I’m not sure how I ended up with this treasured volume, but Barnes Historical Series found its way to my bookshelf likely coming from the home of my maternal grandmother. Used as a textbook for 11th grade students in the Philadelphia schools circa the end of the 19th century, it covers US history from the explorers through some events in the late 1800’s. I especially enjoyed reading the fine print explanations of life during these various periods.
No way would you find this information in today’s academic resources. They would neither be politically correct nor would they support the changes that have occurred as history has been rewritten to agree with the more modern models of government. You know how it goes, if you say a lie often enough, someone will believe it, and it will become fact. The ironic part is that someone thought this volume with a copyright date of 1885 had already been rewritten as I found references relating to General Greene of Revolutionary War fame corrected in pencil. (My grandfather’s family was Greene, but I have no idea if they were related to the General.)
But alas, I digress. My intent was to provide a humorous example of life during the early Plymouth days.
“In the early Plymouth days, every house opened on Sunday morning at the tap of the drum. The men and the women, the former armed to the teeth, assembled in front of the captain’s house. Three abreast, they marched to the meeting-house, where every man set down his musket within easy reach. … The sermon was often three or four hours long, and at the end of each hour the sexton turned the hour-glass which stood upon the desk. Woe to the youngster whose eyelids drooped in slumber! The ever-vigilant constables, with their wands tipped on one extremity with the foot, and on the other with the tail of a hare, brought the heavier end down on the nodding head. The care-worn matron who was betrayed into a like offense was gently reminded of her duty by a touch on the forehead with the softer end of the same stick. … “
Although the religious services provided a great contrast to those today, this text presents our ancestors as real people struggling with real life issues. You also see the level of vocabulary with which they wrote. Makes you wonder if today’s high school students would understand the words. I confess. There were a few words that I had to look up. I guess it’s a good thing I live in the age of the Internet and not in early Plymouth.