Mothers Diary

ferris wheel I went to the fair. I walked down Midway, reveling in the smell of popcorn, hot coffee, hamburgers and mustard. I listened to shouts and laughter, and the call of the barkers. I watched the ferris wheel and the swings and children in the kiddie rides. I drank coffee and ate popcorn. I played bingo with one eye on the bread box on the top shelf. The other eye was busy watching my neighbors, and I was happily eating popcorn, so it took the concerted effort of my sister, at my right, a young lad at my left, and an unknown woman behind me to get any of the corn on the right numbers. When I got up the bingo operator was richer by twenty cents, and the bread box still reposed on the top shelf, and I went away with one longing backward look. I am not good at bingo. And I play bridge in much the same manner.

In the grandstand, I sat behind a row of friends and relatives of some of the 4-H girl performers, so I felt practically back stage. One of the mothers I would like to know personally. She retained her serenity and good humor throughout the agonizing wait for the inevitable member who didn't show up until the last minute. She sat sturdy and undaunted, under the avalanche of coats and purses to be held until it was over, but she was as fluttery and breathless as the rest when their folk dances went on, and giggled like a girl with the others, at the girls hopping about in their long costumes and straw hats. She must be a very nice mother to have.

I was really and truly impressed with parts of the pageant, especially the Country Girls' Creed. Unaccountably the old war song, "How You Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm," rang through thoughts, as I listened. We have been hearing a lot lately about how our boys are going to find it difficult to settle down in hometowns and farms to humdrum living, after their adventures abroad. It seems to me – of course, I really know nothing about it, but lack of knowledge nowadays, seems to be no handicap in expressing your opinion – it seems to me that the farms and the small towns are going to be so welcome to the returning soldier – like settling down with a grateful sigh in your own bed at night after a long, exhausting cay. And girls like these club girls, working and waiting in these same small towns and farm homes, maturing graciously in the life they love, are going to be a strong factor in keeping the boys contented and settled. I believe they must have meant every word spoken in the pageant; they seemed so earnest, so they must carry out their ideals in their daily living. Irrepressibly, though, I wondered how many of them, the next day, would complain as usual over the breakfast dishes. It's not so easy to be noble about the little things.

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Mothers Diary
Church We joined the church last Sunday. And for once, our daughter got in on a big event in our lives. She was most indignant this past summer when her grandmother was telling her of our wedding, because we didn't wait until she was "old enough to come to the wedding, too." When I lined up the three of them to explain what would take place in the church, she inquired into our past history and was further incensed to discover that we had taken turns keeping her at home while we joined the church separately in Waterloo.

So they were all there this time. Very much there. As we stood before the minister, the youngest ambled down the aisle and stood up with us, flaunting his most ingratiating smile. Later, back at our seats, he became restless and fell under the pews a time or two, howled once just to relieve his boredom, I guess, and was hastily removed by his father.

The other two twisted and wriggled and whispered, while the back of my neck got redder and redder. My only consolation was the plaintive tones of another youngster who kept asking for an ice cream cone. However, I have already forgotten how the children behaved, in the glowing memory of the welcome we received after the services.

My husband has one besetting sin. He adores taking walks with his family en masse. And he invariably suggests said walks after a late supper (his fault) when the youngsters have been playing in the plowed garden all afternoon, and I have been ironing, or canning, and have reached the evening with my hair still uncombed and my overalls unchanged. After all these years I realize the futility of objections, so I reluctantly turn my back on that beloved second cup of coffee in the living room, and gird myself for battle. We do the dishes in a flurry of suds and clanking of silver, and the children are urged upstairs for baths and clean clothing. I prepare my own person in between supervising ears, hunting for shoelaces, tying ribbons, and dressing two squirming small boys. We always have to search madly throughout the house for at least one shoe. Presently, they’re all standing around waiting for me, wondering audibly why I'm not ready, and then we're off. I note, wearily, that the boys' hands are dirty already, and I don't feel too well-groomed, but after the first block or two, I am as eager for adventure as the rest, and I vow that after this, I shall always have myself and the children cleaned up, ready for anything by six o'clock. But a couple evenings later, my husband gets that look in his eye, and there we are, all disheveled and very unready, and I gird myself for the same old battle.

