During her 110-year lifetime, Maude went from a 400-lb. wood-burning stove to a microwave oven, from an outdoor privy to indoor plumbing. She got the vote in 1920 and voted in the next 18 Presidential elections.
With poetry and human dramas (two murders and a suicide), written by a master journalist, the book shows the impact of the changing times on shy, unassuming Maude, her fun-loving husband Lee, and their four active children. They farmed 100 acres on the banks of Rush Creek in Logan County (Ohio).
A favorite with book discussion groups, Maude has been adopted by several colleges for use as a supplemental American history text.
"Mardo Williams brings out the extraordinary in a seemingly ordinary century's worth of experiences in his fine biography of Maude."-Leonard Lopate, New York & Co., National Public Radio
"Maude is not only a fascinating story of an extraordinarily resilient woman but also an invaluable insight into how family life, and making a living, changed so dramatically during the 20th century. The book is of considerable value not only to general readers but also to social historians..."-Dr. Richard Trainor, Vice-Chancellor, University of Greenwich, U.K.
"The antics of the children are delightful, as is the wisdom of Maude and her husband, Lee. You'll read how neighbors helped one another during long days of harvest and butchering, you'll learn of games you've heard your grandparents speak of, you'll begin to understand the strength it took just to survive in a world without modern conveniences."--Wendy Green, The Logan Daily News
"Maude ...puts a human face on history, showing us how the innumerable changes that occurred during the twentieth century forever altered life for one Ohio family." Michael Mangus, Ph.D., Lecturer, Ohio State University
"Mardo Williams brings the harshness and deprivation of Ohio farm life vividly back to life as well as its simple joys. And at the center of it is Maude--dignified, supremely competent as she stood beside her husband and raised their children, and uncomplaining. These days, as politicians pay lip service to family values, Maude is what they're all about"--Ralph Gardner, Jr., New York Observer
"..full of delightful stories about rural America-just the kind you wished you'd jotted down after conversations with your grandmother"-Joan Dyer-Zinner, Michigan Community Newspapers
"Maude's life story is [one] of the transformation of America from a world of primitive farms to a world of electrified cities. More than a collection of stories, it is a tribute to one woman's love, patience, and courage."-Lindsay Peterson, Tampa Tribune
"The book is 336 pages, brimming with photographs and funny little tidbits of history--and America's growing up years... The times were tough, but it was also a golden time..."-V. Daniels, Winter Haven (FL) News Chief
"Life was not all Little-House-on-the Prairie perfect. A suicide and two murders grieved the family. Extraordinarily detailed and page-turning ...Maude was the grandmother we all wish we had." Janet Overmyer, Ohioana Quarterly
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Table of ContentsYouÆll want to read it
then share it with your
Book I: 100 Acres on Rush Creek
At the beginning of the 20th century, the
farmer of 100 acres earned about $750 a year
Part I: The Wedding, the Belling,
and the Unknown
Part II: Daylight-to-Dark Demands
Underneath the drudgery was the satisfaction
Part III: The Children--Many Hands
Make Light Work
The children came too close together, but
they brought the happy sounds of laughter
Part IV: Lessons
Hold on to your hats! We're going!
Part V: Events and Entertainments
The Devil finds things for idle hands to do
Part VI: The World Beyond the Farm
The train passing through was a reminder
of the world beyond the horizon
Part VII: The Grapevine Twist
"First gent take his lady by the wrist,
And through that couple with a grapevine
Part VIII: Lee Gets a Chevrolet,
Maude Gets the Vote
Part IX: The Children Leave for the City
For the first time in history, city dwellers
outnumbered those living on farms
Part X: Hard Times
Part XI: The Forties--Traditions
Part XII:The World Comes to Rush Creek
Part XIII: The Fifties
"AND the band played 'Annie Laurie-e-e'"
Book II: Maude Leaves Rush Creek
She missed her porch, bowered with
honeysuckle, the colorful sunsets, and the
spectacular storms that gave unpredictable
drama to the quiet harmony of rural life
Part I: Adjustments
Part II: More Changes
Part III: Maude's Final Move
Reading Group Guide
aude (1883-1993): She Grew Up with the Country: A Reading Group Choice
Maude is being discussed by Reading Groups from California to New York
Reading Group Discussion Questions - Topics to Consider
1. We are not given many details of Maude Allen's life before she married. How do you think her childhood might have prepared her for life as an adult? How was she prepared for the 36 years she lived as a widow?
2. Living for 110 years is an achievement in itself. Do you think the time span during which Maude lived was unique in its advancements and inventions or that any 100-year period would be equally characterized by change?
3. Was Maude's task of establishing herself as a wife and mother much different from the challenge that faces a young woman today? In what ways was her job easier? In what ways harder?
4. Since the author is Maude's son, he is not likely to be an objective chronicler of her life. Does his attachment to her add or detract from the story that he tells? How would you describe his writing style?
5. Do you feel you know who Maude was as an individual? Did you connect with her emotionally? On any other levels?
6. Does this book make you long for the simplicity of "the good old days" or make you glad you live in the 1990s? In her life, did Maude embrace modernity or shun innovation?
7. Examine each of the following topics and evaluate its meaning to Maude and its significance in her life: family, money, nature, humor, religion, community, fate.
8. On the back cover of the book, Maude is described as "an ordinary woman." Do you consider her to be ordinary?
9. Do you believe that Maude would think that our culture had advanced during her lifetime, separate from technological modernization?
10. What type of marriage did Lee Williams and Maude have?