Chronicles of The Farm Woman: Henrietta Becker

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A local news item states that neighboring farm girl, Henrietta Becker, called her parents from New York City on New Year’s eve and that her voice came in clear on the party line.

Long distance tele-phone calls are  common place today.  Every day con-nections are made from the east coast to the west coast, to the north and south.  In the course of minutes one may be connected with London or Helsinki.  But it is still rare enough to be news when a call comes through from Manhattan Island on the party line.

The story behind this telephone call may well be observed and read by all who say there is no oppor-tunity for youth today. 

This neighbor girl is an intern in dietetics in Presbyterian Hospital and Medical Center and she got there entirely by her own efforts in the depression thirties.  The way has not been easy but the point is she is there and will complete her training in a few months.

This girl taught in country schools for eight years.  She hesitated to go to the university because she thought she didn’t have money enough.  She decided to try.  She found employ-ment, did without many things but earned her bachelor’s degree.  With even less money she set out for Iowa State to work toward a master’s degree.  While there the dormitory in which she lived, burned.  It burned on a rainy Saturday night and the only things she saved were an old dress and shoes and a raincoat.  From this experience she learned that it takes grace to receive as well as to give.  No one had ever given her anything before, or rather she had never before been placed in a position of needing to depend on someone else for a dry pair of hose and a toothbrush.  It was a struggle, she was tempted to come home.  It would have been so much easier.  Instead she acquired this added grace and finished the term.

The offer of internship in Presbyterian came.  She had little money and few clothes, but she accepted the offer.  After she had been there a few months a vacancy occurred on the staff and she was asked to supply.  For five months she was on the payroll and that was a godsend.  She is on the last lap now.

The experiences along the way have been as valuable to this country girl as her academic training.  She has pioneered as did her ancestors when they came to this new land from the old country.  She has worked hard and has learned to trust in the morrow.

Of course we are proud of Henrietta.  She is our neighbor.  But what she has done, others with health and determination and a vast capacity for work, can do.  Don’t tell us there is no opportunity for youth today.                   

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