The water in Manson is wonderful for bathing very dirty boys – no hard black ring at the water line afterward! I have only one complaint – the soap disappears awfully fast. I heard of one resident's experience when she was new here. She said they left the children in the tub and went about their business. Suddenly, loud shouts of joy and laughter, and splashing recalled them to the bathroom. And what a scene met them. "Soap suds up to their ears," she said, "And it took another tubful of clear water to get them rinsed off."

fly away I am becoming very proficient in killing flies. Some of them, I even bring down in mid-air with a vicious swat, which seems to me to be invaluable training in some branches of sports. If the fly season continues long enough, I should be tennis champion material. I have never played tennis, but I was in a volley ball game once. It was at a church camp in the Black Hills, and on the evening of the game in which I had been drafted to participate, I donned a brand new pair of gaudy yellow slacks, purchased especially for the outing. To my horror, they were several inches too big around at the waist and a bit longer then was strictly necessary. It was time to go and I didn't even have a safety pin, so I trailed along with the gang, just as I was, too large slacks and all.
All during the game, I clutched my slacks with one hand and batted futilely at the ball with the other, which, coupled with my woeful inexperience, did not make for a brilliant performance on my part. Of course, that was many years ago, and if I were asked to play volley ball today, everything would be different. Now I have a safety pin.

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Mothers Diary
roses Roses were bobbing all up and down Main Street on Saturday. I tracked down the source and there I was in the new furniture store – a terribly fascinating place that made me terribly discontented with our own sad assortment of battered, second-hand stuff – including a poor little coffee table that falls apart at a harsh look. The window display looks more comfortable and homey than the average showroom and I saw other eyes than mine gazing wistfully at it. I spotted a cunning duck napkin holder that is going to make an ideal gift for a new baby of a friend of mine. Mrs. Folkerts has reason to be proud of her gift counter. They gave away 200 lovely red roses, running out in the middle of the afternoon. Mine is still lovely and I’m so glad I visited them in the morning.

I was right at home among the children's books in Williams' Book and Gift Store. There were some familiar ones that I itched to get my hands on. In fact, I did look at the Silhouette book and wished I had time for the others. Mrs. Williams delighted me by inviting me to come in and browse around anytime among the assortment, ranging from some fine religious works to children and adult fiction. I have found that book lovers are roaming about their counters. It takes time and solitude and quiet to select a book – or not to select a book as the case may be. I received my souvenir, a flower print and signed the register. I was later told that my signature was one of 403 and 166 children had signed the children's register. I could hardly get my own children past the toys and pictures in the window display!

There is no conviction in the recommended cheerful "Now this is going to be good" manner with which I present leftovers to my family. The only leftover I really enjoy myself is a cold piece of apple pie from the refrigerator.

Among the many things that my daughter heard from Grandma during her recent visit with her was that I loved to go to school when I was a little girl. Upon returning she asked, "Did you really wish there was school on Saturdays and Sundays?" and has regarded me with a certain amount of suspicion ever since.
She was likewise skeptical of her father's defense when she criticized him for putting so much jelly on his bread. "Well, you see, it's like this," he explained solemnly. "I use enough jelly for two slices on only one slice and that saves on the bread."

I wish Mr. Martin worked about the place every day. I can get much more work done in a shorter time when the boys are under his feet instead of mine.

Small boy asking for a moderate amount of nails- "I don't want a little bit, and I don't want a lot. I just want a little bit of a lot."

It is truly educational to listen to a youngster telling a story. Only a child could plausibly get God, Santa Claus and Henny Penny all in the same tale.

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Mothers Diary
peaches At this very moment, I am happily reminiscing to the aroma from a spice bag. In my kitchen, peaches are bubbling in a rich syrup, cozily accompanied by a spice bag, and more rosy fruit is steaming in the colander awaiting its turn. Soon I shall have sparkling jars of peach pickles lined up on the table.

The recipe has a history. Last year when I started planning my very first canning program, pickled peaches were the one thing I was interested in. Beans, tomatoes and beets, I accepted as a matter of course, but pickled peaches would be my splurge – my exotic luxury. And they would have to be just like the first ones I ever ate. Those were in a cut glass bowl on a candle-lit dinner table in the home of one of my school friends. As I recall it, I must have made a terrific pig of myself, for after that, Verna's mother always had pickled peaches when I came to dinner, and the bowl was always placed in front of me – practically labeled "Grace's peaches." They were delicious – firm, succulent and spicily sweet – uumm-good. So those were the peaches I had to have in my storage cupboard.

