Skip to content
July 6, 2022 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Odd notes: Sod and Clods


Sylvester Rawding family in front of sod house, 1886. (USPD. artist life,, NARA/

Yes, the cow is on the roof. Possibly a hedge against food insecurity. To get to Bessie, they’ll have to go through that family. Even the dog and mules look like they mean business. (Sylvester Rawding family in front of sod house, 1886/USPD/

Teacher and children in front of sod schoolhouse. Woods Co., Okla. Territory, 1895 (USPD, artist life,, NARA/

No, not Oz’s munchkins or Minions. Teacher and children in front of sod schoolhouse. Woods Co., Oklahoma Territory, 1895 (USPD/

That teacher looks all of 16-18 years old, but earning her own keep and not living in anyone’s basement. No one was probably talking about kids needing more outdoor exercise each day either. 

During this era- and into the 40’s school boards preferred to hire single women for teachers.

“Women are nurturing and know how to teach the young’ uns.”

If they were married, their attention, time, and energy would be focused on their own children and family.

Too distracting for efficient teaching.

Some of that thinking is still around.

While visiting a school building once, I overheard a Principal telling one of his assistants that he liked hiring divorced women as they desperately needed their jobs and would do anything to keep it: after school duty, early morning duty,  monitoring the lunchroom, supervising after school clubs or sports, coming up on weekends to fix their classrooms instead of using time during regular day…”

Struck me as abusive. I knew he was divorced several times (wonder why?) Tried to tell a couple of those teachers I knew to get a backbone and just say “No”. Some just never taught to stand up to bullies, I guess.

Major companies like IBM, when forced to add more women as employees, raided the schools for people.

Teachers were educated, had transferable skills, and many were ready to make more money (not to mention being able to go out to lunch and the bathroom whenever they wanted).

Four women in front of a sod house. Rancher J.M. Chrisman's daughters,1887 (USPD, artist life, NARA/

Despite the digs, they don’t look down and dirty. Laundry day must have been a nightmare. Maybe ready to saddle up and head to life in the big city? (Rancher J.M. Chrisman’s daughters,1887, in front of their sod house. USPD/

Ah, the glamour of working in the business world.

Single/divorce women made competitive, dependable, productive employees companies found.

HR became a bit chagrined when told during interviews questions about “Are you planning to have children?”, “Do you have childcare?” and birth control were totally off limits.

Companies privately muttered if a trained and productive employee became pregnant it meant that person be MIA on maternity leave for weeks. Then there would be demands for time off for “First Day at School”, sick kids, school parties. Not to mention women with families are less available to work late / weekends, answer phone/emails at home, and seem less interested in sacrificing themselves for corporate advancement.

Darn those babies! They interrupt business.

May sound harsh, but Corporations appear to have a similar abusive mindset from earlier eras.

Big companies are all about profit.

Article: …”not out of the kindness of their hearts”…”By offering to pay for employee abortions, they are achieving two feats in one fell swoop: seizing the opportunity of the latest social movement while also rescuing their profits from childbearing employees.” Disturbing. Thought provoking. Read more here.

 Not sure we’ve come a long way, Baby.

Eyes wide open.

The clods can really trip you up.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Tejana cowgirl in Apache dress. Arizona, 1886 (Wirrick, Huntington Lib., CA/USPD artist life/,

“Don’t fence me in.” (Tejana cowgirl in Apache dress. AZ,1886/USPD/


Leave a Comment
  1. Helen Devries / Jul 6 2022 7:02 am

    The days of companies doing something from the goodness of their hearts are long gone…and even then were in a minority.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. disperser / Jul 6 2022 8:01 am

    It’s not just companies, unfortunately . . . everyone looks for some advantage, but advantages don’t come without someone on the other end of the balance scale.

    In that regard, even today, I see many, many sod houses.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. easyweimaraner / Jul 6 2022 8:09 am

    as a kid I thought all companies are a kind of santa, they fill the stores so we can get all the things we want… I forgot the pecunary part, I was a silly kid, I know LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SusanR / Jul 6 2022 11:15 am

    Of course they look tough in that first picture. One had to be tough to survive life in a soddy.

    I can still recall being asked who would care for my young son if I went to work for that organization.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. walkingoffthechessboard / Jul 6 2022 11:58 am

    When I woke up this morning, I did not think I’d see a cow on a roof, but here we are. Indeed, companies have a long, long way to go to approach “being human” to humans.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Coastal Crone / Jul 6 2022 1:26 pm

    Yes, we still have a long way to go! The old photos were a clever way to illustrate the similarities between the past and present where women are concerned. Don’t women always have to bear the biggest burdens and men seem to take it for granted. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. shoreacres / Jul 6 2022 3:22 pm

    What fun to discover some of Solomon Butcher’s photos. You can read a bit more about him here. I discovered his work when I was trying to get some information about some of my mother’s forebears, who did live in a Nebraska soddy. My favorite of Butcher’s photos shows a family much like these, lined up in front of their soddy with their pump organ next to them. They may have lived in a soddy, but they were cultured!

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 6 2022 5:55 pm

      Laughed at the pump organ. It’s like those young women all dressed up between the horses and in front of their house….sod was no excuse for not being well dressed. A whole different mindset. Tough free-range chicks indeed. Historical photos are not only charming, but revealing of so much. (Wiki Commons has a stash of these…but I do love that cow on the roof – real little House on the Prairie ..(.you’ve seen how they have “hired” goats for summer cleanup aaa the Houston Arboretum and Memorial Park woods? Some remember how to get things done)
      Thanks for the link and for taking the time to nibble on this post


  8. sustainabilitea / Jul 6 2022 6:49 pm

    Love the cow on the roof and yes, washing would have been a nightmare and a long-lasting one at that. I wish today there was more concern about the babies and their rights.


Always glad to hear from readers.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: