Mothers Diary
And so school starts again. It has seemed a very short summer – in fact practically no summer at all as far as weather is concerned. Anyway I haven't had a chance to put away our feather down comforter and the blanket sheets on the youngsters’ beds have been no hardship. And a good thing, too, what with one good pair of sheets to our name!
Soon, now begins the season of the year that I like best. Autumn – with its golden, hazy days, and crisply alive days, and picnics without flies and mosquitoes! Some people begin their new year January 1st but I begin mine the first of October. Then is when I get a new lease on life and energetically accomplish all the things I've been thinking and talking about for seven or eight months.
It just doesn't seem possible that it's about autumn, though. But here is school starting – an indisputable act, as any child knows all too well.
For the majority of them, though you won't get many to admit it, the opening of school holds a certain thrill. Down deep in their hearts, even most high school students welcome school, with the attendant excitement of new teachers, the new students, the athletic program and planning for plays and other school activities.
Down in the first few grades, there is no reluctance whatever. Those youngsters were ready and anxious for the opening day. The summer has been long and school beginning was a major excitement in their lives.
Our daughter was all of a doodah Monday morning. "Mother." She informed me with some surprise, "I think I am excited."
Steve was calm – but one, broad, beaming smile from ear to ear, in spite of threatening skies. He started to kindergarten and everybody knows that the first day of school is a day of days, no matter what the weather.

Our children are used to lots of stories, but all of them are read to them from books. When Steve came home from his first morning at school he observed, "Mother, our teacher tells stories by hand!"

Conversation with Bruce and Steve as we stroll up town Saturday afternoon. A huge Brady transfer truck rattles by.
"See that truck?" says Bruce, "I'm going to drive that truck some day."
"And you know what I'm going to be when I grow up?" says Steve. "I'm going to be a policeman. And ride a motorcycle."
"Well," I say, "that's a laudable ambition."
"Huh?" says Steve. "No – a motorcycle."
Bruce pipes up again. "And I'm going to drive a big truck."
"You don't say," I reply. "Why?"
"So I can beat Steve on the motorcycle."
Steve hoots loudly in derision. "You can’t beat me on a motorcycle."
"Yes, I can," persists Bruce. "I can beat you. I will go fast."
"A motorcycle can go faster than a truck."
"Nope," says Bruce calmly. "I will go faster than a motorcycle. I will go faster and faster and faster"
"A motorcycle---" begins Steve.
But Bruce gets louder and louder. "And faster and faster and faster--" until Steve gives up with an exasperated glare in Bruce's direction.
When I can get a word in edge wise, I change the subject and peace reigns once more.

Our daughter, recounting to Steve her experience when she fell backward down the cellar stairs, "Boy, I was scared to the top of my voice."

We had our first sweet corn Friday night and we oldsters forgot to eat in our amusement at the two boys. Bruce’'s was too hot to eat right off, but being the impatient sort when it comes to eating, he hoisted the ear on a fork and waved it around, occasionally taking dainty bites to test it. When the corn was all cool enough they really waded in and soon were butter, corn, and "hepper – halt" (Bruce’s expression) from their ecstatic grins to their ears.
So when we got around to eating, there was about one apiece left for us!

Ruby has left us to be a nurse's aide in the Lutheran Hospital in Fort Dodge. We are going to miss her very much but I'm sure the hospital will be more than glad to have her! Ruby is a hard worker, and what is just as important, she's a cheerful and even-tempered one – a fine quality in a nurse. Good luck to you, Ruby.

