MERRY CHRISTMAS from “44” – 24 DECEMBER 2019

Just about perfect – 29 December 2016

the next year, 2017, I was at David’s, and last year, three weeks following hip surgery I watched the Live Nativity on the Common from my front window. This evening, 24 December, I headed out at 8PM as residents were arriving for the 43rd live nativity in Walpole.

and, you know how the great story ends.

I do not remember what I did for decorations last year because of the hip replacement, but you may recall I enjoy little trees, and a few weeks ago they started growing again. In some cases in different places. But this is the scene I enjoy on the center island in my kitchen.

and looking over at the fireplace in the kitchen – these trees are usually on the mantle each year – about perfect

this arrangement in front of the fireplace is new sitting on top of a circa 1830 camphor chest I found last year in Peru (Vermont) for a bargain price at a sale of $10 – value over $300 (yes I have good eyes).

above you can see part of my “book alikes” collection on the left on the wooden hearth. To the right of the sunburst candle holder is a reproduction Zoetrope – always wanted one, so I got one. Just to the left of the big red M is a rare late 1800s Zobo Brass Kazoo I found in an antique shop – and, yes, another big score. Remember I visited the Original Kazoo Factory in Eden (New York that is) in May this year? I bought a box of Kazoos – the plan being to have a unique band in the Old Home Days parade in 2020.

And, due to the right environment, some trees grew on the table in the kitchen this year.

and the Dome Train Car arrived just this past Saturday – more on that later.

And in my front room with a few additions, including a tin double candle sconce that begged to be purchased (with candles) for $6 last Saturday.

And, I am content and comfortable.

Gary at the Lowell Trolley Museum

You may remember I enjoy letterpress printing presses, and have many of them. I sold one two weeks ago that I was not using, and knew I would miss it once it went down the drive, even though making a very nice profit. I got itchy, found another one in Lowell, Massachusetts, just begging to be bought at the price, and arranged to get it last Saturday. Just 23 minutes from Gary’s home, he met me, we had lunch (in an early diner of course), toured Lowell, and visited the Trolley Museum. It was a great get-together. I then “bought my way home” at shops I frequent on the other side of the state, and purchased some good books. With the future profit on those books I could justify buying two 1950s Lionel “streamline” cars, and you saw above my Dome Vista car. Actually, did not need the “justification profit” but it helps. Remember, if you want something, just buy it when you see it, and “gift it” to yourself.

In the trolley museum was this one cartoon I thought worthy of sharing – so clever.

And, how do I end my holiday wishes to you? I share one of my favorite images (which can be clicked for a full screen view) but with –

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, love, RAY

 

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OKEMO VALLEY INNDULGENCE TOUR 2019 – 8 DECEMBER 2019

It is that time of year, and there are so many wonderful things to do. On the 7th I could have gone to the Grafton, Vermont village open house, Christmas with Calvin Coolidge in Plymouth Notch, or celebrated in Weston. You cannot do it all, and my legs said let’s rest at home, to be ready for the Inndulgence Tour.

Friends and I went three years ago, in 2016, which was the first year of the event. I strongly encourage you to also enjoy my post of the 2016 INNDULGENCE TOUR – albeit without snow that year – but great decorations, and comments.

Here is the map for this year’s tour – the 4th annual – and you can click to enlarge.

It made sense to leave home at 11AM to be at the furthest point from home when the tour began – Seesaw’s Lodge in Peru – Number 9 above on the far left. On Route 11, it bothered me a great deal that I was not familiar with the lodge, or its location in Peru. But there it was, just before arriving at Bromley, and with the slopes in the back yard.

At our next stop I found out why Seesaw’s was not familiar. I learned there was an old run-down building at this location, which I now vaguely remember. You may enjoy looking at this link for the history of this land. The property was purchased, and millions in renovations put into the various buildings. I think the last couple years I have only traveled home from Manchester (and, often in the dark), thus not seeing this facility on the left. The rooms and appointments are exquisite.

Whenever traveling on Route 11, you need to go in and out Main Street in Peru – the perfect little Vermont village, particularly with snow, and leaves off to capture the views and architecture.

The Common in Peru, Vermont

Typical Peru, Vermont, residence.

Back east to Londonderry and then north on Vermont 100 – the backbone of Vermont. I usually do not need to be on this beautiful stretch, but did remember the impressive scenic view from our next stop (Number 10), Colonial House Inn & Motel. which is located two miles south of the village of Weston.

A family run business, now for 41 years, Jeff and Kim are very welcoming hosts. And, their treats – miniature quiche and fantastic breads amazing. Each stop on the Inndulgence Tour has various foods, soups, decadent chocolate cake and the like to sample.

Jeff and Kim, owners of the Colonial House Inn & Motel in the lounge for guests.

And, then a tad north into the village, and (Stop 11) the Inn at Weston

Owner Linda, recently lost her husband, and new owners are now taking over. Dinners will soon again be served in the dining rooms that can seat 50 people. On my last visit, Linda ushered us into the dining room for amazing food, and we forgot to see the rooms. This time we headed upstairs first.

If you remember from my writings of the last tour, Echo Lake Inn (Stop 1) on Route 100 (north of Ludlow and Okemo) on the way to Plymouth Notch is also a special place. Cathy and I enjoyed a stay there 20 years ago, and I have enjoyed a number of evening dinners when in the area. You should stop.

upstairs to view the rooms and wallpaper (inside joke), and then down to the restaurant for the most amazing soups. Here is a gallery (which you can enlarge) of Echo Lake Inn.

Next at Stop 4 on the map, Julie, at the Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville, is the organizer of this event. Profits this year were donated to the Springfield Supported Housing Program. It was fun walking into the Inn this year in the snow. And, visiting here for their chocolate cakes – WOW.

Not all inns are open both days of the tour, so sadly two of my favorites had to be skipped: Castle Hill Resort, and the Inn at Weathersfield. Both I have patronized on many enjoyable occasions.

So, it was off to stop 6 for the Hartness House in Springfield. This ended up being the highlight of the day. Again, Cathy and I enjoy at least one New Year’s Eve there years ago, and last year I attended TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS for a great time. Do revisit this link.

This year there were over 400 attendees to that fund-raising event. Gayle recently became the manager, and she is a knowledgeable delight. The dining facility has been closed, but spacious, well-appointed rooms are available, and events can be held here. Gayle asked, “would you like to see the tunnel and museum?” I had heard of them, Of course I replied emphatically, “yes please.” Here is a gallery around the inn before descending into the tunnel.

Built in 1904 by James and Lena Hartness, their home hosted many guests including Charles Lindbergh. Hartness was an inventor, managed precision manufacturing in Springfield, and was governor of the State. He experimented with telescopes, and built a large one in the yard, connected underground with a tunnel, and rooms with fascinating telescope exhibits organized by STELLAFANE – a local club for amateur telescope makers. Down we went with our guide.

A long tunnel turned off to the left entering several exhibit rooms. On the floor you can see where a bar once was, but during prohibition a secret room housed the bar.

The telescope – removed for the winter – is mounted in this spot.

and, upon leaving, I took this image so you can see the telescope turret, covered for protection during the winter (the bump in the center).

How do you top all this? With just enough time to drive to the Grafton Inn for eggnog and to turn in our raffle drawing forms. If you know me, you know why the inn is special to me, and if you forget, just ask, or check out my comment on the last Inndulgence Tour.

Grafton, Vermont 8 December 2019

inviting … YES

and, we enjoyed our eggnog, and chatted in the comfortable library at The Grafton Inn – Stop 7 on the map above.

Of the now four Okemo Valley Inndulgence Tours I have been to two. Each was different, and each was enjoyable. There were two other stops (besides the two closed for the day) we had to skip – five hours is not enough time to “do it all.” I suggested a perfect addition to Julie – The Landgrove Inn, which you know I have enjoyed, and is in the perfect spot between Peru (no passport or real ID needed) and Weston.

RAY RECOMMENDS — “Like” the Inndulgence Tour on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/InndulgenceTour – and then do attend next year. Also, visit the inns, have dinner, and travel the countryside. Explore new back roads – yes, SHUNPIKE.

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134 FLICKERING FLAMES – A TWO YEAR REDUX – 3 DECEMBER 2019

This “Hopeless Romantic” is here to give you an update. I enjoy re-reading my over 300 tales of adventures – it is the memories. One of my favorites, that I posted exactly two years ago, is FLICKERING FLAMES OF A HOPELESS ROMANTIC – 3 DECEMBER 2017. Time for an update, give you a count of my Flickering Flames, and share the additions. Following showing you my “new treasures” is what I shared two years ago. And after that my comments from that post on “collecting memories and experiences.”

Candle Capitals* currently working at “44”
Porch – 21
Kitchen – 47
Dining Room – 34
Hallway – 6
Formal Living Room – 9
Informal Living Room – 14
Upstairs – 3
AND
9 “CANDLES IN THE WINDOWS” – Battery and Automatic

*the capital is the part with the hole for the candle. Yes, each part of a candlestick or candelabra has a name.

In the gallery below (which you can click to open to larger views) are a few pieces I want to tell you about. Then you may share your new found knowledge at a cocktail party. But, first the story of each—

CANDLE MOLD – this specific six candle mold could have started this. When visiting my paternal grandmother I would go up in the attic and explore. Looking at this mold brought me back and back up those steep stairs in the old farmhouse. When she died in 1962, this became mine. Made from sheet tin.

CHAMBERSTICK – First saw one in an 18th century home in Historic Deerfield. Intrigued with the shape, the search was on. The large tray is to catch wax when walking from bed chamber to bed chamber. Lacking on mine is the snuffer which like a dunce cap sits in a slot on the handle. Mine has the requisite “push-up” but there is a second lever that I have not solved. Handsome brass. Found this earlier this year.

COURTING CANDLE – This was upstairs two years ago, I forgot about it. During a Red Lion Inn stay years ago I was in a remote New York village antique shop. Curious about this, of course, I asked. The lady told me the name. Used in colonial times, and into the early 1800s, a concerned father could lengthen or shorten the time a suitor spent visiting his daughter by adjusting the height of the candle. Once burned down to the top ring – Good Night.

HOG SCRAPER CANDLESTICK – Named because of the shape of the pan. Before cooking your pet pig or hog, a hog scraper would be used to scrape bristles from hide after slaughter. Not actually a dual use item – just the shape. Cathy and I saw this in an antique shop in Bantam, Connecticut, and was told its name – had to have it. Made of sheet metal.

