Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 23

who trafficked in the miseries of the poor and sick, for quinine was held at one shilling a grain, owing to monopolistic tariff fixers. Our mothers provided as many remedies as they knew how from herbs and other materials, so we had sage tea, catnip tea, taney, smomile [chamomile], sassafras, mullein in season and stored for winter sulphur and molasses, goose grease, slippery elm for poultices and elder bark fried in mutton tallow for salve. Something for everything, so that a doctor's gig was seldom seen in the country, and when it was seen, all knew the case was serious, and if the priest followed there seemed no hope at all.

          We lived surrounded by marshes and mosquitoes were thick, and at every door was a little pile of burned chips where the fires were lighted every evening to make the smudges to keep these pests out of the house. When, on one occasion, three of us children came down with the chills at mass on Sunday, it was laid to the malarial effluvia from the marshes and not to the mosquitoes. We are wiser now. Yet these marshes furnished the hay, and swamps were filled with huckleberries, and both of these were great resources for the farmer. Day after day in the season we took our pails and went to fill them with huckleberries, and regularly these were taken to Niles and sold at private houses and stores, and each of us hoarded our little earnings; at least what we thought was our share, for our mother was always a little conservative when she told us the market price. Anyway we got new books, new material for shirts, new boots or something of the kind.

          In the harvest we carried the bundles of wheat to the chockers, and in the haying time we spread out the heavy rows of hay to dry and caked them together into windows when dry. All was hand work then from the planting of the corn to the shelling of it for the mill, the outing of the grain and hay, the digging of the potatoes and the husking of the corn and the chopping of winter’s wood. A plow, a harrow, a cultivator for the field crops and a wagon were a full complement of a farmer's implements for horse work, and his hand tools were axes, hose,shovels, scythes and cradles, rakes and pitchforks. And yet we did very well and found time to rest and enjoy ourselves. If we wanted to got [go] to town we had our horses and farm wagons which served for taking the products of the farm to market and members of the family on shopping and visiting tours. A covered wagon was a sign of wealth, and there were not many of them in our village, but buggy was always available at a livery stable when a young man wanted to give his sweetheart a ride throught the country on a Sunday evening.

          Those were days of real contentments, for people were satisfied with small profits and no one had the get-rich-quick fever. The small farmer had his chance to make a living for his family, to educate his children and give them a hop of starting out in life with better prospects than their father and mothers had. Things have changed since then for the small farmer. The style of farming, the standard of living, the prices of labor, the manner of markets, all have so much changed that a small farmer of the olden days would starve with or without a family. Modern

View original here

This page has paths:

Contents of this path: