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Next in my current series called TWELVE CLASSIC BOOKS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR HOME SCHOOL LIBRARY. Here is my pick for March:

Title:              Hoggee
Author:          Anna Myers; author of other YA titles.
Genre:            Historical Fiction/ life along the Erie Canal.
Setting:          Erie Canal, State of New York

Timeline:       1830s

About:           Hoggee (2004) was written by Oklahoma author Anna Myers. I was doing some research on the Erie Canal when I came across this gem. The term “hoggee” refers to boys who were hired to “man” the draft animals (mules) that towed the boats along the 363 miles of Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo. Not protected by adequate child labor laws, these fellows were treated rather roughly, often alone and miserable, fending for themselves for food and lodging. This story concentrates on one boy and the circumstances of his life as a hoggee.

“Howard Gardner is starving to death. All spring and summer, Howard and his older, more charming brother Jack worked as hoggees, driving the mules that pulled boats along the Erie Canal. In a misguided attempt to outshine his brother, Howard chooses to stay behind in Birchport for the winter to save his traveling money and send it home to his family. After his winter job falls through, Howard fears that he might not survive the winter.”—AMAZON

I found it charming, tender and very informative. Here is another historical book illustrating that in our present time, we may be a bit softer and less hardy than were our ancestors.

This book may be generally out of print but the last I checked, copies were available from other sellers on Amazon and EBay.

Also, for those of you who get these posts by email, please visit my website for previous articles and to take a peek at the books I have written. Keep checking back. My plan is to publish at least three more books by the end of this year.  Thanks.
(http://www.firstschoolpress.com)

–MLJANNA MYERS BLOG SERIES

I have a new series called TWELVE CLASSIC BOOKS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR HOME SCHOOL LIBRARY. Here is February’s classic pick:

Title:               A Girl of the Limberlost
Author:           Geneva Grace Stratton-Porter (1863-1924)
Genre:             Autobiographical Fiction; rural life in northeastern Indiana
Setting:           Limberlost Swamp near Geneva, Indiana, the author’s home
Timeline:        Early 1900s

About:            A Girl of the Limberlost (1909) was written by popular Indiana author, photographer and naturalist, Gene Stratton-Porter. This author and her works are most often associated with the one-time great Limberlost Swamp (13, 000 acres) near Geneva, Indiana by the Ohio border. AGOTL uses the Limberlost and the fictional town of Onabasha as its setting.
The primary character is Elnora Comstock, a young girl of high school age who lives with her mother near the swamp in poverty. Her mother treats Elnora abominably and blames her for the death of her husband, Elnora’s father. Due to the kindness of others, however, Elnora does “come of age” and eventually reconciles with her mother.
I have referred to the book as autobiographical fiction because of Stratton-Porter’s intense love of the Limberlost Swamp where she spent a great deal of her time exploring. Also, Stratton-Porter cleverly injects herself into the story as the character of  “the bird women.”
Other recommended reading:  A Girl of the Limberlost is the sequel to Stratton-Porter’s book Freckles (1904).

Visit the Limberlost State Historic Site in Geneva, Indiana. Although the great Limberlost Swamp is gone, parts of it have been restored and can be visited: https://www.indianamuseum.org/limberlost-state-historic-site

Also, for those of you who get these posts by email, please visit my website for previous articles and to take a peek at the books I have written. Thanks.  MLJ
(http://www.firstschoolpress.com)

GENE STRATTON FOR WORDPRESS ARTICLE JPEG 3

LITTLE FOXES

Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender
grapes.        
Song of Solomon  2:15

We often say “it’s the little foxes that spoil the grapes!” Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived apart from the Lord Jesus, penned this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It can be used to illustrate that it’s not the big things in our lives that destroy us but the little things. It’s the little flaws in our character that are allowed to come in under the radar unnoticed, that develop into monsters that gobble us up in the end.

Although most things are not fatal, they do leave scars that preclude us from accomplishing great things. Everyone of us has them. Procrastination is the flea that bites and bites, wasting time and resources, causing us to settle for ten acres of corn when we could have harvested one hundred. Idle words that hurt and hinder, always seeming to get back to the person we were talking about. We fail to take the wisdom, gifts and resources that God has given us. Waste! Time wasted, resources wasted and words wasted!

