Monday, October 24, 2022

Times Past and Times Present: A 2022 Autumn Celebration

I remember the excitement that beheld me when Labor Day would pass and the first signs of  colors from the leaves would show.  My mother would begin her ritual of lighting candles;  my father,  upon the first cooler day,  would light a fire in the fireplace.  Sometimes both would occur on the same evening.  
Yes,  even as a child fall held a special place.  
Special times and special memories---
to this day...


“Meteorological Fall,”  which lasts for 91 days every year,  starts on September 1st and goes through November 30th.  Many people consider the Autumn equinox  (September 21 or 22 - also known as the astronomical fall)  to be the  official  start of fall/autumn,  but for meteorologists,  the new season kicks off weeks before the astronomical event.   Overall,  the meteorological seasons are better for representing what each time of year feels like.  For instance,  it seems that,  at least here in Michigan,  generally people will call those days immediately following the Labor Day holiday  "fall,"  with school starting back and all and hints of color beginning to show on the leaves of the trees.  And they begin preparing by heading out to cider mills and decorating their houses with autumn decor'.  Plus the grass,  for instance,  isn't quite as lush as it was earlier in the summer.  It is also the time of year when the bulk of harvest activities occur.  In fact,  it is said that before the words  “autumn”  or  “fall”  were used  (from the middle ages),  “harvest”  or  “harvesttime”  was the verb used to describe this time of year.
But in general our year and many of our annual activities are still based on the old farmer's years 
and activities - meteorological.  Hence:  why I begin this  "fall"  post with activities taking place before the  "official"  Autumn Equinox.


As a living historian and social historian,  I often find myself participating in activities of the past in a myriad of ways throughout the year,  sometimes as a reenactor and other times modern,  but none as often as during the autumn and the harvest period.  It was,  perhaps,  the most active and even the most pleasurable time of the four seasons for our ancestors.  And to a great extent,  it still is today,  for hitting the farmer's markets on country roads for fresh vegetables,  visiting cider mills for cider and doughnuts and apple picking,  having fall bonfire parties on cool nights,  taking rural drives to look at the changing leaves...and many more traditions we still carry on here in the 21st century.  It is a sort of rite of passage for those of us living in Michigan.
And I am no different.
I've always been a traditional guy in every sense of the word.  The many things we do in my household is taken directly or is a sort of offshoot from the traditions of the past - long past and my own past.
Living history just enhances it.
But today's post doesn't necessarily show living history.  Instead,  it shows modern traditions...that is,  traditional activities from the past as done in our modern 21st century lives.
To begin with,  I'd like to speak a bit about a long-held family tradition of our annual corn roast.
My father began this Labor Day Weekend event back in,  I believe,  1973.  I'm not quite sure why - - maybe because his father,  who was a farmer for many years,  taught him the value of the harvest time of  year.
Maybe it was a way to gather friends and family together for one last summer blast.  I vaguely recall hearing him mention that the family used to have a corn roast many years before but,  for some reason,  stopped.
Or maybe because he simply wanted to.
I see a change a-comin'
No matter the reason,  for we have been carrying on the tradition ever since;  it was passed onto my brother after my father passed away,  and my brother's kids have taken it over since my brother passed away a few years back. And now my own kids have taken it on for this year of 2022,  for my hosting niece and her family had a health issue and had to postpone it for a couple weeks.  Unfortunately,  my own family had already made plans for the postponed date so my eldest decided to have a corn roast of his own with just our family,  held the same day as our tradition has held these nearly 50 years - the night before Labor Day - so we could still enjoy this last blast of summer over Labor Day Weekend as we always have done,  and even the weather already had a nip in the air.  
Oh,  it was not quite as extravagant as the other but it was every bit as nice.
First----got to pick the corn:
Labor Day 2021 at Firestone Farm inside historic Greenfield Village: 
"Look at how well the corn is doing!"

