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Rave Reviews by Jean E. Eustance


If you don’t feel cold enough, or if you want to feel hungry and worried and scared, read the children’s book The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is part of the “Little House” series of books, like “Little House on the Prairie.” It is listed as fiction, in the chapter book section of the Pine Bush Public Library, but it is based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s real life.

It starts around September 1880 on the Great Plains, when her father is harvesting the long grass out on the prairie. Laura and Carrie get lost in the hay, which grows higher than their heads. When they find a break in the grass, there are two men they don’t know, harvesting their own grass. They meet the Wilder brothers, Royal and Almanzo. (Someday she will marry Almanzo.)


Winter arrives early, October 1. The Ingalls go to live in their house in town. The girls go to school. There is a blizzard and a white-out. Everyone will freeze and starve if they stay in the school house. The teachers try to lead them back to town, but no one can see anything but snow. Laura and Carrie bump into the last house in town, and Laura yells and yells, and people follow her voice. That is the only thing that kept all of them from wandering out onto the trackless prairie and being lost in the storm.


The blizzards do not stop, that year. The trains from the East cannot get through with food, because snow obliterates the train tracks. The woodpile gives out. The Ingalls are working the straw into tight braids and burning those in the kitchen stove, their house’s only source of heat. The flour runs out. The potatoes are all eaten, and the family is reduced to grinding up their seed wheat in the coffee grinder, to make course flour and very coarse bread. They are living on those slices of bread.


The teenaged Almanzo comes through at this time, wondering if the Ingalls and others in town are starving. He and his older brother Royal have enough food stashed away, but others do not. He and a brave older man go out, twenty miles on the prairie, looking for a farmer who will sell them his seed wheat. They have to get the sacks of wheat back to town before night falls and the next blizzard arrives. It is a harrowing journey, with the horses falling into pockets in the snow, and the sleds tipping over. They get home with the wheat, and the town people do not
starve, but it was a close call. The supply trains do not come through until April.

The whole book is harrowing. The more I read, the colder I got, If you want to feel colder than you are now, and scared and hungry and depressed, read Laura’s book, The Long Winter. It will make this winter seem even longer than it is.

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Join the Pine Bush Library in celebrating Black History Month

Recognizing contributions of Trailblazing Black Scientists

(This list is part of an article from “Insight into Diversity” that was published January/February 2022)

. The underrepresentation of Black Americans in science-related fields remains a significant problem in higher education and the workforce at large. African Americans make up only 9 percent of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers and just 6 percent of research and professional STEM doctorate degree recipients, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center study. As more higher education institutions commit to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within STEM fields, it is important to recognize the Black innovators who, in the face of oppression and discrimination, were able to make significant advancements in these disciplines.

 George Washington Carver

c. 1864 — January 5, 1943

Born into slavery during the final year of the Civil War, George Washington Carver became one of the most renowned scientists of the early 20th century through his work in botany and agricultural science. After earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Iowa State University, Carver was hired to lead the agricultural department at the Tuskegee Institute, a preeminent historically Black university. There, Carver developed various crop diversification methods and cash crop alternatives that helped many formerly enslaved sharecroppers in the South.

Alice Ball

July 24, 1892 — December 31, 1916

Alice Ball was a chemist who developed the first effective treatment against Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy. She was the first woman and first African American to earn a master’s degree at the University of Hawaii (UH) as well as the first woman faculty member in the UH chemistry department. Ball initially developed the successful treatment for Hansen’s disease but was unable to publish her findings before her untimely death at the age of 24. A colleague took credit for Ball’s work before her original research was discovered in the UH archives in the 1970s. In 2000, the university dedicated a plaque to Ball, and Hawaii declared February 29 a state holiday to commemorate her and her work.

Percy Lavon Julian

April 11, 1899 — April 19, 1975

Percy Lavon Julian is widely regarded as one of the most influential chemists in U.S. history due to his research in chemical synthesis, which led to drug treatments for arthritis and glaucoma. He earned a PhD from the University of Vienna in Austria after facing years of educational discrimination in the U.S. Julian was the first person to synthesize progesterone and testosterone on a large scale, resulting in the creation of cortisone, birth control pills, and corticosteroids. In 1973, he became the first Black chemist to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. 

Katherine Johnson

August 26, 1918 — February 24, 2020

Katherine Johnson was one of the first Black women to work for NASA and a renowned mathematician who played a vital role in the agency’s initial space flights. After becoming the first Black woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University, Johnson worked at NASA calculating launch windows, emergency return paths, and trajectories for the Apollo Moon landing and other early space flights. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and was one of the biographical subjects of the 2016 book and film Hidden Figures.

Gladys West

October 27, 1930 — Present

Gladys West is a mathematician whose research was integral to the creation of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Throughout her career, she worked on mathematical modeling of the Earth’s shape and helped develop early satellites, both of which were key elements in the creation of GPS navigation. West holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Virginia State University, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma, and a PhD in public administration from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, which she earned after her retirement. West was inducted into the U.S. Air Force Hall of Fame in 2018.

Mae C. Jemison

October 17, 1956 — Present

Mae C. Jemison is an astronaut, physician, and engineer who became the first Black woman to travel to space in 1992. Jemison earned two bachelor’s degrees from Stanford University, one in chemical engineering and the other in African and African American studies. She later earned an MD from Weill Cornell Medicine and served as a medical officer for the Peace Corps, overseeing volunteer health in Liberia and Sierra Leone. After being accepted into NASA’s astronaut corps, Jemison became a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Her many honors include induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame.

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Our latest newsletter has been published!

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Due to the imminent winter weather, the Pine Bush Library will be closed today.

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