Notes on Appalachian and Young Adult Literature readings
l. Did You Carry the Flag Today, Charley? Rebecca Caudill, illus. Nancy Grossman, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, l966
Charley Cornett is 4, going on 5. He is contacted by Miss Amburgey who is a teacher at Raccoon Hollow School about attending Little School, a summer session for preschoolers. Story features details about Uncle Hawk who'd worked in coal mines and then gone to the city searching for work; about Charley's own father who has been hurt in coal mine work--back injury.
Charley is constantly probing/curious about things. The tradition/honor for someone who's been very good in school is carrying the flag as the children march to the bus is one each child wants--it takes Charley a long time to "merit" this honor. There's the fascination of the sink in the classroom, the rain outside the library, creating with clay, --key quote "I was making out like I was a rock sitting there on the side of the hill in the rain,"..."And I was making out like I was dusty where people had stepped on me, and snakes had curled around me, and lizards and spiders and ants had crawled over me, and squirrels had cracked hickory nuts on me and left the shells lying on me. And I was hot, too. And the rain fell on me and washed me off and made me feel so cool and clean. Do you reckon a rock could feel this?" (44-45)
Charley wears his uncle's hat all day--refuses to take it off, struggles so no one will snatch it, all because "it'd be magic like the old man's carpet, and it's pick me up an dtake me sailing off to see all them sights Uncle Hawk saw." (85) Charley comes to realize that reading/knowing how to read helps one get jobs. He is given a book from Miss Sturgill for helping in the library. That day he is also allowed to carry the flag.
2. The Best Loved Doll Rebecca Caudill, illus. Elliot Gilbert, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, l962
Melissa, Belinda, Mary Jane and Jennifer are the 4 dolls of Betsy
Betsy is invited to a party--needs to bring a doll. At the party prizes will be given for the oldest doll, the best-dressed doll, the doll who can do the most thing. Belinda is the best-dressed of Betsy's dolls; Melissa is a doll who is 100 yrs. old--she'd belonged to B.'s great-great-grandmother; Mary Jane is the doll who can do many things--sewing etc.; Jennifer is the doll who looks worn, faded, can't do much. Her "wig was loose and her hair was tangled. Her nose was cracked." Her left eye closes; her right stays open; her cheeks were patched with adhesive tape. Her shoes had been lost long ago--she's barefoot. "But on her face she wore a smile that never went away." Yet Jennifer is selected. At the party, all the other dolls fit the 3 categories, and others win the 3 prizes. Jennifer is given a special medal though, by Mrs. Anderson, "Best-Loved Doll."
3. Schoolroom in the Parlor Rebecca Caudill, illus.Decie Martin, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, l959.
Miss Cora's school "in the woods" ends before Christmas so the Fairchild children--Bonnie who is 6 almost 7, Debby-8, Emmy-10, Chris-12, Althy-14--and the 4 Sawyers, the 3 Huffs, and the 5 Wattersons-- aren't in school till August again. Althy, with her mother's direction, decides she will teach the Fairchild children and they have "school in their parlor."
Idea of learning a great thought--Whenever you learn a great thought, you can think it, too. A great thought is something nobody can take from you." (12--words of Althy). The plan is to learn a great thought each day for the month of Jan./Father awards a prize to the one who can remember the most "great thoughts."
"Any book is good that helps your mind grow straight and tall." (Althy--32) February--Althy reads from the book Emmy won as the prize for remembering the most great thoughts.
Snowbound time--father works with cornstalks, mother works on rag rugs, Althy makes scarves, Chris has his arrowhead collection, three youngest girls piece quilts. Father helps each child with school work--figure of father is relayed as strong/present/eager to foster learning--he also does the corn popping over the fireplace.
During their snowbound time as Chris is getting weary of it, Althy suggests traveling in their imagination. Debby remembers the game, "if I had a boat." They do geography as they travel to Arabia or other places, via a boat and their imagination. On a very cold night everyone is awakened to see the Nothern Lights.
In March, the plan is to tell stories/share stories--emphasis is on Indian stories. Children hear from Chris about "warring" Indians and are frightened. Later when the 2 youngest are in the house alone, Cherokee Joe arrives. They are frightened and hide. The actual story of Cherokee Joe is that he makes baskets and has been coming around for over 20 yrs. -- he brings baskets for the children, sells some to Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild.
In late March, children are rewarded with 10 mins. extra recess if they have perfect spelling lists. Debby, Bonnie and Emmy on an early recess find an injured goose. The goose is brought in and called Robinson Crusoe (Robbie for short). Bonnie and Debby plan to write/illustrate a book, Under the Willows, (parallel to the book title of the book Emmy won) about the goose; they'll present the book to Althy the last day of school.
Each family member gives Althy a present; Mother and Father give the "present" of having Miss May Stone present--she is a schoolteacher at Black Mountain and invites Althy to her school to learn more about teaching/to teach the children in the early grades.
4. Susan Cornish: Susan is a young woman who doesn't want to go to the college, Armbrister, her father has designated since that school doesn't allow the searching/questioning/real learning Susan wants to do. Sam Goad (eventually turns out to be someone who railroads others into things; he's a very controlling man) gets her a school teacher position at Pickwick Mills. The novel goes on to show how Susan truly develops as a teacher; discusses the life in communities where the land is used up and washed out like gullies. Susan is guided and mentored by Mr. McAdam, school superintendent; conquers incredible odds; helps the entire community rejuvenate and rebuild. Issues of race arise--when Jube Wallace moves into the area and needs to get to school; land conservation; tenant farmers and ability to improve their land...very worthwhile book.
5. Somebody Go and Bang a Drum, by Rebecca Caudill; illus. by Jack Hearne; New York:E.P. Dutton & Co., l974
Set in NC; family starts out with Edie, the mom, as a social worker in Texas; she works with Neighborhood House which has a number of children who are Mexican Americans. Julian, the dad, is a radio broadcaster. He and Edie meet, fall in love, share the same passion for young children.
They move to Illinois--Julian teaches broadcasting and takes coursework; Edie does social work.
They had a son, Eric, and are always thinking about adopting--remembering the children in Neighborhood House. when Eric is born, the birth announcement quotes Rabindranath Tagore: "Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man."
They receive a card with this message: With chortle-ings and glee we prance--
The family tree has got a branch.
O joy! O bliss! O rapture blest--
A little bird is in the nest.
Somebody go and bang a drum,
And spread the news the Baby's come!
Edie reads about orphaned and abandoned Chinese children--wants to adopt a girl and call her Ginny. First challenge: few agencies wanted people to adopt a child from a different racial background. They are allowed to start process; they write to the International Social Service. Much time passes--eventually they get Ginny, nearly two yrs. old. She only knows Chinese at the point she arrives. It takes 10 months for Ginny to start sleeping through the night and not wake up hungry.
Next plan is to adopt a Korean boy who is black. (It's post Korean war time and that's why the number of Korean children is so large.) Meanwhile Indiana agency writes about a baby girl -- part black, part white, part Native Am.--the family decides to adopt her and the Korean boy. The new baby girl, Angela, arrives on Dec. 21.
Eventually after Mark, the Korean boy and Angela, Julie -- a baby up for adoption previous to birth-- and Peter, a Mexican-American boy are adopted. Finally at the time of the Vietnam War (Edie and Julian have been trying to do active protest about the war) they adopt Emily. The family has moved to NC at this point and when there's problem with adopting a 3rd child of East Asian background an NC senator helps with the process.
