All Anybody Ever Wanted of Me Was to Work

All Anybody Ever Wanted of Me Was to Work


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From All Anybody Ever Wanted of Me Was to Work… “Starting around 1950, people stopped raising chickens, milking cows, and raising hogs. They just buy it at the store, ready to eat. A lot buy a steer and have it processed in Dongola and put it in their freezer. What a difference! Girls have got it so easy now. They don’t even know what it was like to start out. And I guess my mother’s life, when she started out, was as hard again as mine, because they had to make everything by hand. I don’t know if it could get any easier for these girls. But they don’t know what it was like, and they never will. Everything is packaged. All you do is go to the store and buy you a package and cook it. Automatic washers and dryers. I’m glad they don’t have to work like I did. Very glad.”

Edith Bradley Rendleman’s story of her life in southern Illinois is remarkable in many ways. Recalling the first half of the twentieth century in great detail, she vividly cites vignettes from her childhood as her family moved from farm to farm until settling in 1909 in the Mississippi bottoms of Wolf Lake. She recounts the lives and times of her family and neighbors during an era gone forever.

Remarkable for the vivid details that evoke the past, Rendleman’s account is rare in another respect: memoirs of the time—usually written by people from elite or urban families—often reek of nostalgia. But Rendleman’s memoir differs from the norm. Born poor in rural southern Illinois, she tells an unvarnished tale of what it was really like growing up on a tenant farm early this century.

Edith Bradley Rendleman is a retired farm wife and homemaker, a community volunteer and member of civic organizations, and a local historian and genealogist.
Jane Adams, an associate professor of anthropology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, is the author of The Transformation of Rural Life: Southern Illinois, 1890–1990.

“Recalling the details of a long and well-remembered life, these memoirs communicate a way of living far different from that lived now. In the small and large details of daily life, this account reveals many of the changes that worked a revolution in farm life. It is told neither to celebrate the past—that life was far too difficult and loveless to wish to return to—nor to celebrate the present— there is too much heartache and loneliness for that. Rather, Edith seems motivated by an urge to communicate across the generations, to break through the loneliness imposed by being formed in a different time, a time that those raised since World War II have difficulty imagining.”—Jane Adams, from the Introduction

“Readers familiar with the picturesque towns of Cobden, Anna, Jonesboro, Alto Pass, and Dongola will delight in this memoir by Edith Rendleman, who’s lived all of her life in Union County. . . Edith tells of a bygone era with a freshness and simplicity that makes one feel like this all happened last week. . . Reading her book is like leafing through an old photograph album.”—SpringfieldState Journal-Register

Additional information

Weight 1 oz
Dimensions 1 × 7 × 8 cm