Sunday, October 2, 2011

Creating Beauty in the Frontier Home

Inside of a Nebraska sod house

I am always moved when I read about the efforts of women to make their frontier homes comfortable and beautiful--with barely any materials to do so. From this effort comes the American tradition of scrap quilting, for instance. Here, Mrs. Grace Snyder describes how, as a new wife, she worked to make her house livable for herself and her cowboy husband:

All the time I was growing up, on the homestead and the other places we had lived, Mama had "made do" with the little or nothing she had on hand to fix up her homes. Now I found I could do the same. We didn't have a table for the living room, so I made one by driving two old broomsticks into the sod wall and laying a wide board across them. I covered the shelf with a pretty scarf and put the parlor lamp and the Bible on it and set my rocking chair beside it. With old blankets for padding and one of my quilts for a cover, I turned the old wire cot into a decent front-room couch.

For a spare bed in the empty middle room, I propped an old bedspring from the Squaw Creek shack on canned goods boxes, and covered the bed and boxes with the pretty quilt I had made that long, lonesome winter at Aufdengartens (a family she worked for earlier). There wasn't a closet or a chest of drawers in teh whole big house, but I made out with stacks of boxes, covered with pretty calico curtains. And when I had hemmed and hung curtains at all the deep windows, the house looked really nice.

Birdcage outside of a sod home. Many frontier women, including Grace Snyder's mother, had canaries or other birds in cages inside or right outside the home.

1 comment:

Jodi said...

I love the things you write about, Linda.