with banners. Though the woman who planted the first little bush has long been dust and few who live in that section even remember her face, yet these flowers are known everywhere by the name of "Matild's Roses."

They are gathered by the whole neighborhood for weddings and for funerals; children carry them up the dusty country road for the "last day" at school; lovers wear them in their buttonholes; tourists passing through this as yet uncharted road on their way to a better highway stop to gather and bear away Matild's roses to far-distant points.

To some it is given to live long enough to receive the applause of the throng for their deeds done on earth. Others suffer depths of shame and humiliation and never know the extent of their influence or the joy of work successfully accomplished. How many of us can leave behind such real beauty and sweetness that ever growing will blot out the remembrance of our suffering and failure, fill the hands of strangers with fragrance and loveliness and teach once more the old, old lesson that however narrow and shadowed our pathway may be, however small may seem our opportunity to brighten it, if we but do our best with what we have, there is no end nor limit to its influence and power and so, verily, our "works do follow us."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

ARE YOU HAPPY? By E.H.C., North Dakota, June 1925

Dear Farmer's Wife:

Our happiness depends on ourselves and not our surroundings, our circumstances or our associates. It is not having what we want but making the most of what we have.

My desire has always been to have a home full of my own children, not three or four but a dozen or so with at least one pair of twins! Instead I find myself "an old maid," my sisters and brothers all away from home and my nieces and nephews so far away they seldom even come for a visit. But his old world is just full of children--I have some under foot most of the time--and there is a world of joy to be had from these children that are not our own. Then there may be a father, grandmother, grandfather, uncle or aunt in the home or near us who is hungry for the love that we could give them. Do not think their life is overfull of pleasure because they do not complain.

Have you lost one very dear to you? Do not waste your life pining and regretting. They are just a few steps ahead of us and waiting for us. Do what you cannot do for them for someone else. There are other children who need love; someone else's mother to whom you may be considerate and gentle; some young person away from home who could appreciate your help in any way. Do for them what you would wish done for one of your loved ones if among strangers. At the same time enrich your days and make a glow in your heart. All of us have happiness within us if we only cultivate it. Above all, never sour your heart with a grudge. Grudges are poison. What has happened to you is only "bad" in the degree you make it--forget it and be happy, if not because of your trouble, but in spite of it.

Friday, July 3, 2015

LIFE HAS LOVELINESS TO SELL; The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt; Pages 88-89

Dear Friends:

I want to express my thanks to those of you who have taken the time to leave a comment about one of the letters. Forgive me for not always responding, but please know that your input is much appreciated. Thank you for your kindness!

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed rinsing and cutting up strawberries yesterday. The window was open and the wind was blowing and I was standing at my kitchen sink! When we bought our property sixteen years ago, it had two homes on it; a large, old farmhouse, and a small, equally old, little house. We have been slowly fixing up the little house and I hope someday (I am 59 years old) to retire there (at least as much as a housewife ever retires!) The big house kitchen sink faces an inside wall, but from the little house sink, I can see the clothesline, a cornfield, the garden, and best of all, the sky.

From "Wealthy" Minnesota; September 1935; Quilt Block: Sara

Years ago I remember Mother asking Dad to cut a window above the kitchen sink. He finally did, after some coaxing, and I helped him with hammer and nails. I doubt if either of us understood just why she wanted a window there when all she saw from it was the road going out to the highway, and the spirea hedge and the pansy beds. Then it came my turn to have a kitchen sink, with a window above it, and I remember my mother's insistence.
Several hours a day I stand or sit by my sink and watch the parade of beauty pass my window: Spring, with its new buds and clouds of plum blossoms, its rain-drenched lilacs and flash of returning birds. Summer, with its blue skies and blooming flower beds, its afternoon picnics in the shade of the big oak, with sunlight filtering through the leaves to fall on tousled yellow heads. Fall, and sturdy young bodies marching off to school, turning for a last wave and smile.

Frost laying a mantle of white over the green grass, giving a thousand colors to elm and oak and maple. Winter, with snow piled high against the hedges, casting blue shadows for snowbirds to bathe in. Sunshine on ice-coated evergreens and spruce; a snow fort and snowmen.
Dishwashing and canning make the kitchen sink a busy place. But with my window to let in beauty of sound and line and color, it ceases to be merely a busy place and becomes a marketplace, for, according to Sara Teasdale, "Life has loveliness to sell." And we may buy it at the kitchen sink. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Dear Mothers: 
As the mother of four small children ranging from eight to one and one-half years, it seems to me that there is nothing I can do for them that will benefit them more, socially, than to teach them good table manners.

Good table manners are not acquired in a moment; children must grow up with them. And the time to begin teaching them is when they start to eat alone. When baby starts throwing his oatmeal on the floor, he should be gently but firmly corrected. If we laugh at him and say, "Oh, he is little," our task soon becomes difficult for he grows older a day at a time. 

I have seen little children come to the breakfast table unwashed and in their night clothes. Nothing encourages a child (or grown-up) to act his best, more than a neat, clean, nicely-arranged table. 

 Children should be taught the use of table napkins so they become a habit of their everyday life. A napkin is a necessary.
We should teach our boys and girls that mealtime is a time not only to satisfy our hunger but should be a time for cheerful, pleasant conversation between parents and their children. Quarreling and "telling on" each other at this time should never be allowed. 

Where there are several small children, accidents are sure to happen but little mishaps should not be enlarged upon too greatly. Some small punishment, as being sent away from the table for a few minutes is far more effective than too much scolding. 

The little ones should be be encouraged to take a moderate and respectful part in the conversation. They can relate what they did in school that day, tell some story they have read or heard or tell something they have observed in Nature. Each child should be taught to listen attentively to the one speaking. We should see that they chew quietly and slowly, impressing upon their minds the value of thorough mastication. 
Thus it seems to me that children properly instructed will grow up and go out into the world with an ease of manner and consideration for others that will do a great deal for them.