Prairie fires, sod houses, covered wagons, pioneer medicine. Cow chips, prairie dances, claim jumpers, mules, buggies, prairie schools.
Breaking horses, hay ticks, flowing wells, Fourth of July on the prairie, blizzards, pioneer schools ...
For a half century my mother told these stories, first to me, then to my children. Years ago, as we drove late at night on the return trip from Disneyland, she told story after story, the children wide-eyed awake. "Tell us another, Grandma," they urged. "One more story."
As the children grew older, we asked my mother to write down the stories, just as she told them, so we would always have them. Over the years, she did this, sending the stories as they occurred to her, along with her letters.
My mother's stories of the pioneer community on the prairie extend from the time of the Civil War, the first settlers, when life was not far removed from life a thousand years before, to the beginnings of "civilization": cars, radios, and bobbed hair.
Mother, born in a sod house, 108 years ago, lived to see men walk on the moon. Her stories allow us to see an earlier age -- a time, a way of life, many of us may view with nostalgia.