Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another Peek at the Past

Here are a couple of short installments from the history book of the region where the Bag Lady lives:

"Mom struggled with a garden. The growth was terrific, but occasionally a summer frost would kill her potatoes and that was a disaster as that was a staple they depended on. She often told of times she and a neighbor lady would go horse back riding to pick blueberries or cranberries, or the lonely nights when the men were away hunting and the only sound you would hear was the howling coyotes. No communication in those days, but somehow life was not boring as there was so much to do one was far too busy to feel sorry for oneself.

I was born in January of 1918, in the tiny hospital in town. It was so cold inside the hospital that the water froze solid in a glass on a bedside table.

Soon the flu epidemic spread to our area and families and neighbors died by the score. Dad made boxes and helped bury the dead. People that were well a few days before were suddenly sick and dying. "

Another woman wrote of her experiences attending school in the 1940's:

"When my brother and I were school age, we rode horseback for the spring and fall months. Several families in our area travelled together with horses and sleigh during the winter months. School was about 5 miles away and on very cold days we often suffered frostbite on face, hands and feet. Our mothers would heat rocks in the oven and wrap them in blankets. The rocks held the heat for quite awhile and we would keep our feet on them to keep warm. However, often the roads would be badly drifted and we children would have to get out and break trail for the horses and sleigh. This, of course, meant extra time spent on the road and as a result, the rocks would be cold long before we arrived at school."

Stories such as these abound in the history of this country, and the Bag Lady is fascinated by them! She has great admiration for the pioneers who suffered all manner of hardships in order to carve a life out of the wilderness.


solarity said...

Born in a hospital in 1918? How modern! When my mother (1916) and her brother (1918) were born in a town (a county seat) in Alabama, the closest hospital was at least sixty miles away.

Glad it doesn't get as cold here. My father's friend who rode six miles horseback to high school never suffered from frostbite.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

the Bag Lady said...

Mary Anne in Kentucky - in spite of this being a very remote area, there was a minister and his wife who lived in town who were determined to build a hospital (and a church), so a log building was erected (I believe in 1916)to be used as a hospital!

Remember, though, that this was in town, which is over 10 miles away from the area where I live, with a very treacherous river to cross, without a ferry. They crossed on the ice in the winter or used a raft or rowboat in the summer. During spring break-up, they didn't cross at all!

Leah J. Utas said...

dfBag Lady, I love those excerpts. Those words are our only clue as to what life was like.

the Bag Lady said...

dfLeah - it gives me a greater appreciation for all the modern conveniences we take for granted!

Geosomin said...

Suddenly my whinging about kitchen renos seems rather silly :)

Anonymous said...

When I read about the tremendously busy life that people lived, with constant work that could not be put off for another time, I feel downright guilty!
And to think we close school for snow!

messymimi said...

These people had to be made of tough material to survive.

Thanks for the glimpses into their lives.

I will count my blessings today, that is for sure.

Hilary said...

Isn't it wonderful that folks left us these clues as to how they lived? Wait a minute.. aren't we kind of doing that by blogging?

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I knew about heating rocks and bricks to keep warm, and I'm charmed by the idea of going out on horseback to hunt blueberries.

Interesting stuff about the flu epidemic. I don't know if Canada is like the US on the subject, but there's been a sort of cultural amnesia wrt the 1918 pandemic. All of my grandparents were teenagers at that time, yet none of them ever talked about it. They weren't atypical for their generation, either. Very odd.

Charlotte said...

Accounts of the 1918 flu pandemic scare more than almost any other historical disaster! I simply cannot imagine being a mother in that time.

I too find these accounts so interesting though!! Do you do any genealogy? I got into it a few years ago and am now quite addicted:)

Levi said...

Hey, don't we still suffer hardships in order to carve out our lives in the wilderness?

Redbush said...

Excellent excerpts from the historical events of the area! I can't imagine, either, being able to survive some of these life experiences. I mean, having to make a path through the snow for the horses, using heated rocks to warm yourself, and being a survivor of a flu epidemic when probably not all family members did, are all phenomenal!

Reb said...

This is very interesting Sis. I can't imagine trying to get down to the river to cross on the ice, climb up the other side, just to get to the hospital under those conditions. They must have know there would be trouble delivering for her, because they couldn't do it as an emergency.

Cheryl Kohan said...

I love reading about this stuff, too. Those people had GUTS!! And here I am whining about feeding sheep. Slap me. Do you have to take a ferry to get where you live??

Keep those stories coming...they're great.

the Bag Lady said...

Geo - I know what you mean, although that doesn't make it any less annoying to have your kitchen torn apart!

kcinnova - yes, we do seem to have it pretty easy in comparison, don't we?

Messymimi - our forefathers were tough, but our foremothers were tougher! :)

Hilary - that's true! We are leaving an electronic record, aren't we?

BG - you have a point. We don't hear them talk much about the flu epidemic. It must have shaped a good many lives, but there isn't much mention of it.

Charlotte - I am going to search the book for more information about the flu epidemic - I know I saw at least one or two references to it.
And genealogy is a passion of mine! In fact, you and I might be related! (I still haven't found the information I thought would prove that..... but I will!) :)

POD - of course we do - they are just different hardships!

Thanks, Redbush! I'm glad you are enjoying the stories.

Reb - yes, the banks of the river are so steep, they would be daunting at the best of times!

Cheryl - I think you are brave to tackle taking care of those sheep without any prior experience! And, although they did eventually put a ferry in for crossing the river, it had been replaced with a bridge before I moved out here.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

df Bag Lady,

What excellent excerpts. I am alway delighted to get any glimpse at how people lived in earlier times.

I think if we kept the old days (and the old folks) in mind, we would whine less and be greatful more.


Sagan said...

That really is fascinating. History is so interesting!

I wonder how big the rocks were.

the Bag Lady said...

dfTerrie - I agree with you! Most of us have no idea about true hardship.

Sagan - good question! I would guess the rocks would be fist-sized or larger.

Missicat said...

Very interesting...folks definitely had to be TOUGH! Or maybe they didn't consider themselves tough, they just did what they had to do...

the Bag Lady said...

Missicat - I think it's exactly that - they did what they had to do in order to survive!

Melissa said...

They had a special on public television several years ago called "Prairie House" or "Pioneer House" or something like that. Boy what an eye-opener!!! It was stunning. Now I've reminded myself that I wanted to buy a DVD of it when it came out...