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When I hear of the bitter cold I have to remind myself that they dressed in wool, slept under wool blankets, cooked on a stove that produced heat, and so on. I recently read in one of the Little House on The Prairie books that is was bitter cold and the only part on their body that was cold was there noses out of all things. They even mentioned how warm they were with all the wool. I'm thinking real wool is the way to go. We too are making our spring garden plans. I learned the Amish only plant a summer garden and so do most folks. I wonder why that is when you can grow so much year round or at least most of the year.
I felt sad to hear of the grief Emma felt at her brother's passing. He must have lived far enough away that travel wasn't possible. I'm glad her family took her out and about on Sunday. Maybe that helped.
What does Rose mean when she takes her mother "peddling"? Is she selling something?
It might be things like eggs, small knit/sewn items, and garden produce in summer. In my local paper from the 1930s there are ads from some of the local grocers and canneries requesting people to bring in certain types of produce, eggs, or meats from their farms or backyard gardens, along with the price they are offering. Nationwide food distribution wasn't as much of a thing, so a lot of merchants and canneries bought direct from people. Most of the older homes around here have mini orchards of 3-5 apple trees, many of the same variety. I was told by a neighbor that it was because there was once a fruit packer that liked a certain type of apple because it shipped and sold well (we're a port town), so people planted it in their yards so they could earn extra money selling to the packer. I know kids during the depression could make a bit by selling magazine subscriptions like Grit. I wonder if there was anything like that that adults did?
My grandma also used to talk about going around to local tailors to ask about taking home ironing or small repairs (like sewing on buttons). If they had some extra small jobs, she could do them to pad her income. (as a young widow with 8 kids and only a parttime graveyard shift nursing job, she needed all the extra she could get!) This was in the 40s and 50s, but it was probably a thing in the 30s, too.
I noticed in Emma's diary she's talking about working on a "couch robe". I've never heard this term before (I'm from Canada so that may be why?).
Logic says to me that this is probably a house coat type of thing to wear while being "at home on the couch" but I'm really not sure. Can anyone speak to this?
I'm not sure if this is what she meant by the term, but I found this pattern from 1912 on archive.org for a knitted couch robe. It appears to basically be a throw blanket to use on the couch, from what I can tell.
How very interesting to read Emma's diary today. Knowing that she lives in south eastern Iowa and seeing my father's name Lloyd James makes me wonder if it was him that sent word about her brother's death. We lived in northeast Missouri, just across the border from Iowa and near where Emma lived. Might not be but it is quite a coincidence. I don't know Ernest's last name so who knows.
I love reading you blog and the diaries. Each time I read these I feel like I am home again and can really relate to the entries. It also makes me want to be more frugal and thankful for the life we have.
Thank you so much
bp - USA WY
I never heard the term couch robe, either. I assumed it was what we would call a "throw" or "afghan" but maybe it was similar to one of those modern sacks that is a cross between a blanket and a robe. My parents were 12 and 14 in 1932 - I never once heard them say the words couch robe in my lifetime. Perhaps it was a regional term?
The idea of it being that cold is just dreadful to me. My childhood home was heated by a coal-fired, whole-house forced air furnace. At night the fire would be stoked with extra coal, but it would die down before morning, and the house would be so cold in the mornings. We slept with only our noses out, with the layers of covers pulled up over our heads. But we might have seen zero (F) at the worst or once in a great while, three or so degrees below zero at night. I can't imagine the cold they were experiencing there in a house that was probably without central heat.
Grandma Donna wrote, to all wondering. I went to the microfilms to look up "couch robe" during the years, 1929 to 1934. There were many advertisements for couch robes and also for Auto robe, sports robe, even a steamer robe showing a lady on a steamer deck in a reclining type chair with the steamer robe draped over her lap. These are blankets, throws made of wool or other fabrics. I would think someone could sew, knit or crochet these as well. But they show them folded across the bottom of a bed or laying across the laps while sledding down a slope. It is a drape to stay warm.
Peddling means selling goods. This was the way that Rose's mother made extra money.
Andrea, all these years and I am finally coming to realize the importance of wool. Probably because I have lived in the southern U.S. but times have changed. :)
Back in the late 1970's I was a regular visitor at the local nursing home. One lady had a picture on her bulletin board from the mid 1930's showing snow drifts higher than the heads of the men shoveling. I commented on it, and she told me that her husband had died early that winter and that the neighbor men had shoveled their way to her house to bring her coal as she was completely out. Her children were young at the time. She said they would have frozen to death without the kindness of the neighbors. She lived somewhere in Northwest Iowa.
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