"I must grab a few dozen for Ken's corn roast!"
No...not really...but the pictures are kind of fun,  aren't they?
This is where I went to get the corn - a rural side-of-the-road farmer's market.

I picked up three dozen ear of corn.
We like to soak  'em in water first to bring out the juices.

And there you see them,  being roasted on the grill right alongside the breaded chicken.

They were so good!

We all enjoyed the corn but I thought I would show you a photo
of my youngest grandchild,  Eli,  chewing on his first corn on the cob.
Think he likes it?

My son also made homemade bread - nothing like hot bread fresh out of the oven, 
lathered in butter or cooking oil with parmesan cheese thrown on thick.
Oh yeah!

And on such a cool evening as this,  you just got to have a bonfire!
Still celebrating the harvest in a similar manner as was once done.

As for Labor Day Monday:
Every Labor Day Monday since 2012 I've visited historic Greenfield Village to sort of welcome the fall,  for the angle of the sun,  the feel of the air,  and even slight changes in the leaves seem to happen overnight from August 31st to September 1st,  and Labor Day just seems to be the perfect day to visit.
This year Labor Day was gray and dreary,  again,  adding a fall flavor to the atmosphere.
I love how historic farming is high on the list at Greenfield Village.

Our first stop---my  first stop---when visiting is almost always the 18th century Daggett House,  where life from the 1760s comes alive again.
The presenters at the other historic homes usually will giggle a bit as I walk past at
a fast-paced jaunt.  They know where I'm the far-end of the Village to
this most awesome of all historic homes...the one built by and once belonging to
Samuel Daggett and his wife,  Anna.

I found newer employee,  Morgan,  working in the kitchen garden.

I believe this was her first time working Daggett.
If I had one complaint about Daggett of late is that it is not nearly as much living history as it used to be - as it's been for so long.  This was where one could see 18th century food preparation and cooking  (and eating!),  spinning and wool preparation,  fire-starting demonstrations with flint and steel,  where I learned how to dip candles,  and presenters roaming about the house as if they lived there,  giving it an almost immersive feel like they do over at Firestone Farm.
Speaking of the complete opposite end of the Village we have that 1880s Firestone Farm - a real working farm.
The corn is ready for harvesting...

Mackenzie was found in the Firestone kitchen garden,  getting pretty dirty from
her time out there.
Farmer Tom said you could tell how hard she
worked from how dirty her dress was!

And then,  in between Daggett and Firestone,  we find the Ford Farm - the house in which Henry Ford was born back in 1863.
This could be Mrs.  Ford,  Henry's mother,  looking out the
kitchen door to her own kitchen garden.
So,  if you've noticed,  I've mentioned the kitchen garden in three different homes from three different time periods.  Growing your own produce is nothing new;  it is deep-rooted in our national psyche.  Vegetable or kitchen gardens have been around for centuries,  and in Britain since at least the time of the Romans and were also a well-documented part of monastic and manorial gardens of the medieval period.  Beds of diverse herbs,  medicinal plants and dye plants,  edible flowers as well as salads,  vegetables and fruit were grown alongside orchards,  dovecotes,  beehives and fishponds.  This was true self-sufficiency,  and people’s lives depended on their success.  The kitchen gardens of the 18th and 19th centuries,  in America and in England,  were truly extraordinary,  growing a far wider diversity of crops than most of us would imagine today.  If the time is right and it's not too busy,  ask one of the presenters if  they might be willing to give a tour of their kitchen gardens.  I have at each place,  and the information given by the presenters about the plants and their purposes is fascinating.  It's just as much a part of history as anything else in the historic houses.

