Book, The Little Red Hen, 1961

Bob Bullock used the children’s book as a motivational tool

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by Jenny Cobb, Associate Curator of Exhibitions

Bob Bullock (1929–1999) served the State of Texas as comptroller for 16 years and lieutenant governor for eight years. Working for him was both an opportunity and an education.

Throughout his career, Bullock earned a reputation as a driven perfectionist and stern taskmaster who drove his staff as hard as he drove himself. This classic folktale, Little Red Hen, was a motivational tool used by Bullock. The story is a cautionary tale about how we reap what we sow. When the hen asks a duck, cat, and dog for help planting some wheat, she gets no takers. They won’t cut, thresh, or mill the wheat . . . or help bake bread with it, either. So guess who eats the bread by herself in the end?

The lessons in the book—strong work ethics and habits—were values Bullock admired and practiced in his own life. He was known to give out copies to visiting children, students, or personnel whom he believed might benefit from the lessons. During his comptroller campaign, Bullock insisted that everyone who worked for him read and reread The Little Red Hen to absorb its message of individual initiative and self-reliance.

The Little Red Hen

One day as the Little Red Hen was scratching in a field, she found a grain of wheat.

"This wheat should be planted," she said. "Who will plant this grain of wheat?"

"Not I," said the Duck.

"Not I," said the Cat.

"Not I," said the Dog.

"Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

Soon the wheat grew to be tall and yellow.

"The wheat is ripe," said the Little Red Hen. "Who will cut the wheat?"

"Not I," said the Duck.

"Not I," said the Cat.

"Not I," said the Dog.

"Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

When the wheat was cut, the Little Red Hen said, "Who will thresh the wheat?"

"Not I," said the Duck.

"Not I," said the Cat.

"Not I," said the Dog.

"Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

When the wheat was threshed, the Little Red Hen said, "Who will take this wheat to the mill?"

"Not I," said the Duck.

"Not I," said the Cat.

"Not I," said the Dog.

"Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

She took the wheat to the mill and had it ground into flour. Then she said, "Who will make this flour into bread?"

"Not I," said the Duck.

"Not I," said the Cat.

"Not I," said the Dog.

"Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

She made and baked the bread. Then she said, "Who will eat this bread?"

"Oh! I will," said the Duck.

"And I will," said the Cat.

"And I will," said the Dog.

"No, No!" said the Little Red Hen. "I will do that." And she did.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Book, The Little Red Hen, 1961 Artifact from Austin, Texas
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