Country View: Evelyn Birkby - Farm Wife Columnist - Sidney, IA
In the 1940s, Evelyn Birkby of Sidney, Iowa, was busy with one small child and another on the way. She also tended the animals on the family farm. But one day, her husband, Robert, told her she needed to find something creative to do.
She was comfortable giving speeches, but didn't know how to write. Nonetheless, she responded to a newspaper ad looking for a farm wife to write a weekly column. The publisher, "Mr. Archie", told her to simply write friendly, and always include a recipe. But there was one other thing – she didn't know how to cook, either.
"And you know of course what I did, I threw myself on the mercy of my readers. I told them I didn't know how to cook – now Mr. Archie knew that too – but I said I need your help," Evelyn says. "And it was the smartest thing I ever did because now here came these women wanting to help me, these experienced housewives, and we immediately bonded."
Evelyn was later asked to broadcast her column as a homemaker program on a local radio station. That was more than 60 years ago, and Evelyn is still going strong.
What does she find to write and talk about?
"I look out my window of my little study in the morning and if I have nothing to write about, I write about what I see. The trees, and the birds, the grass, what the weather is, and what the farmers are doing," Evelyn says. "There's always something, and I carry a little notebook with me, always. I learned that early on, so if I had an idea I'd write that idea down before I forgot it."
Evelyn, now in her 90s, says her best advice for aging gracefully is to keep your mind sharp and clear, drink lots of milk, and see everything in life as an adventure and opportunity.
Radio interview source: Evelyn Birkby, Farm Wife Columnist
Listen to some of Evelyn's broadcasts from the 1950s
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