A little-known series of autobiographical books written by an obscure writer named Ralph Moody should be mandatory reading for every student in every school in America, ages 12-18. These books are mandatory reading for anyone else interested in life in rural, small town America in the early twentieth century.
Ralph Moody was born December 16, 1898, in Rochester New Hampshire. His father, Charles Moody was a farmer, but developed respiratory problems, and the family moved to Colorado when Ralph was eight years old, in hopes that the arid Rocky Mountains climate would improve the elder Mr. Moody’s health. Charles’ health did improve for a time, but a freak accident on horseback injured him, and he developed pneumonia and died soon thereafter. This meant that Ralph, as the oldest son, became the man of the family at the tender age of eleven. At the time of his father’s death, Ralph had one older sister, one younger sister, and two younger brothers.
Bear in mind, this was before Roosevelt-style income redistribution and socialism took a stranglehold on America. This was before the era of Social Security, welfare checks, and FEMA. Ralph’s mother began baking and cooking meals to deliver to other women in town, Ralph went door to door taking orders, and he and his siblings delivered the meals. He took any jobs he could find, including hiring out as a cowboy the summer of his twelfth year, drawing a grown man’s wage of a dollar a day.
Ralph was fiercely devoted to his mother and siblings. He shouldered the burdens of an adult without whining, without complaining, and without government assistance and intervention. Despite having only an eighth-grade education (perhaps this was actually an advantage), Ralph Moody acquired a business acumen which should be the envy of any Fortune 500 executive. Ralph’s story of family devotion, self-reliance, entrepreneurship, and hard work is told in the books Little Britches, Man of the Family, The Home Ranch, Mary Emma and Company, The Fields of Home, Shaking the Nickel Bush, The Dry Divide, and Horse of a Different Color.
For anyone interested in how one courageous American fared against adversity prior to the New Deal, Ralph Moody’s series of autobiographical books are an indispensable source of inspiration and wisdom.