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Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  499 ratings  ·  114 reviews
This daughter's loving tribute to her pioneer mother tells of a real heroine who traveled by herself to North Dakota in 1904, to stake a lonely claim and start a farm on 160 empty acres before she married and began her family. Photos.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by University Of Iowa Press (first published 1991)
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3.95  · 
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This gentle assemblage of memories by the youngest child of parents of Norwegian descent gives true meaning to the frontier spirit. Ahdele Carrine Berg, aka Carrie Young, lovingly expressed her thoughts in the form of eight short stories. Six were reprinted after they were first published in various magazines. I had no problem reading it in this format.

1. The Education Of A Family

My pioneer mother was wild for education. The sheer amount of giving freely to help others was played over and over.
Book Concierge
The subtitle is “My Pioneer Mother,” and much of this memoir features Young’s mother Carrine Gafkjen Berg. But this is really the story of a family’s experiences in the early 20th century in North Dakota.

At age twenty-five, already considered a spinster, Carrine left Minneapolis to claim her own homestead on the western North Dakota prairie. Through her own hard work and perseverance, she managed to amass a key parcel of fertile land, living alone first in her claim shack and then in a modest f
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
North Dakota c 1910-1940

The author fondly recalls her childhood on the ND prairie. As I read, I kept wondering if her mother were human. How would it be possible for any woman to do so much work, do it splendidly, and raise six children (born in a span of 9 years)? Carrie was the youngest in the family, so the tale has the rosy glow of childhood memories. She mentions snow and drought, but never says much about wind. Her mother makes all of their clothes (and bakes all of the bread, do
Carrine was a woman unto herself. In an age when women were supposed to stay at home, cook, clean, and make babies, she boarded a train alone in Minneapolis with a goal of claiming a homestead in the wild area of western North Dakota.

Brave beyond her years, she was bound and determined to succeed. To say she was a success is putting it mildly. She works hard and is eventually one of the largest land owners in the state.

In the beginning, she eked out a living in her claim shack, surviving by will
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my sister, Amanda
Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother plops the reader down smack dab in the middle of big sky, North Dakota amidst a Norwegian community. The book only contains 164 pages, but they aren't 164 pages of hardship and endurance that I expected given the title. Instead, the contents are a nice swill of reminiscence, recipes from the Ewld Coontry, laughter and caricatures of persons and family members with plenty of personality. People like "rolling the eyes" Uncle Ole who at 55 and tired of eati ...more
Kit M
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love this little book, it isn't going to change your life- but it is a sweet nostalgic look back at a way of life that doesn't exist anymore with the advent of technology. It also has a few tempting recipes to try. Can easily be read in one to two sitting, great for a plane or train trip!
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenni by: Sarah P.
I have currently "endured" four harsh Minnesota winters and I often ponder how the early settlers survived the freezing cold, bitter wind, and unheated (other than fireplaces and stoves) homes. I enjoyed reading about the author's family and their experiences growing up in North Dakota. It was interesting to hear about the daily life, celebrations, food, education, and traditions of her family. Her mother was an amazing woman to settle a homestead on her own and have six children after the age o ...more
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kris by: Sarah
Shelves: memoirs
One of the most enjoyable books I read in a long time.

Jan. 12 The thing I noticed most after reading this the second time is Carrie's positive attitude. She lived through the dust bowl - a very trying time for farmers. Yet there is little to no emphasis on this or "woe is me" thinking in her writing.
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend told me a few months back that if I liked Laura Ingalls Wilder (and do I ever!) then I really ought to read this book, which is the author's memoir mostly about her mother, who was a homesteader in North Dakota in 1905.

