April A to Z Challenge: Just How It Is

Welcome to the April A to Z Blogging Challenge! This year my contribution is the story of my great grandmother Alzina. She lived in the style of “Little House on the Prairie”and kept a record of her life through letters to family and her own journals. I find her story fascinating and intriguing. Each post will start (sometimes strangely) with a consecutive letter of the alphabet, just because they have to. My hope is that we can “catch” some of her courage to help us face challenges in our present times.

Just a short letter, just how it is – but what a picture of life in a hurry, from early Kansas history. And do not miss the remedy for dingy complexions at the end!

To Alzina from her mother Philena Pomeroy. Alzina is attending Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas and staying with her Uncle Pliny and Aunt Allie. It is a Tuesday morning…

“Dear Daughter,

I will send a word, for you are looking for a letter, I expect, but I am in such a hurry. I am letting everything go that I can, and trying to enjoy Uncle Wilbur’s visit. Went down to Uncle Ephraim’s Saturday after school. Yesterday, down to Mr. Child’s and spent the evening. Next Thursday Uncle Ephraim’s folks and Brother Stillwell’s are going to be here. This afternoon we have to butcher pork and beef and I have a pair of pants to make before Friday for Pa to wear. Not much leisure, have I?

I felt very sorry for Aunt Alice in her letter, having to be awake so much nights and work so hard days. I know just how it is, it seems as though I never could go through it again, up and down all night, but must be on hand early in the morning. Even what I have to do now (even though I don’t have to be up and down much) I think to be all I can do.

You must try to get up and start things for her . But, oh, how we did laugh at the idea of you laying abed till seven o’clock! I should have thought your nose would have been stopped up and turned up, too, and wonder your eyes didn’t run, too! How are people going to know that your father has had the name of being the earliest riser in Anderson county, if you do that way? No, Miss Sleepyhead, at the time you were tearing away at those braids, your younger sister, who has been washing since daylight, was serenely finishing her white clothes and calmly preparing for school. So you see, Indian Creek is ahead of Baldwin, yet. We have scarcely missed a day since school began of getting up at four. You see, whenever Phebe was a little slow or backward, I would make fun of her and say “Alzie is at Baldwin” and spur her on to do better, but now she only laughs and says, “yes, and lays abed till 7”. So, you see, I haven’t anything to say.

Now I would suggest as a remedy, that you regain your reputation, that you beg permission to sleep downstairs when Uncle Pliny is gone, that you set the alarm, if you have one, or get Aunt Allie to awake you at some certain hour, and that you get up and make a fire, and then dress and get thoroughly warm, then put on the potatoes and the tea kettle, (you needn’t put it onto the lounge just because your father did), then go and milk, thus giving Aunt Allie a little longer rest.

But there, I didn’t set down expecting to write a sensible letter. Pa prohibits you from writing nonsense, but he has laid no such restrictions on me . But burn this up before he comes, for he may demur at having to pay postage on such trash. I am glad you are having so good times. Laugh every time you have a good chance, be bright and jolly. Study hard, work faithfully.

I was glad you cleaned the stable for Aunt. I was afraid you didn’t think to offer to do it and Aunt maybe, hated to ask you to. Can’t you find time every day (after the dishes are washed) to do it? It don’t seem as though Aunt A. ought to have to. You try and get lessons and work in such shape that Aunt A. will have time to visit as well as you.

It may be a long time before we see Uncle again. Uncle and Pa planned to go on Friday and return Monday, both of them. I suppose you got those stockings. You wrote in such a hurry that you didn’t mention them. Can you wear them with your shoes without hurting your feet?

In haste, Mother.

P.S. Mrs. Childs gave me a recipe for dingy complexions. It is after washing your face. Take a little meal and rub your face, then wipe it off with a crash towel. If Mrs. Childs and Green can profit by it, you and I may. Of course, it won’t cure at once. “

Talk (write) to me.

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