Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]
The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Nothing Daunting about Nothing Daunted
We are so eclectic in our reading that I almost hesitate to say that Nothing Daunted, by Dorothy Wickenden, was an unusual choice for us. It does seem an unusual story, though, and those of us who read it are thankful to Lyn for finding it for us! Lyn wrote a hand-written letter to author Dorothy Wickenden, who is an editor for New Yorker magazine. The author sent an email back, saying that her next book will be about three women from Auburn and the Underground Railroad, based on letters. Lyn showed us a 3-minute slide show, with narrative by the author and photos from the book and some that weren't in the book. You can see the slide show online at nothingdaunted.com.
The subtitle of the book is "The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West." Lyn opened the conversation by asking us what we thought the young women, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, learned, even though they were ostensibly the teachers. Linda said that because of her experience of the hardships of Colorado, Dorothy was probably better able to deal with the hardships of raising children by herself later when her husband was killed by a car (after pushing Dorothy out of the way) at age 43. Marsha noted that the girls had been most worried (daunted?) at the idea of teaching "domestic science," because neither knew how to cook or clean or do anything around the house. They learned cooking and many self-sufficiency skills in Colorado that they might never have learned had they stayed in their insulated world in the East. Patty suggested that the girls learned about difficulties of people's lives that they might never have imagined. Lyn mentioned that they learned about how a coal mine works when they toured Perry's mine...Safari, anyone? The group generally agreed that the girls lives were previously protected and that their experiences with the terrain, weather, travel, and much of everything else they did in Colorado expanded their education.
When Lyn nominated this book, she mentioned that she had been attracted to the book because she had taught in a country schoolhouse in the Hill Country. Marla asked Lyn to tell us about her experience. Lyn taught in Bandera from 2005-2007. The students were from ranching families. They had good manners and knew about farming and animals. Lyn was hired to teach to the TAKS test (standardized Texas test), but she did much more. She lived near the school and had much interaction with the students. She sometimes drove them home after a long day at school, visited their homes, and helped them privately when needed. The school and the students' lives were somewhat old-fashioned; but in the 21st century, the school did have a computer lab with Internet. Some of the students planned to continue to college, though many would be ranchers without higher educations.
Suzanne shared a list of "rules" from when her mother had taught in the 1920s in Utopia, TX - the same Utopia we read about in Welcome to Utopia: Notes From a Small Town, by Karen Valby (who visited our group). Long before Valby's study of the town, the rules for teachers included the following: No wearing bright colors, skirts had to be 2" below the knee, 2 petticoats were required, teachers were not allowed to fraternize with men or be married, no smoking, no playing cards, and no dyed hair.
Pat brought 2 large photographs from Wisconsin from the 1920s, when her Mom and aunts were all teachers. The photos were of a large group of women teachers. They also were not allowed to be married. Pat said school in Wisconsin didn't close during the winter unless it was 30 degrees below zero!
Thanks to everyone who shared stories of small schools they attended! I was looking at Pat's photos when that conversation began, and since I had missed the beginning, I decided to just enjoy it rather than take partial notes.
Websites of interest: www.nothingdaunted.com (the book website)
www.perry-mansfield.org (website of the oldest continuing performing arts school and camp in the U.S., which was begun by Charlotte Perry, sister of Bob Perry, who married Ros.)
Posted by ClaudiaH at 4:58 PM
Labels: Dorothy Wickenden, March 2014, Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West, Wickenden; Dorothy