Cottage Industry Series–Cooking For Cash

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today’s article is another example of the hard work and ingenuity farm women demonstrated while supplementing their family farm income. Mrs. Alta Dunn uses her cooking and baking skills to establish a catering business in a small western town. Quality products and fair pricing are of supreme importance to her. Mrs. Dunn only planned to continue her enterprise during the tough economic times of the early 1920s, I hope at some point their farm became profitable.

Enjoy!

Cooking For Cash

In common with other farm wives, I have needed money for household and personal use, and needed it badly, since the slump in crop prices. What could I do best? The answer came promptly—cook. Then, in a flash, the inspiration came. A businesswoman friend in my hometown had seemed to enjoy my occasional offerings of homemade cookery very much. Why not ask if she would not like to be supplied regularly with some of it. I did. She would, gladly.

First, I made out a list of the foods I wished to prepare for her, figured what each would cost as nearly as possible, and then tried to find out what such articles sold for at the local bakery and at the bake sales of homemade delicacies held frequently by the women of the different churches. Though I considered my product as good as the best, for I used the best materials and never offer for sale anything that is not strictly up to standard, my idea was to strike a compromise between these two in price. Bake sale prices seemed to me to be too high to be just.

I took this list to my friend and we went over it together, item by item, I explained to her just what the quantity and quality of each would be, and that it was my intention to fix a price that she could afford to pay and which would also allow me a fair wage for the time and labor involved. I knew that if the arrangement were to be satisfactory to both and to continue, we must have a thoroughly businesslike understanding from the first. She agreed with me on this. When I bought goods from her store, I bought a certain quantity or weight at a fixed price. I felt that I should be equally exact in selling to her. Despite my need for money, I had no mind to wreck an old and valuable friendship through the unbusinesslike methods which women all too often employ when dealing with each other informally, that is, not over the counter.

When our arrangement was first made, my customer had a standing order for two loaves of bread, a cake or cookies and a dressed chicken to be delivered every Saturday. However, it later proved more satisfactory to both of us to have this an elastic order, modified from week to week, as she can call me by phone at any time. Thus, if she goes out of town for the weekend or I have an unusual press of work, as in haying or threshing time, by mutual consent no order is to be delivered.

Friday, I devote myself to baking. The bread for my customer is a part of my weekly baking for family use, so it makes but little extra work. For a large double loaf weighing two and one-fourth pounds—and dough for bread to sell is always weighed before baking on small spring scales so that there is no guesswork about weight—I received twenty-five cents. This is at the rate charged by the local bakery. Though my bread is superior to bakery goods both in nutriment and palatability, I considered it best to meet their price, as people of moderate income do not usually care to pay fancy prices for such staples.

For a two-layer cake, frosted, I charge $1.25; the same cake baked in a loaf and frosted brings $1. The rule for these cakes if white or marble cake is desired, is: 1 cup sugar, ½ cup butter, 1 cup sweet milk, 2 cups flour, flavoring, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 4 egg whites stiffly beaten. If baked in layers, I scant the flour a trifle. For marble cake, I take one-third of the batter for the white part; and add coloring to another third, and chocolate or mixed spices to the remainder. If chocolate or gold cake is desired, I use the same rule, substituting 2 whole eggs or 4 yolks for the beaten whites. This makes a delicious, tender cake if carefully mixed and baked.

I use a cream and powdered sugar frosting either white, pink, maple, or chocolate. Any fruit juice may be substituted for cream, beating until frosting is the right consistency to spread.

Large angel food cakes, fruit cakes, plum puddings, and fancy cakes for special occasions are priced according to materials used and labor of making. Birthday cakes, much ornamented, sometimes bring as high as $3, but there is no more profit in them than in the above simple cakes, as they cost so much more both in time and ingredients.

These prices are given merely as a suggestion. They may not be high enough for some localities—or too high for others. I live in the West where long freight hauls from distributing centers make pastry flour, baking powder, extracts, and various other materials considerably higher than in the Middle West.