Our next stop during our autumnal journey is my own hometown of Eastpointe,  formerly known as East Detroit,  formerly known as Halfway,  formerly known as Erin Township:
It's September and,  as tradition holds,  the kids are back in school.  A sure sign of fall...meteorological fall,  that is.
The beautifully restored Halfway School House from 1872.
We've seen on TV in such shows as Little House on the Prairie what school was like for children in the 19th century and,  believe it or not,  they're usually not too off the mark - for the most part they have portrayed it fairly accurately.  Yes,  there are a few things here and there that could be a bit more accurate,  but the main idea is there and done pretty well.
Suzanne Pixley,  former Eastpointe mayor and current
East Detroit Historical Society president,  gave a history
of  the school house to begin the presentation.
This year of  2022  we celebrated the 150th anniversary of this wonderful old school house we have in my own city of Eastpointe;  it first opened its doors in the fall of 1872 and were closed for good as a public schoolhouse in 1921,  for the student population by that time had outgrown the little white schoolhouse.  A new much larger brick building was erected in its place and this original building was auctioned off to Mr. Kaiser and his coal company.  It was moved on skids a few blocks east and became a warehouse for the next 50 years.  As America's Bicentennial celebrations of 1976 approached,  the members of the newly formed East Detroit Historical Society learned of the location of the long-forgotten school house,  which prompted its purchase by East Detroit Public Schools for $1  (yes,  that is one dollar!),  and the signing of a 100 year lease of the school house by the Historical Society.  Fundraising produced the cash to move the building back to within 20 yards of its original location.
During this time,  many of the old-timers who went to the school during its time were interviewed,  and wonderful memories came spilling forth,  of the area,  the school house,  and what it was like to go to school there in those early days.
This is the original bell that hung in the cupola all those years ago.
  It was stored away and recovered when the school house was
restored.  Unfortunately,  as the men were attempting to get it
back to the cupola,  it was dropped and cracked - not unlike
the Liberty Bell.
Another bell similar to this is now being used.  However,  this
original sits inside the school house where all visitors
can see it up close.
As the school house was restored,  the memories were put into place,  and by 1986 it was opened to the public and has continued as a historic museum/structure ever since.
As a social historian,  I was asked to say a few words about what it was like to go to school around the time of its 1872 opening.  If you know me at all,  you know I don't go half-at it,  but try to immerse the audience.  So I dressed in clothing suitable to rural Michigan of the time and found a friend - Melody Cary,  a young lady who I watched grow up - to speak the words written by women who were teachers of the period.
I then delved into my book collection to find stories on what it was like to go to school 100-plus years ago - in particular,  this  school - and I,  through Melody's voice,  was able to share it with the rather large audience that had assembled for the celebration.  I would also like to share some of those with you,  along with other notations from student memories.  
According to a transcript of an interview with a student who attended the Eastpointe / Halfway one-room schoolhouse back at the turn of the 20th century,  school began at 9 and went til 4.  They would begin the day with a prayer,  a song or two,  and then go into the recitations and other school work.  Teachers would teach all grades,  but group the kids separately by sex and age,  and sometimes would have the older children help out those in younger grades.
Yep---that's me at the front there,  speaking to a pretty good-sized crowd!

