Children Of The West
As a discerning and patient bibliophile, I love yard sales and
other places where gems are priced the same as run of the mill bodice
rippers. I live for library book sales with uniform prices. Often
the last hour of the sale, not wanting to have to deal with too many
unsold volumes, they lower prices even more. Recently I acquired a
$50 history of baseball and two $30 recent Stephen King hardcovers in
a $1 bag. Another treasure in my library, bought on the cheap, is
Cathy Luchetti's Children Of The West: Family Life On The Frontier.
It's everything you could possibly want to know about childhood and
family life in a fascinating part of our country's history.
In the nineteenth century desire to own one's own land, the
prevelant belief in manifest destiny, and the discovery of California
gold spurred many families to sell all but necessities and sentimental
treasures and head out (often quite poorly prepared) west in prairie
schooners. Prolifically procreating parents insured that many of the
travellers were children, leaving homes, schools, communities, friends
and relatives they might never see again for an unknown future in an
act of family faith. A few infants were born en route. (Moms, can
you imagine giving birth sans medical assistance in a covered wagon
and resuming the jolting journey right away?)
A lot of those kids had to grow up pretty darn fast. The route
was populated by Native Americans, not all of whom were eager to have
the whites take over their territory and destroy their way of life,
and very hungry predators. Some aspects of the journey itself like
river crossings were hazardous. And hunger and disease took a very
Those who arrived at their destinations were not out of the
woods. Varmints like poisonous snakes slithered through the untamed
territories. Crops failed. During sudden hitting blizzards a walk
from house to barn could leave one lost and frozen to death. In the
face of injury and illness parents had to muddle by without doctors,
often relying on herbs and other folk remedies.
They were, however, children, eager and able to find amusement
and joy wherever they could.
This narrative gives a wonderfully detailed picture of their
growing up years in a very unique place and time. This is a great
read for history buffs and women's studies scholars.
On a personal note, nearly all the gifts and cards I've been giving
out have been home made: mostly scarves and stress pillows. I wrote
one friend a poem. People love them. You don't have to shell out big
bucks to spread holiday joy.
A great big shout out goes out to my loved ones--my family and friends.
Sent from my iPod