New Dawn on Rocky Ridge: (Little House Series: The Rocky Ridge Years)by Roger Lea MacBride, Dan Andreasen, Dan Andreasen, Agee
It’s a big year for thirteen-year-old Rose and her family as they witness the turn of the century and, after years of hard work, experience their first apple harvest out on Rocky Ridge farm. And as her feelings for Paul grow stronger, there are even signs of romance in the air for Rose. It’s a time for new beginnings in New Dawn on Rocky Ridge, the sixth… See more details below
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It’s a big year for thirteen-year-old Rose and her family as they witness the turn of the century and, after years of hard work, experience their first apple harvest out on Rocky Ridge farm. And as her feelings for Paul grow stronger, there are even signs of romance in the air for Rose. It’s a time for new beginnings in New Dawn on Rocky Ridge, the sixth book in the Rocky Ridge series continuing the story that Laura Ingalls Wilder told of her own childhood, a story that has charmed generations of readers.
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The mild, drizzly weather that had followed Christmas finally broke, and the last day of the old century dawned clear and biting cold. The frosty air stung Rose's nostrils, and the wind made her eyes water. But the bright sun warmed her cheeks and lay like a cozy shawl on the shoulders of her chore dress.
From the kitchen door she looked out onto the backyard. She didn't see the frozen mud scarred by wagon tracks and hoof marks. She didn't see the railroad grade blackened with coal soot. She didn't even see the wash on theline, waiting to be labored over with the heavy irons, and then neatly folded.
Instead she saw the sunlight glinting off the icy puddles. She heard the telegraph wires singing in the wind. Gusts whipped the sheets she had hung out to bleach that morning. They shimmered as white and fresh as a hillside of apple blossoms and snapped cheerfully, like proud flags on Independence Day.
The strong light made ordinary things look sharp and solid, as if seen through a stereoscope. On this day, at century's end, Rose's eyes looked at her everyday world as if they were seeing it for the first time.
"For goodness sake, Rose," Mama's voice called out from behind her in the warm kitchen. "Please shut that door before we all catch our death of cold."
Rose pulled the door closed behind her, filled her lungs, and crossed the backyard with the water bucket swinging from her hand. The cold air flowed like water around her bare legs, but she felt a fire glowing within that no cold could reach. This was New Year's Eve, the start of the twentieth century. Just thinking of it sent a thrill along all hernerves.
"Happy New Year!" she cried out to Mama's Leghorn chickens. The snowy hens were too busy pecking at the frozen earth to pay her any mind. Bunting, the Jersey milk cow, lifted her head from her trough in the barn lot and lowed a single half-questioning note. Then she stuck her wet nose back into the trough and bit another mouthful of hay.
Rose pumped the squeaky handle until the water came. She watched a lonely castle of clouds hurry past overhead. The bowl of pure blue sky glowed with light. Suddenly the cloud let down a snow shower. Flakes as fine as dust blew about the barn lot, dancing in the silvery light like confetti and powdering the roofs like cake sugar.
"January the first, nineteen hundred and aught," Rose said aloud. Never before had anyone lived in a year that began with nineteen hundred. Of course, every year was new. But this was something special, the changing of the centuries. In a person's whole lifetime, that could happen only once.
Everyone in town had been talking about it for months. In Rose's Fifth Reader class her new teacher, Professor Bland, taught the history of the century from the inventions of the steamboat and cotton gin to the telephone and motor car; from the expedition of Lewis and Clark, through the Civil War, right up to the war with Spain that had happened just two years ago.
"In one hundred short years, America has grown from a savage wilderness to the greatest, richest nation on earth," Professor Bland told the scholars. "You must study the past to prepare yourselves to inherit the future."
The tattered newspapers and magazines that Papa brought home from the railroad depot, left behind in the waiting room by traveling men, brimmed with stories about the condition of the country and the world. Rose especially liked to read articles forecasting the future. Each issue had stories predicting everything from flying machines to the most outlandish fashions.
There was so much to look forward to. New inventions were making life easier, taking the drudgery out of housework, and the country was in a boom. But some people weren't happy.
Rose read that in San Francisco people complained that Chinese immigrants were taking away the jobs of hard-working fathers. The newspapers said the Chinese worked for little money and didn't want to become good Americans.
Rose had never met anyone from China. But she knew it was no sin to be poor. And after all, it was poor immigrants who had settled America and built it up-poor immigrants from all over the world.
In the East, people complained about immigrants from Europe. In a single day in New York City, where the Statue of Liberty watched over the harbor, ships brought ten thousand poor immigrants yearning for freedom. That was twenty times the number of people who lived in Mansfield, the little town in the Ozarks where Rose lived. In one day! So many foreigners were coming that in time there would hardly be any Americans left in America.
Rose knew, of course, that there really were no Americans, except the Indians who were here first. Everyone else was an immigrant, or came from immigrant ancestors. Rose's family had come from Europe, as long as one hundred and seventy years before. But now the country was bulging with immigrants, and how would they all live?
The cities were crowding up, because Americans were going there, too, leaving the old folks to keep up the farms. And everywhere the Negroes suffered almost the same as when they had been slaves. There had been horrible riots in New York City when some white people threw paving stones at Negroes.
In the South, in the dark of night, white men dragged Negro men out of their beds and hanged them without any justice. That was called lynching, and there had been a hundred lynchings in a single year.
Rose and Mama and Papa often read the papers together at night at the dining-room table. Mama put out a bowl of apples, and they huddled around the circle of light from the kerosene lamp, talking about the stories they read.
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