Filled with tales of a rural Iowa childhood during the Depression, this book is like sitting at your Grandmother's knee, hearing all the wonderful stories about times gone by. Kalish remembers it with joy and with honesty, recalling not only the good food and good times but also the inconveniences, dangers, and hard work.
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.
Mildred Kalish gives us a glimpse into a "simpler" time - although life on the farm in the 30's certainly wasn't easy. Her easy narrative opens a door into not only the challenges brought about by the tough economic times (waste not, want not), but the tremendous lessons and character building that the situation produced. From the secrets to great homemade remedies and treats, to the quite often hilarious tales of the ways the "little kids" passed the time, this book is a retreat from the pressures of modern day life. You'll never look at your groceries, your garbage or your spare time in quite the same way again.
Very well written; a delightful read. In fact, as I read I thought about the underlying relevancy of Ms. Kalish's stories concerning 'Hard Times.....During the Great Depression'. There are some Back to the Future elements & lessons here.
Excellent book. Brought back a lot of memories and provided many more. It was very enlightening to learn how they lived not only without credit cards, but without cash. I really enjoyed reading about all the remedies and cleaning methods. I intend to put some of those to use. (Probably not the cod liver oil/castor oil, yuck!) I'll definitely be passing this book around and would like more copies of it as I want to keep my own.
Kalish's memoir of her Iowa childhood, set against the backdrop of the Depression, captures a vanished way of traditional living and a specific moment in American history in a story both illuminating and memorable. Kalish lived with her siblings, mother and grandparents-seven in all-both in a town home and, in warmer weather, out on a farm. The lifestyle was frugal in the extreme: "The only things my grandparents spent money on were tea, coffee, sugar, salt, white flour, cloth and kerosene." But in spite of the austere conditions, Kalish's memories are mostly happy ones: keeping the farm and home going, caring for animals, cooking elaborate multi-course meals and washing the large family's laundry once a week, by hand. Here, too, are stories of gossiping in the kitchen, digging a hole to China with the "Big Kids" and making head cheese at butchering time. Kalish skillfully rises above bitterness and sentiment, giving her memoir a clear-eyed narrative voice that puts to fine use a lifetime of careful observation: "Observing the abundance of life around us was just so naturally a part of our days on the farm that it became a habit." Simple, detailed and honest, this is a refreshing and informative read for anyone interested in the struggles of average Americans in the thick of the Great Depression.
Her grandma was so frugal she cut down the big kids worn out socks for the little kids. This is one of the best books that I have read.
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.
I enjoyed the nostalgic story of Ms. Kalish's upbringing on an Iowa farm in the 1930's. I also happen to enjoy reading about this era in our nation's history. There were some parts that dragged a bit, but overall it was a lovely memoir.
The author is recalling her childhood with grandparents, thus growing up under an 1890s regimen. The cover is not noteworthy, but I found the book more interesting than I expected as I read parts of it on the bus/subway trip. Unfortunately, no one at the old soldiers' home has picked it up in the four weeks I have had it on the shelf.
I especially liked farm food, thrift, country school, May baskets, and wash day.
I pulled this from the shelf and left it in the VA Hospital lobby this morning. But it did disappear from our shelf for several weeks and so found a reader. And we have few readers in the old soldiers home....
To me this book was ok. It was not a story that was told, more a random group of thoughts and memories reflecting a life lived in Iowa in the mid 30's. To me the randomness and the constant recipes made this book less than enjoyable. This is a good memoir for the author's children, grand children etc, but not for others, it just did not flow and the material, though interesting, could not hold your interest for long.