In the last two posts, Lide Plowman has told the story of her childhood — homelife, schooling, and childhood play. Today she concludes the true story, recalling spelling bees and courting. Her account makes us remember the things that are positive and good for families today. As usual, the family tree chart is at the end of the post to assist you with keeping the family members and relationships straight.
The spelling bees were a source of much pleasure and profit. Each school would train their pupils on a certain part of the speller and use that part when they spelled at their own school, their teacher being the one to pronounce the words. It was quite a honor to spell another school down. Every one was eligible to try. The first part of the evening was spent in choosing sides and spelling and after a social time at recess, the contest was between the different schools.
I remember especially one with Mr. Macumber when Mrs. Macumber came with her school. Among them were Naomi, Harriet and Maryette Dutton. I was younger but I see Maryette yet standing when nearly all were down. I admired her very much and in a few years loved her as a sister. I do not remember who won. At recess the young people visited and at the end paired off for the home trip. Some tomed they went to some home and had a short party or dance if there happened to be a musician present. George and Granvil Peck, Hermans cousins, had violins, and Sidney Bliss a dulcimer, which considered good music. There were neighborhood parties, no public dances near us. Young folks found places to meet for amusement then the same as now.
Till and had two escorts, the one Till liked best liked me, and one I liked best liked Till. When Till would refuse one, he would ask me, but sometimes through such maneuvers I would be left out and one of the boys sisters would go instead, which did not please our sister nor myself either.
As I have written you before, our elder brothers spent many winter evenings shelling corn to be ground at the mill, chopping sausage meat in the winter on a bench made of hard wood using a ax to get it fine. It took some meat to supply our family and the fresh meat would keep sweet and good in that way a long time. The bony parts had to be eaten first.
We had apples, peaches, plums and cherries when I first remember and using our own sugar with our own fruit gave us a good supply of desserts. Later cider applesauce formed quite an item in our fare. It was planned to make a good supply and send some to Ezra, also dried fruit and fresh apples and any thing else that they lacked.
Our first experience in canning fruit was in a small mouthed jar, (crock). Met had given me instructions and I did as near as I could remember, but it was a sad failure. I was probably 16 then. Met’s kept alright and mine did the next time. Glass jars came soon after and our preserving days with equal parts of fruit and sugar were over.
I wanted to tell how Sate came to be called Eber, how mother and her children rented a house for a school week where Sate was teaching. John went for them each Friday and took them back each Monday with provisions for the week, and Till at home always glad to welcome them. How Lute went to Ezra’s to do chores and attend school where I was teacher. How George went with Jule and me to attend school in St. Johns. How Jule went to care for Barbara and keep people from killing her with kindness, and Ezra gave Jule a cow when she was married. No use to enumerate, the thoughts come faster than I can write.
As I look back it seems we have much to be thankful for, in a home of plenty and enough work to keep us interested in our home, each having a share and doing it cheerfully. The boys helping out doors the girls helping Mother, spinning, knitting, sewing and tending baby, — all loving each other in a happy simple life.