Category Archives: History

Pin Feathers

My mother didn’t cook much, but she was a good cook who really cared how her dishes turned out.  She was particularly fussy about her chicken. When I was a very little girl, mom would buy chicken from the meat man in the back of Nelson’s department store. The chicken came whole and was wrapped in white butcher paper.

She usually cut up the chicken she bought and baked the pieces. I have vivid memories of her holding each piece over an open flame on the gas stove to remove any possible remaining pin feathers that were missed when the chicken was processed.  There usually weren’t any such feathers, but it was something she had learned growing up on the farm, and she always did it.

Husband and I like to get big roasting chickens, but they have been hard to come by lately. In desperation the other week we took a chance and bought a “Southern Hen” in Walmart. It was indeed from the deep South in Alabama. It was the right size (about 9 pounds), and we decided to cook it whole in the slow cooker.

The roasters we usually buy are nicely processed and have clean skins with no pin feathers.  I would have needed a blow torch to remove the feathers and quills from our Southern Hen. I tried a lighter to no avail, and ended up laboriously removing it all with a needle nosed pliers.   My mother would have been appalled.  I guess they have different standards in chicken processing in the South.

The meat was tasty, but I made sure every bit of skin was removed and discarded once the chicken was thoroughly cooked. Husband has indicated that it might be nice to keep a few  chickens in our retirement. Our experience with our Southern Hen makes me think otherwise.

What do you remember about family food ways  from your childhood?

Bonnets

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

The trip to Ireland is a week and a half behind me now, which allows the fog to clear as routine life, my real life, resumes.  As I reflect on the trip the highlights are emerging from the distance of time and place.  One of the highlights is the County Down Museum for which there was no admission fee, a small facility located in the building that lodged the county gaol and gallows during the 19th Century.  Two wings of it display artifacts of the area reaching back to pre-Christian times.

The part that interested me, though,  was the exhibit about the gaol, especially the display about the women, arrested for “crimes,” then sentenced to life in Australia.  I have included the pictures of the narratives, telling of the women, children, and families transported for crimes. You will see that their crimes were crimes of poverty and survival, often preceded by the husbands and fathers of a family being arrested and sent off to Australia.  That left a desperate family with no financial support.

 

Down a narrow hall from the main exhibits was a reproduced gaol cell holding women and children, including the one pallet to be used as a bed and shared by all in the cell.  It was cold and dank and surely cleaner than the ones used 200 years ago.  I looked at it and shuddered.  I have seen exhibits similar to this before.  What made this one so meaningful to me, what set this apart significantly, was the display of nineteenth century bonnets re-created in the styles of the time.

 

 

The arrays of bonnets, embellished and decorated with scraps of fabric, embroidered hearts, lace, and ribbons were so lovely.  Representing these women without being creepy, I found the bonnets to be the perfect symbol of the lives of these women.   The beauty of this has stayed with me.  I keep returning to the picture of the bonnets to show others, to look at and study, to savor.    I find it a pleasing, perfect memory.  Ideal.

 

What ideal symbol have you encountered?

 

Oklahoma

Today’s post is from tim.
i was 4
my bed was the one by the window
paul’s was the one by the wall
mom brought home the record of the new play called oklahoma
the songs are all so wonderful but that one about the surry with the fringe on top made me dance in my sleep
with eisenglass windows that roll right up in case there’s a change in the weather.
mom comes in
what’s wrong
nothing

what are you yelling

i didn’t realize i was singing i thought it was in my head
what are you singing
with eisenglass windows that roll right up in case there’s a change in the weather
we just got that record today
i like it
go to sleep you’ll wake up your brother

wha do you got for childhood flashbacks?

Making Predictions

I was happy to wake up on September 24 and find that the world hadn’t ended as David Meade, biblical numerologist, had predicted. I believe he recalculated after he found things were still the same on the 24th as they were on the 23rd, and predicted another date for our demise  on  October 15th.  The rogue planet Nibiru, violating all physics principles, is predicted to collide with earth and set in motion all sorts of rannygazoo.   We shall have to see what happens. I believe that is the date of  Blevin’s book club.  At least you will all be together.

It isn’t easy to make accurate predictions.  Our world is so random that people search for certainty and cling to the idea that we can make sense of the universe. Consider poor Harold Camping,  the evangelist and radio host who made multiple predictions of the Earth’s end in 2011,  and who finally admitted in 2012 that he was sinful for even trying to make such predictions, falling back on Matthew 24:36 “of that day and hour knoweth no man”.

I am often asked as part of my work to make predictions regarding human behavior.  Psychologists have a myriad of tests and ways of making such predictions, but it is never completely 100% accurate. I know that people who score certain ways on tests of cognition and memory probably have dementia.  I know that people who score in certain ways on tests of emotions and personality probably have certain  mental health diagnoses.  I feel pretty certain predicting that parents with drug and alcohol use disorders  who previously neglected and abused their children will probably do the same thing if they continue to abuse substances.   I can  predict, however, with almost 100%  certainty, that if people are allowed to purchase machine guns, those guns will fired off.  That is probably the easiest thing to predict, and you don’t need an advanced graduate degree to do so.