 

New additions in the kitchen are in this gallery which you may also open:

The pair on the left window sill are in an Arts and Crafts style, and I found in a shop in Millerton, NY. Always a stop while at the RLI. The set on the right “spoke to me.” But also a bargain at $8 for the set. I had never driven north of downtown Concord before, and in a few miles there was the State Prison, and a sign to the inmate’s craft shop. RAY RECOMMENDS – visit the Prison shop – great items.

In this gallery are close-ups of my recent additions – more on the right hand image later.

 

 

The pair on the right I found in Turner Falls, Massachusetts in January, 2018. Had to buy them as the marble matches my countertops, and this set is now on the end of the array on my center island in the kitchen. Below is the new addition on the porch – two hand-made (by me) tin wall sconces. I crafted these at Old Sturbridge Village while I Boarded with the Bixbys in September, 2018.

 

 

 

and, in my “informal parlor,” absolute bliss and flickering light as I read in my wicker chair.

there are differences from the image below, to the one taken two years ago, and further down the post. Another Red Lion Inn in my collection, and nice brass single holder on the old stove, and a great red tree I found last year at Kringle Candle, and leave out along with the other tree – I love my collection of trees as you know.

 

And, below the post from exactly two years ago, albeit reworked as needed.

Two years ago, I had a paltry 115 “Flickering Flames.” Don’t ask how many matches it took to prepare this post. I have (at that moment) the following different candle holders and candles: Porch – 19; Kitchen area – 44; Dining Room – 28 – Formal Living Room – 9 – Informal Wicker Parlor – 9; Hallway – 6. READY?

KITCHEN AREA

Most everything that surrounds me evokes memories. See the RLI Millennium plates mounted above the mantle, my “book alikes” on the left of the hearth? All spark recollections. And the candles in the “sunburst?” A recent purchase in Manchester, Vermont (2017). A friend and I stopped in a high end consignment shop – nothing under $300 – except this metal holder that was but $17. Not the price, but it “spoke to me” – thus providing a “thing” to prompt the wonderful memories of that excursion and dinner out. Remember, these images are all a tad yellow – hey, after all they are candle light.

Now, above my sink

and, a close-up (yes, the pumpkin is an unlit candle)

On my “island.” The triple in the center is amazing. I walked into the Millerton (NY) Antique Center during a RLI trip, and there it was – $25 – no thought necessary (actually, if you “need it” price is not a consideration). I can walk you around the house and show you treasures from this shop. The glass pair came from the Frank Lloyd House gift shop during a Road Scholar trip in Buffalo, NY – just too perfect. I could not figure out the holders on the outer ends. Look like tree stumps, sorry, forget which shop (but think another trip to Millerton). The Christmas Tree candles in them? Well, just came from the Strawbery Banke gift shop during the trip weeks ago. and are “perfect” in the tree stumps. 2019 update – my “new” marble holders replaced the tree stumps which are now in the dining room.

The holder below really got me started. My first Road Scholar trip after loosing Cathy was experiencing the The Vanderbilts’ Great Camp Sagamore. That was before I started this travel blog. These bronze candleholders where on each table in the dining area, and I had to have them. About $100 each in the gift shop – I have two, one in each of the north big windows in the kitchen area. But, the memories — and the start of a conscious quest.

and, concluding the room.

DINING ROOM

Moving into the dining room, I have not yet set the table with my German Festive Red Christmas plates with green trees – soon. But, as you look around the dining room, I invite applications from diner guests (another “hopeless romantic” preferred) – I am becoming a good cook. Oh, the green glass candlesticks – made in Williamsburg, but I found at the Fort Stanwix National Park gift shop in Rome, NY, when heading to a program in Canada, October, 2011.

Gary and I were “filling in the map” one day near Cape Ann, and stopping in shops for things for his home. No luck for him, but I got this massive pillar candle holder – yes, it prompts memories of our day together.

not sure which shop the three green holders below came from, but the holder in the wine bottle (bottle from my stay at the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield, NH) I purchased from a sutler at an event at the Fort at Number 4. Now, in the front the possibly faux pewter  candelabra is my “traveling” finery. Used during diners in front of “44” during concerts, and heading to the Fort at Number 4 for holiday meals – hey, no electricity there in 1750, and limited lighting.

and, on the outside wall

remember, diner applications considered.

PORCH

I spend much of my time “working” and relaxing on my porch – almost four seasons depending if below 20 degrees.

See the Yule Log? In eighth grade I cut up birch logs, drilled holes in them, decorated with greens, made a trailer for my bicycle, and started pedaling. I lived in the country – half mile or more between houses. I later wrote an essay for English class, “You want to buy a Yule Log, Lady? $1 per hole.” Was successful, but I remember the house (not the lady’s name) who said, “you have an endangered species on your log – do not use that!” Memories !!!

moving around the porch – group of three cost (with four fascinating glass pieces) but $5 for 7 items a month ago at Colony Antiques. The cut stone pair on the window sill – Sugar Hill Sampler – Sugar Hill, NH – from a noted artisan.

Not really a candle, but a no thought needed purchase when found at a farm shop with the base in Massachusetts off Route 2. Of course, RLI wooden cut out below – recognize my room?

hallway – wall candelabra were Cathy’s — mirror was in the little colonial home I purchased in 1990 (BC – before Cathy – but after D)

MY FORMAL PARLOR

this is my room that looks like a library, but there is not a real book on any shelf.  I was told years ago by a book seller friend that the best way to create value for a collection is write a book about it. Long “on the list” is to do a booklet on my book alike collection – something Cathy and I enjoyed building, and most pieces prompt memories of the purchase and what we were doing. Hard to find something new, but still looking — book to come someday.

and above the mantel – my painting is another whole story – the Oxbow on the Connecticut River – noted artist – more memories.

INFORMAL PARLOR

and, my informal “wicker” parlor on the south side of the front of the house.

above are two simple glass candle holders that a neighbor gave me a few years ago. the others in this room are Trench Art – made during WWI by soldiers utilizing spent case shells.

 

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My first adventure after my first hip replacement (a year ago tomorrow – 4 December 2018 – ready for the next) I traveled in January, 2019, to Old Sturbridge Village to enjoy An Evening of Illumination.

The guide’s lanterns waiting at the Visitor Center – two for each group

There I learned  about The Chemical History of a Candle, a series of six lectures on the chemistry and physics of flames given in 1848. Bet you never thought about how a candle really works – I hadn’t.

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and, here is how I started my post 3 December 2017. You may enjoy it still.

Many “forces” drive me to combine and share words. Earlier this week I reread an article “Remembering the Good old Days of Collecting Antiques,” and on the 2nd in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, I bought yet another candle holder, this of handcrafted pottery. Seems I buy candle holders and miniature Christmas trees when they inexplicably “speak to me.” I have no idea why.

 

 

Oh, another prompt was a friend introducing me to these LED battery operated candles. Years ago in the Connecticut shop we tried battery operated, and they lasted two days. Since then I have had electric candles in each front window, but bothered that candles have electric plugs on them. And, then one year when the electric rates escalated I kept them off, but in the windows.

 

Now I have these in the windows coming on and off all by themselves – and no cords. Check these out — I bought when on Amazon Prime

 

and, turning a tad around and to the north, I “have to look at this” so sad – NOT

A project “on my list” for years has been to document my treasures in words and images, and leave notes in each room so the kids do not put in a dumpster things they may not realize have value. But surrounding myself with “things” is not so bad because those things trigger pleasant memories. An article in the November 6, 2017, issue of Antique Week (I was a big advertiser in pre-internet days – selling about $1,000 in books each month) hits some of those key points. Here are some quotes to ponder from that article. These quotes mirror many thoughts and conclusions I have shared on how “things have changed.” In years past there were “antique rows” (and clustered book shops) “where dealers understood the concept of critical mass.” With “the advent of the internet … suddenly collecting became buying. And while the size of collections increased because of the expanded market, the fun started to drip, drip, drip away. … treasures that we never even knew existed are now just a few clicks away.  The world has become keystrokes away, and we delight as a child with packages arriving at the door.” Buying “the old fashioned way [we] remember the year we found a treasure … the name of the town where we found it … we recall on that day we added something stupendous to our collection.” With the internet “are we buyers? Are we accumulators? Or are we collectors?” (I invite you to read this article on my thoughts about collecting.)  Concluding the Antique Week article:

…longtime professional in the field … told me that we would best divest ourselves of our collections because our kids don’t want our stuff, just the money it might bring. But the romantic in me thinks that maybe we should hold on. In the end, what we really have is our memories. And, if our time on earth is brightened by a collection, well then, so be it.  The last three sentences are the KEY – I could not have said it better.

Remember – collect to have fun, collect for the memories, and if you like it – just buy it.

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CANDLES IN THE WINDOW – THE HISTORY BEHIND

I share a tidbit of history each month in THE WALPOLE CLARION in my “column,” DID YOU KNOW THAT…?  In the December 2019 issue I explored the background behind placing candles in windows. As the season approaches, you may want to know why candles are appearing, and you may wish to display your own.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

… the tradition of lighting candles in the windows of homes during Christmas, dating to colonial times, was brought to America by the Irish? Candles in windows have always been considered a sign of welcome to others. In early America, when homes were often miles apart, the sight of a distant candle in a window was a sign of “welcome” to those wishing to visit.

Religious practices and persecution have a long and complicated history in Ireland. As early as 1171, King Henry II’s invasion of Ireland began persecution against the Irish. Pagan solstice celebrations were replaced by Christmas celebrations. Protestantism attempted to replace Catholicism. The British Government, between 1691 and 1778, perfected their oppressive Penal Laws, targeting Catholics in an attempt to squash the religion. Catholic priests were not allowed to practice their faith. Ordered to leave the country, the priests instead went into hiding. The Irish were forced to obey British Rule.

During Christmastime, faithful Irish Catholics would, in darkness, light a candle in the window and leave the door unlocked. This was a sign to priests it was safe to slip into their home to say Mass. In return they offered hospitality to the priest. The British, questioning the Irish about the candles, were told it was their way to welcome Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus as they sought shelter. On immigrating to the United States, the Irish brought this holiday practice with them.

The tradition of the lit candle in the window in colonial America has been interpreted in many ways. It has been seen as a beacon of hope for any passerby during the holiday season, and signaled strangers that there would be food and shelter there, should they ask.  Candles also showed hope that Mary and other saints would pass by their home and bless it. The candle’s welcome was part silent prayer for the safe return of an absent person, and part sign there is someone waiting and tending the fire. Other interpretations say the candle would be sending a message – a child had been born or a family had received a blessing of some nature. Often the candles would be commemorating a community event or celebration. Inns (and now bed and breakfasts) used candles announcing rooms were available, and leading travelers to the door. The key being the sense of welcome.