Story of multicultural and family spirit.
6. The Far-Off Land by Rebecca Caudill, drawings by Brinton Turkle; New York: The Viking Press, l964
Ketty Petrie (Ketturn) is living in the Moravian town of Salem, NC in Feb., l780. On this Feb. p.m. as she is working at the Tavern, a traveler demands admission. Brother Meyer, tavern owner, is hesitant. The man claims to be the brother of Ketty. Brother Meyer protects Ketty from being seen by Anson (indeed he is her brother) until the elders of the Moravians has "checked him out."
Ketty was the youngest in her family; her brother Anson the oldest. They'd lived in Pennsylvania before coming to Carolina. Anson had been intrigued when visitors stopped through having seen "the West" and talking about all the richness it held. All this info verifies Ketty's brother's story and the elders allow her to go with him. She is at first, afraid; the Moravians have been really kind to her. Her brother had been gone for 14 yrs.; one day he hears of someone from Carolina and is homesick, so homesick that he returns to look for his family.
Ketty reveals the family story--how their mother had never been "still" since the time her son left. Their father died when crushed by a tree he was chopping down. Then Andrew, Calmes, Rhea, Letitia and Campbell (the children between Anson and Ketty) all died in one December. Her mother and Ketty were left alone. Eight yrs. earlier (1762) her mother sickened and died. Ketty taken in by a neighbor but eventually, Brother Bagge, the Moravian came by and asked about taking her to live with them in Salem.
Ketty learns of Anson's wife, Tish, and of their children--2 girls and a boy. Anson's plan is to move to the French Lick area--then a "far-off land." They've been living in Watauga (Wataugy), a wilderness land, just below Fort Patrick Henry--they don't have schools. Anson's children have never learned to read--neither can his wife. Anson claims all will be better when they get to the French Lick. Ketty is torn about leaving the life and people she's known who have been so good to her and going off with a brother she really doesn't know, into a land she doesn't know. Ketty gets wonderful, ethical advice from Sister Oesterlein--"be present" and "be reverent." (34-37)
A week later Anson and Ketty are headed, on horseback, for Fort Patrick Henry. (hants=ghosts--Anson and Ketty are asked if they are "hants" as they arrive at the Fort. The rest of the boats have gone--3 months earlier. The boats have been held up by the frozen river...Anson believes if they leave immediately they can overtake the group. Shubeal Given (Rachel's husband) and Baptist Ramsey (married to Lettice) are two of the men of the group; they've gone hunting. Food has been scarce for the entire group and that is a reason they aren't eager, as Anson is, to set out. Anson, however, drives the group.
Lennie Petrie is 8 going on 9; Betsy is 5--these are Ketty nieces. Calmes Petrie (Cal) is her nephew. The other children are Pegg Given (7), Squire Given (8) Rachel Given has taken in Farrer, son of Rob and Patsy Lilburn,who were scalped. Lennie has named the boat, The Dragonfly--Ketty tells Lennie that she (L.) has a poet's imagination.
Lettice is 16 and late in her pregnancy. She's never been on a river trip before, but she says, "A woman likes what her man likes[,]; [S] she goes where he goes" (51). Lettice confides to Ketty that Rachel is scared, scared of the river, "Red men," "A spell of sickness. Travelin' by our lonesome through the wilderness like this, all manner of things can happen" (51) Lettice also explains why Tish is angry and sullen --she didn't want Anson to go back to his home area. "norated=narrated, told"--used in phrases like whenever it was "norated around here." "Come to think of it (words of Ketty) people are always trying to find some far-off land--leaving behind the fields they've tended and the friends they love and crossing ocean seas and climbing high mountains to get to it" (53).
"the Suck" "the Boiling Pot" and "the Muscle Shoals" -- 3 dangerous parts of the river journey. Anson and the other men begin talking about killing Indians and the tensions they've been part of; Ketty is horrified since the Moravians never treated Native Americans this way. Anson tells Ketty she's left Salem behind and here in the wilderness, folks live by a different law=a "fight to the finish" (58). Ketty, not wanting to be idle, as the Moravians had taught her so well, asks to learn to steer the boat. Baptist believes it's a good idea so that when the group is on the Tennessee River and facing Indians the men can shoot; Ketty can steer. Ketty doesn't know how to shoot.
Ketty works with the children, tries to teach them "peaceful games." She's always concerned about how the children continue to play on Farrer's fears and tease him. Eventually she befriends him/he grows to trust/cling to her. One game is "The Old Woman for the Wood." Eventually Ketty begins to teach the children to read/write basic words. When they stop for the night, Ketty finds birch bark which can be used for writing/learning vocabulary. This first night of the journey, Ketty misses Brother Nissen's nightwatch song, telling that all is well. The next game they learn is "Hopscotch."--at this point, the boat hits the first shoal and gets stuck. The group is stopped for a couple days; Farrer "warms up" to Ketty. The shoal is called "the Poor Valley Shoals."
Several men in the Walk-on-the-Water arrive. One man, George Soelle is a surveyor; he's with 2 deputies. Shubeal goes out hunting; he is lost and doesn't find his way back to the group for several days. George Soelle eventually joins up with the group. George has land north of French Lick and has decided he'll go along and survey it now, while he has a group to travel with. Rachel is super stressed when Shubeal doesn't return..."Hit wouldn't be so bad a-waitin'if a body knowed," said Rachel, still sobbing.
"What else is waitin' but not knowin'?" Tish asked (10)
Anson asks Ketty to be ready to take the oar if Shubeal doesn't return; they'll go on despite Rachel's concerns. Shubeal does come upon the camp at night. (As they have been setting up the camp, Ketty and George have gone to the woods to get birch bark--Ketty comes upon a grave.) Shubeal has lost his rifle in the wilderness. Baptist is upset; a man in the wilderness without a rifle is a problem. Baptist also talks about the Indians he and others have killed. Chickamauga Indians were befriended by the Moravians, appeased Little Carpenter, the chief. Little Carpenter's son, Dragging Canoe is the one currently on the attack.
Ketty and George discuss the ethical difficulty of killing. The group meets up with others headed for Illinois and New Orleans--they plan to travel together till they are through the Indian territory and shoals of the Tennessee. The group is led by Westly McEnnis. The Shanor family, in a boat of their own, have smallpox. George has found the material to make instruments for the game, "Holy Gabriel." The game is interrupted as everyone finds out about the smallpox. Anson's group is to stay well ahead of the Shanor boat. Next problem--"sawyers==tree roots able to cause the boat to be hung up/hulls ripped open."
