Transcribed and Donated by Leslie Howard Strawn
An Apology, a kind of Prologue
Excuse bad spelling - And poor writing,
And what is worse, - The poor indicting.
Both age and blindness - Plead my cause,
We must submit - To Natures laws.
I have lived the appointed time of man
The wise man says, Is but a span,
Tis but a span to me it seems so true,
For twas not long since I was young as you.
A yellow pen was given to me,
It marked so fine I scarce could see;
But when I write, a quill I choose
Rather than gold for me to use.
And now my little friends, - I would give you information
Of the work of other times, - And my childhoods occupation.
When young I did commence upon the stage
How well I loved to work with my dear father
In the rich hollow meadow,
Sometimes I gathered sheaves
To tell him what Id done
Id thus begin:
Besides my chores
I wove nine yards to-day.
Well done, my little girl!
My fatherd say.
His smile and words
Did much increase my joys,
To hear him say, You have earned
More than I and all my boys.
And when the cloth was wove
Twas differently dressed,
For them twas fulled and colored
And also sheared and pressed.
And when the cloth came home
We tried our skill at making,
We cut and fit and sewed,
Twas quite an undertaking;
Till every man and mothers son
Had a new suit when frost began.
The winter we put in so good
In a warm house with lots of wood,
No matter if twas rain or snow,
We spun the flax and spun the tow.
And when the spring began to break,
We make the sugar by the cake;
And twas to me a pleasant play
To help at that from day to day.
We had a good, kind, trusty mare
That I could catch, put in the car,
Then take the barrel, pail and funnel,
Likewise the gourd to fill the barrel.
And lead the mare from tree to tree
And dip it clean as you may see,
And when I got the barrel full,
To go to camp, it was the rule.
In daytime, mother boiled the kettles,
At night my father chopped and whittled,
And thus prepared the next days wood
And mother boiled the kettles good.
And there she sat a sewing
Or, she knit with all her might,
And she kept a good lookout
That the work was going right.
And all the little craft,
That could do any work,
Had something to do
And little chance to shirk.
And thus fine lots of sugar we did make,
Sometimes we made it crumb and sometimes cake;
And then we made molasses very nice
To eat on pancakes or on bread a slice.
At straining of the syrup, and
At sugaring, oft she plied her hand,
And often at the camp
Her work was in demand.
She kept a sharp lookout
That all the work went on,
Her presence was the axle
That business turned upon.
Where she was the most needed
There she was the most seen,
And a superior woman
My Mother sure, has been.
Then the next we had to do was to weave the linen,
That through the winter we had all been spinning;
Web after web, I wove till all was done,
And all the flax and tow that we had spun.
And more than fifty years ago
A pleasant sight was seen,
Three hundred yards of linen
Lay bleaching on the green.
When I was wool, upstairs a spinning,
My mother would call to me,
And say, Now go wet the linen;
It is dry now, go and see.
She would say, Now do be careful
And wet it every bit,
And leave no little dry spot,
The water does not hit.
Our watering pot was beautiful,
Twas made so nice, of tin,
Two handles, spout and nasal
Through which the waterd spin.
And it had a hundred little holes
Where the water would spin out,
And fly in all directions
And wet it all about.
And when the cloth was bleached,
And made so nice and white,
Twas then we had the shirts and sheets
And pillow cases right.
And then we had the curtains
To hand around our bed,
And beautiful they were indeed,
And painted blue and red.
Likewise the snow-white counterpane,
The double coverlet,
And how delighted then I was
To rest my childish head.
Our dresses and our handkerchiefs
Nearly all made at home,
The clothing of the family
The product of the loom.
And in those days our ladies dressed
In flax, wool or cotton,
And little thought or cared about
The velvet, silk or satin.
And still I have some specimens
Of what we used to do,
And if you wish to see them
Call in, and Ill show you.
I have the sheets and the counterpanes
And double coverlets,
And tablecloths and towels
And curtains for my bed.
And dresses and the aprons
And the kerchiefs for my neck,
All of the good old homespun
In which I still can deck.
And when we left our parents,
We had everyone a farm
And horses, sheep and cattle
That we might be fed and warmed.
But now those blessed parents
Have gone to their reward,
They are resting from their labors
And I trust, died in the Lord.
Their works do follow them,
And their children shall be fed,
They shall not be forsaken,
Nor their seed begging bread.
And now my precious children,
I have wrote some rustic rhymes
In order to inform you
Of the work of olden times.
When your grandma was a child
Among the Pennsylvania hills,
The stony spots and ravines
And lots of little rills.
And there were a dozen springs
On so small a farm as that,
Not quite two hundred acres,
And but little of it flat.
But I love Pennsylvania,
I love its springs and rills
I love its fruits and nuts,
And many more good things.
I love its good inhabitants,
So honest, frank, and kind,
There were many noble hearts there,
Still imprinted on my mind.
I do love Pennsylvania,
It is the place that gave me birth,
I love it still the best
Of any place on earth.
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