When Colonial Williamsburg was established, they were unsure how Christmas should be represented. Remember, it was not much of a holiday in colonial America. They hung colored lights on ten evergreen trees in 1934, continuing to search for decorations representative of the period. The landscape architect remembered his family’s practice of placing a candle in their Boston window in 1893. With that idea, the next year a single lighted candle was placed in the windows of the four buildings open to the public. The candles were lit from 5 to 10 PM between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Worried of fire, four janitors were paid $1.00 each to light the candles and guard against fires.

Electric candles solved the concern with fire. Colonial Williamsburg visitors liked what they saw, and wanted candles to take back home. In 1941, Williamsburg department stores sold their entire stock of 600 electric candles by Christmas Eve. Today, having candles in the windows is even easier. My candles take batteries, and are remotely controlled.
RAY BOAS

CANDLE IN THE WINDOW — FENNO HOUSE c 1725 — Old Sturbridge Village, November 17, 2019 – Photo
RAY BOAS

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AN OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING Louisa May Alcott – 1882

AN OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING
Louisa May Alcott – 1882

Louisa May Alcott lived with her family in Walpole, NH, from 1855 to 1857. In WALPOLE’S LOUISA MAY ALCOTT, a booklet I published in 2016, I documented their time in Walpole. Many of the stories in Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN, published in 1869, are based upon her family’s experiences while living in Walpole’s Village. The publication of LITTLE WOMEN propelled Alcott’s writing career. From 1872 to 1882, Alcott wrote six volumes of AUNT JO’S SCRAP BAG, with a number of stories in each. The last volume began with “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving.” Harking back “sixty years ago” places the story in 1822. Based on several references in the beginning of this story, the setting is most likely a farm in Walpole, New Hampshire’s hills.

There are two additional stories within Alcott’s story.  In my reading adaptation below, I have deleted those. This adaptation, focusing on the holiday preparations, takes about 15 minutes to read. It’s reading would be a nice addition to your holiday traditions. Here is Thanksgiving, in Walpole, now almost two hundred years ago.

Ray Boas, Walpole, NH, November, 2019.

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SIXTY years ago, up among the New Hampshire hills, lived Farmer Bassett, with a house full of sturdy sons and daughters growing up about him. They were poor in money, but rich in land and love, for the wide acres of wood, corn, and pasture land fed, warmed, and clothed the flock, while mutual patience, affection, and courage made the old farm-house a very happy home.

November had come; the crops were in, and barn, buttery, and bin were overflowing with the harvest that rewarded the summer’s hard work. The big kitchen was a jolly place just now, for in the great fire-place roared a cheerful fire; on the walls hung garlands of dried apples, onions, and corn; up aloft from the beams shone crook-necked squashes, juicy hams, and dried venison–for in those days deer still haunted the deep forests, and hunters flourished. Savory smells were in the air; on the crane hung steaming kettles, and down among the red embers copper sauce-pans simmered, all suggestive of some approaching feast. For Thanksgiving was at hand, and all must be in order for that time-honored day.

To and fro, from table to hearth, bustled buxom Mrs. Bassett, flushed and floury, but busy and blithe as the queen bee of this busy little hive should be.

“Only one more day and then it will be the time to eat,” she exclaimed.

Tilly, the oldest girl, a red-cheeked, black-eyed lass of fourteen, was grinding briskly at the mortar, for spices were costly, and not a grain must be wasted. Prue kept time with the chopper, and the twins sliced away at the apples till their little arms ached, for all knew how to work, and did so now with a will.

“I think it’s real fun to have Thanksgiving at home. I’m sorry Gran’ma is sick, so we can’t go there as usual, but I like to mess ’round here, don’t you, girls?” asked Tilly, pausing to take a sniff at the spicy pestle.

“It will be kind of lonesome with only our own folks. I like to see all the cousins and aunts, and have games, and sing,” cried the twins.

“Come, girls, fly ’round and get your chores done so we can clear away for dinner jest as soon as I clap my bread into the oven,” called Mrs. Bassett presently.

“Here’s a man comin’ up the hill lively!” Shouted Sol and Seth.

It was a stranger, who threw himself off his horse and hurried up to Mr. Bassett in the yard, with some brief message that made the farmer drop his ax and look so sober that his wife guessed at once some bad news had come.

The man said old Mr. Chadwick, down to Keene, stopped him as he passed, and told him to tell Mrs. Bassett her mother was failin’ fast, and she’d better come to-day. He knew no more, and having delivered his errand he rode away.

“We must go right off. Hitch up, and I’ll be ready in less’n no time,” said Mrs. Bassett to her husband.

A few words told the story, and the children left their work to help her get ready, mingling their grief for “Gran’ma” with regrets for the lost dinner.

“I’m dreadful sorry, dears, but it can’t be helped. I couldn’t cook nor eat no way now, and if that blessed woman gets better sudden, as she has before, we’ll have cause for thanksgivin’, and I’ll give you a dinner you won’t forget in a hurry,”

Mrs. Bassett readied for a long drive, because Gran’ma lived twenty miles away, and there were no railroads in those parts to whisk people to and fro like magic. By the time the old yellow sleigh was at the door the old mare shook her bells as if she preferred a trip to Keene to hauling wood all day.

“Tilly, put extry comfortables on the beds to-night, the wind is so searchin’ up chamber. Have the baked beans and Injun-puddin’ for dinner, and whatever you do, don’t let the boys get at the mince-pies, or you’ll have them down sick. I shall come back the minute I can leave Mother. Pa will come to-morrer, anyway, so keep snug and be good. I depend on you, my darter; use your jedgment, and don’t let nothin’ happen while Mother’s away.”

“Yes’m, yes’m–good-bye, good-bye!” called the children, as Mrs. Bassett was packed into the sleigh and driven away, leaving a stream of directions behind her.

They soon forgot poor Granny, and found it great fun to keep house all alone, for Mother seldom left home.

At sunset the boys went out to feed the cattle, bring in heaps of wood, and lock up for the night, as the lonely farm-house seldom had visitors after dark. The girls got the simple supper of brown bread and milk, baked apples, and a doughnut all ’round as a treat. Then they sat before the fire, the sisters knitting, the brothers with books or games.

When the moon-faced clock behind the door struck nine, Tilly tucked up the children under the “extry comfortables,” and having kissed them all around, as Mother did, crept into her own nest, never minding the little drifts of snow that sifted in upon her coverlet between the shingles of the roof.

When they woke it still snowed, but up the little Bassetts jumped, broke the ice in their pitchers, and went down with cheeks glowing like winter apples. Eph was off to the barn, and Tilly soon had a great kettle of mush ready, which with milk warm from the cows, made a wholesome breakfast for the seven hearty children.

“Now about dinner,” said the young housekeeper, as the pewter spoons stopped clattering, and the earthen bowls stood empty.

“Ma said, have what we liked, but she didn’t expect us to have a real Thanksgiving dinner, because she wont be here to cook it, and we don’t know how,” began Prue, doubtfully.

“I can roast a turkey and make a pudding as well as anybody, I guess. The pies are all ready, and if we can’t boil vegetables and so on, we don’t deserve any dinner,” cried Tilly, burning to distinguish herself, and bound to enjoy to the utmost her brief authority.

“Did you ever roast a turkey?” asked Roxy, with an air of deep interest.

“Should you dare to try?” said Rhody, in an awe-stricken tone.

“You will see what I can do. Ma said I was to use my jedgment about things, and I’m going to. All you children have got to do is to keep out of the way, and let Prue and me work.”

Both rolled up their sleeves, put on their largest aprons, and got out all the spoons, dishes, pots, and pans they could find, “so as to have everything handy,” as Prue said.

“Now, sister, we’ll have dinner at five; Pa will be here by that time if he is coming to-night, and be so surprised to find us all ready, for he wont have had any very nice victuals if Gran’ma is so sick,” said Tilly, importantly.

“It’s all ready but the stuffing, and roasting is as easy as can be. I can baste first rate, answered Prue.

“I know, but it’s the stuffin’ that troubles me,” said Tilly, rubbing her round elbows as she eyed the immense fowl laid out on a platter before her. “I don’t know how much I want, nor what sort of herbs to put in, and he’s so awful big, I’m kind of afraid of him.”

“I aint! I fed him all summer, and he never gobbled at me. I feel real mean to be thinking of gobbling him, poor old chap,” laughed Prue, patting her departed pet with an air of mingled affection and appetite.

“I can’t remember what flavorin’ Ma puts in,” Tilly said, when she had got her bread well soaked for the stuffing. “Sage and onions and apple-sauce go with goose, but I can’t feel sure of anything but pepper and salt for a turkey.”

“Ma puts in some kind of mint, I know, but I forget whether it is spearmint, peppermint, or pennyroyal,” answered Prue, in a tone of doubt, but trying to show her knowledge of herbs, or, at least of their names.

“Seems to me it’s sweet majoram or summer savory. I guess we’ll put both in, and then we are sure to be right. The best is up in the garret; you run and get some, while I mash the bread,” commanded Tilly, diving into the mess.

Away trotted Prue, but in her haste she got catnip and wormwood, for the garret was darkish, and Prue’s little nose was so full of the smell of the onions she had been peeling, that everything smelt of them. Eager to be of use, she pounded up the herbs and scattered the mixture with a liberal hand into the bowl.

“It doesn’t smell just right, but I suppose it will when it is cooked,” said Tilly, as she filled the empty stomach, that seemed aching for food, and sewed it up with the blue yarn, which happened to be handy. She forgot to tie down his legs and wings, but she set him by till his hour came, well satisfied with her work.

“Shall we roast the little pig, too? I think he’d look nice with a necklace of sausages, as Ma fixed one last Christmas,” asked Prue, elated with their success.

“I couldn’t do it. I loved that little pig, and cried when he was killed. I should feel as if I was roasting the baby,” answered Tilly, glancing toward the buttery where piggy hung, looking so pink and pretty it certainly did seem cruel to eat him.

It took a long time to get all the vegetables ready. But by noon all was ready for cooking, and the cranberry-sauce, a good deal scorched, was cooking in the lean-to.

The girls, after a short rest, set the table and made all ready to dish up the dinner when that exciting moment came.

“My sakes alive–the turkey is burnt one side, and the kettles have boiled over so the pies I put to warm are all ashes!” exclaimed Tilly.

They were just struggling to get the pudding out of the cloth when Roxy called out: “Here’s Pa!”

“There’s folks with him,” added Rhody.

“Lots of ’em! I see two big sleighs chock full,” shouted Seth

“It looks like a semintary. Guess Gramma’s dead and come up to be buried here,” said Sol in a solemn tone.

“If that is a funeral, the mourners are uncommon jolly,” said Eph.

