Chap 6, Post 5 – When hard times drag on. . . and on

When extreme thrift does not seem enough.

1snow in minestoa woods

That first winter, though, the Hoovers nearly starved.  (As they learned later, folks in that area helped each other out and would gladly have helped them that winter.  However, the Hoovers were city-folk and had no idea that potential friends, eager to help, were closeby.)

Helen and Ade had miscalculated how much food they’d need that first winter, a fact discovered after the only general store in driving distance had closed for the season. Because a blizzard kept all roads impassable for weeks longer than normal, the Hoovers faced true danger.

Miraculously, it was caring for the forest animals, who were also near starving that winter, that provided for the Hoovers.  True animal lovers, they shared their corn with the deer and squirrels, and Helen dipped into the flour bin each morning to bake two huge pancakes for the birds.  The squirrels stayed close to the cabin all day, and, gradually so did the deer.  The birds grew so accustomed to their breakfast provider they would land on Helen’s hand and gobble up the two pancakes she held, pancakes that would have given her and her husband extra nourishment they needed.



However, such close contact provided Helen with keen insights about animal behavior for her stories and it let Ade observe the tiny details that made his line drawings so realistic.  Because of their love and care for their forest friends and the lessons they thus intentionally learned, Helen’s animal stories began selling, as did Ade’s drawings.

Effects of Poverty

Throughout their life in the big woods of Minnesota, the Hoovers faced many of the same dangers the Ingalls family did in “The Little House on the Prairie”.  (Here is a link to purchase a that series of books.  I cannot recommend these encouraging stories highly enough, to read with your children as well as for your own pleasure!)

The Hoovers had to struggle to keep warm in below freezing weather and had to stretch  beyond reasonableness, a scanty food supply.    Helen ordered the food, that is, canned goods and staples for the entire winter, via mail order.

When the shipment arrived on day in late fall, they had to store it in the middle of what little floor space they had left in the little cabin.

I laughed out loud when I read that part.  I had only to look around me to know just how they felt.  I hadn’t finished putting away all the groceries from the monthly shopping trip Sharon and I had made that day for our own big grocery order for the month.

Over by the window stood that case of corn and another case of assorted canned goods as well as boxes and bags of cereal, pasta, oatmeal, cookies, and pop tarts.  Other boxes and bags stood on the floor by the door and even on top of the television.

I smiled.  Lack of space, buying in bulk to save money and counting every penny twice were all things I understood.   I also understood the struggle the Hoovers had to remain hopeful, despite the odds, that their dreams of making Helen’s writing and Ade’s drawing profitable provide an income so they could stay in their beloved forest cabin. . . and keep on writing and sketching.

1ades sketching

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