No Time on My Hands
"I grew up on the high plains of Custer County, Nebraska, where, as a child of seven and up, I wished three wishes and dreamed three dreams. I wished that I might grow up to make the most beautiful quilts in the world, to marry a cowboy, and to look down on the top of a cloud. At the time I dreamed those dreams and wished those wishes, it seemed impossible that any of them could ever come true."Grace McCance, her two sisters, and her parents moved to Nebraska in 1885 to homestead. They raised cattle and farmed and Grace's story of her life on the prairie is fascinating. Similar to Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, but perhaps a bit grittier, Grace's portrayal of daily life inspired me to be thankful for my life. Unlike the Ingalls family, the McCance family remained rooted in Custer County and despite hardships and adversity, they successfully homesteaded.
Over the years more children were added to the family, and all of them worked hard to help their parents. Grace's particular job was to herd the cattle all day. She would take scraps of fabric with her when any were available, and piece them together while she watched the cows. She missed a lot of school, but even so managed to catch up and take teaching courses in order to teach tiny one-room classes further out on the frontier in order to help her parents and her siblings.
On the day one of her sisters was to be married, Grace's mother had put the baby on a blanket in the yard while the family set up everything for the wedding. At one point she looked over and saw a rattlesnake on the corner of the baby's blanket, coiled and ready to strike. Grace killed the snake while her mother grabbed the baby. The wedding was postponed for a day because of something the groom had to do, so Grace's mother pointed out the spot near the house where she thought a nest of rattlesnakes was likely to be and told Grace they must kill the snakes. And without argument or discussion (I could barely even imagine this!) Grace assented and she and her mother - by Grace's account Mrs. McCance was always a small, slight and frail woman - went up on that ridge and killed 22 rattlesnakes.
Grace McCance Snyder lived from 1882 to 1982 and saw all her dreams come true. She made some of the most beautiful quilts that won prizes and were on display in quilt shows in Texas, Virginia, California, Washington, Tennessee, Louisiana, Michigan, Kansas, Colorado, Iowa, and Utah. She married a cowboy and they raised a family in Nebraska. She flew in an airplane and looked down on the top of a cloud. Grace and her daughter, Nellie Snyder Yost, wrote No Time on My Hands in 1963.