“I see Aunt Cinthy, and Cousin Hetty–and there’s Mose and Amos. I do declare, Pa’s bringin’ ’em all home to have some fun here,” cried Prue, as she recognized one familiar face after another.

Aint I glad I got dinner, and don’t I hope it will turn out good!” exclaimed Tilly.

“Hooray for Pa! Hooray for Thanksgivin’!”

In came Father, Mother, Baby, aunts, and cousins, all in great spirits; and all much surprised to find such a festive welcome awaiting them.

“Aint Gran’ma dead at all?” asked Sol.

“Bless your heart, no! It was all a mistake of old Mr. Chadwick’s. He’s as deaf as an adder, and when Mrs. Brooks told him Mother was mendin’ fast, and she wanted me to come down to-day, certain sure, he got the message all wrong.

“So, to keep the house quiet for her, and give you a taste of the fun, your Pa fetched us all up to spend the evenin’, and we are goin’ to have a jolly time to judge by the looks of things,” said Aunt Cinthy.

“What in the world put it into your head we was comin’, and set you to gettin’ up such a supper?” asked Mr. Bassett.

Tilly modestly began to tell, but the others broke in and sang her praises in a sort of chorus. Great satisfaction was expressed by all, and Tilly and Prue were so elated by the commendation of Ma and the aunts, that they set forth their dinner, sure everything was perfect.

But when the eating began their pride got a fall; for the first person who tasted the stuffing nearly choked over the bitter morsel.

“Tilly Bassett, whatever made you put wormwood and catnip in your stuffin’?” demanded Ma, trying not to be severe, for all the rest were laughing, and Tilly looked ready to cry.

“I did it,” said Prue, nobly taking all the blame, which caused Pa to kiss her on the spot, and declare that it didn’t do a mite of harm, for the turkey was all right.

“I never see onions cooked better. All the vegetables is well done, and the dinner a credit to you, my dears,” declared Aunt Cinthy.

The pudding was an utter failure in spite of the blazing brandy in which it lay. It was speedily whisked out of sight, and all fell upon the pies, which were perfect. But Tilly and Prue were much depressed, and didn’t recover their spirits till the dinner was over and the evening fun well under way.

“Blind-man’s bluff,” “Hunt the slipper,” “Come, Philander,” and other lively games soon set every one bubbling over with jollity.

Apples and cider, chat and singing, finished the evening, and after a grand kissing all round, the guests drove away in the clear moonlight which came out just in time to cheer their long drive.

When the jingle of the last bell had died away, Mr. Bassett said soberly, as they stood together on the hearth: “Children, we have special cause to be thankful that the sorrow we expected was changed into joy.”

Then Tilly set out the light-stand with the big Bible on it, and a candle on each side, and all sat quietly in the fire-light, smiling as they listened with happy hearts to the sweet old words that fit all times and seasons so beautifully.

If instead you would like to read the above on a separate PDF (or download it), simply CLICK ON THIS LINK.

Click the link below for the full text  https://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/alcott/thanksgiving/thanksgiving.html

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AN OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING – OSV NOVEMBER 17, 2019 and LOUISA MAY ALCOTT

Here I am going to share with you my day, 17 November 2019, celebrating Thanksgiving in the 1830s; and, my research into, and adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving,” which I am convinced was written from her memories while living in Walpole, New Hampshire. If you look back, you know I have visited and written about Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) a number of times since 2017, and have since been an enthusiastic member. Clicking on this link you can read of my other OSV adventures.

I have visited OSV at Halloween, Christmas time, in the dark experiencing an Evening of Illumination. I have even boarded overnight in the village, working and fully costumed. But I did not recall reading before of the Thanksgiving weekends. I had to visit when I read of “A NEW ENGLAND THANKSGIVING” at OSV. As a living history museum, OSV is unique. The Annual Fund letter I received the beginning of this month points out that uniqueness as OSV “doubles down” on the living history dimension of its mission. Quoting the CEO’s letter, “what distinguishes  Old Sturbridge Village from most other museums is just that. It is our commitment to bring early American history to life through interactions with expert costumed historians working in the trades, the crafts, our households and on the farm … of the 1830s.” The appeal letter is to keep staff on-hand during the slower months when visitors do not cover expenses. The talented interpreters must be retained since, from a recent survey, “81% of respondents interacted with a costumed historian during their last visit – 89% said that interacting with real costumed historians – not actors – increases their interest in OSV, and 97% said that doing so ‘made my experience more enjoyable and informative’.” I will make my own appeal for your help, but first my visit, facts to share, and Louisa May Alcott’s tale that you may wish to add to your holiday tradition.

As you enter the village, you first see the “small house.” The interpreter was preparing for the “turkey shoot.” He was going to have to pay a dollar a shot (about a day’s pay) with the hope of winning a prize, or turkey. Remember you can click on my galleries for larger images.

Passing the Friend’s Meetinghouse, you next come to the 1832 Center Meetinghouse at the head of the Town Common. It was an overcast day, in the low 30s.

Congregational services were held Sunday mornings and afternoons. Each a two hour service. At this time in history, Christmas and Easter were rarely celebrated. There was, however, always a special Thanksgiving morning service. The governor would decree the day Thanksgiving would be celebrated. The Meetinghouse would also be used for Town Meetings, Concerts, other public meetings, and Independence Day celebrations.

I then headed down one side of the common to the Fenno and Fitch houses.

The exhibits change in some of the homes, and I found this panel interesting upstairs in the Fenno House (click to enlarge)

Two ladies were busy in the kitchen in the Fitch House, and sharing what they were doing and answering questions. To check the oven temperature, the cook would see how many seconds her arm could stay in the oven. By experience you would get to know what could then be cooked or baked.

On the left end of the work/display table was last evening’s dinner of lamb and boiled vegetables. Overnight they safely could be kept in the attic or cellar – colder than most modern refrigerators. On the right was the morning meal made from mincing and cooking those leftovers.

The interpreter above then explained the preservation of meat. This was usually done once the harvest was done, in November and December, when the animals still had the most fat before loosing it over the winter. Also, farmers would be taxed on the animals they owned at the end of the year – fewer animals, less in taxes paid. Preserved meats were not taxed, and could be stored for a long time in case the next year there was a shortage. Frugal Yankees? Yes, and practical.

Preserving started with six weeks of soaking in brine, followed by six weeks of smoking. The creosote from the smoking sealed the meats. That covering had to be cut off when it was time to use the meat which would be boiled to get the salt out, often with vegetables that draw out the salt, and thus gain flavor.

click to enlarge these images which I have not shared before. There will be a test next time to see what you have learned about toilet paper.

 

 

This “gentleman” is always here protecting his turf with attitude. Or this time, he may be warning his friend below that sitting next to that chopping block next to a kettle for boiling, is not the smartest thing to do for longevity, but begging for trouble.

 

 

It was time for practice for the Turkey Shoot. Donald Sutherland (well sure looks like him) said there was a seedy side to the shoots. Often organized by a tavern owner whose motive was to sell food and drink. The dollar per shot charged also brought in more money than the prizes cost him. Social reformers saw the Turkey Shoots as a waste of time, money and drunken, swearing and gambling affairs. By the end of the 1830s things changed, and exclusive shooting clubs were organized.

 

After lunch in the tavern I walked over to the Bixby’s House and Freeman Farm, passing the mill pond and the Dumerston, Vermont, covered bridge. That is ice on the pond.

The front of the Bixby House looking up to the Freeman Farm.

Upon entering, there was Susan who was one of the docents with me when I Boarded with the Bixbys.

She was demonstrating the weaving of straw, bundles which would then be traded at the store for credit, and ultimately be woven into hats. I sat down and we chatted for awhile, and then lots of people came in. She explained to them the house, the Bixbys, what she was doing, and fielded many questions. Her interaction with youngsters was wonderful, and their eyes gleamed and ears opened absorbing every historical word. Who knows what one of the visitors may someday do or become based upon today’s experience. This house is one of the best in the village – remaining always in one family, and only modernized with one light bulb before moving to the village. About as original as you can get.

One visitor had just bought an 18th century home, and was fascinated with the bake oven. Susan explained all about the brick lined ovens. The bricks hold heat, but do not transfer it. Items needing the most heat would be cooked first, and those needing less later on as the bricks cooled.  She further explained that the Bixbys would use about 22 cords of wood a year for cooking six days a week. This was not for heat. Heat would be residual from cooking. There was no intent to warm a home.  I had a great time, but headed up the hill to the Freeman Farm.

The kitchen is in the rear el of the house. This table was in front of the hearth.

and greeting me was Ruth, my other docent from my overnight in the village. She was making “head cheese.” Before you think dairy – NOT. Nothing is wasted on a farm – well, maybe a pig’s squeal, Cheese here is used to describe pressed food – like a pate. Early that morning they started with the boiling of the pig’s head resulting with all the meat and muscle pulling right off. Then she keep chopping and chopping while adding spices, etc. for taste. Something like stuffing sausages with ground up scraps. When the mixture is smooth as possible it will be “pressed.”

Ruth in the Freeman House making “head cheese.”

Ruth is an amazing young woman, knowledgable in all aspects of village life in the 1830s, and an asset to OSV. I listened to her interact with a number of visitors, and she fielded my questions well. I wondered about the table in front of the hearth, “was that how it was, or for display?” Actually, saying that was a good question never asked, she told me the table would be near a window for light, but placed here for display and to protect visitors from the hearth. Also, all the doors would be closed when the Freeman family lived here. They are all open inside so visitors feel welcome to roam around. Here is a closeup of the table, and you can probably spot the skull contributing the “head cheese.” She even told me what would be done with it next.

I exited out the back, and Ruth said, “open the smoke house, but wait for the smoke to clear.”

besides images looking through windows, you know I like images with texture.

Susan and Ruth are just two of the people that make OSV so special and educational. They love what they are doing, and are dedicated. I probably spent an extra couple hours on this visit sitting and listening to them interact and educate visitors. You never know how what they say or do may impact someone. In fact, there was a mother and her daughter, Miya, who boarded with me with the Bixbys. Both Susan and Ruth told me that 16 year old Miya returned this year for a one week internship.

I encourage you to become a member of Old Sturbridge Village, and if you are looking for a worthwhile donation as the year ends, or at any time, please consider contributing to OSV so these wonderful interpreters can continue, and the village remains for another 75 years.

Please visit the OSV Donation Page on-line. RAY RECOMMENDS IT!

Here is some additional Thanksgiving Day information from OSV’s website announcing the event — Experience the traditions of preparing for an early 19th-century New England Thanksgiving. Learn about 1830s dining etiquette and watch the men of the Village compete in a post-dinner target shoot (date specific). Smell the scents of roasted turkey and pies warming by the fire.

