Chapter VI: Teacher Lady
The British investors own a second ranch called Hackberry
that is not far away from AIC. The Smiths decide to expand and to work on both ranches. Hackberry has a spring that allows it to survive droughts without being forced to buy expensive water. AIC and Hackberry cover more than 180.000 acres and the Smiths now run one of the largest ranches in Arizona.
Jim lays water conduits and Lily is very happy about their water supply. For the first time, she really feels at home and decorates the house very elaborately: she paints every room in a different colour, inspired by the landscape of Hackberry. Rosemary and Little Jim love living on the Hackberry ranch. Rosemary especially loves the legend of the ghosts of Hackberry. According to the legend, a mother of two children died in a fire while she tried to save her daughter. Her little son survived, but a little while later, falling from a swing, he died, too.
Lily has made an extremely strict savings plan so that her family will be able to buy the farm from the investors. She becomes a door-to-door salesman selling lexica and starts to write stories for dime novels. She also plays poker with the employed cowboys, but her husband dislikes that and tells her stop it. Lily has gone so far in her quest to save the money for the farm that she sends Rosemary and Little Jim to collect bottles at Route 66. When Rosemary picks up a bottle from their neighbours' trash can, Jim says that his children do not have to search for bottles in trash cans. However, Lily strongly disagrees, claiming that she wants her children to learn modesty and that sometimes you have to work hard in order to achieve your goals.
Not long before Lily’s 39th birthday
, the Smiths go to Mohave County
to look at a breeding bull. On the way to the town, they pass an aviation school, where a flying lesson is 5$. The owner of the aviation school offers Jim a flying lesson, but Jim refuses, so Lily takes the flight lesson instead. She is thrilled about flying and says that she wants to continue taking flying lessons. For Rosemary, this is not in line with her mother's strict savings plan and she asks her whether it is not too expensive to take flying lessons. Lily simply replies that the lesson is an investment – in herself.
In order to be able to earn more money, Lily decides to teach classes again. With the aid of Grady Gammage, she finds a job in Main Street/Arizona
. The job is difficult since the people living in Main Street are Mormon polygamists who moved there in order to avoid prosecution. At first, the inhabitants of Main Street are very reluctant about having Lily as their children's teacher, but when they learn that Lily is Lot Smith’s daughter-in-law, they begin to adore her.
Lily perceives her female students as future submissive wives and birthing machines8
. Considering herself an emancipated woman and feeling the urge to help her students prepare for a life besides bearing children - a life of education and making own decisions - she refuses to teach them in the same way they were taught before. Lily wants to convey independence, self-confidence and the knowledge that her students are able to achieve anything they want.
A few days later, the village elder, Uncle Eli
, tells Lily to stop teaching her ways because Lily’s job just entails to prepare the girls for their future life meaning that they only need to know how to read and how to do a little arithmetic. Lily is not at all impressed by that and only replies that Uncle Eli cannot forbid her to teach the girls her way. Uncle Eli, however, does not leave Lily’s house and suggests to write Rosemary's name into the Joy Book9
which lists all the young girls that are in a marriageable age. Lily denies him to do so. The next day, Lily deliberately talks about political and religious freedom and the specific role of the USA in comparison to totalitarian countries. That evening and the next day
, Uncle Eli stands in front of the Smiths’ house, staring and trying to intimidate Lily. When he appears in front of the house for the third time and begins to knock at the door, Lily takes out her revolver and shoots at Uncle Eli, missing him on purpose. She tells the stunned village elder that she will not miss her aim again if he returns.
Two days later
, the sheriff of Main Street comes to talk to Lily in order to tell her that she does not belong there. The next few months
, many children are taken out of the school by their parents and Lily and her children are being ignored by the inhabitants of Main Street. In the spring of 1939
, Lily receives the letter of dismissal.
Lily Casey Smith moves on to a school in Peach Springs/Arizona
. In order to earn some extra money, she also takes jobs as the school’s janitor10
, bus driver and cook. Thus, she earns 80$ a month. She also instructs Rosemary and Little Jim and in order to show the other children that she does not prefer her own children over them, she also beats her daughter and her son.
One day, Lily finds Little Jim unconscious: he fell from the swing, reenacting the legend of Hackberry. Lily decides to take him to the hospital, even though that means she has to cancel school for the day. On the way to the hospital, Little Jim regains consciousness. Lily is beside herself with rage because she thins that this might cost her a day's salary. When Rosemary tries to play truant11
by saying that she does not feel good, Lily drives her to the hospital instead. She talks to a nurse and makes Rosemary stay in a sick room all night to think about her behaviour. The next day, Lily picks her up.
To earn even more extra money, Lily uses the school bus, which is actually a hearse12
actually, as a cab. In December 1939
, she drives three women from Brooklyn
to the Grand Canyon when suddenly the brakes fail. She is able to bring the vehicle to a standstill, but the car flips over. The three women threaten to take legal action against Lily Casey Smith, but she does not feel intimidated. The women tell Rosemary about Christmas in Manhattan and ask her whether whether she knows Santa Claus, and when Rosemary denies that, they are shocked.
As a result, Lily decides to celebrate Christmas for the first time. She buys Christmas lights and some toys for Rosemary and Little Jim. On Christmas Eve
, Lily and her husband stage the arrival of Santa Claus. Rosemary, however, does not believe it. Nevertheless, she and Little Jim like the Christmas lights and the Smiths enjoy Christmas.
, when Lily is still teaching in Peach Springs, she has a class of 25 students and six of them are children of Deputy Johnson
All of them behave conspicuously13
, and especially Johnny Johnson
is very difficult. Lily finds out that he has kissed Rosemary against her will. Two weeks later
, Johnny touches one of his fellow pupils inappropriately. Lily strikes him in the face, but Johnny does not apologize – in fact, he hits Lily. Beside herself with rage, Lily beats the Deputy’s son. Thinking of her unfaithful ex-husband Ted Conover and Helen’s “Mr. Wonderful”, she does not feel remorse.
The next morning, Deputy Johnson tells Lily to leave his son alone. But Lily stubbornly replies that she is in charge of those difficult children and not him. When Lily tells Jim what happened, her husband is not surprised and says that things like that are typical for her. Lily says that she does not want to be pushed around. Only a few months later
, Lily is dismissed.
Having received another dismissal notice, Lily is sitting in the kitchen crying, when Rosemary enters the room. Lily’s daughter is shocked because she has never seen her mother crying before. In order not to show any weakness, Lily Casey Smith says that she got dust in her eyes. To demonstrate strength, she goes outside and chops wood.
Deputy Johnson tells everyone in Peach Springs that Lily had been fired because she beat up his son. As a result, Lily decides to take revenge and goes to the premiere of the film “Gone with the Wind”, where she walks right through Deputy Johnson’s photo.
8Gebärmaschinen; im Buch wird es wie folgt formuliert: “[They] were expected to churn out a baby a year”, p. 165, ll. 12 f.
9Buch der Freude; in dieses Buch werden die unverheirateten Mädchen eingetragen, damit sie im Alter von 13 Jahren schnellstmöglich verheiratet werden können.
11Schule schwänzen; Originalformulierung im Buch: “to play hooky”