Settico--first of the Indian villages becomes a place of attack. They are also going through the "Suck" --very dangerous time. Anson is hit, bullet is all the way to the bone. They try to get out into the current; Ketty is oaring, the rest are trying to fend off the Indians. Tish, using a knive, digs out the bullet. At the same time, Lettice goes into labor. Tish goes to help; Ketty aids Anson; talks about Tish name and it really being Pretitia. Baptist wants to go to see his son, but it's at the time of the "Boiling Pot." The Indians start attacking again and the boat is twisted in the current and held up. Lettice comes out with the baby and in her desire to get to Baptist and the lurching of the boat, the baby is jolted out of Lettice's arms and drowns. (the rest is on the pages I've run off)
7. A Certain Small Shepherd --Rebecca Caudill; illustrated by William Pene DuBois, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, l965
The story is set in Hurricane Gap; "is a story of a strange and a marvelous thing" (7). Jamie is born on "a freakish November night" when the cold moved in rapidly --Jamie's mom dies this night. He has two older sisters, Saro and Honey (nicknames presumably). Though Jamie grows like all other little boys, he does not learn to talk; all he can do is grunt. Jamie is terribly frustrated when he can't talk; in his frustration he lies in the grass and kicks his feet against the ground. He is teased by other children; his father, though, in great sensitivity, often takes Jamie and allows his son to help him with various projects. Jamie's dad does take him to the doctor who tells them to see Dr. Jones, a specialist. The reality is that Jamie may need several years away at a special school and the family doesn't have the money to finance Jamie's treatment. Jamie starts school; even though he can't speak, he can listen. He is given a large sheet of paper daily and draws, prints (writes), counts..."He could say things on paper" (20). He still faces frustrations--one day he knows an answer and can't communicate it in any way. That night when he goes home, he throws his book in a corner, pulls the cat's tail, slams doors.
Every year the people of Hurricane Gap celebrate Christmas in the little white church across from Jamie's house. The school teacher assigns parts for the students/directs the play. Jamie is supposed to sing, but of course he can't. Miss Creech, the teacher, decides Jamie will be a shepherd, even if he is smaller than the rest. At home Jamie's father reads from the Bible, the Gospel of Luke telling about the angels coming to the shepherds. Jamie listens intently as he strings popcorn. The dad buys material so Saro can make Jamie a shepherd's costume; he also gets Jamie a shepherd's crook. They get a Christmas tree up on Trace Branch road. The day before the Christmas play, a blizzard hits and the families are unable to come for the play.
A couple comes through the blizzard to ask for lodging; unbeknown to Jamie and his sisters, the woman is about to give birth. Instead of taking them to the stable, Father takes them to the church, where there is the possibility of heat from the coal stove. In the morning when Father leads Jamie and his sisters through the snow to see the family, Jamie runs back home, puts on his shepherd's outfit and brings an orange and a dime--his Christmas gifts--to the mother and child. Miraculously also, Jamie is able to speak to the mother when he gives the gifts. This is the wondrous and strange thing that happens to a "certain small shepherd."
8. Come Along--Rebecca Caudill; illustrated by Ellen Raskin; New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, l969. (a book of Haiku in Appalachian settings)
Wonderful Haiku capturing the Appalachian setting/great illustrations.
"Invitation" Come along, children!
We'll roam meadow and mountain
And bring home treasure.
Spring is a poet,
Chanting a lay of warm winds,
Swelling buds, and birds.
Two doves in a wood
Coo softly to each other,
Make haste! Run quickly
To see my Easter garden.
A seed is risen!
Once I went to York.
All that I remember is
A pear tree in bloom.
We lie in the grass,
Our legs dangling in the stream,
And watch butterflies.
Patterns on a hill:
Cattle grazing all one way,
Cloud shadows marching.
Who owns this meadow?
Turtle, cricket, mole, and shrew.
I thought I owned it.
"Fling me a rainbow!"
I cry to the troubled sky,
And, look, she flings one.
This day I set apart--
It brought solitude, a thrush
At twilight, and you.
They utter no sound--
The midge, the beetle, the ant--
Yet I hear them sing.
We climb the long hill.
Daisies detain us, and moss,
And fiddlehead ferns.
The brown thrasher sings
And dares me to be busy.
I stop and listen.
And little winds of springtime
Ring the golden bells.
I catch a firefly
In cupped hands. My fingers glow
With imprisoned fire.
We walk by the lake
In the day's still evenglow.
A fish leaps in air.
Queen of the meadow
Wears her purple crown and reigns
In the fall pasture.
Remember how we
Ran to touch the touch-me-nots?
Yours sprang the farthest.
Reaper in the field,
Did you not see the flowers
Nor the rabbit's nest?
On the autumn trail,
Quiet, deep as longed-for-peace,
Walks alongside me.
Decks itself in twelve gay hues,
And goes out clowning.
These you cannot buy:
The scarlet of the sourwood,
The bronze of beeches.
Cold rain fell last night,
Gold leaves today drip earthward,
And a lone bird sings.
I stare at the rain,
And rain, like our old gray cat,
Stares coldly at me.
The day's lyric gift
Was this: gray shattering raindrops
Against a stone wall.
The last sun-gold leaf
Spins dizzily down to rest
Among the turnips.
Cows hunched in their stalls
Wait the passing of winter
As they chew their cuds.
I hear ice breaking
Among the branches of trees
I kindle a fire.
In dark December
A flower blooms in the wood.
I think of Christmas.
We walk in starlight:
Armies brandish gleaming swords
Of frost-jeweled grass.
9.Wind, Sand and Sky--Rebecca Caudill; illustrated by Donald Carrick; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., l976. (Haiku of the Arizona desert where Rebecca Caudill went for winters)
The grizzled desert
Holds fast its secrets and broods
In the sizzling sun.
Lacy clouds drift by;
On the far rugged mountains
Lacy shadows lie.
The enormous sky
Floats in space filled with the hum
Of sweet, winey winds.
Gifts of the desert--
Room enough, time enough, and
Calmness after pain.
The brawny mountains
Throw their black shadows on fields
Of fragile poppies.
This year the sweet rains
Spring-clean the earth and lay
A flower-gemmed carpet.
Not so excited!
There will be another spring,
And yet another.
Morning dawns awry--
A finch in a mesquite tree
Sings to me all day.
Remember when we
lay in the sun envying
Two eagles aloft?
Silence above me,
Silence before, behind me,
Silence within me.
Cones of golden sand
Swirl across the desert floor--
"Beat you to the gate!"
The summer storm comes
Bolting white lightning; it goes
The tumbleweed, freed,
Goes whirling across the desert
In mad abandon.
Atop the saguaro
Sits the hawk in his watchtower--
Look sharp: mice, skunks, snakes!
Armed with barb, thorn, fang,
And talon, the desert waits
With prick and poison.
Decked in finery,
Plumed, preened, no feather askew,
Struts the knightly quail.
Blaze like great yellow bonfires
Near the arroyo.
Rusty like the sand,
A melody in motion,
Lopes the coyote.
In the arroyo
Where we found the tiny mice
The white-gold grass stirs.
Azure, orange, green, red--
Clouds draw curtains of splendor
At the end of day.
Sunset. I loiter
Beside bird-laden mesquites
To hear the gossip.
Night comes on quickly,
Snuffing out the dark mountain
And lighting the stars.
I walk in starlight
And feel the throbbing heartbeat
Of the universe.
