Ethel Marian Raitt’s stories

Ethel Marian Raitt, born in Rising City, Butler, Nebraska in 1896, was a daughter of John Doward Raitt and Lily Dorward Raitt and a granddaughter of my great grand uncle John Raitt and his wife Cecelia Monroe Crabb who emigrated to America in 1863. She obviously had an eye for nature and enjoyed writing stories for the local newspaper based on her observations. She was evidently a regular story submitted and had at least two of her stories published when she was 14 years old. Ethel died in 1991.

Published in The Lincoln Evening News, Saturday, July 22, 1911 (p6) under the heading Children’s Story was this contribution.

My Life as a Strawberry.

     “Once upon a time I with a lot of other plants were growing in a nursery. One day a man came into the nursery. He took a knife and carefully dug me and some of the other plants up. He moistened our roots and wrapped paper around them. He then put us into a box. We were taken on a train. By and by we were taken off the train and somebody carried us away. Then the box was opened and I saw the face of a man. Soon he dug a hole in the ground and began to set us out. At last he took me out and put my roots in a hole that he had just dug. He then put the soft dirt all around me. At last he has set us all out. Several days afterwards the man came into the garden, where we were. He had a long stick with a piece of tin on one end. He called it a hoe. He began to dig the earth up around us. Pretty soon he went away. Months went by. At last the snow began to fall, and so I went to sleep. I slept until I heard the birds singing. Then I began to get green and grow. I sent out runners and they took root. At last I had some pretty white blooms. About a week later they were gone and little green berries came where the blossoms had been. They grew larger and larger and redder and redder, until they were ripe. One day a lady came and picked the ripe ones and left the green ones. I suppose when they are ripe she will pick them.”

A month later, she won the competition for the best story and this was subsequently published in The Lincoln Evening News, Saturday, August 5, 1911 (p2) under the heading "Writer from Rising City wins story context prize" with some accompanying text.

“This week the story which the judges say is best and meets the requirements is one sent in by Miss Ethel Raitt of Rising City, Neb. and is “The Robin’s Story”. The writer is one of the Story Editor’s faithful friends, although we have never seen her, but she has been sending a story to use for several weeks. Here is the winner.”

The Robin’s Story.

     “I am nothing but a robin, but would like to tell the story of my life up to the present time.

     The first thing I can remember was sitting in a nest with two sisters and one brother. This was out home and it was situated in a tall tree near a large grove. We had a very nice time here, because the wind would rock us, and our father and mother would sing to us and bring us food.

     But as time went on we became almost grown birds, so one day our mother said, “You must learn to fly, my dears.” So we tried. At first I was afraid that I would fall, but soon learned to fly well.

     For about three weeks I flew around picking up worms and seeds and singling for the little children to make them happy. Then the weather got cold, so I flew southward. It was many days before I reached a warm country. Here I stayed for about three months.

     One day I found a mate, so she and I flew north until we came to the same place where my home was.

     I was very happy. “How pretty and green everything is.” my mate said to me. And in the same tree that I was hatched we began to build a nest.

     We laid sticks and straws in the shape of a nest. We next lined in with feathers to make it complete and cozy.

     Then my mate laid four pretty eggs in it. After setting on them three weeks, four of the prettiest birds were hatched. The what a bust time we had feeding them.

     When they were about a week old a cruel boy shot at me, hitting me in the right wing. I could not fly, but a kind girl carried me home with her. She bound up my wing. I hope it will soon be well so that I can fly back to my nest, but I hate to leave the little girl for she has been kind to me.”

There was some additional text following her story and this noted:

"As usual there were several close contestants, but some of the writers will forget ad if words are omitted or wrongly used and the editors has to make many changes in order to make the story read smoothly that counts against it.

     Other stories were sent by [amongst others]

     Orville Raitt, Rising City, Neb.

Orville Dorward Raitt, who was nine at the time, was Ethel’s younger brother, born in Rising City in 1902. Orville totally disappeared around 1932 amidst rumours of being involved with Al Capone. More about him can be found under Raitt Anecdotes and a new page which traces his "disappearance" Orville Dorward Raitt.