Forgotten Household Crafts
It has been said that through the careful observation of history, will we find the answers needed for tomorrow’s future. As I take small steps to reduce our carbon footprints on this Earth, I am often drawn to the legends of my Great Grandparents who farmed the land and knew how to successfully live a sustainable life.
Two generations ago, my Great Grandmother Julia immigrated to the United States from Poland. When she arrived on Ellis Island, she did not have a designer purse hanging from her slender wrists; instead, she carried a small pillowcase full of her belongings. When I consider that she came to this country completely alone, I deeply admire her courage and fierce determination to succeed. Great Grandmother Julia chose to start her new life in Riverhead, New York. It was a small Polish community and she was not here very long before she fell in love with my Great Grandfather Julius. Together they started a family, and etched out a life farming a potato farm that is now the home to some of the best vineyards on Long Island.
Like many Polish immigrants at the time, my Great Grandparents had very few worldly possessions, but no shortage of love, or the passion needed to raise a family, and give them a better life. Their children were all required to pull their weight on the farm, but they were also given plenty of time to play in the sunshine, swim on the shore, and pick Beach Plums when they were in season. Life was hard back then as it was for many. Thrift and conservation were not just a code of ethics; it was a strict way of life. Yet, during The Great Depression, neither my Grandmother nor my aunts ever remember missing a meal or ever once feeling hungry. Instead they all remember an abundance of food on the farm, what a wonderful cook their mother was, and the beautiful heritage they were given.
Recently I read an older book called Forgotten Household Crafts ~ A Portrait of the Way We Once Lived by John Seymour. It is a wonderful guide for anyone wishing to glean ideas for infusing green, old fashioned and sustainable practices into their modern day life. As I turned the pages, I often felt as if I were peering through an old rippled glass window, catching a glimpse of what life was like on my Great Grandparent’s farm. Each page offers a visual feast of beautiful drawings and pictures illustrating antique articles that once were functional everyday items in the average home.
In Forgotten Household Crafts, A Portrait of the Way We Once Lived, John Seymour, describes in great detail and knowledge, topics such as Open Hearth Cooking, Ice Boxes, Kitchen Gardens, Bee Keeping, Food Preservation, Textile Crafts, Home Maintenance, Wash Day, Livestock Keeping, Chimney Sweeping, and Waste Disposal. He also explores old fashioned Candle, Soap, Butter, Cheese, Ale, Beer, Wine, and Cider Making. His book records the past. It is very informative, but has also been written to inspire and instruct us for the future.
“For I am convinced that the future does not lie in the direction of fish fingers, TV snacks, Formica, and other plastic garbage. It lies in the recreation of real homes.” John Seymour ~ Forgotten Household Crafts ~A Portrait of the way we once lived.”