Soft in the darkness
They light the way of the Child--
10. A Pocketful of Cricket--Rebecca Caudill; illustrated by Evaline Ness; New York: Henry Holt, l964.
Jay is six and lives in a hollow with his mom and dad. Woods cover most of the hills around Jay's house. Jay sets off to drive the cows home; the route he travels has "queen of the meadow"--pinkish flowers with a crown, a gray spider, a yellow butterfly, hickory trees (he puts a nut in his pocket), a creek (he puts a rock from the creek bottom in his pocket), a crayfish on the bank, minnows in the water, a gray goose feather (he puts this in his pocket), a gray lizard between the creek and the cornfield. He hears wind rustling the ripening corn, the bugs and beetles ticking, a "cicada fiddling high notes in the August heat," "an owl hooting in the dusky woods," "a cow bawling." He finds an Indian arrowhead (puts it in his pocket), sees a woolly brown caterpillar, finds a bean pod, shells the beans into his hand (and puts beans in his pocket), sees an apple tree with russets that taste sweet growing on one side of the tree, and red apples that are sour growing on the other side of the tree. He eventually starts driving the cattle home, sees a cricket and cups it in his hand. His mother gives him a sieve for it to be kept in--reminds him school starts in 5 days.
The cricket eats pieces of cucumber, lettuce leaf, and "a slice of banana the size of a nickel"; it "sings" in the dark. Jay takes the cricket to school--on the bus enroute everyone laughs as they hear a cricket and try to figure out who has the cricket along. When the cricket starts going, "Chee, chee" in the classroom, the teacher wants to know who has it. She wants Jay to put the cricket outside, but Jay doesn't want to lose it, worries he couldn't find the cricket again. The teacher realizes the cricket is Jay's friend; she allows him to share the story of the cricket in a "show and tell" time. Asked what he'll bring next, Jay says (after thinking about all he picked up and put in his pocket, "Beans."
11. Contrary Jenkins;--Rebecca Caudill and James Ayars (her husband); illustrated by Glen Rounds; New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston,l969.
Tennessee tall tale--Ebenezer Jenkins is "the contrariest man" that ever lived. All his life, he chose the opposite of everyone/anyone else. People forgot his real name and called him, Contrary. He lives in a log cabin in the hill country of Tennessee, had a little patch of ground for growing corn and cabbages, a dog, a long rifle, and on and off, a cow. The parts of the tale: his almost 3 yrs. stay with Dan'l Williams when Contrary is supposedly enroute to Kentucky to see his brother. In a few yrs. C. is back in TN and then invites Old Man Stamper and his wife to live with him--planning to get "free cooking" done and in return, C. will give ten bushels of corn for the pig the Stampers are fattening. A feud arises over a cooking gourd with C. wants to cut one way and Mrs. Stamper says is always done another way. The buffalo hunt with Dan'l and his brother Samson, ends up with C. staying out late, shooting his buffalo, skinning it so he can sleep in the hide, but getting frozen in. Dan'l and Samson have to build a fire to "thaw" C. out of the hide. On another hunting trip C. goes into a hollow log looking for dry punk (kindling??) and incites a bear. Since C. refuses to run from a bear, the bear runs through C.'s legs with C. holding tight to the bear's tail. He also refuses to let go of the tail.
One other adventure is the plan of C. to marry Widow Betsy Sikes. C. is 60 yrs. old and insists on doing everything before the wedding vows--the dance, the meal, even the honeymoon--he goes off alone, meets up with a man and they walk to the Ozark hill country of Arkansas for hunting. They are gone 7 yrs. and C. again returns to TN to find Betsy married while C. was away. C. again walks away and goes west -- back toward Arkansas. "For all I know, he is still there, still living by the rule of contrary." (Ending line of the book)
12. Up and Down the River by Rebecca Caudill; Pictures by Decie Mercer; New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, l951
Bonnie and Debby Fairchild want to earn money--be rich. Althy, who's older gives organ lessons. Emmy makes money selling chickens from her hens. Chris sells ginseng. B. and D. are perusing a catalogue (mail order) of their mom's and see several ideas but most require subscription to a magazine or something like that. There first plan is to sell beautiful colored pictures--a dime a piece, one dollar goes back to the company. The other item they decide to sell is bluing. Same price--a dime, one dollar is returned to the company. The girls fill out the coupons/materials for ordering and go by horse to Mr. Flinchum's store, across the river, to mail the letters.
Each day, immediately after they've mailed the letters, the girls ride Mag, the horse, across the river to Mr. F.'s store. On the 11th day, the packages arrive. Each sibling admires the pictures and wants one--none have the dime to purchase any. Mother does buy bluing, and Father does buy a picture for the family.
After completing all their chores the next morning, the girls start down the river to try selling their wares. Enroute all the animals of the woods/riverside call out to the girls/today the girls won't be distracted. First stop-- the Sawyers. The Sawyers purchase the picture of the bowl of fruit. Next stop, Mr. and Mrs. Tribble. Mr. Tribble has an orphan lamb he's trying to feed. Debby and Bonnie are able to feed the lamb; they also name him, "Little Orphan Dirtyknees." Mr. Tribble offers the lamb to the girls since he has no time to care for the lamb. He also buys some bluing.
The Whitaker's (she and her husband are old and live far off the road, seldom leaving home.) is the next major destination. Mrs. W. is rocking herself when the girls arrive. Mrs. W. provides cold milk and ginger cookies. The W.'s buy 3 pictures: the ducks, the fruit, and the horses, as well as a package of bluing. The W.'s want the girls to stay overnight--since the girls are worried about feeding their lamb, they promise to come the next night when they will have arranged for Chris to feed the lamb. (Children in all Caudill's novels do lots of walking--as do B. and D.) Mrs. W. has special plates with scenes of a castle and another of an Indian wearing feathers. After supper Mrs. W. gives the girls a tour of the house/talks about her 8 children who have since all grown and left home. The girls are curious about the attic--they learned that the W. children often played there. B. and D. find all sorts of toys--a cradle and a wooden doll among these. (the doll's name is Bridget) There is a long story about Mrs. W. and Bridget getting lost. When the girls leave in the a.m., they are each given the plate they used for dinner.
The next mail order/sales plan involves getting Pekin duck eggs. Debby, assisted by her mom, writes the letter requesting the duck eggs--again they have the wait for the mail. When they are returning home after the eggs arrive, Mag runs too fast and 2 eggs get broken. Mother helps them put the eggs under a nesting hen. Dirtyknees, the lamb, continues to grow and soon is standing on his own. The girls plan on having him go to school.
July 15 the ducks are born. The girls continue selling their other "wares" up and down the river; the ducks grow. Section telling how to care for them. In a late afternoon thunder/rain storm 9 of the ducks are killed --only one is saved. Hans is what he is named. Bonnie "sells" her half of Hans, gets the dollar and decides to get a hat. Jemima, the cat is ready to have kittens. When Bonnie's hat arrives, Debby really likes it. She doesn't want to sell Hans though, to get money for it. Bonnie leaves her hat by her bed so she can put it on first thing in the a.m.--the cat has her kittens in it. The 3 kittens are thus named, Hatty One, Hatty Two, and Hatty Three. To replace the hat, Mother knits tobaggan caps for the girls for school. Father gets the girls a bantam rooster and hen. The girls name these King Strut and Queen Mince. Chris and his friend Andy, build a "castle" for the bantam chickens. With all these animals, despite the fact they have no money, the girls feel richer than anyone in the world.
13. Saturday Cousins by Rebecca Caudill, pictures by Nancy Woltemate; New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, l953
The Tuttles: Laurel, Tressy, Molly(6) work every Saturday to be ready to spend the day with their Tuttle cousins--Julie, Rich(8), and Ginny May(6). They have 34 other cousins, but all these live in other states and from pictures, seem stiff and proper. The name Saturday cousins comes from the exchange of the children to each others' home. On Sat., the children call their parents Aunt Callie and Uncle Dave, not Mom and Dad, since they will be at a home where someone (the other set of 3) will be calling the parents Aunt___ and Uncle___.