Since I have been catering for this businesswoman, orders from others have come and the list of goodies has expanded to include salad dressings, boiled ham, salads, cheese, and other delicatessen dishes. I have never yet had a complaint of any kind about my products and I could dispose of more of this cookery if I had time to prepare it without neglecting my other home duties.

If work of this kind is to be profitable it must be carefully managed. In my own case, most of the extra cookery is worked in along with that for home use. My own family is small and that of my chief customer also. This makes it possible for me to divide a large rule for chili con carne, spaghetti and cheese or with tomatoes or in various combinations, baked beans or other “made dishes,” and so provide sufficiently for a meal for both households.

These dishes which form the basis for a one-dish meal are cooked in brown earthenware casseroles and also delivered in these. My first customer has an electric range, so it is a simple matter to reheat food of this sort, as it is ready to slip into the oven when delivered. The made dishes are as a rule prepared on Saturday morning. This provides a substantial noon meal for my own family and insures having my customer’s dish fresh for her evening dinner. Chickens are dressed Friday and kept on ice.

It is surprising how many cakes and cookies and doughnuts may be made by one pair of deft hands in one day by early rising and good management of time and fire. To save time in delivery we “route” the list so as to avoid doubling back if possible. My husband drives the car and either my son or I run inside with the orders. Later I go back to collect. As our town is very small and orders are delivered to places of business, this is more expeditious than collecting as we go along. Where delivery is made to residences, this plan would of course not be practicable.

Though this is merely a sideline with me which I do not expect to continue after “times get better,” such a modest venture as is here outlined might very readily be developed into a profitable little catering business. –Alta B. Dunn

~FWM

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, March 1922, Page 786; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Club Work–Alum Creek Is No Longer Lonely

Hello, again History Lovers,

When the church burned to the ground, the social life of rural farm women in West Virginia came to an abrupt end until an enterprising woman of the Alum Creek community began a farm woman’s club. It wasn’t long before one club branched out into three clubs. After four years with no sign of the church being rebuilt, the farm woman’s club took the initiative to begin fundraising for a new place of worship. Through their hard work and dedication, the building project was finally brought to fruition.

Enjoy!

The Women Got Together, Ate Together And Then They Built A Church

When the Baptist church at Alum Creek, West Virginia burned, the social life of the women in this locality—and a remote one it is—appeared to be swept away by the flames. The women had always depended upon seeing each other at meetings, ice cream festivals, and singing school, all held in the church house. A year slipped away, during which time the women had become lonely and lonelier in their little homes in the hills and there was no sign of the church being rebuilt.

At the end of the year, Mrs. Emma Gillispie, one of the well-known women of Alum Creek, began to consider seriously a suggestion for a farm women’s club. She took into her confidence a close friend and after debating the subject for two months, they started a campaign.

This self-appointed committee invited all the womenfolk within a radius of four to six miles to spend an entire day at the home of Mrs. Gillispie. Such a thing had never been heard of before on Alum Creek except for quilting bees and apple peelings and then the husbands were always included for mealtime on such occasions. Nearly all accepted the invitation.

During the noon dinner, the subject of recipes came up for discussion, prompted by two entirely new dishes which Mrs. Gillispie had prepared–with some fear and trembling. It takes courage sometimes, to introduce new recipes after all the women in a certain locality have cooked the way their great grandmothers did all their lives.  But the fifteen guests were interested in the new dishes and every one of them sought all the minute details as to their preparation. If anything, the hill-folk of West Virginia are hospitable. The stranger and friend alike are always welcome at the board, be there little or much upon it. But the women never before had thought of extending their hospitality just this way. All of them at this particular party, however, enjoyed the day so thoroughly that when it was time to return to their homes, they each extended an invitation to all of the others for an all-day’s visit again soon and date and place for the next get-together were settled then and there.

A few days before the next party, Mrs. Gillispie asked the prospective hostess for the privilege of preparing the cakes. Her request was granted with the result that in these two beautifully baked prizes, there were two more sought for and found recipes. This plan continued from month to month until one day Mrs. Gillispie mentioned in a casual way something about government-approved recipes and standard methods of cooking. This aroused much interest and demand for standard recipes.

