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Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
Little Heathens Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression Author:Mildred Armstrong Kalish I tell of a time, a place, and a way of life long gone. For many years I have had the urge to describe that treasure trove, lest it vanish forever. So, partly in response to the basic human instinct to share feelings and experiences, and partly for the sheer joy and excitement of it all, I report on my early life. It was quite a romp. — So... more » begins Mildred Kalish’s story of growing up on her grandparents’ Iowa farm during the depths of the Great Depression. With her father banished from the household for mysterious transgressions, five-year-old Mildred and her family could easily have been overwhelmed by the challenge of simply trying to survive. This, however, is not a tale of suffering.
Kalish counts herself among the lucky of that era. She had caring grandparents who possessed—and valiantly tried to impose—all the pioneer virtues of their forebears, teachers who inspired and befriended her, and a barnyard full of animals ready to be tamed and loved. She and her siblings and their cousins from the farm across the way played as hard as they worked, running barefoot through the fields, as free and wild as they dared.
Filled with recipes and how-tos for everything from catching and skinning a rabbit to preparing homemade skin and hair beautifiers, apple cream pie, and the world’s best head cheese (start by scrubbing the head of the pig until it is pink and clean), Little Heathens portrays a world of hardship and hard work tempered by simple rewards. There was the unsurpassed flavor of tender new dandelion greens harvested as soon as the snow melted; the taste of crystal clear marble-sized balls of honey robbed from a bumblebee nest; the sweet smell from the body of a lamb sleeping on sun-warmed grass; and the magical quality of oat shocking under the light of a full harvest moon.
Little Heathens offers a loving but realistic portrait of a “hearty-handshake Methodist” family that gave its members a remarkable legacy of kinship, kindness, and remembered pleasures. Recounted in a luminous narrative filled with tenderness and humor, Kalish’s memoir of her childhood shows how the right stuff can make even the bleakest of times seem like “quite a romp.”« less
Mildred Armstrong Kalish grew up dividing her time between a farm and life in a small town in Iowa during the Great Depression. In this book, she describes her life growing up in this environment mostly focusing on her life as a child of about 8-10.
The book is divided into sections about her family, the things that built character and life in the seasons Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. The last section is about her young adult life and what lead her to leave the farm in Iowa.
Ms. Kalish obviously has fond and warm memories of her childhood despite the difficulties that her fatherless family faced growing up during the Great Depression. Her tales of her life as a youngster as well told you can see yourself in her shoes and understand why she treasures her childhood and how it helped her develop into the adult that she became.
I highly recommend this book and you just might want to get your cooking skills prepped because she includes many family recipes that will make you want to get busy in the kitchen
Very cute memoir! It's unbelievable how different things were then or are now. In today's world of excess and convenience, it is nice to see what life, filled with hard work and simple pleasures was like.
This will warm your heart, especially if you grew up hearing similar stories from your own midwestern grandparents. I read this and then gave it to my grandmother. She was delighted. She said she felt as if someone had written her own story.
The subtitle of this book is an accurate description of what it's all about, and maybe one reason I like it so much is because it was written by a woman who grew up at pretty much the same time as my mother in pretty much the same part of Iowa. So all the while I was reading it, I kept remembering things I've heard about or observed - details about a way of life that was very similar to the way my mother and my grandparents lived.
Interesting memoir of life growing up on a farm in Iowa during the Depression. Amusing, insightful and informative reflections on the expectations of children in the family, the character building and work ethic that resulted. Gives me insight to some of the sayings and habits of my parents that I never understood their meaning. Enjoyable read.