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

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

ISBN13: 9780553804959
ISBN10: 0553804952
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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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 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."

Review:

"Full of country wisdom, home remedies and recipes for delicacies like wilted lettuce salad and apple cream pie....A delightful read." San Jose Mercury News

Review:

"Little Heathens is an enchanting but thoroughly unsentimental look at rural life in the Great Depression. In clear clean prose we are offered the grit, struggle, and also the joy of hard work on a farm. I cherish this book for its quite naked honesty and quiet lyricism about a time which makes our current problems nearly childish. This is a fine book." Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

Review:

"Now that cell phones are a way of life, you won't find a better way to participate in the Good Old Days. Whether you are of farm origins or not, Little Heathens is a bit of history begging to be borrowed. Like a neighborly cup of sugar, it will sweeten your modern-day life." MaryJane Butters, author of MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook for the Farmgirl In All Of Us

Review:

"Using this book alone, one could reconstruct, with glorious exactness, a lost time and place. Mildred Kalish has a novelist's eye for detail and a beautiful understanding of what the gestures of daily life mean. A lovely, wise, transporting memoir." Joan Silber, author of Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories

Review:

"Not only trustworthy and useful, but also polished by real, rare happiness. It is a very good book, indeed. In fact, it's a very very very good book." New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Unpretentious yet deeply intelligent...[Little Heathens] radiates the joy of a vanished way of life....In prose that never yields to mawkish sentimentality, Kalish details the roles of family, religion, thrift, and education in her upbringing." Booklist

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

alihay, March 8, 2008 (view all comments by alihay)
Quirky and endearing, Kalish's straightforward and unsentimental recount of her childhood in Iowa has lessons for anyone pining-even a little bit-for a less complicated time. Head cheese, anyone?
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(3 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780553804959
Author:
Kalish, Mildred Armstrong
Publisher:
Bantam Books
Author:
Kalish, Mildred
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Farm life
Subject:
United States - 20th Century/Depression
Subject:
Childhood Memoir
Subject:
United States - State & Local - Midwest
Subject:
Family
Subject:
Kalish, Mildred Armstrong -
Subject:
Kalish, Mildred Armstrong - Family
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-Childhood Memoir
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20070531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
20 PHOTOGRAPHS
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.42x5.80x.85 in. .94 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Americana » Midwest
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
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 Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Random House - English 9780553804959 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.

"Review" by , "Full of country wisdom, home remedies and recipes for delicacies like wilted lettuce salad and apple cream pie....A delightful read."
"Review" by , "Little Heathens is an enchanting but thoroughly unsentimental look at rural life in the Great Depression. In clear clean prose we are offered the grit, struggle, and also the joy of hard work on a farm. I cherish this book for its quite naked honesty and quiet lyricism about a time which makes our current problems nearly childish. This is a fine book."
"Review" by , "Now that cell phones are a way of life, you won't find a better way to participate in the Good Old Days. Whether you are of farm origins or not, Little Heathens is a bit of history begging to be borrowed. Like a neighborly cup of sugar, it will sweeten your modern-day life."
"Review" by , "Using this book alone, one could reconstruct, with glorious exactness, a lost time and place. Mildred Kalish has a novelist's eye for detail and a beautiful understanding of what the gestures of daily life mean. A lovely, wise, transporting memoir."
"Review" by , "Not only trustworthy and useful, but also polished by real, rare happiness. It is a very good book, indeed. In fact, it's a very very very good book."
"Review" by , "Unpretentious yet deeply intelligent...[Little Heathens] radiates the joy of a vanished way of life....In prose that never yields to mawkish sentimentality, Kalish details the roles of family, religion, thrift, and education in her upbringing."
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