Imagine an era
that’s diff’rent from now,
When times were not better,
but pleasing, somehow.
It’s the year 1950,
when farming was done
By Mother and Father
and Daughter and Son.
by Gordon W. Fredrickson
When I was in Minnesota I had the pleasure of staying with Nancy and Gordon W. Fredrickson.
Nancy and Gordon are award-winning children’s book authors. They have a wonderful story – and they’re telling it in ten books and counting! Gordon was raised on a Minnesota farm in the 1950’s. The books are a delightful introduction for children, especially ones raised in an agricultural area, to what life used to be like on a farm, back in the days before equipment was as sophisticated as it is now. Gordon not only wants to pass the stories of those magical bygone years on to today’s children, but he also wrote them as a tribute to the magical childhood he got to have with his decent-living, hard-working parents.
One story Gordon and Nancy told me while I was there was about the year and a half right after his parents bought their farm. They didn’t have enough money initially to fix the roof on their barn – but did that stop them from proceeding? Of course not! They had no problem with hard work. Even though the roof was wide open to the elements in all kinds of weather, Gordon’s mother milked their cows twice a day, in all kinds of weather, sometimes with the rain or snow falling on her as she did so.
Here comes the best part. The story isn’t told to elicit sympathy, though my heart went out Gordon’s mother for working so hard under such harsh conditions. Gordon tells the story to schoolchildren for a good reason: so that they’ll understand the sacrifices it takes to achieve a dream! Having a successful farm was the dream of his parents and they worked for it.
Incredibly, though the books are terrific, publishers were not too interested in stories about farming, or about ones set in a rural areas. Gordon told me that major publishers consider Minnesota to be a “flyover state” – an appellation given to states written off by movers and shakers since they only see them from the air when they are flying between New York or Washington and Los Angeles. I say to those publishers: cut the crap, stop being such crashing snobs, visit the Midwest, and take a look at what’s happening on the ground sometime! The story of farming is well worth telling, it’s a part of our nation’s history – and the idea of growing up on a farm is still appealing to both adults and children alike. After visiting Minnesota, I wouldn’t mind living on a farm someday myself.
The major publishers’ loss was the eventual gain of Minnesota-based Beavers Pond Press. They are Gordon and Nancy’s publisher, and the children’s books they produce are adorable.
Nancy and Gordon’s books include the series Farm Country Tales and If I Were a Farmer, as well as Farm Country Moments, a book for adults, and a book with some mighty fine illustrative photographs, A Farm Country Harvest. The children’s books have been purchased by children, parents, and even quite a few school systems to the delight of the Fredricksons, who are available for presentations. Well done, Gordon and Nancy!
Take a look. Their website can be found here: www.gordonfredrickson.com