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I Knew I Liked Don Wood…

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When I was in college at the University of Utah, I worked at the most delightful bookstore, The Children’s Hour in Salt Lake City.  One of my favorite authors/ illustrators was the husband and wife team, Don and Audrey Wood.  I loved (and still love) their clever, funny stories and bright, cheerful illustrations.

Then I ran across Don Wood’s bio the other day.  And I found out how much I really liked him.  He is a “Make it Do” kind of guy.  Reading about his childhood really got me thinking.  Maybe it’s OK to struggle, maybe it’s OK to have to work hard… perhaps having to struggle for what we want is what forges our talents.

My son, Ben will tell me sometimes that he is the only kid in his class that has to work so hard… or who doesn’t get all the things he wants.  Poor little lamb!  Well I know that isn’t true.  But we do live in an affluent community where children have a lot.   And he doesn’t have motorized scooters, and trips to Hawaii and every toy known to man, like some kids he knows.

But I also hope someday he will thank me.  When I read about Don Wood, I realize that learning to work hard and be resourceful can create some wonderful results.  Just look at the many delightful, award winning books he and his wife have created.

So I won’t feel guilty about making my kids work and earn… or that I can’t and won’t give them everything they want.  I want to teach Ben to be happy with his life and not feel sorry for himself.  Besides he should be grateful… at least I don’t make him care for 40 acres of potatoes!

Here’s an excerpt of his bio from the Audrey Wood website:

I was born and raised on a farm in the great Central Valley of California. It is one of the most fertile farming areas in the country. We raised peaches, sweet potatos, almonds, grapes, and oranges. My father ran the farm, and my mother was a very popular elementary teacher at a small rural school nearby.

There was always a lot of work to do growing up on a farm. By the time I was in the sixth grade, I had forty acres of potatos to take care of by myself (that’s a lot of potatos). My brother, half brother, and I were doing a man’s work by the time we were twelve. During the summer, that often meant twelve to sixteen hour shifts, seven days per week. Once, when I was a teenager, I remember working twenty-six hours straight. We were paid wages for our work and were expected to pay for own clothes and entertainment, and eventually, cars and college educations.

In the sixth grade, I decided to be an artist. My father was worried about my decision, and I endured some tough pressure to pursue other careers (such as architecture). Luckily my other brothers wanted to run the farm, so my decision did not endanger the family business.
Since summer was so busy, winter was my time to draw. I could never find pieces of paper big enough. In those days, the laundry came wrapped in light-brown, crinkly paper. One day my mother had an idea. She ironed the crinkles out of the paper and gave it to me. At last! A giant piece of paper! It covered the entire kitchen table. From then on, laundry day was art day.

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6 Responses to “I Knew I Liked Don Wood…”

  • Kim:

    What an interesting bio! I’m off to read more!

    And now I know why I like you so much. Not only do you buy our compost, but you’re a UTE! Woot!

    • Yes I am a Utah Man Sir. And believe me it isn’t easy down here in Happy Valley… our family feels like a dot of red in a sea of blue. But that is all the more fun. Go Utes!

  • Our paths were destined to cross. I absolutely adore The Childrens’ Hour! My favorite children’s book store ever. I always daydreamed of working there.

    Thanks for the bio info. I’m always worrying that my kids’ lives are too easy. We definitely don’t buy a lot of stuff for them, but I need to think of creative ways to get them to work too.

  • Charity Williams:

    I love children’s books! My dream is to work in a children’s library someday. Thanks for sharing this story!

  • Oh, how I love the Woods. I’ve shared, “Silly Sally” so many times in preschool Library story times (complete with hand puppets for each of the animals) I can repeat it by memory. Being a Children’s Librarian does have it’s perks. ;)

    Reading about Don and his search for paper big enough to draw on brought tears to my eyes…as did the 40 acres of potatoes he tended to as a boy. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  • Julia:

    Hi, I discovered your blog last week through a link on the craftzine website for ur canning post – and I’ve been hooked. You have the loveliest little place and I love reading your posts. Its become my little treat every morning to go through and catch up on a few archived posts and I think I’ve caught up already!
    I felt moved to comment on this post, coz your son reminded me of my younger self. My mom was a very “make-it-do” mom. So growing up we didn’t have half the “stuff” that the other kids had or did – almost never ate out (maybe 1-2 times a year), never went to out to movies (went to a theater once in my first 17 yrs!), wore clothes mostly that my mom made. I was well-fed, adequately (but simply dressed), always had a roof over my head, never unhappy and ALWAYS knew my parents loved me, but like ur son, always wondered why and felt I had a “harder” life that my wealthier friends. If my mom ever felt guilty or bad about it, she sure never showed it. But she would always tell me I was her piece of gold and give me the analogy of gold – how it only glows and shines after it has been through the fire which got rid of any impurities. It took me until my late teens before I could truly appreciate the value of the frugal, simple and self-sufficient way I was raised. You seem like a wonderful mom and I am sure your son knows how much you love him. I promise you, one day – he WILL be very grateful for everything you’ve done and taught him. And he will be much better off because of it.

    Now I’m off to try your baking soda/vinegar trick on my embarrasingly dirty sink!

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