Did you know?

  • In early New England, Thanksgiving was the biggest holiday of the year, far surpassing Christmas, which wasn’t celebrated in the tradition of the Puritans who settled the region.
  • Turkeys in the early 19th century were much smaller than today’s “butterballs,” and turkey wasn’t always on the Thanksgiving menu, because they were a lot of work to prepare for not much meat.
  • In the early 1800s, turkey “drovers” herded and marched turkeys on foot from central and western Massachusetts to the huge Brighton market just outside of Boston, Mass. to sell the birds to wealthy city dwellers.
  • Many vegetables weren’t peeled for everyday cooking, but they were for holidays like Thanksgiving to show the elevated status of the day.
  • Pies were baked weeks ahead of time and stored in unheated attics and bedrooms where they would freeze and keep for months. Pies not consumed at Thanksgiving would sometimes last until April.
  • The cranberry is one of three fruits native to North America, and was used by Native Americans to make pemmican – a survival food made of mashed cranberries mixed with deer meat. They also used cranberries in poultices to draw poison from wounds.

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Hopefully you got this far. You may enjoy reading, and sharing outloud, this Thanksgiving story by Louisa May Alcott. I adapted it to read before a holiday dinner at the Town Hall. Presentation time is about 15 minutes.

If instead you would like to read the below on a separate PDF (or download it), simply CLICK ON THIS LINK.

AN OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING
Louisa May Alcott – 1882

Louisa May Alcott lived with her family in Walpole, NH, from 1855 to 1857. In WALPOLE’S LOUISA MAY ALCOTT, a booklet I published in 2016, I documented their time in Walpole. Many of the stories in Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN, published in 1869, are based upon her family’s experiences while living in Walpole. The publication of LITTLE WOMEN propelled Alcott’s writing career. From 1872 to 1882, Alcott wrote six volumes of AUNT JO’S SCRAP BAG, with a number of stories in each. The last volume began with “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving.” Harking back “sixty years ago” places the story in 1822. Based on several references in the beginning of this story, the setting is most likely a farm in Walpole, New Hampshire’s hills. Thus, here is Thanksgiving, in Walpole, now almost two hundred years ago.

There are two stories within the story. I have deleted those in my reading adaptation of this holiday tale of thanksgiving — Ray Boas, Walpole, NH, November, 2019.

#######################

SIXTY years ago, up among the New Hampshire hills, lived Farmer Bassett, with a house full of sturdy sons and daughters growing up about him. They were poor in money, but rich in land and love, for the wide acres of wood, corn, and pasture land fed, warmed, and clothed the flock, while mutual patience, affection, and courage made the old farm-house a very happy home.

November had come; the crops were in, and barn, buttery, and bin were overflowing with the harvest that rewarded the summer’s hard work. The big kitchen was a jolly place just now, for in the great fire-place roared a cheerful fire; on the walls hung garlands of dried apples, onions, and corn; up aloft from the beams shone crook-necked squashes, juicy hams, and dried venison–for in those days deer still haunted the deep forests, and hunters flourished. Savory smells were in the air; on the crane hung steaming kettles, and down among the red embers copper sauce-pans simmered, all suggestive of some approaching feast. For Thanksgiving was at hand, and all must be in order for that time-honored day.

To and fro, from table to hearth, bustled buxom Mrs. Bassett, flushed and floury, but busy and blithe as the queen bee of this busy little hive should be.

“Only one more day and then it will be the time to eat,” she exclaimed.

Tilly, the oldest girl, a red-cheeked, black-eyed lass of fourteen, was grinding briskly at the mortar, for spices were costly, and not a grain must be wasted. Prue kept time with the chopper, and the twins sliced away at the apples till their little arms ached, for all knew how to work, and did so now with a will.

“I think it’s real fun to have Thanksgiving at home. I’m sorry Gran’ma is sick, so we can’t go there as usual, but I like to mess ’round here, don’t you, girls?” asked Tilly, pausing to take a sniff at the spicy pestle.

“It will be kind of lonesome with only our own folks. I like to see all the cousins and aunts, and have games, and sing,” cried the twins.

“Come, girls, fly ’round and get your chores done so we can clear away for dinner jest as soon as I clap my bread into the oven,” called Mrs. Bassett presently.

“Here’s a man comin’ up the hill lively!” Shouted Sol and Seth.

It was a stranger, who threw himself off his horse and hurried up to Mr. Bassett in the yard, with some brief message that made the farmer drop his ax and look so sober that his wife guessed at once some bad news had come.

The man said old Mr. Chadwick, down to Keene, stopped him as he passed, and told him to tell Mrs. Bassett her mother was failin’ fast, and she’d better come to-day. He knew no more, and having delivered his errand he rode away.

“We must go right off. Hitch up, and I’ll be ready in less’n no time,” said Mrs. Bassett to her husband.

A few words told the story, and the children left their work to help her get ready, mingling their grief for “Gran’ma” with regrets for the lost dinner.

“I’m dreadful sorry, dears, but it can’t be helped. I couldn’t cook nor eat no way now, and if that blessed woman gets better sudden, as she has before, we’ll have cause for thanksgivin’, and I’ll give you a dinner you won’t forget in a hurry,”

Mrs. Bassett readied for a long drive, because Gran’ma lived twenty miles away, and there were no railroads in those parts to whisk people to and fro like magic. By the time the old yellow sleigh was at the door the old mare shook her bells as if she preferred a trip to Keene to hauling wood all day.

“Tilly, put extry comfortables on the beds to-night, the wind is so searchin’ up chamber. Have the baked beans and Injun-puddin’ for dinner, and whatever you do, don’t let the boys get at the mince-pies, or you’ll have them down sick. I shall come back the minute I can leave Mother. Pa will come to-morrer, anyway, so keep snug and be good. I depend on you, my darter; use your jedgment, and don’t let nothin’ happen while Mother’s away.”

“Yes’m, yes’m–good-bye, good-bye!” called the children, as Mrs. Bassett was packed into the sleigh and driven away, leaving a stream of directions behind her.

They soon forgot poor Granny, and found it great fun to keep house all alone, for Mother seldom left home.

At sunset the boys went out to feed the cattle, bring in heaps of wood, and lock up for the night, as the lonely farm-house seldom had visitors after dark. The girls got the simple supper of brown bread and milk, baked apples, and a doughnut all ’round as a treat. Then they sat before the fire, the sisters knitting, the brothers with books or games.

When the moon-faced clock behind the door struck nine, Tilly tucked up the children under the “extry comfortables,” and having kissed them all around, as Mother did, crept into her own nest, never minding the little drifts of snow that sifted in upon her coverlet between the shingles of the roof.

When they woke it still snowed, but up the little Bassetts jumped, broke the ice in their pitchers, and went down with cheeks glowing like winter apples. Eph was off to the barn, and Tilly soon had a great kettle of mush ready, which with milk warm from the cows, made a wholesome breakfast for the seven hearty children.

“Now about dinner,” said the young housekeeper, as the pewter spoons stopped clattering, and the earthen bowls stood empty.

“Ma said, have what we liked, but she didn’t expect us to have a real Thanksgiving dinner, because she wont be here to cook it, and we don’t know how,” began Prue, doubtfully.

“I can roast a turkey and make a pudding as well as anybody, I guess. The pies are all ready, and if we can’t boil vegetables and so on, we don’t deserve any dinner,” cried Tilly, burning to distinguish herself, and bound to enjoy to the utmost her brief authority.

“Did you ever roast a turkey?” asked Roxy, with an air of deep interest.

“Should you dare to try?” said Rhody, in an awe-stricken tone.

“You will see what I can do. Ma said I was to use my jedgment about things, and I’m going to. All you children have got to do is to keep out of the way, and let Prue and me work.”

Both rolled up their sleeves, put on their largest aprons, and got out all the spoons, dishes, pots, and pans they could find, “so as to have everything handy,” as Prue said.

“Now, sister, we’ll have dinner at five; Pa will be here by that time if he is coming to-night, and be so surprised to find us all ready, for he wont have had any very nice victuals if Gran’ma is so sick,” said Tilly, importantly.

“It’s all ready but the stuffing, and roasting is as easy as can be. I can baste first rate, answered Prue.

“I know, but it’s the stuffin’ that troubles me,” said Tilly, rubbing her round elbows as she eyed the immense fowl laid out on a platter before her. “I don’t know how much I want, nor what sort of herbs to put in, and he’s so awful big, I’m kind of afraid of him.”

“I aint! I fed him all summer, and he never gobbled at me. I feel real mean to be thinking of gobbling him, poor old chap,” laughed Prue, patting her departed pet with an air of mingled affection and appetite.

“I can’t remember what flavorin’ Ma puts in,” Tilly said, when she had got her bread well soaked for the stuffing. “Sage and onions and apple-sauce go with goose, but I can’t feel sure of anything but pepper and salt for a turkey.”

“Ma puts in some kind of mint, I know, but I forget whether it is spearmint, peppermint, or pennyroyal,” answered Prue, in a tone of doubt, but trying to show her knowledge of herbs, or, at least of their names.

“Seems to me it’s sweet majoram or summer savory. I guess we’ll put both in, and then we are sure to be right. The best is up in the garret; you run and get some, while I mash the bread,” commanded Tilly, diving into the mess.

Away trotted Prue, but in her haste she got catnip and wormwood, for the garret was darkish, and Prue’s little nose was so full of the smell of the onions she had been peeling, that everything smelt of them. Eager to be of use, she pounded up the herbs and scattered the mixture with a liberal hand into the bowl.

“It doesn’t smell just right, but I suppose it will when it is cooked,” said Tilly, as she filled the empty stomach, that seemed aching for food, and sewed it up with the blue yarn, which happened to be handy. She forgot to tie down his legs and wings, but she set him by till his hour came, well satisfied with her work.

“Shall we roast the little pig, too? I think he’d look nice with a necklace of sausages, as Ma fixed one last Christmas,” asked Prue, elated with their success.

“I couldn’t do it. I loved that little pig, and cried when he was killed. I should feel as if I was roasting the baby,” answered Tilly, glancing toward the buttery where piggy hung, looking so pink and pretty it certainly did seem cruel to eat him.

It took a long time to get all the vegetables ready. But by noon all was ready for cooking, and the cranberry-sauce, a good deal scorched, was cooking in the lean-to.

The girls, after a short rest, set the table and made all ready to dish up the dinner when that exciting moment came.

“My sakes alive–the turkey is burnt one side, and the kettles have boiled over so the pies I put to warm are all ashes!” exclaimed Tilly.

