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Mormon Kid Art, 1919

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 07, 2010

The Church’s children’s magazines have frequently encouraged children to send in their artwork, poems, and short stories for publication in a special contributors’ section. In 1919, that section of the Juvenile Instructor was called “The Children’s Budget Box.” (One old-fashioned definition of “budget,” before anybody wonders, is a bag or sack or box filled with miscellaneous items. Old newspapers often printed a column of short news items from around the region headlined “A Budget of News,” for example. So in that sense, the Juvenile Instructor’s department meant a collection of short, unrelated offerings from various contributors.)

You’ll notice that most of these contributors are older than readers of today’s children’s magazine. The Juvenile Instructor was targeted mainly to adults — parents and the teachers of Sunday Schools — with a few children’s features aimed at kids from infancy to age 16.

I like these “budgets” for the glimpses they show of the children’s familiar world as well as for the exotic themes the children sometimes chose for their stories. There are some gems of Mormon history hidden here, in the voices of children who are seldom represented in published history.

Flora Anderson, age 16, Trenton, Utah

A New Year’s Surprise

‘Twas New Year’s eve,
All the family was there,
Save the one who was fighting
In France, somewhere.

‘Round the table they gathered,
Each one in his place,
Then all heads, with Father’s
Bowed in humble grace.

“We thank Thee, our Father,
For all we receive,
for Thy kind care and blessings
On this New Year’s eve.

“We ask fo Thee, Father,
To bring home our boy,
Who is ‘over there’ fighting,
That we might have joy.”

As the blessing was ended,
Each cried out with joy;
For, all smiles in the door
Stood our dear Soldier Boy.

– Lura Reed, age 16, Sanford, Colorado

My Pony

When we left our home in Mexico, as refugees, in 1912, we were forced to leave all of our pets behind, at the mercy of the Mexicans. Imagine our joy when papa brought our pet pony out with a carload of horses. He had been badly treated and poorly fed, and his hair was shaggy; but a few weeks in the alfalfa pasture brought back his high spirits, as well as his slick coat. And many were the jolly rides we had on his back. Later as we moved from place to place, trying to find a new home, he seemed to get disheartened and grow old fast. He seemed to think he never again would see the pine-covered hills of his old home; and one day a broken-hearted bunch of children surrounded him when he lay dead in the corral.

– Melvin Brown, age 11, Duncan, Arizona

“Dutiful Nellie,” – Edna Anderson, age 14, Grover, Wyoming

Dick’s Fourth

“Say, let’s give little Dick a regular Fourth of July. He can’t walk and hasn’t any money to get a wheelchair. Who’s game?” queried Jack.

“I am,” rang out five voices. “Let Bob make something to carry him in. Bob’s a dandy carpenter,” piped Phil.

“All right. Everyone meet here Thursday at five o’clock. We’ll have our plans ready then,” commanded Jack.

Thursday found the boys very enthusiastic. “that’s a classy chair,” Bill was saying. ‘Let’s all be down at Dick’s in the morning at nine.”

“Then we’ll take him to see the parade. Say, I am also going to have a regular Fourth. I’ll enjoy it as much as Dick. I can hardly wait till tomorrow,” chimed Phil.

“Say, boys, those are my sentiments, too,” spoke up Fred. “Last year I had a dollar to spend; this year I’ve got a dollar but I am going to give Dick half. Oh, say, I’m just tickled to death over our plans. What makes us so happy?”

“I know,” said Phil, “it’s because we are sharing our fun. We are going to give. That is what makes us so happy.”

Friday found Dick the happiest boy in the world.

– Emma Snow, age 14, Provo, Utah

Dixie’s June

‘Tis June with all its splendor,
Green with tints so gay.
Some think that all the beauty
Cannot come right after May;

But down in dear old Dixie –
In the south of the Pioneers’ State,
We have the early wonders
Which in other places come late.

We’ve had the fruit and berries
And apricots so rare,
And those grandest of spring flowers
Are blooming everywhere.

We have the grandest birds
That sing the gayest notes
The kind that send up warbles
From that music box in their throats.

Oh! we have the wondrous weather
That you don’t find everywhere,
And of glorious moonlight nights
I guess Dixie has her share.

– Ida Seegmiller, age 13, St. George, Utah

On the Muddy

I live in the famous Muddy Valley, in a little town called St. Thomas, on the arrowhead trail, where hundreds of tourists pass ever year.

Our Primary president, Sister Felt, used to live in our town. A few years ago she came down to stake conference. she was very much interested in her old town. she tried to find her old home, but she couldn’t tell much about it because the town had changed so.

One day my friends and I went to see the old fort. There are just a few stones left. The people made it to protect themselves from the Indians in the early days.

– Inez Gibson, age 10, St. Thomas, Nevada

Kenneth Smith, age 10, Brigham City, Utah

A Trip to Golden Gate Park

It was about seven o’clock in the morning when we boarded the electric train from Berkeley to San Francisco.