The historical marker noting
the school house history.
(click the picture to enlarge)
The girls would be separated from the boys and would even enter the school in that manner - boys on one side and girls on the other.  In fact,  they didn't even share cloakrooms.  As one former student from Halfway  (now Eastpointe)  Michigan described,  "The cloakrooms were on each side of the front door when you came in. Right in the middle was the bell rope and somebody rang the bell for recess - and people  (in surrounding homes)  didn't have clocks  (so)  many used the time of the  (school bell).
"(The cloakroom)  was cold.  Only inside the big room  (classroom)  was heated with two big round stoves that were fed by wood - chunks of wood from the woodshed out back.  Between the two little outhouses was the woodshed.  (And we)  just had kerosene lights."
She went on to say that she and the other children would bring their lunches in tin buckets,  consisting of cold sweet potatoes with butter  "because people ate what they raised." .
She also explained that when school began in September that the count of around 30 students was low initially.  "There were a lot more than that in the winter,  because as soon as the crops were in all the big boys came."
The students were taught reading,  writing,  arithmetic,  geography,  and history.  "They stressed history.  We got very good history and geography."
The school year ran all the way until mid-June,  though many students,  especially the bigger boys,  left earlier in the spring to help on their farms.  "Some  (farmers)  had plenty of sons,  and they would ordinarily have been in school and loved it,  but they had no choice  (but to work on the farm)."
Another story involving the old Halfway Schoolhouse was when  "Some boys took a pair  (of the outside wooden window blinds / shutters) down and made a sled. The farmers would haul the ice cut from Lake St. Clair for the summer for the butter or whatever they made.  The ice hauling up and down 9 Mile Road  (then called School Road)  was quite a period."
Now let's hear from teachers of the time:
this first collection is from the 1857 journal of Elizabeth Wilcox,  age 22,  a homesick teacher living in Macomb County   (no,  she was not a teacher at this particular school house,  but of one in the same county...only just a bit north):

July 5 - Mr. Cone came for me.  I was soon ready and in a short time arrived at my new home,  when I was possessed with a feeling of loneliness which I could not overcome.  And to-morrow morning I am to enter upon my duties for the coming summer.  'Tis a dread.

July 6 - A little more reconciled to my lot.  To-day I met eight of the scholars that are to be trusted in my care for a few weeks.  Eight strange faces and as many different dispositions to become acquainted with.

July 10 - At Mr. Hill's again to-night.  Oh dear me,  the miseries of school teaching.  Here am I,  afflicted most to death with the toothache.  And what is still worse,  I have been obliged to play sociable for the last two hours.  But to every day there follows a bedtime and how glad I am it has come so early to-night.  Now I am left to myself.  No one to speak to me and if there was,  I should be uncivil enough not to answer.

July 11 - Back again at Mr. Cone's.  It is almost as good a home as my own.  I could ask for no better,  at least no person can find better when away from their own home and friends.

July 13 - To-day I had five new scholars.  To-night am to Mr. Gibson's.  I made my appearance unexpected to them as the little boy forgot to tell them I was coming.
Melody read the entries with the passion and tone of 
what could have been the teachers themselves.
I think the audience enjoyed the presentation we gave.
Of course,  period clothing does  help!
Next we have Eliza Moore,  a young lady who was living on her family's homestead farm,  located between Belleville and Pullen's Corners  (now Romulus)  Michigan  (about 22 miles west of Detroit).  Word came to her that Smithville,  located in Hillsdale County,  near the Ohio border,  needed a teacher. 
The following comes from Miss Moore's 1866 diary:
Jan. 2 - Father and  (brother)  Jasper butchered three hogs and started with two of them for Detroit about 9 o'clock this evening.  I don't envy our folks their ride to Detroit tonight.

Jan. 3 - Our folks came home about dark,  cold, tired,  hungry,  and sleepy,  which is apt to be the case in riding so far.  They sold their pork for $11 per hundred weight.  Oats 37 cents per bushel;  butter 31 cents per pound,  eggs 35 cents per doz.  Mother and I knitting in the evening.  Our folks gone to bed.

Jan. 6 - J.L.  from Smithville came here in search of teacher for Smithville school,  their teacher having left.

Jan. 18 - About 11 o'clock Mr. B from Smithville came to see me about teaching school there.  I agreed to teach for $5 per week and board to commence next Monday.

Jan. 21 - Very cold this morning,  almost too cold to venture out,  but teachers must go in all kinds of weather.  Father started about noon and had rather a cold ride.  The roads are so icy that it is very hard traveling for a horse.

Jan. 22 - School commenced this morning.  I have 25 scholars of all ages and sizes.  They are strictly speaking rather a rough set, but I hope they will improve.  There is plenty of room for improvement.  One of the inspectors called at school this morning.  He asked me some questions this evening and is to give me a certificate.

