Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Letters from Honeyhill

Letters from Honeyhill: A Woman's View of Homesteading 1914-1931 is an unusual treasure that Rebecca found at our library.  It is a collection of letters written by Cecilia Hennel Hendricks, who is an excellent writer with an eye for detail, humor, and human interest.  Her letters, selected and edited by her daughter, range in topic from housekeeping minutia and observations to her involvement in state politics to their family finances.

Cecilia writes about their first car (and car accidents), their first victrola, and redecorating.  She discusses canning and raising children with her sisters and mother, also going on at length about the petty squabbles of the various ladies' aid groups she is involved with.

Like most homesteaders, she and her family suffer tragedies, although Cecilia does not express self-pity, regrets, or despair in her letters.  I admire her fortitude even as I wonder how she kept it up (maybe she had times in her bedroom with the door closed that she feels are not something she cared to document for posterity!).  Occasionally, she refers to times when she was ill or “doing poorly” but she doesn’t elaborate.  When her parents and sisters send gifts and money, she is grateful and gracious - that takes such skill when difficulties slam up against pride!

I'll give you a short sample entry here below, so you can read for yourself Cecilia's style and insights. This book is well worth seeking out if you are interested in a women's biographies, housekeeping, or the homesteading/pioneering life.

Tuesday, June 5, 1923

“I am pleased to state that we now have a girl to stay with us all the time.  She came last night.  Her name is Norma Myers and she is a high school girl from Powell.  Mrs. Osborne told us about her last summer, and when we couldn’t get anybody else this time we got her.  I think she is about 18, and is a good big girl.  Mrs. Osborne says she has been cooking since she was 13 years old and can do anything about the house.  She is a neat looking girl and her mother is always as neat as a pin.  Their house looks nice, so I guess she knows how to do things.  It will certainly be nice to have our house looked after.  John does enjoy having a clean, neat house to sit down in after his work outside is finished, and when I had everything to do I couldn’t always keep the house looking the way I wanted it to.  The outside yard work in the bees will soon start and then of course I can put in my time to advantage helping John, and he will need help, for we have more bees this year than we have ever had."


jenny_o said...

Love all your photos today. Phoebe is getting big! I like reading old-timey books that talk about food and housekeeping and clothing, too. I wouldn't have wanted to actually live back then - I like my automatic washer and dryer, and my indoor plumbing and comfy stretch clothing and not having to start a fire every morning - but it's interesting to read about it.

Becky said...

Those Cosmos!
I've heard of this book and have it on my list to find to read. It sounds fascinating.

BLD in MT said...

I shall have to add this to my to-read list. Its right up my alley. Thanks, Margo--and great photos, too!

MDiskin said...

Oh how I LOVE books like this. A true living book!

and your baby pics are just slaying me. :)

Naomi Weaver said...

The book sounds great but nothing, absolutely nothing grabs my interest and affection like my sweet adorable baby granddaughter! Ma