When have you been able to say “I told you so”?

Birthday Boy!

Today is the birthday of our dear leader Dale!

We’ve talked here over the years of the gift that Dale has given us by starting the blog and setting a tone that we all appreciate.  Now let’s make a list of what gifts we would like to give Dale.

Here’s a poem for Dale’s birthday – although not quite up to the standards of Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler.

You’re honest,
decent, lovable,
and truly are first rate.
You’re charming,
unforgettable,
and clearly pretty great…

You’re dignified,
sophisticated,
gracious, sweet,
and kind.
You’ve got a lot
of talent
and a wit that’s
hard to find.

You’re cleaver, cool,
considerate,
and clean up really nice.
You’re worldly wise,
and wonderful
and full of good advice.

You’re fun
and entertaining,
not to mention
very smart.
You’re altogether awesome
and you’ve got a lot of heart!

What gift would you give Dale?

In Search of My Irish

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

By the time you read this, I will be in Ireland. I could not get my head around how to tell one of these stories. It is cruel and overwhelming and unbelievable. It stopped me cold when I started to write it.

The group I am travelling with is a group of polymer clay artists who have been the students of our teacher from Jordan, MN, Maureen Carlson. She has for years had a teaching studio where people came to learn from all over the world.  One of those students is an Irish priest Father John.  Maureen closed her studio nearly 2 years ago to semi-retire.  He cut a deal with Maureen—let me come over for lessons one more time, and then the next year you can bring a group to the retreat center I run in Ireland for another 5 day lesson.  She said SOLD!  I was invited to attend.  I said yes.

Weirdly, this retreat center is located in the Irish county where my ancestors emigrated from in 1841 to Canada, County Down. That is my mother’s side.  You can the read the story of my great grandfather at this link:

https://www.bookemon.com/book_read_flip.php?book_id=278253

That story is stereotypical. The Newells wanted a better life.  They emigrated to Canada, then Iowa to homestead and did very well.  I hope to travel to see the old stone house the Newells lived in on the sea.  It is still there, 25 miles from the retreat center

The story I found in Ancestry.com on my father’s side knocked my socks off. I had no idea.  This is located in the county north of Down, in Antrim where Belfast is located.  I understand the Irish hatred of British after this one.  Sorry this is so long.  Here we go:

“The year was 1548 and it was in Ireland and it was time to pay Taxes to England . Ever year England would send a small army of tax collectors to Ireland to collect taxes, The people of Ireland had very little money and never enough to pay taxes to England . The tax collectors had been given the right from their King Edward V to take any thing of value to pay the taxes owed. It was the practice of King Edward and Mary Tudor to take Children in payment of the taxes. The children were taken to England to be trained as domestic servants and bonded labors.

This small village called Antrim, in the Ulster Province and of the MacDonald Clan was no different than any other village in Ireland everyone had to pay taxes one way or another, And this is where my story begins, Young children ages 12 years and older that looked in good health were taken from the family clans as payment for the taxes.From the time that the tax collectors picked the first children until they had over 100 children to go back to England it would take lest a week to 10 days. The children would be put into carts and wagons and most of the time their hands were tied to the racks on the carts to keep them from running away.

One young boy that came from Antrim was called James Antrim. His last name was from where he came from. He was being trained as a cord winder and rope maker. James Antrim was a hard worker and he learned well he also learned to read and write that would help him to get ahead in life. He lived and took his training at the family mansion of Sir Thomas Wyatt . During the five years of training young James Antrim had a hard time at first until his hands and arms got stronger, then he was as good a rope maker as there was.

It was on a spring day on a weekend that James went to the market with three men that he came to see for the first time a young lass with red hair , James had to know more about this young women. James found out that she was a cook’s helper at this master’s house and that her name was Colleen O’Shay . This was the first time that he seen his wife to be. The servant’s Masters was willing to let their servants have relationship with other household master’s  servants.  With the hopes that it would lead to a marriage. This way the servants children would be under the master ‘s care and they would become servants also and it would be cheaper than going to Ireland and bringing back young children to train .

Our ancestors were two of these servants that were married and two of their children came to Salem , Massachusetts, America in 1635. they were Thomas Antram and his wife Jane Batter, . And Thomas sent two of his sons John and James back to England in 1679 to bring friends and to raise funds to buy land in New Jersey. Our Ancestors were early America Pioneers.”

I hope that in our 5 days of touring we get to the Antrim area, as well. I want to know more about this practice of taking children for taxes.  It is guaranteed to create hard feelings that last for hundreds of years. It makes me think about how much I hate taxes sometimes.  Several times, while I owned my practice, I had to reach down deep to pay my taxes, but never did I have to make this kind of sacrifice—a 12 year old child.  I cannot come up with a question for discussion for this one.

What would you suggest as a question?