Jan. 31 - Some colder this morning and not as good a fire at the schoolhouse as Freddie generally has.

Feb. 5 - Now have all the scholars that the schoolhouse can conveniently hold and now I have to crowd them together as I have 89 names.

Melody did a fabulous job!
Celebrating not only Eastpointe's past,  but America's past.
Since its restoration in the mid-1980s,  this building has hosted many,  many gatherings and business meetings,  including East Detroit Historical Society meetings,  visits/field trips from school kids of all ages,  parties for former students of this school,  period Christmas parties from reenacting groups such as the 21st Michigan Civil War Reenactors and Citizens of the American Colonies,  historical presentations,  weddings  (including my son Robbie's),  a renewal of the vows of my wife and I for our 25th wedding anniversary celebration,  a funeral wake for my mother,  Christmas music concerts,  and a host of other gatherings.
Yep----this 1872 school house is alive still.
I'm very glad we were able to help celebrate its existence,  and it is my fervent hope that it will still be around in another hundred and fifty years.

We're now in mid-September,  so let's head out to the cider mill and apple orchard - a staunch Michigan tradition:
I don't remember a time when I didn't go apple picking.  As a youngster I went with my mom & dad,  and then afterward my mom would bake apple pies,  for the cooler weather was settling in and the warmth from the oven and the mouth-watering scent of the baking pie would waft throughout the house.
And my wife and I have continued this tradition;  since our dating days we've carried on my family tradition and still go apple picking every September - September 1983 was our first time picking together.  In those early days we'd take nephews and nieces along with us.  And except for the drought we had in 2015,  we have not missed a year,  including the covid-19 years.
Most of my family - we are missing one son and his wife on our
2022 apple picking excursion.  But everyone else is here,  including
all four of our grandkids!
Apple cider mills are big business in the fall here in Michigan,  and farmers depend on the surge of patrons to help them survive the rest of the year.  
To us,  these are the best baking
apples.  You may disagree, 
but you would be wrong lol
So,  along with my wife & I,  our kids  (now grown and a couple even married),  grandkids,  and sometimes various other family members & friends,  will join in and carry on the tradition and venture out to partake in the apple orchard cider mill experience to enjoy one of the best ways we know how to celebrate autumn:  by picking apples,  drinking cider,  and eating freshly made doughnuts.
Yeah...we're  those  kind of people! 
And here in Michigan there are more cider mills than one can shake a stick at - I believe we are only second to New York State in numbers - and each mill can be pretty unique unto itself,  from the ginormous commercial ventures that have mechanical singing hillbilly bears,  witches flying into poles,  and skeletons sitting on the toilet telling awful jokes,  to the basic no frills apples,  cider,  and doughnuts with little else,  which is the kind of mill I prefer - the no frills variety.
Our day usually ends with my wife baking a couple of homemade apple pies!
So apple picking is as much a part of  fall as anything else,  going back a long way for me.
What I found interesting is that my son Tommy and my daughter Rosalia had both mentioned to me that they don't know of anyone else who goes apple picking - none of their friends has this tradition - which surprises them,  for we in our family think of it as a typical family tradition,  such as cutting down a Christmas tree.  But it seems to be our  family tradition.  And what's more,  our grandkids love it and look forward to it as much as anything else;  they'd asked me about it a couple months ago.  This tells me our family tradition will be carried on for at least another generation.  Beginning with my parents,  to Patty and I,  to our kids,  and now to our grandkids...I do hope it does endure.
So,  here am I,  transported to how apple picking looked 250 years ago...
This picture is loosely based around the home of  Samuel Daggett,  whose farmhouse 
we see on the right in this photo  (in which Mr.  Daggett himself built about 1750).  
The house now sits inside historic Greenfield Village,  for it was removed 
from Connecticut to the open-air museum back in the late 1970s.   
In our research we learn that Samuel had a large apple orchard and a cider press on 
his property,  and it's said that some of the  "descendants"  of these apple trees he planted back in the 18th century still remainHowever,  I don't know this for certain,  for I have not actually ever been to the original location yet  
(notice I said  "yet"  - -  I hope to visit someday and see it for myself). 
Daggett's house as it is inside Greenfield Village does not have an apple orchard 
next to it as seen in this photo;  this is only my historic imagination at work here,  along with a bit of  period knowledge;  it took a conglomerate of three different photos and some computer magic to make this a cohesive historic-looking attempt to make it look authentic.  In a way this photograph helps us to imagine the world and work in the 18th century orchard and at his press,  for it was on October 23,  1767,  
Samuel Daggett noted in his account book that he had sold:
10 quartz of cyder
15 quartz of cyder
5 quartz of cyder
19 gallons of cyder by the barrel
And that's just on one day!
In other words,  he must have had an awful lot of apple trees on his land,  for it takes approximately 30 to 40 apples to yield one gallon of cider – he would have to have had 
a rather sizeable orchard for not only selling or bartering cider,  but to have enough for 
his own family!