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Mothers Diary
I am usually vastly amused at illustrated ads depicting a housewife canning in her immaculate kitchen, clothes in a glamorous hairdo, a serene smile, a fresh beruffled housedress and an apron. But if I chance to see one when I'm taking a breather from my own canning activities, it seems very "unfunny."
My kitchen and I are not at all glamorous to begin with – nor do we pretend to be, but during the throes of canning, we are not fit to be seen to put it quite frankly. When I am larruping back and forth between a crate of peaches and a kettle of boiling syrup, with a paring knife in one hand and a teakettle in the other, the kitchen looks like an harrah’s nest and I am hot and tired and frantic, and look it.
In the first place, things never seem to come out even for me. I either have too little syrup and two many peaches, or two much syrup is boiling before the peaches are peeled and the jars are either sterilized before the peaches are ready or vice-versa. Then I'm very liable to get well started and discover I have no jar rubbers, or seal two or three jars and discover I've forgotten to include rubbers. Once I had some jelly poured into jars before I remembered paraffin and I didn't have a bit in the house. I guess the trouble with me is no system or something.
It isn't that I don't like to can. I do. Especially the part when I stand back and gloat over the shiny jars packed with colorful goodness. Then is when I drive my family nearly to distraction, for they must all gloat, and marvel and exclaim with me. The first year I ever did any canning, I was practically insufferable in my pride over each day's accomplishment, whether it was six pints of rhubarb or 13 quarts of beets. Never had I seen anything as beautiful as fruits and vegetables stored in my brand new jars. The children and neighbors were forced to gaze in awed wonderment, and my husband, whose customary mode of entry each evening had been to sneaking in the front way in hopes I wouldn’t hear him before he read his paper. But I usually got him to the kitchen to count the jars and dutifully admire them before he was allowed any peace.
But I still think that laden shelves of canned goods are a satisfying and beautiful sight. And if I ever get organized with a set procedure and proper equipment, it could be that the whole canning process would be a joy to me.

However I am grateful to know that I’m not the only one who has troubles. Miss Young came to choir practice on a recent hot Thursday evening, very much disgruntled. She had spent the whole afternoon putting up tomato juice, a special recipe of which she is very fond. When she arrived at the end of her labors, very warm, very tired, and very untidy, she was considerably dismayed to find she had neglected to add the extra ingredients, which make the juice so special.
So the next day, she had it all to do over again.

Six chickens from our backyard flock have met their destined end already. It is our first venture in raising chickens, and we are certain that no other fowls have ever tasted so good to us.
The only drawback is the preparation involved before we are ready to eat them. But I am getting a bit more proficient at cleaning them and my husband begins to take the killing and defeathering in his stride. This part, to the youngsters, is as exciting as eating them. We have to kill and cook three at a time to insure enough drumsticks and gizzards to go around, so the process is a lengthy one.
Bruce will help catch them, but retires from the scene until the chickens are killed and partially defeathered. Then it is his chore to proudly carry the featherless bird to me, where I am armed with a sharp knife, plenty of papers and the firm determination to break my time record in the dressing process.

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Mothers Diary
When I was in high school, it was always my dream to someday attend a big football game, wearing a fur coat and a chrysanthemum, and then go on to a tea dance. Just like in books. I somehow felt that our local games, though exciting enough, were definitely lacking in glamour.
Our games were in the afternoons. We would be dismissed early from school, and inkstained and hairflying, we'd go tearing down the hill and across the river to the fairgrounds. At the field, we'd jockey for best positions among the "business" men and the first graders, occasionally, in tense moments, surging right on to the field, almost driving the linemen crazy. There was always the soul-satisfying and unethical business of locating and yelling down the supporters of the opposing team. And whether we won or lost, we'd at last go home, tired and dusty, not to a tea dance, but a supply of fried potatoes and sliced tomatoes, where our hoarse chron­icle of the game dominated the conversation.
But I never have gone to a famous game with a fur coat and a chrysanthemum. My husband and I once attended a Minnesota-Iowa game, but I wore a plain blue coat and didn't see a flower anywhere and would have considered it rank extravagance to buy one if I had. We ate a tenderloin sandwich at a roadside stand afterward and I arrived home with a raging headache. So much for glamour!

