Taming the Wild West

One of our foxes asked, “What would your livelihood have been if you lived in the Old West?”

Assuming that the 19th century me is like my present day self, my thought is that I would probably do exactly what I’ve done so far: teach and write.

Woman Wearing a Bonnet - Free Pictures at Historical Stock Photos.com

Photo: Historical Stock Photos

Since my ancestors were on the opposite side of the world while the pioneers tamed the American West, it’s difficult to imagine me in a hoop skirt and bonnet, but I’ll try. Assuming that I had similar interests, I imagine I’d do the same as I’ve done most of my life: teach children. Yup, I’d be your typical school marm. Well, maybe not so typical. While I try to follow the rules, I tend to think out of the box from time to time. I picture myself wearing the obligatory long sleeves and floor-length skirt, but wearing something totally unexpected underneath (no, I won’t go into details).

 

Joseph S Leavitt and family Lund White Pine County Nevada

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Of course, teachers back then were single. Married women were not hired as teachers. On the off-chance that despite my unorthodox ways I managed to snag the interest of a cowboy, rancher, or every day nice guy, I guess I’d become a housewife, but I can’t imagine I’d be a very good one. Keeping a clean and organized house, planning and preparing healthy meals out of things grown or bartered, and fending off wildlife are not things I’d relish or take on without a great deal of complaint. And pioneer families were large. I’m fortunate that the two young ladies who grew up in this house managed to make it to adulthood safely, because I was not the most observant of mothers, as my youngest pointed out to me in one conversation we had when she was about eight years old:

Daughter: Mom, you don’t listen to me.
Me: Yes, I do.
Daughter: I just described the giant pig with a bazooka, guarding the house. You said, “That’s nice.”
Me: Um, well, it would be nice to have someone guarding the house.

Rose Fritz - Free Pictures at Historical Stock Photos.com

Photo: Historical Stock Photos

I didn’t start writing until after I’d retired from teaching, and I suppose given the demands on women, I’d have a difficult time getting through my “must do” list each day. There would never be enough time for the “want to do” list, unless I neglected some things and I had a very understanding husband – like the one I have now. I’m not sure I’d write the kind of stories I write now, because I wouldn’t be able to do the research on other places and time periods unless I had access to a huge library. But maybe I would write essays and poetry. Or maybe I’d write about the people and places around me.

 

Aside from teaching and writing, I suppose that my hobbies might also provide me with an income, provided I lived in or near a larger city. While most women did their own sewing and mending, women in elite social circles hired seamstresses, so that would be a possibility. And my musical training might also provide me with a decent living, either giving lessons or performing.

I guess my conclusion is that if I had been born a century and a half earlier, I would probably get along okay. The American West was rough, but for people with drive and determination, the opportunities were great.

What do you think your role in the Old West would be?

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About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
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8 Responses to Taming the Wild West

  1. Joselyn says:

    Sounds like you would have a lot of options. I’m sure your musical talents would be in demand.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jeff7salter says:

    love that conversation about the bazooka and pig.
    yes, as resourceful and hard-working as you are, I’m sure you would’ve gotten along just fine.
    I doubt you would have appreciated the general lack of rights and opportunities afforded females of that era, but I figure you would’ve outsmarted most of the men who tried to put obstacles in your way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Yes, my daughter has a unique way of discovering my weak points! As for outsmarting men and other obstacles, that would have been a unique challenge.

      Like

  3. Your musical talent would probably have been in high demand especially for those towns that wanted to grow and attract more upper class society.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I guess that would have been true, especially in the later years. But in order to make a living from it, I’d need to be in a larger city. I’m sure there would be interest in rural areas, but most people there wouldn’t be able to pay for lessons or concert tickets.

      Like

  4. I can’t imagine being in the wild west! I will give it much consideration before Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love reading and writing about this time period. But I don’t think women could even imagine choices other than being a housewife existed.

    Like

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