I wrote Mrs. Sumner and she immediately sent me the recipe and a lovely note, hoping the recipe would be all I had dreamed of. It was and is, but I never did write and tell her how successful they were. Some traveled as Christmas gifts to Texas and Washington. Some were sold at a bazaar and others went to a church luncheon. On my own table they were served to relatives and friends and WAVES from all parts of the United States. And they received special commendation from all.
So this is really a "Thank you" to you, Mrs. Sumner. For the memories of visits in your home and the recipe that has brought me and mine so much pleasure.

When we finally decided last July to burn our bridges behind us, I trotted down to the (Waterloo) library to get information on Manson. Six churches – a theater – hotel – fine school with kindergarten – lake resort – everything was rosy. "But it doesn’t say library here," I accused my librarian. She scurried around and searched all their records but there was still no library.

I decided to remain in Waterloo.

After my husband was settled here, he wrote that there was a library but he had found out nothing more than that bare fact. I pictured a back room somewhere with a few Tom Swift books, and some musty law volumes maybe, but somewhat mollified, I began packing.

So I ferreted out the location and visited the Manson Library for the first time the other day. I don't mind saying that I was delighted with the quality and quantity of the books and with the librarian as well. Miss Elliott made me welcome and at home immediately. I am always happy in a library though slightly frustrated because I can’t take all the books home at once, especially those on the intriguing rental shelf. However, I usually stagger away with as many as I can carry and then practically support the library single-handed with my rental fees and fines.

Once I had to pay a 25-cent fine for a 10-cent magazine. It had become buried among my own magazines until I unearthed it one fine day during one of my spasmodic housecleaning moods. But that was my worst offense and hurt me worse that the library. When I related this tale of woe, Miss Elliott was unsympathetic. "Fine," she said, "you can help support us, too. We can use the money."
But I don't begrudge money spent on a book I have enjoyed and I'm looking forward to a lot of enjoyment from the books in our library. There is really a fine assortment there for the discriminating reader. And our capable, friendly librarian is a big asset too.

Note to other newcomers: The library is in a room of the City Hall, across the street from the high school. It is open Wednesday and Saturday afternoons – 3:30 to 5:30 and evenings from 7 to 8.

Among the books I carried away in my first raid on the library, was a murder mystery. I am an avid mystery fan, though my husband deplores my taste in literature and I have my own peculiar method of reading them – a method that would probably make their authors cringe. I read the first two or three chapters to become acquainted with the scene of the crime and the suspects, and then I turn to the last chapter for the solution. After that I start over and read straight through to the end having a perfectly beautiful time, because the murderer and I are the only ones who know who did it!!

We started out last Sunday afternoon on one of our hectic walks, and good Samaritans in the shape of Mr. and Mrs. Allen came along to save the day for "Mother." It was wonderful to sit back and watch the scenery go by, serene in the knowledge that the youngsters were happily corralled with their noses pressed to the windows.

Mr. Allen drove us to Twin Lakes, our first visit there. The lake was lovely in the late afternoon sun, bordered by the cottages, silent and lonely along the shore and haunted by the ghosts of all the past picnics and revelry. There was an occasional intent fisherman along the banks and the intermittent drone of a motorboat to break the peace and quiet. You can believe me, though, that all peace and quiet was shattered when we parked and the children spied the playground equipment. They made for the swings and as far as they were concerned, sightseeing was at an end. The youngest flatly refused to get into the baby swings but I was consoled by the thought that at any rate we would be spared that inevitable agonizing business of getting him out again.

We grownups strolled down to the edge of the lake and viewed the famous Leighton cottage and stood in the shelter house chatting a bit with Matt Roche, the custodian. He surprised me by reporting an almost normal busy season at the lake as compared to last summer.

Just as we were ready to leave Steve came down, discovered "all the water," and for awhile we thought we might have to stay there until the first snow before he was satisfied. It was a satisfying afternoon, but it made me ache to go on a picnic. When I mentioned it, my husband ached, too, though differently. But you just wait—there'll be other nice Sundays before winter and I'll manage one, somehow.

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