Thursday, August 16, 2012

Interview with Evelyn Birkby: Part 3

You started writing your “Up a Country Lane” columns in 1949. How have your readers’ interests changed over the years? What hasn’t changed?

I still see people needing a smile. I see people hurting and worried and sorrowing. And I see people who find joy in everything around them. The lives of women have changed drastically with the coming of more labor-saving devices—being a wife and mother is far easier now than in those earlier days. Fewer people live in the country, and the familiar neighborhoods have changed; country school neighborhoods are gone and many of the old farmsteads have been torn down.

I always said that women were interested in everything, and I’ve tried to write and talk about a broad range of subjects. We are not just limited to “homemaking topics”; I never did figure out why people used that term to limit what women do.

The radio homemakers were career women. There have always been career women.

Your first column, about the Christmas box, the hard work of farming, and an encounter with an elderly stranger over a yard of red gingham, is one of my favorites. Do you have one favorite column?

I can think of many: “The Snake Trap,” “The Night the Bed Fell on Our Honeymoon,” “Two Mothers,” “Too Old to Be Elderly.”

Evelyn Birkby is the author of Always Put in a Recipe and Other Tips for Living from Iowa's Best-Known Homemaker, as well as Up a Country Lane Cookbook and Neighboring on the Air.

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