They were just struggling to get the pudding out of the cloth when Roxy called out: “Here’s Pa!”

“There’s folks with him,” added Rhody.

“Lots of ’em! I see two big sleighs chock full,” shouted Seth

“It looks like a semintary. Guess Gramma’s dead and come up to be buried here,” said Sol in a solemn tone.

“If that is a funeral, the mourners are uncommon jolly,” said Eph.

“I see Aunt Cinthy, and Cousin Hetty–and there’s Mose and Amos. I do declare, Pa’s bringin’ ’em all home to have some fun here,” cried Prue, as she recognized one familiar face after another.

Aint I glad I got dinner, and don’t I hope it will turn out good!” exclaimed Tilly.

“Hooray for Pa! Hooray for Thanksgivin’!”

In came Father, Mother, Baby, aunts, and cousins, all in great spirits; and all much surprised to find such a festive welcome awaiting them.

“Aint Gran’ma dead at all?” asked Sol.

“Bless your heart, no! It was all a mistake of old Mr. Chadwick’s. He’s as deaf as an adder, and when Mrs. Brooks told him Mother was mendin’ fast, and she wanted me to come down to-day, certain sure, he got the message all wrong.

“So, to keep the house quiet for her, and give you a taste of the fun, your Pa fetched us all up to spend the evenin’, and we are goin’ to have a jolly time to judge by the looks of things,” said Aunt Cinthy.

“What in the world put it into your head we was comin’, and set you to gettin’ up such a supper?” asked Mr. Bassett.

Tilly modestly began to tell, but the others broke in and sang her praises in a sort of chorus. Great satisfaction was expressed by all, and Tilly and Prue were so elated by the commendation of Ma and the aunts, that they set forth their dinner, sure everything was perfect.

But when the eating began their pride got a fall; for the first person who tasted the stuffing nearly choked over the bitter morsel.

“Tilly Bassett, whatever made you put wormwood and catnip in your stuffin’?” demanded Ma, trying not to be severe, for all the rest were laughing, and Tilly looked ready to cry.

“I did it,” said Prue, nobly taking all the blame, which caused Pa to kiss her on the spot, and declare that it didn’t do a mite of harm, for the turkey was all right.

“I never see onions cooked better. All the vegetables is well done, and the dinner a credit to you, my dears,” declared Aunt Cinthy.

The pudding was an utter failure in spite of the blazing brandy in which it lay. It was speedily whisked out of sight, and all fell upon the pies, which were perfect. But Tilly and Prue were much depressed, and didn’t recover their spirits till the dinner was over and the evening fun well under way.

“Blind-man’s bluff,” “Hunt the slipper,” “Come, Philander,” and other lively games soon set every one bubbling over with jollity.

Apples and cider, chat and singing, finished the evening, and after a grand kissing all round, the guests drove away in the clear moonlight which came out just in time to cheer their long drive.

When the jingle of the last bell had died away, Mr. Bassett said soberly, as they stood together on the hearth: “Children, we have special cause to be thankful that the sorrow we expected was changed into joy.”

Then Tilly set out the light-stand with the big Bible on it, and a candle on each side, and all sat quietly in the fire-light, smiling as they listened with happy hearts to the sweet old words that fit all times and seasons so beautifully.

Full text – https://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/alcott/thanksgiving/thanksgiving.html

AND, FINALLY — do let me know if you got this far — here is some Thanksgiving history I published this month including the background on the Alcott story. You can click on the link to open the two page PDF.

DYKT – TDAY HISTORY and LMA

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EXPLORING WITH THE CANAL SOCIETY OF NEW YORK STATE – 1-3 NOVEMBER 2019

In May, on my way back from Buffalo, NY, I discovered the PORT BYRON OLD ERIE CANAL HERITAGE PARK while cheating and traveling a few exits on the New York Thruway. As you know I have enjoyed learning about the Erie Canal for some time, and I was welcomed and educated for hours by Craig Williams of the Canal Society of New York State. I “vote with my dollars” when I appreciate the work of a museum or group – I became a member. The beginning of October I received notice of the society’s 2019 Fall Field Trip – The Erie Canal: Fayetteville and the Southern Reservoirs – 1-3 November. I immediately signed up, and booked my room at The Craftsman Inn in Fayetteville, NY.

Learning was to begin at 8AM on Friday morning, so I headed west on Thursday, 31 October – making stops of course. I enjoy the drive across Vermont and through New York to the Hudson River in Troy, but then cheated a tad taking the Thruway, stopping first at the Mohawk Valley Welcome Center in Fultonville alongside Erie Canal Lock 13.

Hey, I was at Lock 13 (on the canal itself – at night) just weeks before on 13 September. The canal is now closed, and the gates on the moveable dams are open.

I want to share these information panels that you can click on to enlarge and read

There were bad rains later that night, and I understand the visitor center was flooded out.

Exiting the dreaded slab, I picked up New York 5 in Utica to follow the canal route west, stopping first at Canastota, hoping to see the canal museum there. Well, my second pass through with it closed, but here is the canal in the center of the village.

and then driving west down a dirt road to a dead end in a field – but the canal continued west.

I passed through Canastota and Chittenango five years ago in October 2014, on my way back from a Roycroft adventure in East Aurora. This time my timing was good, and I got to visit the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum. A nicely done restored and reconstructed facility with three dry docks, the old store recreated, barns, recreated canal boat. and an information building. Here is an artist’s view of the historic facility.

it was raining, but here are views of the locks – one gate lock, and two drop gates. Once abandoned, they became dumps, and much trash (including two junk Model T Fords) were removed during restoration.

In the background below you can see the store reconstructed on the original foundation

Under the shed below is the reconstructed canal boat used to educate youngsters.

inside the store one wall is a recreated county store, but the rest is an education facility, including this diorama with a circus that traveled the Erie Canal entertaining towns along the way.

outside the store, in the canal, is an old sunken canal boat. The outline is easily seen, and can be seen in this image with the growth breaking through the water.

and a close-up of the boat volunteers built.

It was then on to check into the Inn, and get ready for a busy schedule. You can click on this link to view the three day’s itinerary.

Friday, 1 November, began with a Tour of the Stickley furniture manufacturing plant and the Stickley Museum. What does this have to do with canals? The society president, Dan Wiles, is the great-grandson of Gustav Stickley, and in the late 19th century the factory was driven by water from a “power canal.” Now outside of Fayetteville proper, the new Stickley factory and company is an American success story. Great products, amazing equipment and techniques (no photography allowed), and fantastic management as evidenced by our introduction to many employers with 30 to 43 years with the company. The factory tour was followed by an impressive tour by the archivist of the Stickley Museum (owned by the firm) in the old factory. Much of the old factory has been given to the town for its library – an amazing facility. On the Arts and Crafts Homes & Revival website there is a nice review of the museum.

There were five brothers in the furniture business, but surviving is the business of L. & J.G. Stickley, which was in this facility – now the museum and library. (remember you can open my “galleries” for larger views)

Back to Dan Wiles, and his grandfather Gustav Stickley, who manufactured furniture from 1898 to 1915. Dan told us about this piece – a replica of a sideboard, originally made in 1902 for Gustav’s home in Syracuse. Christie’s auction house approached Dan’s father in the late 1980s asking him to consign his Stickley furniture to promote an upcoming arts and crafts auction. Dan and his brother remember playing inside this massive piece as youngsters. Dan’s Dad acquiesced. This sideboard ended up bringing more than what the family thought all of their pieces would bring – the auction total being $1.9 million in 1988. Setting a new recored for an A&C piece, the sideboard was purchased by Barbra Streisand for $362,000. A collector, but also an investor, she sold the piece at auction in 1999 for $540,000 to an anonymous telephone bidder.

Dan related that at the auction preview party his Dad placed a drink down on a table being auctioned. Christie’s people came running to remove the drink saying, “you can’t do that sir.” “Yes I can,” Dan’s Dad replied, “this is my table for another 24 hours.” The Wiles family recently sold the family’s Mid-Lakes Navigation. One of my first trips after loosing Cathy in 2008 was to travel on one of their canal cruises from Waterford, NY, (Lock 2) to Brewerton – on the west side of Oneida Lake. It was a wonderful experience that they stopped doing years ago, focusing now on canal boat rentals – yes, “on the list”

Also on display are three pieces that were owned by Streisand.

Industries in many New England towns and elsewhere were constructed along water routes built to provide water power to the mills. The Limestone Creek, with a significant drop in elevation, goes around the town of Fayetteville. In the 1840s the Ledyard Canal (alternately called the Ledyard Dyke) was built, not for navigation, but to provide water to power the mills. The dyke passed the original Stickley factory providing power to the sawmill.

For further study, I encourage you to click on this link for the Field Trip Guide we were given. On page 30 is an 1860s map on which you may follow the power canal at right angles through the town – the compressed PDF displays quickly.

I always try to figure out and understand why a town is where it is, or a company, particularly when the reason is no longer evident. It is the inquisitive research. But, I am saddened to think that most people driving down a street in Fayetteville may not even give a second thought to the water they pass over – where it comes from, and is going to, and what purpose it may have served.

And next to the local school is this bucolic pond. How many people know that this was a reservoir for the power canal?

The reservoir was actually designed with the islands and served as a park even back then. On our walk along parts of the Ledyard Dyke we passed the home of Leopold Stickley.

There was some time Friday for me to explore on my own. Grover Cleveland (our 22nd and 24th president) lived in Fayetteville as a boy. And, for Trivia Night –  he was the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office – 1885–1889 and 1893–1897). His home is in the upper village, just off NY 5; and, is the image below.

Grover Cleveland’s home – Fayetteville, NY

The Erie Canal was north of the town, but a feeder canal had been dug between Limestone Creek and the canal to provide both water to the canal, and access for Fayetteville. Working for a merchant in town, young Grover before school would talk to boats on the feeder canal asking for space to ship his boss’ products. He worked from this green building in lower Fayetteville, the commercial district of town.

An impressive collection of homes and architectural beauties are on the main and side streets, including this Greek Revival belonging to Matilda Joslyn Gage, a 19th-century women’s suffragist, and activist. She lived here from 1854-1898.

but, back to important facts for you — she told her son-in-law (from neighboring Chittenango, NY) “Write down those stories you tell your sons!”  Two years after her death, that son-in-law, L. Frank Baum, published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the first in his Oz series.

