The Farmer's Wife: Forty years is long enough


Forty years ago,  we had one kid in college, another getting ready to graduate from high school, and two more still at home. 

I was sitting on the bleachers at Winside High, watching a basketball game, next to Judi Topp, who worked at the Wayne Herald.  Randy Hascall was the editor then, and he wrote half page columns every week! I informed Judi that was a bit much, but it was probably sour grapes on my part as I had always wanted to write a column in a newspaper. 

I think this little pipe dream started for me as a child when we only took the Omaha World Herald on Sundays. Do you remember The Magazine of the Midlands? There was a regular column called Lines From a Little House, by Blanche Spann Pease of Atkinson. I read it every week; it was just what was going on on their ranch, and I ate it up!

Judi surprised me by asking if I did write a weekly column, what would I call it? On the spur of the moment, I said, “The Farmer's Wife” because that's what I am, and that's what I'd write about. The next day, Randy Hascall called and asked for a sample. I pulled out my manual Royal and dashed off two, from the top of my head, and mailed them. To my chagrin, he printed them both! Which meant I had to hurry and write another one!  

I found one of those albums with the plastic cover sheets and started putting each week's offering in them, two to a page. I filled three albums like that and I recently reread them. Since I was mailing them, they had to be in the mailbox on time, usually a Friday. And when that didn't happen, it seems I was taking them to Winside and asking all kinds of people for the favor of taking it along to Wayne.! I mention Del Winch, and I don't even remember where she was working, and Debbie Harmeier, who was a hairdresser.  

If I was not near a typewriter, I did it in longhand, and sometimes, I faxed them, after I got near one of those. Finally, though, through the magic of the internet, I could compose on my computer and get them to Clara, hopefully on Monday, and no later than Tuesday noon. 

I'm often asked how I come up with subject matter. I'm going to quote Anna Quindlen, a successful author who writes in the latest edition of the Saturday Evening Post. Her first direction is: butt in chair. And then, word after word, after word; much like building a wall, brick by brick, and at the end you have something. Seldom is the something earth shaking, or a description of a crisis. And lately, those bricks have been harder and harder to come by for me.

As I explained to a neighbor, when I started, I lived on a farm and had teenagers. Plus, I worked as a nurse, but did not often talk about that part of my life because it was considered privileged information. Then, I discovered Hospice and wrote about that a lot. And we ran a Bed and Breakfast, on 4 acres!  There was always something going on there!  

Even after we “retired” to Lincoln, I still found some things to write about. Pat Janke commented to me one day, “I wish I had a column available as catharsis.” And that's what it's been. You have shared our happy days, and our sad ones, my misadventures and my narrow escapes. As I mentioned last week, I was always having flat tires!!  Well, when your travels are in a city, even one with pot holes, and you only drive within a ten mile radius of  your house, your car stays pretty much trouble free.

So, folks, I'm calling it quits; finis, the end! It's been a great ride, and thank you for being on it with me, and allowing me to fulfill this item on my bucket list. Forty years is long enough!