My farm ancestors believed that bedding, rugs, laundry, the very old, and the very young needed to be “aired out” regularly. When I was a baby living in the farmhouse, my mother put me outside on the walk in my carriage for at least a half hour a day. Once, when my mother and father left me in my grandparents’ care for a weekend, my mother wrote a detailed note about what and when to feed me and specific times for napping, bed, and bath. This list, titled “Usual Routine,” instructed my grandmother to feed me liver soup and prunes, and included these lines.
“8:00 or 8:30 – Arise – put in high chair and give 6 drops of oil in Teasp with orange juice – give rest of orange juice in cup. Put outdoors if nice.”
For the old ones living in the farmhouse, spring weather meant finally being out in the sunshine and feeling truly warm. My great-grandmother, Lydia Jane Hall, welcomed this time of year. In a May journal entry she says it’s the “first day I‘ve been out of the house since the fall.” The front of the house faced south, so it was pleasant and bright in spring and summer. She would have been able to see the barn across the street, people coming and going up and down Whirlwind Hill Road, and the children playing on the lawn.
Sunday, May 8, 1921 – “This is a fine day and it is Mother’s Day. Mothers, children, and grand-children been to see us bringing flowers. Mrs. Biggs here and went home this afternoon. Henry, Ellen, Jane, John, Hattie, Edgar. Wilbur and Edyth’s boy (William E. Hall) whom we think is fine & Emily Crooks. Agnes, & Lydia & Francis went to Sunday school. I have been out with William sitting on the walk. Agnes took our picture.”
This photo could have been taken on the day she talks about. Maybe young William took it of his grandmother Lydia, his Aunt Agnes, and his three cousins, Janet, Lydia, and Francis.
My favorite picture of Lydia Jane out in the sun is this one from the early 1900’s. She and her husband William sit in front of the open parlor window, enjoying each other’s company. They’ve brought the parlor chairs outside onto the lawn so they can sit and chat and welcome the Sunday afternoon company.
On Friday: Violets – An Addendum