Saturday came quickly for an all day bus tour. Like me, you may have thought a canal is a canal, and has water and locks. There is much more to the infrastructure I learned — and the important ingredient – WATER – must be available. To the north is Rome, New York, where ground was broken for the original Clinton’s Ditch. It is a summit. Thus water flows downhill east and west. The water in the canals must be replenished. I never thought about that, and this adventure was an eye-opener to that need. Reservoirs were created along with the canal to supply the never ending need for water. Today we explored Cazenovia Lake and DeRuyter Reservoir. Again, I invite you to read the guidebook to learn more.

Before heading to the reservoirs, our first stop was the feeder canal which heads off from Limestone Creek in the village, heading to the northeast.

walking along the way are these ruins of Lime Kilns. Many varieties of limestone are found in the area (often above salt – and I discovered the Salt Museum in Syracuse when I visited there in 2014). Burning limestone changes it for a number of uses, one being hydraulic cement – cement that dries and hardens underwater.

The original canal – Clinton’s Ditch – followed banks or escarpments, thus only one major berm need be constructed. With the success of the canal, and the subsequent enlargement for larger boats, many sharp turns were eliminated with larger diggings away from the natural paths. About two miles down the feeder, Clinton’s Ditch and the Enlarged Canal merged, both having to cross with an aqueduct over the creek.

and there were remains of a cross-over bridge – one side standing, and the other side has fallen into the water.

after the hike back to the bus, we next drove along the shore of Cazenovia Lake to a small road leading to the very small outlet to see the 1860s gothic-revival gatehouse.

It was then lunch at the Empire Farm Brewery in Casenovia – highly recommended. We first were offered a tour – amazing – all ingredient products are from NY state, and all byproducts reused. We saw some white oak barrels they are experimenting with. At the Stickley factory we learned the biggest competitors they have for white oak are barrel makers.

After lunch we visited DeRuyter Reservoir, built in the 1860s to divert water into the Limestone Creek valley. There have been problems with the dam, and the lake has been drained so the dam could be repaired, thus circumventing a possible Johnstown, Pennsylvania scenario. Water from here too supplied the Rome Summit

Repairs to the DeRuyter Reservoir Dam.

Repairs should be complete for the 2020 summer season for the lake residents.

and, two miles from the dam, the other end of the lake

Saturday night was a great dinner followed by an illustrated talk by Art Cohn, Director Emeritus of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. He is a diver, and has discovered many sunken wrecks in Lake Champlain, and in the Finger Lakes. Besides his very important historical discoveries, Art is responsible for the laws for the preservation of submerged cultural resources.

Art made a few key points I wish to share:
1- where history happens, stuff is left behind
2- perception of values in society changes – e.g. canal waterfronts now seen as recreational possibilities
3- outcomes are important
4- finding underwater wrecks is the easy part – hardest is what comes next

Wrecks found are left in place – it is the law. But with today’s scientific equipment, the wrecks can be amazingly documented and studied. To the point where accurate reconstructions can be made.

Sunday, after gaining an extra hour of rest falling back in time, was to be a walking tour of Green Lakes State Park. The original canal is just north of these glacially created lakes. I got there at the appointed time, but once I realized it was going to be a tour by a natural scientist, I opted out – you see, I think it time to buy my second “new hip.” But I had a plan for getting home — The Cherry Valley Turnpike, US 20. I wanted to see the town of Casenovia. But Craig mentioned to me the town of Kirkville – created with the canal, but now essentially nothing. Again, why is a town where it is? Fun to know.

Heading to Green Lakes State Park I drove along the old canal

and stopped at one wayside park (all so well done and used) where this fascinating sign is – you can click and enlarge for easier reading.

 

Kirkville, New York, is just a few houses now. One panel in the park showed the canal side location of the hotel and store that sadly were both taken down in the 1970s

 

Waze then helped me find a different route back to explore Cazenovia and pick up US 20 – originally built as The Cherry Valley Turnpike. This is an architecturally beautiful town.

I have been on US 20 before, but not this far west – a really nice ride. I saw a building which had a sign, “Canal House Antiques.” Canal? U-Turn. I chat with the owner, and he said, “yes, the Chenango Canal is right over there.” I had missed the sign – I know, hard to believe. I was in Bouckville, NY. Ends up that Bouckville is the Brimfield of New York, and possibly draws more vendors and visitors than Brimfield. Yes, I stopped and shopped my way east for awhile. Below is a mill on the canal.

 

I cannot believe I have been home not quite a week. This trip was a great four days of investigating an area of New York I was not familiar with, and learning new aspects of the Erie Canal. There is so much to do – I encourage you to discover New York State.

RAY RECOMMENDS:
1 – Remember to vote with your dollars – join an organization that you believe does good work. There are over 400 members of the Canal Society of New York State supporting in some way. There were about 40 people at this field trip
2 – Gather information on central New York state – and explore

 

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LAKES – LOCKS – LONG RIVER — 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 – PART 9 – ERIE CANAL LOCKS 11 to 1 – SEPTEMBER 14, 2019

This post documents my trip east through Locks 11 to 2 on the Erie Canal (1915 Barge Canal), and then the short distance south on The Hudson River through the Federal Lock on the Hudson River at Troy. The US Army Corps of Engineers are responsible for this lock, often considered as Lock 1.

I left you last with me in Amsterdam, New York, at 9:51 PM at Lock 11 where we remained overnight. With a full day of sailing and locking, I was up as we were underway again at 5:37 AM on the 14th – arrangements were in place for locks to be operated for us before normal hours.

looking off the starboard side to the moveable dam

and light was starting to appear looking east as we approached Lock 10 in Cranesville (Lift 15 feet). It was now 6:23 AM.

exiting the lock

and, onto Lock 9 in Rotterdam – sadly the day remained mostly overcast, thus no great colors to my images – we had to wait for a lock tender to arrive for us – now 7:18 AM.

and, here is a gallery you can open up as we Lock-through Lock 9.

Next? Lock 8, of course, with a lift of 14 feet (but, “downhill” going east). We are coming into Scotia (Rotterdam), just west of Schenectady – 8:44 AM. Schenectady is still “on my list” to explore.

and another gallery for you – now Lock 8

looking back to the north from inside Lock 8 for detail on the moveable dam

and to the stern as the gates close on Lock 8

Next? Lock 7 – east of Schenectady about four miles, and down to 13 miles to The Hudson River

you know a gallery is now coming of Lock 7 – Vischer Ferry in Niskayuna – Lift 27 feet

Now it will get really exciting. Originally the canal continued along the Mohawk River and around the 85-foot Cohoes Falls, with 18 locks. But that changed with the building of the Barge Canal, completed in 1915, with a spectacular cut to the north over to Waterford – now the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal. You may recall I drove this stretch in July – and I recommend you click here and revisit that trip. RAY RECOMMENDS, when in the Troy or Albany area, hop north to Waterford and follow the Waterford Flight of Locks.

Leaving the river to the cut, you first pass Guard Gate 2 and Guard Gate 1, built to protect the Waterford Flight from flooding and also to allow for maintenance and water drawdowns.

 

Guard Gate 2

Guard Gate 1

almost under Guard Gate 1 approaching Lock 6

Approaching Lock 6, with a lift of 33 feet

hopefully in this gallery you will get a feeling of the height of the remaining locks

and, coming into Lock 5

and, looking ahead to Lock 4 from 5

Lock 5 now open heading east

 .27 of a mile to Lock 4 (remember I have a book with all the details)

Lock 4

about a half mile further east and you sail into Lock 3 with a lift of 34.5 feet (elevation change 83.25 to 48.75 feet above the level of the Hudson River). It is now 1:21 PM.

and above you see the Day Peckinpaugh as we approached. Built in 1921, specifically for operation in the Barge Canal, it is the largest artifact in the New York State Museum collection. Hopes and plans are still for its restoration.

and, last heading east on the Erie Canal, before entering the Hudson River, is Lock 2 in Waterford – 34.5 feet down to the level of the Hudson River.

To the left is the Waterford Harbor facility which I visited in July on my drive west.

now out to the Hudson River, a turn to starboard (right) and head south.

above you can just make out the Troy Lock on the left, dam in the center, and power plant on the right. Here is a gallery taking you through the Troy Lock (not really, but Lock 1)

we then pulled into downtown Troy, New York, for an overnight. I t00k a walk around the interesting and historic downtown architecture.

Left to relate to you are the two days heading down the Hudson, one day in New York City, and then my train ride back along the Hudson from NYC to the Albany/Rensselaer Amtrak Station, to retrieve my car, and drive across Vermont and back home. It has taken me over a month to relate the first nine parts of this journey, I hope to finish the rest soon, but I still have my cross-country and back Train Trek to also complete sharing. Thank you for sailing with me, yours, RAY

WATER WANDERINGS 3-18 SEPTEMBER 2019
GREAT LAKES, WELLAND CANAL, OSWEGO CANAL,
ERIE CANAL, and HUDSON RIVER

Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East

Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany

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LAKES – LOCKS – LONG RIVER — 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 – PART 8 – ERIE CANAL LOCKS 22 to 11 – SEPTEMBER 13, 2019

My notes for documenting this day read, “Most Amazing Day.” I traveled through, and documented for you, twelve locks on the Erie Canal – heading east Lock 22 through Lock 11. This is a photo report, and possibly the only one on-line showing this journey (and next post you will get the rest of the canal heading east). I narrowed down from 123 images to what you see here, starting at 5:40 AM on 13 September, and ending at 9:51 PM.

On my way out to be on deck next to the Pilot House, which had been lowered so we can fit under all bridges, I took this image of the map display so you would see where we stayed overnight in Sylvan Beach. The Grand Mariner had just gotten underway.

good morning Erie Canal, at 6:03 AM (this image, as many here, can be clicked for a larger view)

still dark as we approached Lock 22

and ready to leave the lock. The locks were manned both before and after normal operating hours. As a “commercial vessel,” that pays well for transiting the canal, the canal authority accommodates Blount Small Ship Adventures’ schedules.

About 1.35 miles east is Lock 21 in New London (Rome) with a lift of 25 feet.

The sun was still rising as we locked through

and, continuing east

Next to share with you is Guard Gate 6 at East Rome. A guard gate helps isolate sections of the canal in case of emergency, such as a break in the canal wall, accident, or extreme high water. They are also used when a section of the canal needs to be drained for maintenance or winter freeze protection. And, now you know. To learn more about the canal’s features, click this link.

even with the sun up, there is peace and tranquility on the Erie Canal

Keeping track? What is next? Lock 20, Whitesboro (Marcy) with a lift of 16 feet. I am lucky to have a copy of the 284 page complete guide to paddling the New York State Canal System. For paddlers, but still invaluable to answer my questions.

and, leaving Lock 20 – the clamp you see on the gunwale holds on a light (another on the starboard side). These were attached when the top deck was stripped to fit under the bridges, and as you see in a number of images, we needed the lights at night.

a classic old-style bridge somewhere east of Utica

As we were approaching my favorite lock, Lock 19 (remember my post from July?) I was able to catch an Amtrak train crossing the bridge just hundred of yards east of the lock. Hope you can make it out passing over the bridge. Most of the images in this post can be clicked for a larger size.

