Elsie Lee Splear was born on an Illinois farm in 1906, the third of four girls. After she retired, at the urging of her daughter, Carolyn Splear Pratt, Elsie wrote her reflections in three notebooks to explain how life had been for the young farm family of which she had been a part. Growing Seasons is the story as she told it to Carolyn.
Ken Stark met Elsie when he was five years old, and she was a frequent subject of his fine art over the years. To paint the art for Growing Seasons, Ken used sketches he made during visits to the rural locations and conversations with Elsie.
Ken is a full-time artist. He studied at Arizona State University and at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. His works are represented in corporate and government offices as well as in private collections in the United States and Europe. He and his wife, Chris, live a country life. This is his first book for children.
The stove was so important to our family that whenever we moved to a new house, the stove was the first thing to be taken off the hayrack and set up in the new kitchen. The next thing we took down was the mailbox, which was set up at the end of the lane.
The kitchen was the center of activity. Mama spent much of her time there, cooking, baking, making butter, washing clothes, or ironing. We did our schoolwork on the kitchen table by the light of the kerosene lamp, and sometimes Mama and Papa read the weekly newspaper while we studied.
The only heat in the house came from the kitchen stove. It was our job to keep the fuel box by the stove full of dry corncobs left over from husking.
We all enjoyed bath night, when Mama filled the tub in front of the stove. Water had to be brought in from the well, using the hand pump outside the kitchen door. All the water for drinking, bathing, and washing clothes and dishes had to be brought in from outside, and we girls learned to carry buckets of water while we were still small. The water was always heated on the stove. We girls took turns getting clean and sometimes one of us read aloud to the others. Mama and Papa took baths after we were done.
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Look for an Artifact
There are many artifacts hidden in the image above. Can you find them? Click on them to learn more about them.