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Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits…
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Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the… (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

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7803211,816 (3.67)52
Member:kmaziarz
Title:Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
Authors:Mildred Armstrong Kalish
Info:Bantam (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Non-Fiction, Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:memoir, farm, rural, farming life, great depression, rural life, farming, nonfiction

Work details

Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (2007)

  1. 00
    Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: Right, so the story Blood, Bones & Butter took a hard left turn to big city living after childhood but the writing style was as honest and uncompromising and as full of food as Little Heathens.
  2. 00
    A Life of Her Own: The Transformation of a Countrywoman in Twentieth-Century France by Émilie Carles (Stbalbach)
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» See also 52 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
This book was semi-interesting. It's technically an adult non-fiction book, but I found it on a list of adult books for teens. I'm always interested in true stories about people overcoming adversity, but the problem with this one was that there wasn't much adversity. I picked it up expecting something totally different. Yes, this woman's childhood took place during the Great Depression, but her family was relatively wealthy and self-sufficient. Also, the writing was not great. ( )
  TheMadHatters | Feb 24, 2014 |
The author doesn't hold anything back in this description of Iowa farm life in the 20's. ( )
  Jillian_Kay | Jan 8, 2014 |
Charming memoir of a hardscrabble girlhood in Iowa during the Great Depression. Pure, clear and delightful. Recommended. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
This reminded me of the books I am reading by Alice Taylor about her childhood in rural Ireland. I wish there were more books like this about how things were done before the advent of so much machinery, industrialism, and big agri-business. The author doesn't gloss over how hard things were, though, and make things sound like everything was perfect - there are definitely areas that needed machinery to help ease the farmers' burden of work. Also, from my point of view having some machinery involved released the pressure to have lots of children to help work the farm. But, the chapters about the different ways things were saved and reused, working in connection with nature to plant and harvest, those contained knowledge that should be disseminated in agriculture classes, if only to see the differences now and then. ( )
2 vote sriemann | Mar 30, 2013 |
My mom grew up on a farm in Minnesota during the depression. I heard a lot of stories from her about family and working on the farm.

I thought it would be fun to read a story about someone else who grew up on a Midwest farm during the depression. Little Heathens is a lot like my mom talking - a bunch of reminiscences strung together, but no real story line.

I'm not saying it's not good, because the writing is perfectly sweet, the stories are completely charming and the characters are well drawn. It's just that this was too much like listening to my mom. I kept waiting for Armstrong-Kalish to throw in an aside about my weight, or how I could keep my ceiling fan cleaner. I had to put it aside because I just couldn't stand the nagging between the lines. ( )
  periwinklejane | Mar 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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This book is for my three families -- To my birth family, who share the everlasting bonds of kinship. To my husband's warm and loving family, who welcomed me to their bosom in total acceptance from the day I walked into their lives over sixty-two years ago. And finally, to my immediate family, who give my life meaning.
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This is the story of a time, and a place, and a family.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553384244, Paperback)

I tell of a time, a place, and a way of life long gone. For many years I have had the urge to describe that treasure trove, lest it vanish forever. So, partly in response to the basic human instinct to share feelings and experiences, and partly for the sheer joy and excitement of it all, I report on my early life. It was quite a romp.

So begins Mildred Kalish’s story of growing up on her grandparents’ Iowa farm during the depths of the Great Depression. With her father banished from the household for mysterious transgressions, five-year-old Mildred and her family could easily have been overwhelmed by the challenge of simply trying to survive. This, however, is not a tale of suffering.

Kalish counts herself among the lucky of that era. She had caring grandparents who possessed—and valiantly tried to impose—all the pioneer virtues of their forebears, teachers who inspired and befriended her, and a barnyard full of animals ready to be tamed and loved. She and her siblings and their cousins from the farm across the way played as hard as they worked, running barefoot through the fields, as free and wild as they dared.

Filled with recipes and how-tos for everything from catching and skinning a rabbit to preparing homemade skin and hair beautifiers, apple cream pie, and the world’s best head cheese (start by scrubbing the head of the pig until it is pink and clean), Little Heathens portrays a world of hardship and hard work tempered by simple rewards. There was the unsurpassed flavor of tender new dandelion greens harvested as soon as the snow melted; the taste of crystal clear marble-sized balls of honey robbed from a bumblebee nest; the sweet smell from the body of a lamb sleeping on sun-warmed grass; and the magical quality of oat shocking under the light of a full harvest moon.

Little Heathens offers a loving but realistic portrait of a “hearty-handshake Methodist” family that gave its members a remarkable legacy of kinship, kindness, and remembered pleasures. Recounted in a luminous narrative filled with tenderness and humor, Kalish’s memoir of her childhood shows how the right stuff can make even the bleakest of times seem like “quite a romp.”


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A memoir from a schoolteacher of growing up in the heart of the Midwest during the Great Depression describes life on an Iowa farm during a time of endless work, resourcefulness, no tolerance for idleness or waste, family, and kinship.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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