Beth Leiss


Growing Up Rich in a Poor Family

By Doris Hermundstad Liffrig

Publisher: iUniverse LLC Bloomington

Recently, I've chosen a few books from North Dakota authors to review. There are many talented writers out there and with the many small publishing companies and the ability to publish eBooks with ease, the number of local books is plentiful. In "Growing Up Rich in a Poor Family," volumes 1 and 2, Doris Hermundstad Liffrig gives an account of growing up in the Parshall, N.D., area during the Great Depression. Through several stories about a young girl growing up on a farm, with her two older brothers and loving parents, we learn how a doll lacking clothing can be the very best friend and source of hours of entertainment for a small girl. Empty cans, buckets and boards can magically turn into the local diner where Liffrig would spend endless hours serving tasty meals to the local characters.

During the Great Depression, the lack of rain turned the dirt to dust and most crop fields failed. Everything they had was used up until it couldn't be used anymore. Leftover food was used until it went to the pigs. Water that used to wash the clean clothes, then the dirty work clothes, eventually made it the bucket to scrub the floors.

Liffrig tells of the precious child's tea set that she admired in the local store for many months. She earned every penny to buy that tea set and was pleased to finally buy it. She was extra pleased to buy it as the shopkeeper was constantly after her to not touch it.

She recounts one special Christmas during these trying times, when her mother, Olga, fretted over not having the means to give her children something special under the tree. Her father surprised the family with a real Christmas tree, her uncle provided a gift for everyone and Olga was blessed with a dollar to have something extra under the tree for her children.

The main theme of these great books is that in times of need one can turn to the love from you family to make life better and that excess does not make a child happy. Liffrig's mother may have worried less about her family, if they had more money, but the lessons learned are valuable. I'll be reading these books to my children, soon.

Beth Leiss was raised in Bismarck and has always enjoyed reading all kinds of books. Her dream is to pass her love of reading on to her girls as her mother passed it on to her.