Usually I go about my normal everyday duties, with the comfortable assumption that I have at least an average amount of intelligence. But when the new magazines come out each month with their pages of quizzes, I answer them with confidence and emerge feeling less than a moron.
If they start out by announcing that if you get eight right you're good, nine right you're excellent and ten right, you're a genius — I answer five right and what does that make me?
Vocabulary tests leave me with the conviction that my self education was neglected somewhere. Those mystery quizzes with all the clues in the picture and "who is the murderer," intrigue me greatly. I study them avidly and then act just as I do with my murder mysteries-turn to the answer page without taxing my brain at all.
Tests involving arithmetic I skip entirety. Even the answers to those puzzle me.
After answering with religious accuracy the questions under "Does your husband still love you," or "Is your marriage a success," I am filled with a mild wonder that my husband hasn't divorced me years ago.
I like them all, but the quizzes that really fascinate me are the ones that give me a character analysis. "What flower do you resemble?" and "Are you the romantic or practical type?" and then my type is written up under A or B, etc. I'm usually a motley assortment and hard to classify. Once after discovering I was the ABCD type, I hastened to read my analysis. "You are on the fence," the paragraph rudely stated. "Neither one thing or the other. Why don't you settle down to something?" And after critically surveying myself, I was bound to admit it had something there. I can do lots of things sketchily, but nothing very well.
One of the last tests I took almost made me swear off the things though. It was a judging of characters. I was frightfully shocked after I had spent some time and effort on the thing, to discover I had chosen a child kidnapper to take care of my children, and a confirmed criminal as a guest to my week old house­party.
Either you can't tell a thing about tests or you can't tell a thing about me.

About two weeks late, I am suddenly moved to check up on my son's kindergarten manners. We are seated at the supper table and he has just demanded more milk without the qualifying "please."
"Do you," I accuse him sternly, "say 'please' to your teacher when you ask her for something?"
He eyes me round-eyed over his glass of milk. "We don't ask her for things. We don't get anything less she wants us to have them."
"Well-do you say 'thank you' when she gives you something?"
"She doesn't give us anything. Usually she sends us to get things ourselves," he answers tranquilly.
I am determined to catch him up on something. "Allright, do you say 'excuse me' when you walk in front of her?"
He looks blank at this and small wonder. This is of necessity not a rule in our hectic household.
"Well – no-o-o," he hesitates, and then brightens. "But I won't walk in front of her anymore!"

It was just one of those things. The grandmother had persuaded her little four-year-old granddaughter to stay with her for a few days after the parents left. But as the departure was imminent, the little girl had sudden qualms about being left behind and not wishing to hurt her grandmother's feelings, sidled overto her mother and whispered urgently, "Mother, why don't you talk me out of staying."

When my girls are doing dishes, loud and dolorous are the strains of "They Always, Always Pick on Me" issuing from the kitchen.

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Mothers Diary
It is always surprising to me. I mean one can live for several years in the same town living along from day to day taking for granted the sameness of one's surroundings. But leave it for a year and go back for a brief visit and it seems positively amazing that nothing has changed. Somehow one expects an evolution of some sort to have taken place.
In Waterloo, Saturday, I was filled with a mild wonder that the same buses and trucks were trundling about their usual business, the Piggly-Wiggly store was located on the same spot and friends of ours still had on their porch the same swing they'd used every summer since we've known them!

The two oldest children and I drove down with Mother and Dad and they had quite a time. It was the youngsters' first auto trip of any great distance in three years, so everything was very new and exciting from the farms along the way, to the towns where we stopped for coffee and ice cream. But they were happy they had brought along a jar of Manson water, as the water they were offered in restaurants along the way and in Waterloo, "tasted funny, in fact, not good," to quote our daughter.
They had another shock when Dad let me drive on the way back. Both of them stared in surprise and some trepidation when I started out behind the wheel, but after a few miles, they settled back with considerable pride and admitted that mother learned to drive awfully fast!
I wasn't so sure of myself. I learned to drive when I was about 16, but it's been three years since the last time I drove a car. So it wasn't until I stopped for a red light and then parked the car without mishap in Iowa Falls, that I began to feel sure of myself again.

I knew it would happen someday, because the talk around our house had been veering more and more to the same subject. So I wasn't too surprised to find a two-month-old cocker spaniel puppy snugly tucked in a box on the front porch when we returned from Waterloo.
Bruce, who had been left behind, practically stuttered in his excitement and pride when he showed off this newest acquisition to our household. It seems he had picked out this particular dog himself and felt very possessive. The other children, not to mention their father, are pretty much agog over him themselves. They all got together and named him Taffy after considerable argument and discussion, though Bruce still thinks "puppy" is good enough.

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