The trip to the other cousins is a long walk--down a hill, across the Little Branch river, another walk along Cedar Tree Lane, across the Big Branch, to Stinson's Corner, beside the Oak Woods, along the big dusty highway, past a RR crossing--Johnson's Crossing, past the home of Mr. and Mrs. Beg-Pardon Smith (so named because Mr. S. frequently says, "Beg Pardon" when he can't hear--he owns the biggest home in Portland. The total trip is 4 miles.
Molly and Ginny May, Rich and Tressy, Laurel and Julie, each pair up for everything they do. Laurel and Julie are always chatting. Aunt Evvie and Uncle Ben are the parents of J., R., and GM. Rich decides to create a train -- out a blanket--that the children all ride down the stairs.
At night in bed, Laurel and Tressy tell the continuing story, (one they create) of the Peanut Shell Man. Tressy and Rich send messages to each other via a little knothole in the wall between the two rooms. In her message, Tressy promised Rich a surprise the next week when they (J., R, and GM.) will come to Laurel, Tressy and Molly's house. As L., T. and M. wait, the next Sat., they hear the train at Johnson's Crossing fire "torpedoes"--warning signals for the engineer to be cautious. Since the cousins seem to be taking a longer time to come than usual, the girls set out to meet them. They discover a large circular print--first they think it's from a washtub. Rich, when he sees it, discovers there are toe marks/ more of a footprint than anything. They all discuss the possibilities, and Rich suggests it's a dinosaur. Molly and Ginny M. get scared and Julie and Laurel take them on to the house. Rich and Tressy stay and keep examining everything. T.'s dad, Uncle Dave, comes along in his buggy; he tells the children that the footprint is actually from an elephant--part of the Great Snodgrass Circus.
After supper, Uncle Dave wiggles his ear--Rich keeps trying to be able to do that (for the rest of the book that is Rich's goal.)
Next week as the 3 girls start over, Tressy has a harmonica that she's been learning to play all week. When they meet Rich and his sisters, he tells them that their animals can do tricks; Rich has been training the animals. His first trick with a pig names Margie, fails because the corn he uses to entice her, gets eaten by a sow. Trick 2 is with Leo, the dog. It too, fails, since Leo gets led astray is chasing a cat. Trick 3 was to have Napoleon, the goat, pull Rich. This too, fails since Napoleon gets a stubborn streak. The girls, Laurel and Julie, do tricks with the jump rope; Tressy does hopping of all kinds. Rich tries the trick of wiggling his ears--that doesn't work. T. plays the harmonica (French harp) and eventually R. tries it. He's playing when Uncle Ben comes along with the mules and wagon. Katy, one of the mules, "dances" as the music is played. The children decide to call her "musical mule."
The following Sat. as part of the visit, the children all go to Mr. Bertie Breed's store--they want to hear Mr. Bertie's talking machine. Though they don't want to be impolite and ask to hear his talking machine, they also hope he'll suggest it. T. is standing in front of the doorway leading to his bedroom and the talking machine. Mr. B. does take the children in and plays the machine for them. Rich gets so involved he stands up and the others have to remind him to be polite and sit down. Mr. B. offers the children peppermint candy; the older girls think they have to refuse since they haven't anything to give Mr. B. nor have they done any "kindness" for him and he's already provided the chance for them to listen to the "talking machine." Mr. B. tells them about the circus; he tells of a pair of Siamese twins. The children decide this is the "trick" M. and G.M. can do--they can be Siamese twins. They also decide to invite Mr. B. to their house next Sun. PM to see the "musical mule."
Uncle Dave eventually shows Rich which muscles to move to wiggle his ears and then R. can do it. Molly and Ginny May can eventually do the Siamese twins things because Aunt Callie shows the girls how to make a pair of 3-legged pains. As the 3 girls are hurrying over to R. and his sisters' place, they are met by Mr. Beg-Pardon Smith, who offers to give them a ride in his car. Since with the car ride, they can get to their cousins' early, Mr. Smith takes them to meet his wife. She shows the girls her player piano. Laurel gets to play the piano; T. gets to swing in the hammock. The Smiths invite all the children to come stay overnight. The girls invite the Smiths to come see the musical mule. The older girls bake two cakes to go with the ice cream A. Evvie will make. The children do Sunday school, help with the ice cream and dinner.
Everyone arrives and is entertained by the musical mule, Laurel's and Julie's jump roping, Molly and Ginny May as Siamese twins, and Rich wiggling his ears. Missy has a colt--gets named Tressy, since Rich says Tressy helped him wiggle his ears.
14. Schoolhouse in the Woods by Rebecca Caudill; Pictures by Decie Merwin; New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, l949.
Bonnie is waiting for Dad to return--though all her older siblings: Debby, Emmy, Chris and Althy are all assuring her that her father won't be home so soon and she should occupy herself someway. Bonnie eventually goes to try on her new dress, size 5, for school.. Then Bonnie looks at all the books which are ready for her sisters and brother--B. has only a knapsack.
At lunch the whole family is discussing school and the things they will ask/do. Chris is making a bat; his friend Andy is making a ball. School starts in Aug. and ends at Christmas time--since the weather is too cold/snow too problematic after Christmas. Father comes with several books for Althy, pencils and tablets for C., E., and D. For Bonnie, he has a new first reader, a new slate, and a new slate pencil. Bonnie puts all these in her knapsack and carries it with her for the rest of the day.
On Monday as they walk to school, all the children can go more quickly than Bonnie. She sees Mary Huff, also a new first grader, and they go together. Miss Cora is the teacher; she's particularly good to the newest students. Jimmy Sawyer and Davy Watterson are the other new first graders. Mary H. and Bonnie want to join the ball game; they're told they are too little. Miss Cora shows B. and M. a place, under the big oak tree, where she played when she was in first grade.
Before lessons begin, the students are led in singing. "Bonnie sighed happily. School was like a storybook, she decided. School was like the biggest storybook in the world, and it would go on and on, story after story, until she had heard every story that had ever been told" (29). When the other children go to play ball at recess, M. and B. go to build a playhouse. Davy and Jimmy go and suggest they help build a playhouse of rocks. The first graders get a special recess/playtime all their own. The children plan to carpet the floors with moss, get some furniture made of cornstalks, have their dads make some little chairs and beds and tables, use acorn cups for bowls, make dishes out of mud. A squirrel, a woodpecker, and a lizard all have homes in the tree too. Bonnie loves the playhouse, the special play time, the stories she hears everyone being taught, the story of Chicken Licken which she is learning to read from her reader.
One day Miss Cora brings a box--kind of like a cage-- which she will use with the first graders--each day having someone bring something "alive." Davy first brings a ladybug. Next Jimmy brings a Daddy Longlegs. Mary brings a butterfly which B. suggests they name Cinderella, and they do. Bonnie wants something that won't run away or fly away--she locates a box turtle. The turtle is old, so they name him Grandpap. This "living thing" stays around the longest. Sometimes the children play the game, "Chicky-ma-chicky-ma-craney-crow" and the game "Whoopy-hide" (a variation of hide-and-seek. In late Sept., Grandpap is gone--the teacher tells the students the turtle is gone off to hibernate.
