Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bygone era.

(* So I wrote this post last year and never posted it (I think because I had a baby and that kindof threw a monkey wrench in my post writing and editing) so I don’t feel quite so sentimental-ish now as I did then, but I thought I’d post it anyway.)

So, often around this time of year (and especially if I also read a book set in such a time period) I get all wistful-feeling about how wonderful it must have been to live in the good old days. Though not really an exact time period, it’s just the whole idea of when life was a bit slower, people worked harder and rejoiced more in the simple things. I know in my brain that we have a lot of conveniences now to make our lives pleasant and comfortable and that in the old days it would be soooo much tougher, but somehow that part gets a bit fuzzy, and I mostly see the lovely Norman Rockwell-ish images.


I think about how people had such great parties. They had a lot of work to do, so they did it together, and they helped each other, and it became a party! Like barn raisings, or husking bees. (I can’t give credit for the following paragraph because I no longer remember where I got it from. Bad me.)

The purpose of the husking bee was to not only make the work of harvesting and husking the corn easier, but also to allow the community to get together and have fun chatting, singing songs, telling jokes and just being with their friends and family. In order to make the husking more exciting, they seperated the party into two groups and raced to see which group would finish husking their pile of corn first. Sometimes the colonists would find an ear of red corn, also known as Indian corn, and according to tradition, whoever found an ear of red corn would receive a kiss from their sweetheart. Of course, some young men would then hide the red corn and pretend they husked it when the time was right.

Doesn’t that sound like so much fun? It’s like the fun of going to the pumpkin patch or corn maze along with a dance and competition and staying out in the autumn evening. Just fun.



"It was a cold, frosty day in late fall. For several days, Father and we boys had been busy moving the shocks of corn from the field to the big barn floor.
Our little black dog waited eagerly everytime we tipped a shock of corn over to catch the big, fat rats who thought they had it made for the entrire winter by living under the shelter of the cornshocks and eating the eared corn.
While we were working with corn, Mother was busy in the house getting ready for a big feast for the neighbors who would come in the evening to help husk the corn, eat the food which Mother had provided, and drink quantities of sweet cider.
After the corn was husked, the barn floor was cleared, old Dan tuned up his fiddle, and the young folks danced in the light of the lanterns until midnight. If, during the husking, a girl was so lucky or unlucky, according to her point of view, as to find an ear of red corn, then she got kissed by most of the young men present. She always squeeled a lot, but the squeeling was for effect, for her resistance never was too strong."

-E.R. Eastman from his autobiographical book entitled: "Journey to Day Before Yesterday"

Another example of making work fun is quilting bees. Doesn’t the following two pictures make it look so fun? I could imagine a day of chit-chatting with my mom, sisters, and friends pretty darn fun.



Maple sugaring. If you have not ever read Little House in The Big Woods, you should do it now, along with the rest of the Little House series, but anyway, you’ll find out about how fun it is to make maple syrup, have a dance, make snow candy, etc.


And I have always always wanted to go sleigh riding. I mean, doesn’t every Christmas card/song that brings to mind sleigh bells make you want to jump back in time and ride around the neighborhood next to your man, all bundled up together? Dad, please train a pair of your horses to pull a sleigh, stat.


And then, a taffy pull. I always thought that sounded fun too. In fact, I remember our family making taffy once for FHE and it was good (and harder than you’d think). I always wanted to do it again, but it never happened.


So anyway, I’m kindof a sucker for all this stuff, in case you couldn’t tell. But really, when I live in a quaint little house in a lovely little field next to a nice wood, I’m going to have husking bees and quilting bees, and taffy pulls and sleigh rides. Who’s coming?

p.s. Here are some of the books that get me in this reminiscent mood:

The Witch of Blackbird Pond (husking bee)

Little House on the Prairie series (maple sugaring, as previously mentioned, and sleigh rides, and buggy rides, etc. etc.)

Apple Valley Series – The Dare, The Proposal, The Journey, Destiny (sleigh rides)

almost anything by Richard Peck (seriously, you cannot go wrong with Richard Peck. I love him. Plus, he adds some of the more mischievous activities of the good old days, like outhouse tipping. If you read any of these recommendations, make it this one.)

Movies: Meet Me in St. Lous, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers

I know there are more out there that I’m not thinking of, but that’s what I’ve got for now.

The end.


Tara said...

"Farmer Boy" is one of my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder books from when I was growing up. There are a few passages about coming in from the cold and eating doughnuts that are quintessential fall images for me.

Sarah Harrington said...

I have to say I feel a LOT the same way. I'm sure it was tough- a lot of doing without and such back then- but I only see the rosey side of it. I'm always sort of proud when we do our apple sauce from our own trees and cooked them over the fire pit in our back yard. I get all excited when we work together to do our "chores" around here. Pigs, chickens. I love harvest time of whatever we're harvesting because I think how we're doing it ourselves and that seems to make it taste so much better. Anyway, I totally get what you're sayin'. And I think I'll read Little House on the Prarie to the boys this winter. Thanks for the idea.

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