The book is divided into sections, and each section is basically a stand-alone essay. So there's one section all about Norwegian-North Dakotan hospitality and foods, one about her Uncle Ole, but my favorite was the first and longest section, about her mother deciding to t
Jan 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Short and sweet, I finished this little book in two sittings. Very nostalgic, full of little anectdotes of her parents' early years as homesteaders in the North Dakota prarie, and also stories from her own youth as the youngest of their six children. It has the voice of an older person fondly remembering the simpler days of youth, when she worked hard and played hard, and waited from Christmas until the Fourth of July for hand-cranked ice cream. It reminded me of listening to my own Grandmother ...more
Sep 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Being a pioneer on the prairie has always seemed one of the most horrendous lives possible, so I picked up this book to see why someone would actually want to do it. The book is not, in fact, a story about the author's mother, but reminiscences of the author's own childhood. I wish she would have explained why her mother, when she was young and unmarried, got a plot to homestead all alone, but that motivation was never explained. Still, the book painted a wonderful picture of family life on the ...more
Laurie Simmons
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A perfect book of the genre of someone remembering the life of their Norwegian immigrant parents on the high plains and their growing up years. Lots of interesting details about women's, men's, and children's lives on homesteads and during the Great Depression. A real gem.
Anson Cassel Mills
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ahdele B. “Peggy” Young (1923 - 2017)—who wrote under the pen name Carrie Young—was a food writer and author of short fiction who lived most of her adult life in Ohio. This series of eight anecdotal essays treats farm life during the early 20th century among Scandinavian pioneers in far northwestern North Dakota where she grew up. Young writes with unabashed nostalgia—probably more than a university press would find acceptable today—so the chapters have less of a harder edge than the title might ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Packed with warmth and humor, this slender novel tells the story of the author's Norwegian mother who homesteaded on her own, then married and raised a family in North Dakota in 1904. So many delightful memories came to mind while reading about "egg-coffee", cooking huge meals for the men working in the fields, 5 quilts on the bed during the unheated winters, the cream separator, picking eggs from the henhouse, oh and the most memorable --picking rocks from the fields! All reminders of my childh ...more
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sold
I was given this book by a fellow librarian who said it was amazing. She was right. I couldn't put it down. Simply eloquent prose about a woman and her family living on the North Dakota plains. Sweet descriptions of childhood memories centering around education, food, and the strength and fortitude of those who came before us. I didn't purposefully read this during Women's History Month, but I am happy I did. In doing so I feel like I paid respect to the women who did it all first.
Marcia Seybold
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this little book. Reminded me of my childhood and my great grandmother from Norway. Loved all the Norsk sayings, some I still use today. My mother washed clothes in the kitchen heating water on a wood stove and putting wash tubs on kitchen chairs. I love lefsa and the other Norske treats that we now have at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. We make lefsa as a proud to be 100% Norske
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a quick, but enjoy able read. It gives a glimpse into the life of a a young woman (Corrine Gafkjen), child of Norwegian immigrants, who leaves "civilization" at the age of 25, to homestead on the windswept plains of the North Dakota prairie. The story is told through the eyes of her youngest daughter (the youngest of six children).
Elizabeth Kennedy
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
what a wonderful, heartwarming little book! This boo was chock full of amazing, fun information, from living in a one room school house when the weather was bad, to the strangest Christmas tree in North Dakota to a Swedish Thanksgiving with a table overladen with food. I wish there was more, it felt like there could be more, a longer book with more details perhaps???? Recommended!
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable, easy reading about the author's mother who bravely
went alone to stake a homestead in the prairie of North Dakota.
She lived on potatoes & salt.
Later, she married & had six children.
The book is about day to day living in the 1900's.
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, memoir
An interesting story of a woman homesteading in North Dakota and the difficulties involved in prairie life, written by her daughter. "Storytelling in the best rural tradition...wonderfully direct and earthy." - The New York Times Book Review
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
This was a bookclub choice, probably wouldn't have read on my own but very glad I did. Loved the strength of these women and the sacrifice to make sure their children were educated including their daughters . Its a little book well worth the read
Shannon Ueker
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
The first two chapters were really insightful, opening charming doors to the past. The last few chapters were a bit too personal for my liking and seemed like filler. The first chapters would have been great articles, but maybe there wasn't enough here for a full book.
Mark Jurgensen
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just love this book. While I've never been to the Dakotas, so much in this beautiful memoir evoked fond memories of time spent at my grandparents' house on the Illinois prairie when I was a little boy.
Carolyn A.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable pioneer story. The various Norwegian words and customs are ever so pleasant to enjoy!

A quick read, it is just a very pleasant journey down memory lane!
Miriam Schoenig
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great insight on homesteading in North Dakota. Well written.
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was pleasant and endearing and a quick and happy read.
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Short and interesting. I found the first chapter to be the best, personally. But overall it is an interesting view into life on the homestead!
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hope Book Group
Recommended to Kate by: Rebecca
I always knew that I wouldn't have been a pioneer woman, and this story gives that thought more credibility.😉

Lovely stories.
Sandy Carmichael
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
good pioneer story, true life, view from a daughter.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Charming account of the author’s family homesteading in North Dakota during the first part of the twentieth century. I felt my Scandinavian roots tingle a little.
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Play Book Tag: Nothing to Do But Stay / Carrie Young - 4**** 1 8 Feb 23, 2017 10:05PM  

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