And, getting closer to Lock 19 in Frankfort (Schulyer) – not well marked off NY5 – but worth finding and stopping.

close to the east gates

and ready to depart the lock

and go under the bridge. I encourage you to go back to the July post to see the Governor Roosevelt approaching this lock after passing under the bridge.

and in July I ate a late lunch on the deck of the Ilion Marina and RV Park. Here it is from the water.


and, not quite two miles further east is Gems Along the Mohawk in Herkimer. Restaurant, gift shop, etc., but most important the visitor center where I met Melody who told me about Blount Small Ship Adventures – thus enabling this adventure.

the bridge and moveable dam just east of “Gems” And, see another guards gate set?

and soon I saw an “old friend” – yes Governor Roosevelt pushing a colorful barge.

time for…yes Lock 18 in Jacksonburg with a lift of 20 feet.

in about three miles (still heading east, in case you forgot) comes Little Falls Canal Harbor and Rotary Park just before Guard Gate 4, and Canal Place park where I visited in July. Get to the end of that post to see spectacular Lock 17 from landside.

Views around Benton’s Landing and Canal Place in Little Falls that you can enlarge for larger size views.

and a half-mile around the bend you approach the top side of Lock 17 with its astounding 40.5 lift – until recently, the highest single lift lock in the world. It is the only “shaft lock” on the Erie Canal system. The guillotine gate at the lower end moves vertically rather than gates swinging to the sides.

enjoy your way through with me, and once through look back at the lock

spotted many times on this trip, but this time I was almost fast enough to share this eagle with you.

at 4:12 PM I took this image of the Herkimer Home State Historic Site. I have visited this 1764 Georgian-style mansion twice learning the story of its owner, General Nicholas Herkimer, hero of the Battle of Oriskany, stopping the British advance from the west.

ready for Lock 16 – St. Johnsville – in Fort Plain, NY – lift 20.5 feet

then almost seven miles to Lock 15 in Fort Plain

with Lock 15 is a moveable dam

sections of the dam can be lowered or raised to control canal water levels

another 3.5 miles, and another lock – Lock 14, Canajoharie in Palatine Bridge.

and a look at the movable dam

and, again once through the lock

and, then onto Lock 13 – Yosts, in Fultonville. If you are traveling west on the NY State Thruway you can pull over at a rest stop to see the lock and dam. It is now 7:50 PM, and getting dark.

remember, we are VIPs, and the locks were manned after hours for us.

Where were you at 9:06 PM on September 13, 2019? I was approaching Lock 12 on the Erie Canal at Tribes Hill. This lock is just north of the fabulous Schoharie Crossing State Historical Site that I enjoyed in July.

and the moveable dam at this lock is one of only two moveable dams on the Mohawk River that have a highway across, and I drove over on this highway to visit the Lock. A young man in July, with pride, gave me a tour of the facilities he maintained.

and, now passing through Lock 12

and, looking back to the dam and highway above

ready to depart

and, after a long day standing watch on the brow so as to not miss a thing, it was time at 9:51 PM to arrive at Lock 11 in Amsterdam where we remained overnight.

Coming next, the remaining locks on the Erie Canal to the Hudson River. Hope you are having fun with me. I love reliving this journey and sharing. As always, yours, RAY

WATER WANDERINGS 3-18 SEPTEMBER 2019

GREAT LAKES, WELLAND CANAL, OSWEGO CANAL,
ERIE CANAL, and HUDSON RIVER

Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East

Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany

 

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NO WINTER MAINTENANCE and LEAVES – 9 and 13 OCTOBER 2019

You know THIS IS THE WEEK for leaf peeping – and I had to do it and share. Two great days out, and some views for you to hopefully savor. The colors this year are wonderful – as I recall, I was disappointed last year. Most “out of staters” don’t know (or are afraid of) unmarked dirt roads. Instead they travel the main roads – numbered highways, pavement, lines on the roads, telephone polls – all signs of civilization. Dread the thought.

I get a number of emails, and on 3 October received one with – 7 of the Most Beautiful Dirt Roads in Vermont. I was thrilled to learn that Kelley Stand Road from Stratton to East Arlington, Vermont, was back open after Irene. I found it impassible and closed when there in July 2013. Then on the 11th I got another email – Four Vermont Scenic Mountain Roads to Travel Before The Snow Flies – roads with No Winter Maintenance, and closed. Kelley Stand Road is on the list, as well as Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch, which I took you on just this August on my way to Canada. I had to travel across the Green Mountains on Kelley Stand Road, and off I went this past Wednesday, 9 October.

I traveled through Townsend to Wardsboro (was there for the 4th in 2018) to head south on VT 100 – the backbone of the state. You have to watch carefully for the sign to Stratton. Not the ski area, but there is a little town with a couple buildings, the road to East Arlington, and leaves in “downtown”.

It is 15 miles from Stratton to East Arlington, and dirt and “No Winter Maintenance” begins just east of the minuscule village. The road originally served numerous logging camps and early settlements during the nineteenth century. August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused major damage to the road. A river/stream follows the western downhill side with four bridges that were destroyed. After three years of reconstruction and $3.8 million, Kelley Stand Road completely reopened through the Green Mountains on September 17, 2014.

3/10ths of a mile once the road becomes dirt you have to look carefully for a small entrance to find this marker. 15,000 people were here July 1840, to hear Daniel Webster “stumping” for the Whig presidential ticket of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. This open field, at 2,400 feet in the Green Mountains, was perfect for the orator. There was little newspaper coverage of the event, and we do not know what Webster said. One author wrote, “They had counters, so the 15,000 figure has been verified.” In 1840, Vermont’s population was almost 292,000, thus five percent of Vermonters were there.

You have seen those images saying either, “what is wrong in this picture” or “do you see the differences.”  Well here I am with GiGi on this trip, and BLUE BELLE on the previous adventure when the road was closed. Can you spot the differences, and one troubling one?

GiGi at Daniel Webster’s Kelly Stand marker on October 9, 2019.

BLUE BELLE and me at Daniel Webster’s Kelly Stand marker 21 July 2013

Yes, most differences obvious, but most disturbing, look at the rock. Acid-rain? Well, back on my way – I love “closed-in” dirt roads.

GiGi was my partner today. BLUE BELLE really wanted to go, but it was in the low 50s and overcast, and I thought better. When I reached this high point on the road at this pond, I checked GiGi’s thermometer – 49 degrees. I made the right car selection for a hundred mile adventure.

Four bridges had been replaced, and this is Bridge 1, closest to East Arlington. Note the rock hill sliding to the road. Of the eleven dirt miles, the western most half followed the river.

and, then back to seeing houses and a few other cars, I scooted over to West Arlington to again see the covered bridge. To my back is Norman Rockwell’s home there.

Coming back home, I had a bite to eat in Manchester, headed towards Bromley and turned south on VT30 back to Townsend. But instead of passing through Athens (was I shocked coming through earlier – the main dirt road has been paved), I cut over to Grafton. Always love it there, and explored “new” dirt roads. I finally found the dead end dirt road that ends with the drive to Chevy Chase’s FUNNY FARM home. It was the drive the postman raced up, and you better remember the house and surroundings. Exploring more, the leaves were great in Grafton.

I know you will want to take the routes I was on. Below in pink is the trip above I took on the 9th, and in yellow Sunday’s explorations with amazing colors and “filling in the map.” Yes, you can click on the map for almost full screen size.

The long Columbus Day weekend, Sunday the 9th appeared to be the best day for sun and temperature. BLUE BELLE and I were off. Destination first, the Newfane, Vermont, fair, and then unexplored roads cutting over to South Wardsboro, and then to Wilmington and home. Guess what? It did not happen that way, BLUE BELLE made some unplanned turns.

Going down US5 and cutting over through Dumerston Center to get to Route 30 – what are all the cars doing here? It was Apple Pie Festival day. We parked in a field, and I trouped around. No pie or apples, but bought five good books – never pass them up.

Dummerston Center, Vermont, Apple Pie Festival 2019

Parking was not so easy in Newfane, and I really did not have to look at crafts, so I continued on to South Wardsboro/Newfane Road as planned.

Once arriving in South Wardsboro for the first time, I found it consists of an intersection, a couple houses, and the Congregational church.

To my left (next to a house with all its laundry hung out to dry) was Potter Road I had found on Google Maps to “short-cut” over to VT100. It was dirt, and proudly displayed was the sign NO WINTER MAINTENANCE – yeah, another great isolated dirt path. Off we went.

  At an indistinguishable cross roads, I knew from my map gazing (albeit on-line and not paper) that I wanted to turn right, and shortly would intersect with VT100 between Wardsboro Center and West Wardsboro. Indeed I was correct, and if you wish to go in reverse turning off VT 100, just look for Lower Podunk Road.

 

Arriving at the intersection of VT100 and VT9, it was a zoo. So, I turned east on nine to head to the flea market and home. Perfect stop, and I got the juicy hamburger I was craving. Heading east the leaves were absolutely wonderful on Route 9. Suddenly BLUE BELLE saw a sign leading to a forest of leaves that said, “Town Hill Road.” She jerked my hands right on the wheel, and up we climbed, actually ending up in downtown Marlboro. I knew it was downtown because besides three houses there was a church, library and post office. I continued on to Marlboro College before turning around. But, she did it again thinking the dirt road to the right would get us back to Rt 9. Fortunately it did not, and you should get so beautifully “lost” – no, I knew I was still in Vermont.

it just would not stop – the beauty that is

a tad further I stopped when I saw a couple women walking, asking, “where am I?” They laughed, and said Halifax. “Canada? I don’t remember having to show my passport.” No, you are below Brattleboro they told me. I never found the center of Halifax (if there is one – population 728 in 2010), but I will re-explore someday. I stumbled onto a small paved road, and looking where the sun was figured I should turn left to try to find something familiar in Brattleboro. But, first more great leaves.

Could not believe it, the road I was on dead ended on VT9 in West Brat. I turned right to get to I-91 for one exit to cross back to NH and follow River Road (always love it) along the Connecticut River, and back home. No great leaves to share from there, but always wonderful. But, before completing the journey, BLUE BELLE said we had earned an ice cream at Stuart and John’s

What a day – great roads, great leaves, and a new hobby – find NO WINTER MAINTENANCE. Hope you enjoy these two one hundred mile each trips with me. Love, RAY

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