The little foxes rarely clean out your vineyard overnight; they do it little by little, over the course of a lifetime. You will drink no wine from your vineyard if you do not shoo out the little foxes and repair the breach in the fence that allowed them to sneak in!  MLJ

Keeping my promise to you, I am beginning a new series called TWELVE CLASSIC BOOKS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR HOME SCHOOL LIBRARY. Here is January’s classic pick:

Title:               The Long Winter
Author:           Laura Ingalls Wilder
Genre:             Historical Fiction; semi-autobiographical
Setting:           De Smet, Dakota Territory (S. Dakota)
Timeline:        Winter of 1880-81

About:            The Long Winter is book six in the Little House Series depicting pioneer life in Dakota Territory, specifically, the struggles and survival during the famous blizzard of 1880-81. Historically known as The Snow Winter, the story is seen through the eyes of Laura as a thirteen year-old girl, and records her remembrances written down many years later by herself as a mature author and women in her sixties. Although Laura wrote this book as historical fiction, most of the events, locations, and people are real. The story centers around the life of her pioneer family in keeping with the general theme of the other Little House books.
Interestingly, the Ingalls family had boarders living with them in their drafty, uninsulated storefront in De Smet during the hard winter, adding another dimension of drama and complexity to the story. However, you will not read about this in The Long Winter because Laura saw fit to sidestep the unsavory details that might have seemed too “adult” and inappropriate for schoolchildren.
The Long Winter doesn’t seek to soften the hardships of that time and is pretty straightforward, confirming the shear character and spine needed for survival in those days. How different we are, indeed, from our pioneer ancestors.
A good follow-up for high school students would be The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin, Harper Perennial, 2004, which deals with the equally famous blizzard of 1888. This book does mention Laura’s blizzard and will give you an idea of how severe it really was.  MLJ

jpeg long winter childrens blizzard

(A Short Story from the Old West)
© 2018 Michael Leonard Jewell

PART VIII OF VIII

Timing was now essential. The pots of baking beans, now bubbling thick with molasses and strips of salt pork, had been cooking for hours but the sourdough biscuits had to have time to rise, to be baked at the last minute so they would be fresh, hot and good.
Hidden in secret under the cover of several empty flour sacks were apple strudels and peach cobblers that Hans had made from Mr. Swinson’s offering of dried fruit, to be a grand surprise for the men at their Christmas dinner.
Later that evening, cowboys not on their watches gathered around the blazing fire near the chuck wagon. How their eyes bugged out and their mouths watered to see the four large turkeys roasting golden brown over the fire, their fat falling in sizzling drops upon the hot glowing coals. The old trail boss stood before them, holding up his hand to get the attention of his men.
“Boys, I’m sorry I couldn’t get you home for Christmas this year to be with your folks; it couldn’t be helped. But is it not Christmas wherever you are?” Then Mr. Swinson and his men removed their hats as he began to pray and ask the blessing:

  Lord, It’s Christmas here again. You know that my boys and I would rather be at home with our folks but that’s not possible. I want to thank You for what we’ve got and what You’ve given us. Thank You for the Gift of Your dear Son. We’ll be thinkin’ ‘bout Him tonight ‘special. Now, let us enjoy each other’s company, just as if we were home with our families.  Amen.

As Hans and Juan carved the turkeys and dished up each man’s plate, the men noticed that on the top of the chuck wagon was a small pine tree thoughtfully brought back with the turkeys by Juan and the cowboy. Hans had cut thin strips of tin foil into long streamers and tied them to the branches. It made a fine display, reflecting the glow of the fire and the lamp light.
Then the homesick cowboys, finishing their plates of food and dessert, made haste to relieve their partners so they could take their turns partaking of the wonderful feast.
Hans approached Mr. Swinson who was leaning against the corner of the chuck wagon, staring into the fire. Handing him a bowl and spoon, he said, “Here Boss, God Jul from the old country.”1
Swinson took the bowl from Hans and smiled, “What is this?”
Hans grinned, pressing his lips together. “I didn’t want you to miss out on your Risgryngröt. Sorry I didn’t have any almonds.”
Swinson took a taste of the rice porridge, a Swedish Christmas tradition meant to be served with a hidden almond inside that assured the finder of marriage during the following year. The hard old trail boss choked back emotion. “God Jul, my dear old friend!” he said, shaking his hand. Nothing more needed to be said.
As the evening began to wear on, several of the men gathered around the fire, one with his harmonica, and began to sing good and loud so the cowboys watching over the cattle could hear:

There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

As the melody sweetened and warmed the chilly night air, several of the cowboys slipped away to retire to their bedrolls under the toasty warm tarpaulin, knowing that soon it would be their turn to stand watch over the herd.
Home seemed like a dream and so far away, but maybe next Christmas would find them all there.

THE END
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 1 God Jul, is Merry Christmas! in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

 

This Sunday, December 23rd, I will post the final episode of the eight-part Christmas short story, IS IT NOT CHRISTMAS WHEREVER YOU ARE?
Starting in January, I plan to post from a series called TWELVE CLASSIC BOOKS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR HOME SCHOOL LIBRARY.  Again, if you would like these blog posts sent directly to your email, follow me at FIRST SCHOOL PRESS.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!