Saturday, August 27, 2005

Old Sturbridge Village

The weather: perfect. The surroundings: quiet and peaceful. The town: A New England farming town, circa 1830s. Old Sturbridge Village is made up of period buildings that were moved to Sturbridge in order to preserve a way of life far different from today. The amazing part of the village is that, through archeological digs and research, the buildings bring to us the stories and careers of the families that actually lived and worked in them so long ago. If you go into the Towne House, the Towne's really did live there.

Some of their furnishings and pictures are still there. Their house was large enough to indicate they were well-to-do and important in the community. Their garden indicated their status, too. They were able to have both flower and vegetable gardens. Most people only grew vegetables. There was no time for frivolous things like flowers!

At the pottery shop, the history of the potter who actually worked the local clay was told through a historical interpreter. The big kiln is still fired up to bake the pottery. In the shoe shop, a young man was repairing by hand the shoes of a villager.

Not only that, but at the Blacksmith shop, a smithy was making the tiny nails that would go to fix more shoes.

At the Freeman Farm, a cooking fire was going, even though it was a hot day. No microwaves or fast food then!

So it went as we traveled back through time, through the church and the Friend's meeting house, through the grist mill and cider mill. Through the school, the bank, the tin shop, the law office, the parsonage. We came away tired and with an appreciation of how close to the land these people were. They labored hard for the basic necessities of life. Want a quilt to keep warm in the winter? Start sewing! Need a loaf of bread? Better go down and get some flour at the grist mill and then bring it home and make the bread.

Food for the winter? Hey, that is why all those vegetables were dried in the summer! Meat for dinner tonight? Go butcher a hog or kill and pluck a chicken. So, the next time you feel stressed by this century, think about what your ancestors did way back then, when the average life span was 45 years and there were no supermarket chains or "big box" stores!


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