These two books describe the authors' experiences as kids growing up on Iowa farms in two different eras. Mildred Kalish lived near Garrison in Benton County during the late 1920's and the 1030's. Carol Bodensteiner lived on a dairy farm near Spragueville (east of Maquoketa) in Jackson County during the 1950's.
The contrast was great. Mildred's family had no running water or electricity and traveled very few miles. Carol's family had a TV, a freezer, a car, and milking machines.
What impressed me about both lives was the incredible amount of work farm women did routinely: rising early to help milk 50 cows, cooking enormous quantities of food daily; raising, processing, and preserving most of the family's food; and sewing the family's clothes. In the farming neighborhood I grew up in, if a woman couldn't do all those things and keep a half-way decent house, she was considered shiftless!
Even ten-year-old girls took pride in preparing complete breakfasts, pancakes and all, just when morning chores were finished. And the necessary work all ages of children did that was fun and was valued.
In spite of hard work, both girls and siblings had a lot of fun: some scary moments, and some hilarious episodes. Both attended one-room rural elementary schools.
Each writer has a distinct voice and approach to her memoir: Carol is very much dialogue and present-action oriented. Mildred reminisces more and sees her family in perspective. Both absorbed the Mid-Western work ethic that netted them great results as adults. I loved each one for its individuality.
What I missed most in both books was a description of the the impact of WW II on farm family's lives, which is what I remember most vividly as a kid. Mildred was old enough by the time the war started to enlist in the WAVES. Carol's parents were married in 1942 and her father was in military service, but that was never mentioned. And of course Carol was born much later. I guess the book about farm life during WW II has yet to be written, unless someone can point us to such a book!