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A Visit to the Past - Kids Stories by Julie from Kensington, USA

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Abnegation Amity Candor Dauntless Erudite Tris Four Eric Jeanine

Author Julie Town Kensington
Age 10 Country USA
Rating 5 Date 1st Dec 1997
Topic Great Stories About Anything
Title A Visit to the Past
My visit to 1790
A 10 year old girl’s 72 hour visit to the Norland Living History Museum located in Maine,USA
Live-In 2 about 1790

We walked into 1790, post Revolutionary War America, behind an ox-cart that carried our gear. The man driving the yoke used a goad to guide the oxen. It is a flexible stick made from a willow or apple tree. Many oxen paths are lined with willow and apple trees. This is from the discarded goads that took root. Mr. Dailey made us walk in front of the cart to look out for Indians. He did not want to lose a yoke of good oxen. We were another story.
We came upon a house and the barn. The Dailey’s did pretty well for themselves. They have wooden floors and wooden planks for their house. Many of their neighbors live in log cabins with dirt floors. In those families the children can do their ciphering on the floor. The barn here is an English style barn. English barns had the big door on the side, not at the end like barns do now.
Right away we got down to work. A few of us made tasty apple cider. It was very easy to do. The apples are thrown into a crusher with bruises, cores, stems, seeds and even some leaves. Crank, Crank, Crank! The crushed apples called pomace drop into wooden bucket. Then it is time to press them down and all the juice comes pouring out. I quickly get a pitcher from Mrs. Daily and then another pitcher. After it is pressed it comes out quickly if you do not work fast you will lose a lot. One day I was not ready and I had to stick my thumb in the spout while someone ran to get another pitcher. While everyone was gone I took this occasion to get some of the apple juice foam on my finger. My fingers tasted great. They couldn’t find another pitcher, the Dailey’s only have two, so we used a bowl.
Next we had to clean the cider press. This was a difficult job. You have to get your water to clean with from the lake. The full buckets are very heavy. We had to take a couple of trips. On one of those trips I fell into the lake. I guess I dipped the buckets in a bit too far. I changed my clothes and Mrs. Dailey allowed me to hang them by the cooking hearth. It was time for dinner. We quickly fed the left over crushed apples to the hungry sheep and the pigs.
Dinner was venison stew, brown bread, curds, and turnips. Mrs. Dailey in clay pots kept her supplies such as: the flour, brown sugar and lard. The items that needed to be chilled where kept in the spring cellar. The houses at this time were build over underground springs. That way if the Indians held you in your house you would still have a supply of water.
At night a fiddler man came and we played games as the room was light from the fire and some candles. I almost fell asleep on the wooden bench. It was warm by the fire. I needed to go to the bathroom. This meant I had to go outside to the privy. It was so dark. I was afraid an Indian was going to pop out. I thought I saw things moving around but it was only a chicken fluttering at the candle light. She had escaped from the barn door that was cracked opened. I shooed the chicken back in with my loose skirt and shut the door. I quickly returned to the warm house filled with laugher and music. We played a few more games, the games were used help get people to get to know each other in 1790. We did not get to know each other because we were all playing a role of someone that lived during that time. But the games were a lot of fun any how.
I was playing the role of Anna Hamlin. (The mother of USA Vice President Hamlin under President Lincoln’s first term) She was an adult. I think I would rather play a kid next time. I think being an adult is very boring. Being a woman in 1790 was not too fun. It was work, work and more work. Like they say, " a woman’s job is never done." The man had a break here and there, but not his wife. My real Mom made me go to bed before I wanted to, everyone else was still playing games. I played with my cornhusk doll in bed.
My doll and I were peeking through a hole in the floor to watch the adults singing and dancing when I heard a loud noise. A woodsman came running into the house. He said everyone should go home that the Indians aren’t too far away. Then I heard a shot. I was frighten. I had to go to the bathroom so bad, I did not want to go outside, but I did not want to go on the chamber pot either. I already had that experience and it wasn’t too comfortable. The privy is not that much better though. It is made from an old smoke house; that’s why it is black inside. Now the meat is smoked in the chimney in the houses. When I heard the others leave to go home I knew it was safe to go to the privy. I really needed to go by now. Oh, the stars were bright. I saw the Milky Way for the first time. I hurried; I was afraid of Indians and the handle of the lantern with a candle in it was beginning to burn my hand. I returned to bed; I was tired now.
This morning when I woke, Mrs. Dailey was already cooking breakfast in the fireplace. I cut the brown bread and made toast. The fire was so very hot. I do not know how Mrs. Dailey does this all the time. I was rescued when Mr. Dailey told me to help clean the barn, feed the cow and milk it while it is eating. Even cleaning manure is better than that hot fire. So I cheerfully worked until Mr. Dailey said the job was done. Mrs. Dailey held breakfast until Mr. Dailey said the outside work was done. Then it was time to eat. We had porridge, sausage, applesauce, brown bread and crushed up raspberries.
After breakfast Mr. Dailey set us to making shingles. This is very hard work. It makes one appreciate a shingle. First we cut a large log. Then we began splitting off the shingles with a frob and a beetle Bang, bang, bang. It shook in my hand. As I looked through the woods I saw we had a guest. It was a trapper man. He showed us how he makes a fire in woods with a flint and steel. The flint comes from England. The English put it in their ships as ballast for the trip over here then they dump and return with a ship full of cargo. He showed us how he cooks bear’s meat when trapping in the woods. He showed us how his rifle works. This was interesting.
Mrs. Dailey said that today is candle making day. In 1790 they used fat from an animal such as a bear and bees’ wax. As the candles burn down, all the little melted pieces, black stuff and all, is saved. This is placed in with the melting fat and wax over the fire. Then we hand dipped the wicks in the wax allowing them to harden slightly between coats. The candles got fatter and fatter and little pieces of black stuff stuck to them.. I was doing great until my candle dropped and broke in half. Mrs. Dailey said, "No matter we can use it as two small candles."
The women in 1790 had to make all the cloth for their families from the wool of the sheep. They would card the wool by going back and forth between two plate with pegs in it . Now the fibers will be running in the same direction for spinning. Then they would spin, dye, weave, cut and stitch. The dye was from flowers, nut shells, onion skins. If it was edible they wouldn’t waste it as a dye .This was a difficult way to get a new piece of clothing so they had very few clothes. There was no need for closets back then.
Outside while hauling water up from the lake I saw some people using the oxen to plow a field. The oxen really must be dumb they weigh about 2500 pounds each and they take directions from a 170 pound man. Other people were sharpening the farm tools. They get dull from all that shingle making.
I have two more days here at the Norland’s. I think I will be tired when I get home. I want to place my visit to 1790 on my 1997 computer. Wow, has the United States of America come a long way!
If you want to see the pictures that go with this story go to http://members.aol.com/dmcjac1/past.html