Friday, September 9, 2011

Sod Houses

Yesterday I discussed the book, No Time on My Hands by Grace Snyder. There were questions in the comments section that I thought could best be answered in a new post.

The book is 541 pages long, which means that any review will just hit the high points. I love these types of books that tell us how people actually lived day-to-day in the past.

Yesterday Lisa commented:

That sounds like my kind of story. I love the kind of story that helps me see/feel how someone else lived, be it another time or another place.
I love that "overmuch weather". So funny. And I can NOT imagine making that quilt! Wow! That is amazing!

I also love the phrase "overmuch weather" and plan to use it to describe our overmuch snow.

Judy says:

I have this book and have seen Grace Snyders quilts in Lincoln Nebraska where they had been displayed. The quilts are amazing. I spent 2 hours in the International Quilt Study Center & Museum and could have spent more time.

It sounds like a worthwhile tripa and it's been added to my Bucket List.

Pam says:

I read this book last year, saw it on someone's blog or post some where. it was a great book, loved it! had to have my library get it from another, it was worth the wait though, I would highly recommend it!

I was very suprised to realize how many people have read this book. Perhaps it's made the rounds of quilters circles. I was surprise that she didn't really discuss her quilting much in the book.

Vee says:

Amazing quilt. And one that took a great deal of time. Stolen time? Sacred time? Precious time to be sure. Now you have me wanting to see that quilt. How closely are you able to see the details on the original photo in the book?

Her large show quilts were produced after her children were grown and her day-to-day responsibilities were not as pressing. Lots of work was done in the winter. Many years they were snowed in and she didn't leave the ranch from OCTOBER TO MARCH!!! (Caps - shouting in disbelief). Gosh, these people certainly had patience and a different mindset. The only photo of the quilt is on the front cover and it's not very detailed. I can't imagine 8 pieces of fabric sewn together to make something the size of a 2 cent stamp. Was that stamp bigger than those of today? I don't think so.

Harriet said:

Many years ago, my family "camped" our way to Colorado. Nebraska was truly amazing. The rest areas were wonderful especially because inside were huge photographs of "sod homes". It was very moving to read the captions. What struck me was: 1) one picture showed a bird in a cage hanging outside of the sod home...reason given was since no birds were around to sing it was one way women were able to get relief from the constant sound of wind and only if they could afford a bird, 2) the homes shown were so compact and to me dreary that I gained a great appreciation for those home steaders who braved living in such isolation literally in a dirt house, 3) yes the wind blew and I was able to imagine the sound that actually drove people mad.

I will get the book and look forward to reading it. Thanks.

One of the pictures included in the book was a photo of their extended family. Grace's mother kept birds and she insisted that they be dragged out of the sod house and included in the photo. The birdcages are standing behind the family members so perhaps it was this photo that was displayed. We cannot, in our wildest imaginations, know what it was to live in a sod house, isolated from your neighbors and family members back east, or in this case Missouri. People did indeed go mad.

Terri says:

I have been in two soddies in MN when we lived there and worked on the road. My hubby sold yellow page advertising and we drove to customers' businesses throughout the upper Midwest. On the road around Sleepy Eye, I think, there was a farmer who built two soddies that you could visit for a few dollars. They were surrounded by the tall tossled-out native grasses that were plowed under to make farm fields. The houses were furnished with old pieces, a treddle sewing machine, a pot- bellied stove with a cook top, a bed on the floor with a utility type quilt, a handmade cradle, and on the sewing machine there was a scrap book of newspaper articles (showing pictures with the owners) about soddies... how one was even built to be a two story home! Inside was dark and musty. My first thought was "No wonder they cooked outside - How could anybody stay sane over a winter in this place." These weren't people who were poor that came out west. They'd had to pay quite a bit to get supplies for the journey and to buy a wagon and horses or better oxen. So they were used to nice big homes with real floors and roofs, and separate rooms...
I'm always amazed at their courage and the hardwork they did.

Grace's family moved to Nebraska from Missouri. Her mother would be tormented by the thought of the lovely Missouri home surrounded by trees and lovely gardens. The stark nature of the Nebraska plains was a tough row to hoe, so to speak. You wonder if Missouri was so lacking in opportunities. Is that why they struck out for a homestead? These people were made of some really tough stuff.

Red Shoes said:

I must see that quilt...road trip!

Yes! I bet I could make a business out of this. Get a bus, set up road trips. Hmmmmmm.


My friend Sandy, in South Carolina, has suggested a round robin read of this book. I was planning to come back today and offer the book to one of my readers, so this idea is perfect. Since Sandy came up with it she will be the first reader. Here's how it works:

- Anyone interested in reading the book (and not in a big hurry) can e-mail me at - express your interest in the round robin and include your mailing address.

- Sandy will read the book and I will provide her with the address for the next person. That person will read and I'll provide them with the next reader.

- I will include a small journal for each person to record their impressions. The journal will travel with the book.

Sound good?

OK, remember to e-mail me if you are interested.

NOTE: Sod home museums are located in Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Other books chronicling daily life in the past include This Cruel War by Grant and Malinda Taylor. This is an almost complete set of letters sent between husband and wife during the Civil War.

Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag is another tale of living on the lonely prairie. There are at least two other books in the series. It's really a good read.


Tess said...

Sign me up Suzanne, providing Texas hasn't burned down by the time I receive the book.

Yours at the Menger,


Vee said...

People have the most interesting comments. This is a way of life that I am almost completely unfamiliar with except for reading Laura Ingalls Wilder. Perhaps it's time to step it up a notch. Look for an email...

Terri said...

I'd love the chance to read that book. E-mail sent!

lifeinredshoes said...

Suzanne, I do believe you have something with this bus idea! You are a wonderful historian, speaker/researcher/go to gal, I would sign up for sure!
And yes, I will send my email address :)

Lisa D. said...

Me too! Me too!