The club, although it was not yet called a club, was growing slowly, with one or two members a month. Also, the fame of the good times and excellent cookery were beginning to permeate other remote sections, for by this time there had developed a keen though healthy rivalry in cookery. Another competition was going on brought about by the suggestion of Mrs. Gillispie’s teammate, in the promotion of quilt patterns. Following the noon dinners now at the monthly meetings, the women would engage in piecing their quilts and as always happens when women sew together, patterns, and ideas were exchanged.

It was just about this stage of affairs that a woman’s magazine made its appearance at the home of one of the members. It was a sample copy and none of the club women could recall ever having seen one before. This magazine discussed constructively such things as plain dressmaking, gardening, and other matters of interest to women and provided food for much valuable discussion at one of the meetings.

Nearby communities, two of them, caught the club contagion and in little more than a year following that first memorable get-together, two other organizations were started. By the close of the second year, the three clubs were competing and within another six months, they all three came together for a picnic and simple exhibit.

No longer were the women of Alum Creek and her neighboring sisters lonely. No longer did they have to wait for their special club days to get together if they wished—however, the club day was always observed. Occasionally, the entire families were brought together for picnic affairs and upon such occasions, the men were ofttimes appalled at what the women had learned (from magazine reading).

Naturally, there came times of slump in interest but the organization was kept intact. And it was at one of these family events on Alum Creek four years later that the women said: “Why can’t we have a church?” The men looked stumped and also failed to answer the question. Each wife then began to “hammer home” the question to her husband in private. The club agreed to hold a fair and sell food and quilts to start the building fund. They realized $50 from that sale. They kept on working. The new Alum Creek church is just completed and the women now have both spiritual and social. After all, women usually get what they want. –Nora B. Ragsdale

~FWM

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, April 1923, Page 407; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Cottage Industry–Educated By A Grindstone

Pedal Powered Grindstone

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today’s post is an introduction to a new series I will call Cottage Industry. Through my research, I have come to realize that farm women from a century ago and beyond needed ways to supplement their farm income. Frequently they raised a flock of chickens and sold the eggs or they would use the cream from their milk cows to make butter–both of which they would sell either to individuals or to local markets. Other women used their particular sewing, baking, canning, or gardening skills as a way of bringing in additional income. I am inspired by the industry and creativity of these rural farm women and will share their Cottage Industry stories as they come along.

Today’s story tells of a young widow who used an available grindstone to keep her kitchen knives sharp. Beginning by happenstance, her sharpening skills grew into a thriving business that enabled her to afford to put her sons through college. While growing up, her sons had helped her with the business venture and appreciated the educational opportunity it afforded them.

I would love to know where that grindstone is today. Enjoy!

Educated By A Grindstone

“I’ll be fifty-seven tomorrow,” smiled Mrs. Plaegar, rocking on the veranda of her white and green farmhouse, “and it seems as though it were only a few years ago when the boys were small.”

She sighed again.

“Those were the years when it was hard pulling. My husband died when the children were very young. The farm was heavily mortgaged and we had to stretch the pennies until they fairly squealed. My friends told me I ought to work in my spare time and besides, what could I have done? I could not sew. My fingers had become too clumsy with farm work to handle a needle delicately and work of other kinds would demand that I leave the farm which I could not do.

“Well, things went on for a while. I continued to do the manual work to which I was accustomed. I had always liked a man’s work better than a woman’s and I had quite a knack for handling tools.

“One tool I liked especially was an old grindstone in the barnyard on which I sharpened my knives. One day a neighbor, viewing with envy my shining and keen steel knives said, ‘I wonder if you would be willing to sharpen my knives? You do such splendid work and I would gladly pay you.’

“I consented and that was the beginning of a little business. Other women brought me their knives and scissors and I charged according to the size of the utensils. I used to send the boys to gather them in for me and sometimes they would bring home three or four dozen which they had labeled with the names of the owners. The next day they would return them, bright and sharp. And how farm women need keen tools!

