Volume VII, No. 4, Summer 1980
This is the fourth issue of the seventh volume. It is also the twelfth and last magazine of Bittersweet that I will actively be on the staff and involved in as editor. I leave the staff with mixed emotions. On one hand graduation will open up opportunities for new learning experiences. Bittersweet has taught me not to be afraid of the new or unknown, but it has encouraged me to welcome each venture with enthusiam.
On the other hand for three years Bittersweet has become an integral part of my life. It demands many hours of a staff member's day until sometimes it becomes a second home. When I leave for college, I will miss Bittersweetas much as I will miss my home and family because of the bonds that develop between people after working hard on a project together, disagreeing and compromising with other members of the staff, and finally succeeding to organize a magazine that we are all very proud of.
I have benefitted so many ways from being on the magazine staff. It first taught me to be able to take criticism, for on the staff everyone gets criticism from everybody on everything. Conducting my first interview gave me a respect for the older Ozarkians and their way of life. After writing several stories, giving speeches and becoming circulation editor, I gained confidence, By looking and comparing the stories I have written, I can see improvement of my skills in writing. I can also tell what needs improving, and seeing a small improvement encourages me to venture into new techniques of communication through the written word. I will continue to seek these skills long after I leave the staff. I think the most important lesson I learned though, is the ability to communicate. It's a joke around here, but usually by the first of a member's third year they LOVE to talk. Beware, the unsuspecting person who asks one of us about Bittersweet. If we can capture the person's attention long enough, or it is the right question, we will deliver a two hour speech on the purpose, history and benefits of the magazine.
Not only do we receive the abstract benefits of Bittersweet, but we also learn facts and skills that may be very useful to us in our future. Only this week did I learn how to braid a rug out of rags with a toothbrush handle, how bees flap their wings when they're hot and also how to milk a goat by hand. (The goat got mad after my "man-handling" it and after many tries, it finally put its foot in the bucket spilling a half-gallon of milk. Upon succeeding, it turned, and with an impish look in its eye, I could almost swear it smiled.)
Seriously, we do learn useful talents. Several staff members have planned further education and careers in photography after starting with their first lessons in Bittersweet. Other practical experiences include writing stories, running the business, decision making and experience with exploring new ideas in design and machines.
As you might have noticed, the right margins are flush due to our new typewriter that justifies our type. We are considering doing more articles with this type.
One of the members of our advisory board and a good friend, Vance Randolph, has recently had his marvellous collection of Ozark folk song reprinted. He was the first to come into the Ozarks and attempt to preserve the folklore and lifestyle. He started seriously collecting Ozark folklore in 1920 and has compiled stories, songs and dialect into several volumes of excellent books. Information about the four volume collection can be obtained by writing the University of Missouri Press, Dept. EK, Box 1644, Columbia, Missouri 65205.
We are currently working on our upcoming issues. The stories include old barns, a large family that grew up in a two-room log cabin, cutting down bee trees and old-time underclothes. As usual our topics sound quite unusual, but after three years on the staff, I have come to expect the unexpected. We seem to live by a set of rules around here--if it can go wrong, it will; if it is not supposed to happen, it will; and if it's supposed to work, it won't.
But despite the setbacks and failures that impede the routine, I would not trade my years spent on Bittersweet for anything. They have been sweet and bitter years.
This is a volunteer organization. Our service is to provide material for the blind and visually
handicapped students. There is no charge for our services.
We have been requested to read on cassettes Bittersweet Country by Ellen G. Massey. The book will be a birthday present to a blind young man by his mother. It may interest you to know that this young man works on gas engines!
May we have copyright permission to read this on cassettes?
Buffalo, New York
Dept. of Volunteer Comm. Services and Activities for the Blind
ED. NOTE: We were very pleased to give our permission so that more people could enjoy our book.
Dear Mrs. Massey:
I thought I would write and let you know how our folklore project is coming along at Norwood.
We have completed the stories and the typing and we are now editing the material.
We have had four in-class interviews. I also gave the students research projects on different subjects. These included topics on raising kids, making wagons, recipes, folk remedies, and the history of Ellis store in Norwood.
Our magazine will be out sometime this spring, hopefully in April. We called it "Hickory Switchery."
I appreciate the letter you sent us back in the fall. It was very helpful.
ED. NOTE: One of our responsibilities as an experienced magazine is to help the newer magazines start as others helped us. We give advice and usually stay in contact with the other folklore magazines of our kind, also. One thing very special about this magazine is it is published by a class of fourth graders.
Dear Melinda Stewart:
Your article "The Past Beckons, a Story about a House and Its Family," deserves praise for a job
While I have enjoyed several Bittersweet articles, especially the ones about Harold Bell Wright and Laura Ingalls Wilder, none have thumped the heartstrings like this one.
The pictures caught my eye first since I relish the Ozark past, and the story was great from beginning to end.
My wife and I have actually taken a home, built the turn of the century for a U.S. congressman, and brought it back to life.
As you have so nicely captured and illustrated through pictures and print the story of a family and their home of long ago, we too often wonder what life must have been like in this home of Congressman Lamar and his family.
I share this only to let you know how it is that your article gave me such a special feeling for what you have done and how much I enjoyed it.
I enjoy every copy of Bittersweet and especially # 26 with the story on tie rafting. As a youngster I saw many rafts come down the Osage River at Tuscumbia and saw rafts made up there. I heard my dad speak many times of the rafts that came to Bagnell. He called Bagnell the "Tie Capital" of the world. My dad was pilot on Osage River boats and made regular trips to old Limn Creek.
We thank the following for their donations to Bittersweet.
Ozark Penmaster's Guild, Lebanon, MO
Jacob A. Miller, Conway, Missouri
Eldon Kissee, Springfield, Ohio
John Eime, St. Louis, Missouri
Mrs. Morris J. Williams, Bismarck, MO
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.