05—Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

In this fictionalized biography, written in the first person, author Jeannette Walls tells the story of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Lily grew up in Arizona and New Mexico. With an 8th grade education she became a teacher around the age of 15. She was a spunky kid, never afraid to try anything. Her father taught her to break horses and train them. She was sent to finishing school at age 14. After a year she had to leave because her father spent her tuition money on 8 Great Danes from England.

Lily was the oldest child and the one with the strongest personality. She kept home and hearth together. At age 18, traveled to Chicago to seek her fortune. There she found a position as a maid for rich folks. She married a man who turned out to be a con man with  another wife.

She left him and returned to Arizona where she made her living as a teacher. She eventually married Jim Smith and had two children, one of whom is the mother of the author.

The stories in the book were handed down from Lily to her daughter Rosemary and from Rosemary to the author. 

Lily eventually went to college and graduated in two years with her teaching certification. She also learned to fly.

The book is a fascinating look into life in the west, growing up and scratching out a living in an unforgiving country. A great read.

© Surveyor of the Passing Scene