“As my somewhat unique business increased, I bought a polishing machine and I soon received more orders than ever. One order which pleased me especially was from a hotel. They told me their employees were most deficient at polishing steel knives and if I did good work, they would be willing to give all their work to me. With housewives, too, this task is a dreaded one and my bank account began to increase accordingly. I followed up every opportunity and, of course, business brought more business.

“My business never forced me to neglect my farm duties. I always did the work on my own premises where I could oversee the work of the farmhands.

“The boys say they owe their college education to the old grindstone and that is perhaps the reason we never parted with it. To us, it shall always be a much loved and honored member of the family.” –I.R. Hegel

"The boys say they owe their college education to the old grindstone and that is perhaps the reason we never parted with it. To us, it shall always be a much loved and honored member of the family."
~FWM

How I Teach My Children To Enjoy Work

Hello, again History Lovers,

In March of 1923, The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women published a letter from Mrs. Haring who enthusiastically shares her tips on how to teach children to work and to enjoy doing it. She starts when the children are young and always adds an “element of fun” to the tasks assigned. Her home sounds like a happy one in contrast with the home of her friend.

Enjoy!

Jessie Willcox Smith, American Illustrator, 1863–1935

Combining Work With Play

“Dishwashing is usually one of the first tasks delegated to the young daughter of the family and this common duty often is done by her with reluctance and under protest. In our family we have helped to solve this difficulty, however, for Jane, my little eight-year-old daughter and I, combine our work with play.

Eleanor Smith’s Music Primer furnishes us with a variety of simple childlike songs. We select songs that Jane will probably sing at school and then proceed to learn them together. With the book propped up on a shelf over the kitchen sink, Jane and I can easily refer to it while the silver is finding its way into the rinsing pan or while the glassware is being polished. The rhythm of the music unconsciously produces an activity that Jane enjoys as well as I and which helps to convert an otherwise tedious task into a joyful half hour.

When we have memorized the words and music, we have a game. Jane and I are both to sing the song. If one of us makes a mistake, a forfeit must be paid to the other. What joy Jane experiences when Mother fails to strike the right note or forgets a word and has to pay her a penny.

Bed making, too, has its charms. Sometimes we imagine the coverings to be Indian blankets of wonderous colorings; at other times we are building a nest for a tree swallow and lining his home of grass with downy feathers. This performance leads to all sorts of questions and enables me to arouse Jane’s interest in the work which she will have at school at the same time as we are accomplishing a necessary task.

Jane has had her own room for over a year. The whole responsibility of the care of it is left to her and each morning finds her conscientiously putting it in order before she leaves for school. We worked out together the furnishings for her room and their arrangement. Her interest is kept keen in it by the constant addition of new and simple things and her ideas are always respected in regard to any changes which she may wish to make. She is unconsciously learning color schemes and household arrangements at this early age and her sense of responsibility, order, and neatness is being cultivated through her sense of ownership.

Dusting was an arduous task and many times had to be done over because Jane so disliked doing it. Choice victrola records are now being kept for this particular piece of work and are played at no other time. Since they are ones which Jane loves, she forgets the fact that she is having to work and hums the tune to the music of the record, while the dust disappears from tables, chair rounds, and window ledges.

Jessie Willcox Smith, American Illustrator, 1863–1935

Cake making, table setting, and the preparation of meals have been accomplished by her through the thought of pride in doing work that “grownups” can do.

My little son, an active youngster of five, is also learning how to work joyously. When Mother needs wood, she calls on the wood fairy who alone knows the secret places in the woodshed where the best pieces are kept. He has already learned the names of the trees from which the wood comes and knows that the kinds which will make the hottest fires will furnish heat to bake a tiny pie, animal cookies, or a gingerbread man. These may be made with little trouble when larger pies, cakes, and cookies are being baked and reward the fairy in a way that interests him to bring more wood.

Jessie Willcox Smith, American Illustrator, 1863–1935

He brings vegetables and fruits from the cellar and garden with an interest and enthusiasm that indicated to me that he is already realizing his responsibility in the development of our family life.

