May 18, 2012

The Pioneer Years 1895-1914

I read Barry Broadfoot's The Pioneer Years 1895-1914: Memories of Settlers Who Opened the West (Toronto: Doubleday, 1976) looking for more facts about how people used to meet their basic needs, textile and otherwise in a time of limited cash money and limited means for daily transportation.  Here are a couple of quotes I liked.  The one on page 88 is about knitting:
...we had a bad time, a terrible time getting just the things we thought nothing of in Iowa, like salt and baking powder and coal and wood.  And even a small thing like Mother's big knitting needles being tossed accidentally into the fire one day was a tragedy.  Imagine, just a pair of needles.  Of course, Dad whittled her a new pair but she always complained, all that winter until spring, that they just didn't work right.
There was another one, about spinning yarn, in the chapter about the relationships between different ethnic groups on the Prairies, on page 170:
They were good people, the Scandinavians.  I remember once my wife had too much wool and the store wouldn't even take it in storage.  I said we might was well burn it, what use is it to us?  She said she'd give it to a Norwegian family that lived over by the lake.  I drove over with these bags of wool and gave them to the woman.  She took these bags of wool and made them into yarn and about a month later, one Sunday, she and her husband drove over and they gave us two lovely wool sweaters.  Knitted.  One for me, one for my wife.  They didn't have to pay us.  It was just their way.

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