Monday, July 25, 2011

Mrs. Donald Herring’s Essay on the Rural Home Wins First Place in the State, 1952

By Mrs. Donald Herring, Dudley, North Carolina (Wayne County)
There have been so many changes in the rural home for the past 25 years, one can hardly compare living now with rural living then.
Eight years ago, I was married and came to live in this farm home. This is my husband’s homeplace, and his 78-year-old father still lives with us. I came from a rural home, but not a farm home. I have learned to love the farm and its surroundings. It was hard at first because he had no conveniences. We brought our water from a well that is still used to water stock when needed. It is located about 50 yards from the house. We used oil lamps and I learned to cook on a wood stove. I was very grateful to have a kerosene refrigerator which was here when I came. I also had a crude way of washing and ironing.
Donald, my husband, painted our bedroom before I moved in. We bought a four poster mahogany bedroom suite which I’m still proud to have. It was three years before the electric lines came our way. It was then that we started making some much needed improvements. My father gave me a belated wedding present of a deluxe range. We traded for an electric refrigerator, got an automatic washer, iron, and several appliances which go to make convenient living. It wasn’t too long before we put in a water closet and a hot water heater. It was about the same time that we got in the kitchen and started doing some work. We also put cabinets over these. We put some linoleum on the kitchen floor and painted the inside and outside of the house. Then we decided that we needed more room, so we built a 12-by-22-foot room on the back of the house. It’s this room that I like most of all. I use this for a combination dining room and den, and of the furniture I love, I like this I use in here most of all.
When we decided to get married, Donald cut some maple logs from his father’s farm and we had this dining room suite and desk made. The site consists of a drop-leaf table, six chairs, china closet, and a lovely buffet. It’s only when we have company that we use this to serve our food. I have a small red and grey chrome and plastic dinette suite in the kitchen. We have three bedrooms. I find that I have to use bright colors in these rooms to make them look more cheerful, because the shade from the big trees darkens the rooms. We have a living room, but it isn’t used so very much, since we enjoy our den.
We have our telephone, radio, and other appliances, which are such a help. In the winter we cut off the part of the house that is used most and heat it with two big oil heaters. We have a fire place in the living room.
I love fixing flower and fruit arrangements and I guess one would say that is my hobby. I also love having indoor plants. I think it makes the house look more alive with something green and beautiful growing it it.
Donald’s mother has been dead for 27 years—since he was two years old. His father had a housekeeper to take care of things, but of course, she did not have the interest here as a member of the family would so things had gone badly undone.
The outside of the house and the yard needed improving as well as the inside. Donald’s family took great interest in this. I would like to say more about him, because I feel that he plays an important part in this home of ours. We realize that through the years, he has acquired wisdom and that he can and does mean much in our family life. He is a great asset to our home.
I started putting some shrubbery out and much to my surprise, it lived. Donald’s sister thought it was a mystery that this had lived when they had put out things repeatedly that had died. The secret is that we hauled stable manure to put around these plants. The reason for having such a hard time with this was the big oak trees that shade our yard drew the nourishment of the soil to them. I did not have too hard a time getting the borders to the yard started, and we had good luck with the grass. We fenced in a place next to our garden which makes up a part of the yard for me to have my cut flowers. I have my flowers for my own use but last year I did have a few chrysanthemums for market. Our garden is conveniently located, being so close to the house. When we plan our garden, we think seriously of planting the things and varieties that we will enjoy fresh, that will be good frozen, and that are good for canning. We have enough small fruit of each variety for our own use, and we thoroughly enjoy these fruits.
We bought our home freezer about a year ago. I have found that it takes a lot of planning, not only to put food in the freezer, but to use the food before the season comes again for each food. There are such a few things that a farm family has to buy from the grocery store the year round. I can always g to m freezer and prepare a complete meal from it. Of course, my canned food helps out. I enjoy having and using my pressure cooker. I find that I still have foods to can, such as soups, tomatoes, apple sauce, grape juice, jellies, and preserves. I still dry some foods, too.
Our home agents are a continual guide through our Home Demonstration Club, 4-H Club, and other farm organizations. They stress to us the importance of a better home and better community life. I was a 4-H club member for six years and now I am a 4-H Neighborhood leader. I am interested in this because I feel that it means a lot toward future homemaking.
According to statistics, there are fewer divorces granted among farm families than any other group of people. I believe this is true because when a couple is married and goes to the farm or lives on the farm they begin helping each other, and feel a need for each other. There are very few women who do not help with the farming during the busiest season, and few men who do not help with the children, dishes, and other chores when they are needed. I believe I feel closer to my husband when I feel that he needs me.
Immanuel Kant (he is probably the greatest philosopher since Plato) once said, “It is not the world you find, but the world you make.” I think he meant that it is that which comes from within. I feel the same way about a home: It is not the house you build, but the home you make.
I have failed to mention two of the most important members of our family, and they are important because they really make this home that I am trying to tell you about. We have two little girls. The oldest, Jenny, is six years old and Alice is two years old. I can see that they are not the most beautiful children in the world, but I, as most mothers, feel that they are the sweetest and dearest in the world. I am striving to have a home which they will feel is our home. A home that they will be proud of and in which they will feel that they are important too. I never want them to feel that mother and daddy have anything in which they do not share. It is our farm, our car, and our home. They have a grand place to play. The house is surrounded by oak trees and they have a sand pile under one of them. They have a wagon, tricycle, swing, and such to play with outside. They like their coloring books and dolls on rainy, bad days. The thing they like most of all right now and through the summer months is a little stream of water that goes through our pasture. It is about 200 yards from the house. Its depth is from 6 to 12 inches. I go as often as I can with them—that is most every day.
I am so glad and so thankful to have my children in a rural home, where they know something of the wide open spaces, where they can see how animals and plants grow from cells and seeds into maturity. I want them to see and realize how we depend on God for our spiritual needs as well as our material needs.
I have a special reason for running my home as I do. I believe that the greatest force that moulds character comes from the home and when I married I pledged myself to create a home which would be morally wholesome, spiritually satisfying, and physically healthful and convenient; I believe in my work as a homeworker, and I want to accept the responsibilities it offers to be helpful to others and to create a more contented family and community life, so that in the end, home life and farm life will be most satisfying.
This essay, which won first place in the competition in North Carolina, is located in The Special Collections Research Center at D. H. Hill Library, N.C. State University, Raleigh, N.C. Special Collections holds research and primary resource materials, especially from organizations, units, departments and individuals throughout N.C. State University.

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