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November 20, 2006


Yeah, that's a story that isn't told nearly often enough: the pioneers who said, "To hell with this!" and went home. I have a feeling that Pennsylvania is filled with their descendents -- we're all such a stay-at-home lot.

To be brought so close to this history, to imagine the handwritten pages in your hands, is really a privilege, as well as fascinating.

It's surprising, I know, but oysters were dirt cheap, almost everyday
fare for farmers throughout lower New England and the MidAtlantic States up through the 1880's. It's still common to encounter mountains of oystershells when excavating old middens, even on subsistence homestead farms of Civil War vintage.

Love these old journals--thanks for sharing.


Dave - yeah! That's why I was fascinated by this story.

Jean, I feel privileged to have this written history and have felt for many years that it was entrusted to me and that I ought to do something with it that goes beyond its interest to just our family. Maybe not having kids makes that a more intriguing proposal to me too. But there is much in it that speaks to a universal experience - in this initial working with the material, I'm trying to tease that out and begin to see how I might weave other, modern experience with the old to create something more.

Marci - thank you for telling me this!! Can you answer how these perishable oysters were shipped to rural areas? Were they packed in wooden barrels in ice and shipped by train from the seacoast? How far inland was this common?

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.