Mother surprises the children one day telling them they may invite Miss C. to stay overnight with them. They will also do something special/surprising with Miss C. Everyone is surprised to find out the special thing--molasses making. An additional surprise is that Mother has invited the Wattersons, the Huffs and the Sawyers to the molasses making. While they are waiting for the molasses to be ready they play games, sing, and after the molasses, they find out that Miss C. will stay a whole week.
Another of the games the children play is "Wild Animal"--they pretend to be a wild animal holed up for winter. Someone is covered with leaves and when found, has to run and catch the one who discovered her/him. Eventually Bonnie is allowed to be the animal buried; Emmy takes her far off in the woods to be buried. She and B. want to assure Chris that it won't be so easy to find Bonnie. No one comes looking for her, so B. lies pleasantly in the leaves in the late autumn sun. She also sees geese flying in a V above her. Eventually Emmy comes looking for Bonnie. E. has forgotten where she buried B. What happened is that Miss C. had long since rung the bell and didn't know where B. was. Eventually E. had to set out looking for B.
The day before Thanksgiving the day is cloudy when the children set out for school. As soon as they get to school, a cold drizzle begins and it rains all day. The footbridge washes away--as Chris and Andy discover--and C. says, "We can't get home tonight." Miss C. diverts the children by reading them the Christmas play they will eventually perform. Father comes with horses and wagon to "rescue" the children and Miss C.
Bonnie gets to be the angel in the Christmas play. The children are all practicing hard. But then B.'s mom get sick and can't get to the play. B. asks Miss C. if they can "take the play" to her mom. The book ends with the play being performed at their home.
15. Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill; Pictures by Decie Merwin; Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Company, l947
It's January and everyone in the family, except Mother and Bonnie (she's 4 in this book) is out on the ice, skating. Emmy, the favorite sister of B., is 8; Chris is 10; Althy is 12 and Debby is 6. Mother does let B. go. The challenge is that B. gets to the ice, she doesn't know how to skate. Everyone in the family goes by her, until Father takes B. on a chair. B. is having fun until she realizes that only "little" girls would need the chair.
Adventure 2 centers around hats. Debby and Emmy get hats--straw hats-- and B. wants one so badly. Instead Mother makes her a sunbonnet of pink gingham. Debby gets upset when B. tries on D.'s hat. But on the day when Aunt Cassie sends for B., D., and E. and they ride with Father on Mag, the straw hats get in the way; plus eventually both hats fall in the water. B.'s sunbonnet stays on her head. Father isn't pleased with the "feuding" over the hats.
Adventure 3 centers around arrowheads. Father finds a special one which he'll award to the one most brave and wise. Debby first has a time to be brave; she gets the cow riled and has to be calm enough to feed hay to the cow to soothe it and then Debby can get away. Chris is the next to be brave. He goes on an errand to the Wattersons; comes back when it's really dark; he's racing through the woods in panic till he realizes it's his chance to "be brave." Emmy and Debby are next--Emmy is jumping over an old wooden box, falls, and Mother needs to treat the cut with turpentine. Emmy cries and screams until she realizes this is her chance to be brave.
Althy's shot at bravery happens when Althy and Bonnie go to get the cow. They encounter a rattlesnake, which A. sees and around which she carefully guides B. Althy is awarded the arrowhead particularly because she is wise and brave; Chris decides to give one to B. since she too was brave.
Bonnie gets her red toboggan hat knitted by her mom. On her way with all her siblings across the mt. to see the Watterson children, Bonnie decides she will go "the steep way" alone. The rest all go the other way and expect to meet Bonnie at the bottom. When C., E. and D. are at the Wattersons', they discover B. is not there. Father and Mr. W. are there with a load of wood on the wagon. Soon they hear a crying coming from the mt.; it turns out to be B. who has lost her red toboggan hat. It has been "grabbed" by a limb--B. realizes that just having a red toboggan cap like Debby won't make B. feel as old (6) as D.
The journey is the next thing B. concentrates on--though she doesn't really know what a journey is. B. is given a handkerchief with Little Red Riding Hood pictured on it--as L.R.R.H. is going to see her grandmother--Bonnie says she'll save the handkerchief for when she is on a journey. (Her gift is just one of the many that each family member is given from Father. One morning in December, Father asks B. if she would like to go to school with her siblings. Mother quickly cleans B. up specially and they dress her warmly for the journey to school. B. decides to take her handkerchief since she believes this trip is a journey. B.'s first concern is the footbridge over the river that they all have to cross to get to school; there's also a ramp to get to the footbridge; then there's a downhill ramp from the other end of the footbridge. Though all of B.'s siblings and their friends go over the bridge effortlessly, she is slow and cautious. B. wonders about the return trip over the bridge etc. all of the time she is at school. Bonnie asks if she can learn the word c-a-t. B. learns the word and spends the rest of the time writing on the board--writing c-a-t. B. decides now that she can read, she is grown up and doesn't need to be afraid of the bridge or the ramps nor does she have to hold Father's hand. Also on the return, she finds her first arrowhead--it, according to Chris, is the most ordinary kind. Yet D. reminds him that that is the hardest kind to locate. B.'s handkerchief has been all wadded from her fears in crossing the river; she decides she will save it to remember "when I was little."
16. Tree of Freedom by Rebecca Caudill; Illustrated by Dorothy Bayley Morse; New York: The Viking Press, l956
Stephanie Venable, Steffy who is 13, is the heroine. Her father, Jonathan, is a man seemingly driven to find and establish himself in rich Kentucky farmland. The time is l780; the Am. Revolution has not been going well and many are disillusioned by the efforts of Washington, George Rogers Clark, and Francis Marion. The family is going to leave NC; Cassie is 3; Willie is next in age to Cassie; Rob is 10; Noel is the son least understood by Jonathan. He is most connected to his family's French heritage, which his father doesn't seem to want to own. Bertha is the mother; she's the person of French ancestry (de Monchards--people Jonathan does not understand) and knows how to read in French. The family is headed for Harrod's Fort, KY. Father isn't really allowing the children to take anything meaningful to them--like the kitten Willie wants, the butterflies Rob wants nor the mirror that Steffy wants--though he has said they can each take one solitary thing. Noel is going to take his dulcimer on his back (his father talks about N.'s queer "Tidewater"notions. Steffy takes a seed for an apple tree so she can carry on the tradition of her mother's tree which had grown from a seed B. had brought from her mother's tree in Charleston.
Day after day the family plods westward over the Appalachians and all for over a month. When J. had come home from a sojourn in the Kentucky wilderness with a treasury warrant signed by Gov. Thomas Jefferson's KY land commissioners guaranteeing him 400 acres of land (on which he'd planted corn) the tensions between him and Noel had peaked. Bertha had asked that during the winter before they moved, N. could go and spend the winter with Uncle Lucien in Charleston. J. didn't want N. going; J. saw no reason for N. to be learning to read. Charleston was the hub in the South of the Rev. War. When N. is with U. L., N. learns about the ideals of freedom and the desire for people to live in a democracy, not ruled by kings or aristocracy. Once in early April, N. had tried to run off and join the patriots; his father whipped him soundly after catching him; N. was told the rifle was going to the KY wilderness. After all this, Noel had clammed up inside and refused to share anything with his father.