Jessie Willcox Smith, American Illustrator, 1863–1935

A playroom equipped with a table, cupboard, blackboard, desk, and small chairs always suggests work. Through this channel is an opportunity for teaching many lessons in arrangement and order and also in providing entertainment for them for an hour or so at a time. The finding of some old toy gives a new interest bringing with it happiness which seems only to come through activity.

The country store is but a few rods from our house and occasionally there is a need for some article to be procured quickly. The children are, of course, the natural ones to do the errand. As with all children a fat ice cream cone, a lollipop or a stick of gum is their first thought and a request is made to use some of their money for the purchase of one of these articles. Of course, they may if they like but they must consider that once in a while we have a shopping trip or go to see some interesting moving picture and if no money is saved, these wonderful trips cannot be. They finally decide to spend one penny each and as they have been taught not to linger along the way and to bring their purchases home to enjoy them, the errand is soon joyfully finished.

My children are enthusiastic egg hunters. Not many are missed because one egg from each dozen belongs to them—not one-twelfth of the egg income—oh no! Those particular eggs are put in a separate basket and counted about six times each night. Jane puts her fourth-grade arithmetic into practice and knows the exact amount of egg money coming to them each week.

A few days ago, a friend remarked at the happy way in which the children were doing a piece of work. She said, “I don’t see how you do it! I can’t get Martha to do a single thing without grumbling. She is actually lazy.”

Well, if I thought my children were lazy, I should not admit it. I should simply get to work to correct the fault and be sure it was my fault too. I do not believe that a happy, normal child is ever lazy. Perhaps the work has been made so unattractive, that interest has been lost. Anyway, I am sure that loving tact and a sympathetic understanding of the child is sufficient to win out, whatever the problem along this line may be.

Sometimes when there is a murmur over a task which they are asked to do, I simply look at them in wonder and they shamefacedly go quickly about it. Sometimes Son asks, “Mother, are you mad to me?” and I say, “No, Son, I am only surprised.” I am not a superior elder with a threatening attitude but a pal who is ever interested in their work and their play.

Each child has his daily work to do and enjoys it as a privilege because there is always something of interest connected with it. There are many ways of solving this problem; I have outlined the way that has seemed best in my experience. Perhaps because children are naturally observing, the best example we can set them is through our own right living. If we complain over difficult pieces of work, we must expect the same expression from our children over the things which seem difficult to them. It might, then, be the reasonable thing for us to learn to enjoy all sorts of work which we need to do before we can intelligently teach the same to our children.

Through the realization of what service is, these little folks are learning to combine their work with play and are happy while they are learning lessons which are fundamental principles on which the larger lessons of life are built.

I realize, too that I am doing more for my children than it appears when I instill the principle of enjoyment in work. All success in life depends upon whether the light of joy—zest—enthusiasm—permeates the mind of the worker. The old saying about “all work and no play” covers a deep truth. The more one’s work is play, the happier one will be.”–Laura T. Haring

~FWM

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, March 1923, Page 379′; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Home Demonstration Agent Saves Life

The human face of the 1918 Spanish Influenza

Hello History Lovers!

Today’s article was published January 1921 in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women featuring the extraordinary work of a young Home Demonstration Agent during the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-1919. Miss McElhinney was able to help save the life of a seriously ill boy by means of artificial respiration (I’m not sure what AR looked like a century ago but evidently it worked). Her service blessed the lives of many people in her community.

Enjoy!

A Home Demonstration Agent Serves Her People

“Miss Flora E. McElhinney, Home Demonstration Agent Houghton County, Michigan, is known throughout her own state and other states for the wonderful work she did for the people of her county during the influenza epidemic of the past two winters. Disregarding the protests of friends, Miss McElhinney went right out into the community that was suffering most from the disease and nursed back to health more than two hundred patients who had to be without the attention of a physician. This brave woman surmounted the greatest difficulties. When the snow was so deep that a horse could not go through, her driver, Mr. George Renti, tramped the snow down to make a path and they went through. When no other means was possible, Miss McElhinney tramped in snow, waist-deep, to get to her patients. When trains were not running, she and her helper braved the storm on a speeder (a small gasoline-powered cart) down the railroad track”.

