Tuesday, June 28, 2011

143 Years Ago - The End



Completing this series of excerpts from the articles published by The Southampton Press titled “Southampton Sixty Years Ago,” in 1927-8 by Benjamin C. Palmer, here is the seventh and final segment. It describes additional “fun” pastimes of the youth then, and how one resolved various health issues and ailments.


“…the young people of that day had a sense of humor precisely as the young people have today. There were none of a vicious type but quite the reverse, none started out to create damage but if there was a good time on the board count me in it, said they.
Simple things as compared to today furnished the material to brighten the corner of their isolation – a candy pull on a cold winter night held at some neighbor’s home caused them to get there early and stay late, and ten o’clock was late then home and to bed. Some small traveling show occasionally brought out the crowd, a ventriloquist and slight-of-hand performer kept their minds busy for a week at one time; all tending to make life brighter.
The girls were of a quieter type than the boys. Modest and home loving, all trained as all girls should be in the arts of making home homelike; every girl could cook, bake, make patch work quilts, rag carpets, or help the dress maker …...


While the boys – well, they were continually on the lookout for mischief, in other words, “Fun.”


…..A certain young fellow had a girl that he used to go to see on certain evenings….Then he had a nice horse and a nice spring buggy such as they made and used in those days, which he used when he went to see said girl. Some of his chums put their heads together and thought out a trick worth trying; they knew his nights for sparking, so they went too, one night. They had already located some rope and a ladder and when everything was quiet and darkness prevailed they unattached the horse….and when the young man got ready to go home he had to walk as there was no sign or symptom of either horse or buggy, until the next day when the girl’s men folks found they had a new horse and discovered the buggy on the roof of the barn. Fun, wasn’t it?
Miss Eleanor White, daughter of Capt. Nat’l C. White of Wickapogue
[image of his home site in 1873 above], highly respected by all the scholars. She was kind, sympathetic and helpful; in the school was a boy, yes, several of them, but this particular boy was a good boy, a hard student and correct always in deportment; he wouldn’t do anything not permissible in a well-regulated school. One day……. a mitten filled with sand went crash bang on the wall over the heads of a group of the older girls. Silence prevailed while Miss Eleanor tried to find out who threw the mitten. Of course no one knew; it was a case of circumstantial evidence with no results – there was the mitten, but where was the boy? The boy who threw the mitten was shrewd enough to have used some other boy’s mitten so he couldn’t be traced by that, and the good boy who always knew his lessons was so busy studying behind the covers of a big geography that he wasn’t interested; perhaps he didn’t do any laughing outwardly, but we know that he did do considerable inwardly. Fun wasn’t it? Poor Miss Eleanor, that was her last winter of teaching school; everybody loved her but God loved her more and called her home.


….hung up in the house to dry, generally the garret, were various herbs gathered by the thrifty folks, like boneset, catnip, sage, Indian posey, blackberry root and doubtless others whose names we have forgotten.…..there was only one doctor to cover all the region from Good Ground to Bridgehampton. Dr. Hallock, the resident doctor, was a very short, active man and he had his hands and mind well occupied until some years later when he was failing on account of age and a strenuous life. He was relieved in the fast-growing town by our present Dr. John Nugent, a young graduate of unabated activity and ability.


Thus it was not possible to call up the doctor in a hurry when some member of the family felt indisposed and the mothers had to step into the breach and make use of these dried herbs, and they knew how to do it, too; even now while we write, we can imagine the taste of a good big bowl of hot catnip tea flavored with lemon and sugar, given for a sudden cold. Some of these “yarbs” as they were called, many of them, their usefulness handed down from the Indians through the generations, tasted good when made into tea, but we never had any particular love for the genius of generations before who advised wormwood tea, or its attendant remedy, “sulphur and molasses.” We didn’t like them and didn’t hesitate to say so, but had to take them just the same…..


Yes, these old time mothers, with their careful home training, who had not wasted their time playing cards and tripping the light fantastic, knew just what to do and how to do it…….thus saving lots of trouble for our only doctor, and undoubtedly saved many a life.


Then here and there were women well trained by experience, who could be called when a serious case developed or a maternity case was due, and as the late Dr. Mulford of Bridgehampton

[photo of his home above] once said to the writer: “That one of these country nurses were oft time far better than half a dozen doctors.” When one had a toothache, first some one of the old whaling captains could take the chances of breaking a person’s jaw, but they got the tooth every time with a turnkey. Next came the doctor, who used a latter day invention called forceps, and finally we evoluted into a fully equipped dentist, and accompanying the evolution of material mechanism, came the evolution in cost. Captains charged nothing….while the dentist charged all he could get and a little bit more if more were possible. We once walked clear to Sag Harbor to have a bad tooth pulled by a dentist; we never had any more trouble with that tooth but a feeling of sadness prevailed all the way home for he had charged us 50 cents!

When some serious accident occurred and some bone or bones were broken, it was the custom to get in touch with Dr. Sweet. The Sweet family lived in Connecticut; there were several of them, including a sister, and all specialists at bone setting. Some one of them came as promptly as possible when called, but sometimes the suffering patient had to wait some days before Dr. Sweet could get here.”


So this ends this series. I enjoyed the architectural history tidbits the most of course, but found all the other insight charming. I hope to continue these historic excerpts from time to time as there are loads of local history books to refer to.

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