Jonathan's parents had died before he was 10; he was taken in by folks in Maryland and hadn't wanted to be there. He ran away--went all the way to NC, and was on his own ever since that time. His first job was digging 'taters for his future father-in-law, Linney, who was a Quaker. He tells all this to answer Steffy's questions as they await the rest of the family so they can view KY from the hill just over the border. Harrod's Fort seems to impress everyone. The fort is crowded with lots of land-crazy families, but the Venables stay the night. J. gets to see the surveyor who will go with them the next day to their land. The surveyor's name is May; the deputy who helps him is Jim Douglas. May checks out Venable's land warrant attesting that V. had planted corn there in l778.
The greater number of people coming into KY were from MA, NY, PA, NJ who had traveled down the Ohio River. Vocabulary word: piggin
The deputy discusses lots of issues with J. as they travel out to the Venable land. The Virginia Land Law, passed by Tom Jefferson in l779, gave corn-patch claimants like J. a title to their land--also it brought money into VA, which was drained in trying to finance the Rev. War. The discussion also covers the topic of Continental currency which at this time was not worth much. The deputy also tells them about Old Tilly Balance, called "Lonesome Tilly" who lives out the same way as the Venable land claim. Rumors about Tilly say he's "hexed."
Two hrs. from the Fort, J. announces that this is their claim; it doesn't look inviting at all to Steffy; Mother says, "It's a mighty good place." Steffy thinks the de Monchard knack of making something out of nothing is prompting her mother's words. The work of chopping trees, weeds and sprouts is the major occupation of the family now. Later on their supper of broiled squirrels, Willie asks when they will be having bread; he's told the story of all that it will take for the corn to be planted, then processed, etc. for bread-making. For a full week, the family works at clearing trees etc. At the end of that week, J. sends S. and N. over to the Fort to check on the status of his deed. They get the word that the deed can't be obtained until December, and that means in the interim any rival parties who think they have access to the land, can claim it. The surveyor urges the young people to tell their father to plant--"the corn roots can outalk the royal claims mighty nigh every time" (80). The surveyor learns that Noel has learned to read; the surveyor suggests that a preacher coming to check on his land has books he can bring next time he comes--among these a Bible, George Fox's Journal, and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
While the Venables had been clearing etc. the animals they brought with them had had to forage on their own, were in the woods and of course, faced the possible animal attacks. Steffy plans to plant her tree and call it, "Tree of Freedom." The history of the de Monchard family is reviewed (87-90). They start on the cabin--but Bertha wants a number of special aspects--puncheon floor, a rock chimney etc. The children always have to go in pairs when they go into the wilderness; one day S. and W. are off looking for rocks for the chimney. Willie wants to go find some wintergreen and he goes off a ways alone; Willie calls her. She comes and finds he's spotted a duck with ducklings. While they are there, they see Lonesome Tilly. S. remembers that N. told her simply to be "natural like." Later when S. is down washing clothes in the river, W. tells her the chickens have scratched up her seed. S. actually opens the chicken's craw and takes out what's inside and finds the seed. Then she has to sew up the chicken's neck again. Then S. plants her seed again.
Shorter after this another stranger appears--Adam Frohawk, a swindler, who claims a British man named Garret Bedingers who's in the West Indies has the right to this land. Though Frohawk doesn't have a deed to prove this--all he had is a tattered parchment. Noel reads it--at this point, J. is glad that N. can read. Right after Frohawk leaves, Tilly appears and brings a basket of wild strawberries. Bertha reasons that no one will really argue with planted crops and all kinds of other improvements -- she urges J. to keep at things.
Another family, the Pigots, arrive just at the time the Venables want to do a house-warming. Jason, Mr. Pigot, is "down" on the patriots; he has news of the war, signaling that Charleston is in a bad way. S. knows that Noel wants to go and help in the fighting; she's determined to help him go. Then next day J. wants N. to go to the Fort to check for salt; S. works a way to get to go along. There is no salt at the Fort, but there is plenty of war news. A gentleman has news that Charleston fell to the British on May 12. While S. and N. are away, Lonesome Tilly brings W. a baby raccoon. The Pigots go off to their claim; Jonathan goes to the Fort for news of Frohawk/Bedinger. The older boys and S. shear sheep. They discover the cow is missing and that is problematic since they rely on the cow for the source of milk and butter. N. and S. go searching for the cow; S. worries as it gets increasingly darker. They hear pipe music; then they see something in the bushes--it turns out to be the cow. The piper turns out to be Lonesome Tilly who is frightened away when he hears N. and S.--Noel wants to go see him; S. reminds N. they have no gift to bring Lonesome T. J. returns from the Fort without salt, but with a "commission" from Colonel Bowman to go to the Governor; he'll be paid $400. and then can use the money for a new land claim if needed. He can't reveal the nature of the business he has with Governor Jefferson. J. leaves sunup the next day for the Fort, then he'll go on to Williamsburg. Bertha keeps the family extra busy while J. is away; they build the chimney; next they lug logs for the spring house; the next project is a hominy block, finally an ash hopper. At the end of June, Mother sends S. and N. with a basket of service berries, to the Fort for salt. They meet a man in the woods who tells of the Indian attacks; he wonders if anyone had come to warn the Venables--no one has. The Fort is filled with rumors; near the schoolhouse, Colonel Clark (George Rogers) is talking, trying to recruit, chastising those who are "land-grabbing" rather than fighting for freedom. Noel joins Clark; S. goes home alone. S. explains to her mother where Noel's gone. Noel's taken the rifle so now there's nothing to use for hunting. S. suggests they bring all the tools into the house (the ax etc.) to use for protection. The evening brings a violent storm. Days pass before the Venables feel safe enough to talk in natural voices. Rob and S. eventually have to go into the woods to find roots to dye the wool Mother has spun.
June fades into July and still neither J. nor N. have returned. Stephanie decides they will girdle more trees--prepare for clearing. In the evenings she plays the dulcimer--needing some "noise" around. The family eats the first beans--but S. decides they should share with Lonesome T. The whole family goes to T.'s place. L. T. gives the family huckleberries. He still doesn't speak.
That evening the Pigots come; they've been frightened by the stories/report of fire from Indian attacks. B. to encourage Prissie Pigot has her begin to knit socks they can give to Lonesome T. Jason P. sets out for the Fort next day; he doesn't really get news of the Indians. He got a little pistol--same notion as a flint lock rifle. Jason has some bleak reports about Clark and Noel; he does have a book though--later S. finds out it's Pilgrim's Progress (the preacher via the surveyor sent it). S. decides they need to chink the cabin. Jason helps them. The Pigots leave the next day though, and S. went back to working with the trees. S. decides she wants to learn to read; Mother teaches her the ABC's. Jason Pigot comes in a week later--Prissie P. is about to deliver. Mother takes Cassie with her. Rob is off fishing; only Willie and S. are "home" when Frohawk arrives again--he has found out that J. is gone and so is N. S. sends W. to try to find R.--no luck; next she sends him to L. Tilly's. Tilly brings a copperhead snake; F. tries to shoot, S. blocks the shot; and Rob appears with the pistol. He tells Fro. that he (R.) is in charge. With gun at F.'s back, R. leads him to the Fort. They're enroute to the Fort when their father and a group of settlers appear. Steve Whatcoat, one of the group, has word about Clark's success and the men returning. He also is willing to teach S. to read. When explaining the Fro. thing to their mom, S. realizes the bullet has grazed the tree of freedom; she's reassured that it will grow. She also has to tell her father about Noel.