Makeshift hospital for 1918 Spanish Influenza patients

“The first year of the epidemic, Miss McElhinney established a hospital in the town hall of the community. Patients were moved to the hospital on their own mattress and with their own bedding. The mattress was placed on four camp chairs and this served as a bed. Each bed was screened off and as many as eighty-seven patients were cared for at one time with the assistance of two nurses. More than two hundred and eighty patients were cared for in this way”.

Woman suffering from the Spanish Influenza 1918

“Last year, Miss McElhinney felt that her work would be more lasting if she could go right into the homes, take care of the patients and teach the members of the family how to give the medicine and necessary attention themselves. As many as ten in one family were stricken”.

Bedridden children suffering from the Spanish Influenza 1918

“Sixteen days and nights with an average of one hour’s rest was her extraordinary record during the ravages of the disease. Two hundred and eighty-five patients were nursed back to health, one hundred of whom had pneumonia, as they did not send for help in time. One boy’s life was saved by working all night over him producing artificial respiration.

One of the young men of the community, Mr. George Renti, gave up his work and accompanied Miss McElhinney in her visits to act as interpreter for many of the people who could not speak English, to lead the faithful old horse through the snowdrifts, to drive the car or run the spade, and to him, Miss McElhinney says, much of the credit is due.

To have given aid in a time of need was a wonderful work, but that has not been the end. The lessons in home nursing learned in the community at that time will be lasting. The need for fresh air and hygienic living were lessons that are still put into practice, and the love and devotion of a grateful people have been gained. The community would do anything in the world for Miss McElhinney, and it is thus that one Home Demonstration Agent has reached her people”.

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, January 1921, Page 290; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

My Great Purpose For 1923–Part 5

Hello History Lovers!

A mother from rural Massachusetts shares her desire for advanced [school] work for students in the local community. Having raised three sons who had to leave the “home influence” and “go away” to junior high, Mrs. Hadley found that boarding school did not provide the loving support necessary for two of her sons to succeed. As a result, she is determined to prevent this same injustice from happening to other school children in her area by promoting the building of a junior high. She also wisely acknowledges that 1923 is just the beginning of the hard work of bringing her great purpose to fruition.

With the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women were empowered to continue promoting economic, political, and civic reforms. It would be interesting to have enough information to research the result of Mrs. Hadley’s and others’ quest.

Happy Reading!

To Get a Junior High School

My Great purpose for 1923 is to start a Junior High School.

Since public schools concern more people than any other enterprise, it seems only natural that every adult should study their requirements and give them every attention possible. The right of every child to have the opportunity for individual success in both social and industrial life is too great to be estimated.

Even if expenses are increased, it is more vital that the school child should be under the home influence and that more children receive the benefit of the two years of advanced work. Many could attend the home school, who could not go away to school. I know these things from experience as I had three children who were away at school and who boarded themselves for the greater part of two years. Some work for their board; a few drive back and forth in a car but none of these conditions are ideal for young people. In all, it is a survival of the fittest. At least, I have found it so. I started three in the pursuit of knowledge and only one graduated.

My idea would be to get the signers for an article and have it put in the warrant before the town meeting. The women must be influenced to attend. The non-progressives must be interviewed and made to realize that we are working for a project that is honest, sound in principle, and unselfish in aim.

It will be plain to every progressive citizen that it is to our advantage and mutual purpose to keep the young people in the home community a few years longer.

It is the solemn obligation of every citizen to promote public school enterprises as the best investment that can be made.

One of these schools in a town of fewer than one thousand inhabitants has been in successful operation for ten years. “They built wiser than they knew.”

To accomplish this 1923 purpose of mine will require unlimited tact, patience, and skill. It may not succeed this year but it will next. The fact that the subject is before the people and under consideration will be encouraging. At present, the inadequate provision in many towns for the education of the child just graduated from the eighth grade is more than an injustice. It is an injury. Mothers, let us work! —Florence Hadley, Massachusetts.

