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Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression

by

Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression Cover

ISBN13: 9780553384246
ISBN10: 0553384244
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

Those of us who feel like we're "just getting by" will be both humbled and inspired by Kalish's tales of life on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression. Her humorous and heart-warming depiction of a childhood spent working the land and, in doing so, unearthing life's simple pleasures during one of the bleakest periods in our nation's history, serves as a reminder that the best things in life are often free.
Recommended by Tove, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 Kalishs 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 worlds 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, Kalishs 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.

About the Author

Mildred Kalish is a retired professor of English who grew up in Garrison, Iowa, and taught at several colleges, including the University of Iowa, Adelphi University, and Suffolk Community College. She now lives with her husband in northern California.

From the Hardcover edition.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

tmpting, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by tmpting)
I loved this no-nonsense memoir, and I have multiple pages dog-earred so I can easily find the recipes the author was so kind to include. Reading this book felt like having tea with a friend of my grandmother.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
McGuffy Ann, September 18, 2011 (view all comments by McGuffy Ann)


This book honours a time, place and way of life that unfortunately is lost to most of us today. This book is a joy to read, allowing one to live vicariously the happy childhood that Ms. Kalish so joyously shares.


Family is the central focal point. It is, in fact the importance of family ties that drive the entire book. Each story stresses the bonds that hold family together through the thick and inevitable thin of farm life and the Great Depression.


It was the love and commitment of family that made each experience, each memory so ingrained and important to Mildred, as a child and sustained her throughout her life.


It is both a pleasure and a privilege to read this book. While not an easy life given the hardship of the times, it was a beautiful life. That Ms. Kalish immortalizes this time and life makes it all the more special. The way of life, the innocence and true simple pleasures may be gone. But thanks to Mildred Armstrong Kalish they will remain in hearts and minds. The spirit remains in this beautiful memoir.

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Grandma L, January 3, 2011 (view all comments by Grandma L)
I enjoyed reading this delightful recounting of life as a child on an Iowan farm during the 1930's, as it probably reflected the life of my parents in Montana. The author's well described events made me see how life then shaped my inherited values received from my parents. All the respect for hard work and independent ways of being self sufficient is surely being lost over time, as we now tend to be so over-protective and pre-occupied with guideing childhood and giving what we think our kids need, rather then letting them be children who learn about hard work and the effect of consequences. This would be a great read for families to read to kids. A new respect for great and grandparents might be a result, as they realize what things were common knowledge for their ancesters. They really did know some remarkable things and had skllls surpassing the ability to text and tweet!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780553384246
Author:
Kalish, Mildred Arms
Publisher:
Bantam
Author:
Kalish, Mildred
Author:
Kalish, Mildred Armstrong
Subject:
Childhood Memoir
Subject:
United States - 20th Century/Depression
Subject:
United States - State & Local - Midwest
Subject:
Kalish, Mildred Armstrong -
Subject:
Kalish, Mildred Armstrong - Family
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-Childhood Memoir
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20080431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.26x5.58x.56 in. .73 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Americana » Midwest
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » General
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » Profiles and Biographies

Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Bantam - English 9780553384246 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Those of us who feel like we're "just getting by" will be both humbled and inspired by Kalish's tales of life on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression. Her humorous and heart-warming depiction of a childhood spent working the land and, in doing so, unearthing life's simple pleasures during one of the bleakest periods in our nation's history, serves as a reminder that the best things in life are often free.

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