The six families are all eager to build their cabins; all work together. Noel returns; he's also been to Williamsburg, read the Land Law; knows that Bediger has not claim. All ends well.
17. Barrie and Daughter Rebecca Caudill; illustrated by Berkeley Williams Jr. NY: The Viking Press, l943.
The Poor Fork River in southwestern KY was useful in many ways to people living along it up through the early l900’s. Peter Barrie, in the early l900’s, built a little white house on the west bank, with his wife, Blanche and 4 children: Fern is 16, Tom is 15, Jeffie and Letty (5) are much younger. The Scollards, Matt and his wife; later John comes, are neighbors and they run a general store. Peter decides he must open a store to provide honest dealing for the people of the area. Though he is Democrat in this fiercely Republican area, and this is an election year (plus the elections have frequently been violent--it’s in the time period when only white male land owners could vote) so his wife is worried about what might happen. Peter says, “victory then, as always, belongs to the stout of heart” (15).
Fern is a daughter with imagination, vision, sense of beauty. She wants to work the store with her father. He says he’ll manage Blanche who has repeatedly told Fern she must learn how to handle the housework or be a schoolteacher--these are the options for women. Peter was 20 and Blanche 18 when they married. Blanche is one who wants to “drive ahead without resting or dreaming” (22)--Letty is the only child like her mom. Tom, the 15 yr. old, is an artist. Early in the story he shares with Fern a newspaper announcement about an artist, Herbert Smith, coming to Harlan, KY, for the summer and wanting two assistants. Young artists are to submit drawings to Mr. S. can select two. (Tom has been named for Thomas Paine--Peter liked the founding fathers’ ideals of democracy; and Jeffie --since they couldn’t have 2 Thomases in the family--is named for Thomas Jefferson.)
John Scollard controls his brother Matt, and can convince him to be out to make money, not serve the needs of the people. Peter Barrie’s philosophy is “ a good store offers things that will make people’s lives better rather than merely fulfilling needs” (44). The Scollards have only been taking produce to Stonega to trade for merchandise. Peter’s idea is to take handiwork, quilts, other handmade items to Stonega. The smoke house becomes the Barrie and Daughter store--till one can get built. Blanche agrees that Fern can work with her dad for one month; then whatever Blanche decides, Fern must accept. This is the bargain. (Check p. 76 for a great quote on words).
When Peter tells the family at breakfast, all are eager to help. There is much to clear and clean out of the smokehouse. Ma stays at her work in the house. Next day Peter sets out to Stonega for supplies. Blanche says she’d as soon one of her children grew up dishonest rather than they not be educated (94). Among the activities the family works on while Pa is away is wallpapering with newspapers and magazines.
Clint Stacey, 2 yrs. older than Fern; he’s always been willing to share his dreams and hopes with her. His dad runs a mill, does the grinding of corn. When Fern goes over to the Staceys, Clint talks about the opposition there could be to the Barries’ store, simply from the political standpoint. F. hears her father’s words, “We won’t run from knives. There are some things a knife can’t cut” (105). C. says “politics in these mountains is stronger than any passel of facts you can quote to people” (112).
Fern awaits her father’s return with fear. The Scollards returned the day before; Pa reveals the Scollards has tried to talk the wholesale dealer from selling anything to Pa. Sunday the family observes the day of rest. The major unpacking starts on Monday. On Sunday Pa walks the farm, listening; “Listening is a source of wisdom” (124)
Clint shares with F. his dream of becoming a doctor and being able to save people and know why there are illnesses. He will need to go away to Pineville to study with Dr. Brundage. Tom realizes the paper, that is announcing the artist’s coming, is gone. (Actually Ma has taken it and will eventually takes samples of Tom’s work to Harlan for the artist to see. Ma wants it kept secret till Tom’s b’day). On Monday the store is put in order and that night Pa teaches F. to do the accounting. F. will keep careful record of all transactions. Uslie Ratliff is the first customer; she is a quiltmaker and F. tells her about the plan to sell quilts. Sat. people do come--it’s a good day. The days are passing and Ma hasn’t given any indication of her feelings about F.’s work.
The Scollard brothers announce a big sale--one that could ruin the Barries. In this time of mini-crisis, Ma says Fern can continue storekeeping; “not to kow-tow to the Scollards.” Fern gets the idea of having the women/girls buy material and make dresses for the Box Supper--Ma will help them sew and design. Everyone who comes in to get material, eventually buys other items from the store/ the Barries win this “first round.”
At the Box Supper, each young woman’s box is bid on. Then the young woman is to dance etc. with the guy who “bought her.” John Scollard outbids Clint, who is horribly embarrassed and leaves.
In July, school starts; the schoolteacher, George Wooten, boards at the Barries. He is the kind of teachers who uses life and nature to teach as well as books. George is Republican though he respects the Barries who are Democrats. George lives in the parlor at the Barries. He gets the idea that they should have an exhibit of quilts, crafts, student recitations, etc. Fern is to persuade everyone in the area to exhibit things that Peter can eventually sell in Stonega. Abbie Chasteen helps F. “advertise.” F. decides she will try to do a quilt; she will use a rose of Sharon pattern, like her dress had been.
As the election nears, tensions grow. Peter also struggles since the Demo. candidate has done somethings which are dishonest. At the Exhibition/Fair, John Scollard disrupts things, and convinces many people to let him take things to sell.
Blanche goes to Harlan on a “mission” no one (except Peter) knows about.
Will Boggs urges Peter to get a gun; “An honest education’s the only defense a democracy needs or can rightfully use, for that matter” (246). Tom can’t find the picture he painted of Fern in her dress for the Box Supper (later it’s revealed Mom took it.)
Peter sets out with things to sell; next day the Scollards set out, “they have things to say to Peter.” Minty Scollard (Matt’s wife) comes in the middle of the night to get Blanche and Fern. Little Matt is ill with croup. F. is sent for the doctor; she needs to ride astride a horse that is only an untamed colt, not used to any rider. She realizes she needs to dress in Matt’s clothes--which she does. The route takes her across (and back) a rising river; she must do everything she can to convince the horse to go on this cold, wet ride. She manages to get the doctor and he is able to save the little boy. Minty promises she’ll do all she can to protect the Barries on election day. Matt also comes on election day to protect Peter in “payment” for F. helping get the dr. John S. threatens to kill Peter if he votes. George cancels school on election day.
F. heard her mom and dad talking about the painting and Tom’s future.
On election day, Fern is in the smokehouse alone, unpacking items. She discovers the beautiful velvet that her father brought to make a dress for F. She realizes too, that she loves Clint. Among the things he has done are to walk all night from Pineville to be with her dad during the election. John Scollard shows up; he is thoroughly drunk and confronts F. who attempts to ward him off by her calm. She knows if she screams, her mom and Tom could be endangered since J. has a gun. Just when F. is in greatest danger, Minty Scollard appears and shoots J. -- he isn’t killed. John is taken into the Barries--though Ma doesn’t want him in her parlor; John is put in Tom’s bed. After the election, Clint and the others stay to hear the story of how Fern is nearly killed.
John eventually goes back to his own place and the business of horse trading. Matt buys J’s part of the store. Matt tells Peter they should go into business together. Peter is only too happy to go back to farming/Fern will work with Matt though.