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, January 1923, Page 260; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Take Time To Live

An article in the October 1926 FARMER’S WIFE MAGAZINE advises farm women to “take time” to live – an adage Gladys Taylor remembers from her college days. She advises women to take time to teach and enjoy their children. Take time to read good literature and listen to good music. Take time to keep up on current affairs and to be a responsible voter (a newly won right for women). Take time to care for oneself. Take time for fun family activities. Take time to take photos (a popular new hobby after WW I). Last but not least, take time for spiritual life for these things are not just for time but for eternity.

Old fashioned wisdom that still has relevance today. Happy Sunday!

~ Elaine

“Take Time”

By Gladys E. Taylor

ONE of my professors at college once said that he could preach a sermon on the two little words, “take time.” I do not know what he might have said in such a sermon but I have often thought of this counsel and have tried to adopt it into my own life.

The life of a farm woman is of necessity full. I have learned this from experience and yet my advice to all farm women is, “take time” to live! Learn to work for speed and efficiency in your housework. Drain your dishes instead of wiping a presumably unsanitary towel over them. Use a pretty oilcloth table cover that can be wiped off after every meal. Teach the children to put things away after using them. Do not spend the time to iron common sheets, pillow slips, and other articles which are just as well—and some maintain—better without it. These are but a few of the time-savers which can be used and thus permit us more time to “live.”

Take time to get acquainted with those children of yours. They need your comradeship and sympathy, whatever their ages. Show an interest in the things which interest them. Learn their strong points and help to develop them. Remember that you are their most influential teacher. Give them daily lessons in honor, kindness, and justice.

Teach them to like good books and good music.

Take time to read. As a voter, it not only is your privilege but is your duty to keep posted on current affairs. Do not vote for a certain individual because he runs on the ticket of the party to which your husband or father belongs, but vote for him because he is the best man! Read the classics. Good literature will both rest and uplift you.

Take time to care for yourself. Be as careful to make yourself attractive in the eyes of your husband as you were when he was your lover. Pay especial attention to your hair, your nails and your clothes. Have outside interest which will take you among women who have something else to talk about than their neighbor’s affairs. Active thought stands off old age.

Take time for picnics and pleasure excursions with your family. Take time to get “snaps” of your children as they are growing up. They will mean much to you in later life.

Take time for spiritual life. Your soul needs food even more than your body.

So, I might go on and on saying take time to do these things which, after all, are not for time but for eternity. Think them out for yourself. FWM

The above article was originally published in THE FARMER’S WIFE – A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN October 1926, page 510; Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Mission Statement & New Beginning

The publication The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine For Farm Women was published from 1897 through 1939 boasting a readership of over one million at its peak. In opposition to “pretty” magazines for women. In October 1926, The Farmer’s Wife’s proclaimed mission was to be the voice of and for farm women in politics, women’s suffrage, community development, improved formal education for rural children, agrarian and homemaking education for rural women, family recreation, and healthcare.

As with any periodical, advertising was a very large part of the printed material. Nearly all products featured in The Farmer’s Wife, from dress patterns to oil stoves, were available through mail-order, much like the online shopping of today, thereby making a wide variety of products accessible to rural buyers. Perhaps because of this advertising, a four-year subscription of twelve magazines per year cost one dollar a hundred years ago.

The community created through The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine For Farm Women, much like Facebook, Instagram and TicTok communities of today, made meaningful contributions to the magazine through Letters to the Editor, article submissions, reports of club and community work, and last but not least, recipes. It was about women connecting with women when many lived in isolated areas with a uniquely rural, labor-intensive set of circumstances.

Being a farmer’s wife with a driving curiosity of agrarian and domestic history, I find the articles in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine for Farm Women captivating and informative. I also find it unfortunate that this wonderful glimpse into the lives of our fore-mothers is hidden away in the pages of these century-old magazines and newspapers never to really see the light of day. As a way of showing appreciation for the path that was paved for me by strong, hardworking women, it is my quest to breathe life into some of these forgotten treasures by transcribing the most in-depth and inspiring pages and posting them here on my blog, The Farmer’s Wife, where others like me can celebrate the capable women that came before us. Please join me.

Elaine