We had to take the ferry boat, so we only took the train to the wharf. On our way across the bay hundreds of sea-gulls followed us to get crumbs and particles of food thrown to them by the passengers.

On reaching San Francisco we took the street car for the park, which is about a half hour’s ride from the Ferry building.

The park is a nice place to go during the entire year. You can have a good time in the playground or riding on the donkeys, or if you prefer you can go and visit the wild animals and birds. Among the animals there are the bears, the buffalo, the moose, and the monkey. Among the birds, there are the many kinds of singing birds and the ostrich, parrot, pheasant, etc.

This park has much undergrowth where small flowers, such as the little blue forget-me-not, and ferns of all sizes grow in abundance. We all had our pictures taken among the beautiful ferns and undergrowth. By the time we had gone through the park, and seen all these things, we were worn out from walking, but we had a delightful time going home across the bay by the light of the moon.

– Nathan Gardner, age 12, Logan, Utah

Major General Pershing

Major General John Joseph Pershing was born Sept. 13, 1860, at Laclede, Missouri. His parents were poor, but they always impressed upon him, as a small boy, that he was to do great things when he became a man.

Everybody liked John – his teachers, because he was conscientious and industrious; his parents, because he was obedient and kind; the boys, because he was brave and daring; the girls, because he was courteous and gentle, and everybody, because he was thoughtful and truthful.

He worked hard to obtain all the schooling he could. One day he noticed in the paper that an examination was to be held for applicants to West Point. He took the examination and passed with highest honors. After graduating from West Point, he taught school, studied law at night, and was soon admitted to the bar.

He later returned to military life and has had charge of the American Army in Europe during this terrible war. The greatest honor France can bestow, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, has just been conferred upon General Pershing.

Major General Pershing is the best leader of the best army the United States has ever had.

– Frances F. Brown, age 14, Salt Lake City, Utah

“Prize Float, by Third Ward, Logan, for Welcome Home Parade” – Ada Hughes, Logan, Utah



9 Comments »

  1. These were very interesting. I could feel the sadness of the boy writing about the pony brought out from Mexico.

    Comment by Maurine — September 7, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

  2. The 10 year old writing about St. Thomas on the Muddy River was prophetic when he claimed that Sister Felt, coming to visit, could hardly find her old home due to the changes in the town. He just needed to wait a couple of decades and the town was submerged under Lake Mead, following the construction of Hoover Dam.

    I understand that in the last few years that as the water has receded somewhat, parts of the old town have reemerged. My wife had some ancestors who lived there for a while.

    Comment by kevinf — September 7, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

  3. Thank you, Maurine and kevinf, for taking pity on me and commenting. I rather liked this post, but alas — {sniff} /taking out lace-edged hankie to dab away a tear/ — it doesn’t seem too popular. Nevertheless, I’ll probably subject you all to some more of these, especially when the kids write about what have become significant matters of history, like the evacuation from revolutionary Mexico and the old Muddy Mission.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 7, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

  4. The father of Lura Reed, author of “A New Year’s Surprise”, was in Lexington, Tennessee when Robert Edge made his now famous visit. She even had an uncle named Robert Edge Reed. The whole family moved to Colorado before she was born.

    It was probally another uncle or perhaps a cousin who this poem was about. She had no brothers old enough to have been coming home from France in 1919.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — September 7, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

  5. I am IMPRESSED, Bruce, that you know your people so well that you could make a connection between this girl and your Tennessee history (I suppose her location at Sanford helped). It is further evidence of one of the traits I like best in Mormon history: everything is connected to everything else. These aren’t just isolated particles — they all tie together, somehow.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 7, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

  6. Bravo, Bruce! What a wonderful connection.

    I like the poem from the girl in St George. It seems like the inhabitants of that corner of the state had a perfect passion for poetry.

    My g-grandpa served under Pershing on the Mexican border, and then later in Europe. He really led an amazing life.

    And, for the record, I am not commenting out of pity! It is a lovely post.

    Comment by Researcher — September 7, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  7. Sigh. I mean Pershing led an amazing life. Darn antecedents.

    Comment by Researcher — September 7, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

  8. Ardis & Researcher,

    Her location at Sanford did indeed help. I don’t usually go around looking at anyone with the Reed last name assuming they were related to the Reed family of Lexington, Tennessee.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — September 7, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

  9. As an alumnus of the Pershing Rifles, I greatly appreciated the short note on JJP. It gave me a chance to test my memory for the dates I had to memorize as a pledge. On the sesquicentenial of his birth I will NOT be celebrating as I did in college, with a beer for each year consumed by our membership, nonetheless I will remember the General and appreciate that I will wake up on my wife’s birthday without a hangover.

    Comment by Eric Boysen — September 7, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

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