Memories of the Past, #FlashFiction #MondayBlogs

The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge for January 2, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something found in a hutch. It can be any kind of hutch — a box for critters or a chest for dishes. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by January 7, 2019.

Julia packed the last of the doilies into the bottom drawer of the hutch. She lovingly stroked the top of the sturdy pine chest. This heirloom had been in her family for more generations than she could count. She hated saying goodbye.

She opened a cupboard door and touched great grandmother’s bone china wrapped in cloth for protection. A great feeling of sadness overwhelmed her, and she gulped back her tears.

With one last look at the remains of a life she had to leave behind, Julia stepped from the covered wagon into the heat of a prairie dawn.

Image by Karin Henseler from Pixabay

My ancestors were wheat farmers who came to America in 1906 from Dreispitz, Russia, and settled in Dorrance, Kansas. My grandparents on my dad’s side used to regal me with tales of life on the prairie. My grandmother was Swedish. Her family lived in a sod house when she was growing up. Eventually, after the great depression, my family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I was born and grew up.

The “hutch” story is a part of American western lore. Thousands of pioneer families left the eastern shores of the United States intending to reach California. They did not understand the hardships they would encounter. The prairie was dotted with the remains of their lives. It the Indians didn’t get them, the lack of planning and inexperience did.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, “Little House on the Prairie,” books were a favorite of mine growing up. Read the real story HERE. This article shares the truth about how harsh life really was.

It is absurd and unfair to hold the child of 1870s frontier life to the standards of 2018. As Fraser so brilliantly elucidates, Wilder’s mythmaking was, in part, a means of coping with her past...”

Maureen Callahan: The Real Story Behind the “Little House on the Prairie” Controversy

44 thoughts on “Memories of the Past, #FlashFiction #MondayBlogs

  1. It’s funny what sparks stories!

    I read diaries of women traveling west during grad school and for some research on various books I’ve written. I can’t imagine it (or traveling across an ocean in a creaky little ship either for that matter)–quite a culture shock either way.
    And a different version–did you see The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a Coen brothers movie on Netflix? 🙂


    1. Thanks, Olga. Of course, it makes sense that she embellished many of the tales. Those books were written for children. Back then, the truth wasn’t always shared. I imagined her life was hell. But what a story of perserverence. In the end, her books saved them. ❤


  2. Oh, you did a wonderful job on this prompt.
    I truly enjoyed reading it, Colleen.
    99 words or less, excellent! ❤


  3. My first thought when reading your story was about the Little House books. I think they were real enough. A non-fiction rendering of those times is for history class–although there is as much or more myth in the teaching of history too. (K)


    1. Those books for were for children. I thought the stories were amazing because they showed the bravery of the families and the hardships they endured. The t.v. show was a little much for me. I still watched, but Laura’s voice was gone and it didn’t seem the same. I do agree, the real story is for the history books. Still, it was interesting to read the behind the scenes reality of life. Those books will always be favorites. ❤


  4. Loved this short. I always try to image the journey and how hard it was to leave all the familar and comfort behind.


  5. I’ve actually read some Little House books that were written by a sort of adopted son of Laura Ingalls Wilder daughter, Rose who never had children of her own: Roger Lea MacBride. ‘Little House in Brookfield’ about Caroline; Laura’s mother, and ‘Little Farm in the Ozarks’ – it wasn’t easy at all.

    Those pioneers and perhaps your relatives were masters of many skills just to survive ever day. 1/5th of my Hubby’s heritage is Russian. 🙂

    I enjoyed your hutch story. Cheers – Jules


      1. If you look for Rose – I think it was a Wiki entry – you can learn about the MacBride and the conflicts that some believe Rose actually rewrote or ‘fixed’ Laura’s stories. Still that life was difficult.

        There is another author who wrote about Laura and her family in this book: These Happy Golden Years by Maria D. Wilkes.


  6. Colleen, your flash is what I have often imagined when I thought about the pioneers, and having grown up on the portion of the emigrant trail where wagons had to be hoisted up rock faces, I saw the scars. Thing is, we all humanity. We are beautiful and fearful. We all have great capacity for love and hate. I’m all about more diversity in books both the telling of stories and who does the telling. Much about our American colonization is a painful history but how can we heal if we erase it? Nothing can take away the joy Laura Ingalls Wilder brought to me as a child. As an adult, I’m capable of seeking deeper truths and reconciling the experiences of many who were left out in the storytelling. In fact, those are stories I want to tell. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Thanks, Charli. The hutch gave me an image where I felt the pain of this woman who was faced with leaving her past life behind. I felt it necessary to bring in the Little House on the Prairie series because I was so influenced by the writing. My objective with the flash was to convey feelings of desperation and hope in the reader. ❤️


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