Hello. I hope you are all enjoying Labor Day Weekend, always a favorite here, as MAD and My Pub usually give me the day off, after much conferring, of course.
I mean, who is going to keep watch at the street and make sure no one invades the place or runs off with the heaps of laundry I guard? My Pub said not to worry about it. All intruders and self-respecting laundry thieves have gone away for the weekend, I get a break at last! So, I’ll lounge around on this carpet.
I will also use my down time to list the various jobs my alter ego, Louisa May Alcott, had before penning ‘Little Women.’
I think we tend to focus on my earlier work as a writer, which is understandable, as I wrote more than 30 books, scores of plays and hundreds of poems and as many newspaper and magazine articles.
But did you know I helped my impoverished family through other occupations?
Here is a list of some of the jobs I performed:
- Along with Marmee, that’s our mother, my sisters and I took in sewing.
- I went out to service. The assignment was first to help an invalid girl, but her brother, who happened to be a judge, had different ideas for me. I refused his vulgar advances only to be sentenced to scrub maid, cleaning mud off of his boots, doing laundry and cleaning floors. I broke away after 7 weeks of 16 hour days, and was paid $7 for the duration. My family joined me as I returned the insulting wage.
- I accompanied a lame women to Europe. Granted it was a way for me to finally realize a dream, but I paid a price. The woman was a PILL, that’s the kindest word I can find. Eventually, I used some of those wages to resign my post and toured a little on my own before the voyage home.
- I helped my sister Anna, Meg in LW, teach school.
- I worked as a tutor.
- I helped abolitionist Franklin Benjamin Sanborn instruct at his progressive school for boys in Concord, Mass.
- I helped Marmee and Anna hand out used clothing and household goods, as well as food to Boston’s poverty stricken, of which class we belonged. Marmee is considered the city’s first female social worker.
- The three of us also devoted three nights a week teaching literacy and math to women of color.
- I worked as a nurse for the United States Army during the Civil War. This is one of proudest accomplishments, as I longed to serve in war. Nursing was the only occupation available to women then. Contracting typhoid fever shortened my stay, however the experience left me with both the worst and best experiences of my life.
First, the worst.
Typhoid fever was treated with calomel, a mercury-based compound. I suffered from lifelong mercury poisoning as a result, which many physicians believed led to my death at age 55. So, that was bad.
Now, the best.
My days working with wounded soldiers not only made me feel very good about myself, it inspired me to write my first full-length novel called ‘Hospital Sketches.’ This book, which is still available and is a free download, gave me the skill, reputation and confidence to write another book from my experiences. That book is also still available and a free download. It is called ‘Little Women.’
Sometimes the best fringe benefits may take a few years to realize.
Hope you all enjoy the long, beautiful weekend, xo LMA
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