Ripe and juicy Macintosh apples on the tree!

My son Tommy picking an apple.
Liam and Addy are there to help!
My grandson Ben r-e-e-a-ching
for that higher up apple.
We  pick usually about a crate  (or bushel)  of apples,  though we actually should've picked more.  My wife mentioned that perhaps next year we can plan on two bushels,  with all the pies and applesauce,  plus the canning she wants to do.
Yeah,  picking apples is more expensive than buying them from the market,  but we all just have such a good time making a day of it and creating the memories.  Tradition with family will go much further than the money it costs.  Better to make memories than to buy cheap toys,  eh?

Before we continue on,  I'd like to tell you something we did,  but to do that we must go back a few weeks - - back to the Friday of  Labor Day Weekend,  when Patty and I took a ride up to Frankenmuth,  Michigan.  When we go to the Bavarian town,  we always frequent an antique store called Around The Farm Antique Mall.  I've purchased numerous items there,  including ancient farm tools,  perfect for my living history.  It's a large place and we always ogle at items we'd love to buy,  including furniture.  While there on this day,  this table caught my eye:
Yes,  I took a snap of  it as it sat in the store.
Though not an antique,  it certainly had the look and feel of  one.
I then posted the above picture on Facebook along with this comment:
Patty & I went to Frankenmuth today.
We saw a table there we really liked,  and it was big enough to easily fit all of the adults in my family...and,  if we squeezed tighter,  we could probably get our grandkids around it as well.
Anyhow,  we did not get it,  though we are doing a lot of talking about it,  so don't be surprised if you hear of us going back to get it.
By the way,  I could actually probably build one similar to this,  but it wouldn't have the  "primitive"ness in this manner.
What I wrote received a number of comments such as the following:
"Buy it you only live once."
"Beautiful I think you should get it."
"That's a beautiful wide plank don't see that very often!!!"
Though it was not a replica of the Daggett table,  it certainly had that Daggett feel to it:
The dining table in the Daggett great hall.
Well,  a week later,  I posted this,  along with the photograph you see just below:
So today,  after hemin'  and hawin'  all week,  Patty and I decided to purchase the table I posted pictures of  a little over a week ago - the one at the antique shop called  "Around the Farm"  just outside of Frankenmuth.
Great decision!
Miles and I drove out to pick it up this morning - that table is one heavy sucker,  that's for sure - and it is perfect in our back room!
Funny thing is,  it is called a Harvest Table - go figure!
Perfect is right - the Daggett-ization of my home continues!
 The crate of freshly picked apples sits on our new  "Harvest Table."
Yes,  that's what they called it when we purchased it a week before.
It's a part of the Daggett-ization of my house - looking like a table from
the 18th century!
By the way,  the ladderback chairs were very popular in the 1700s
as were the Windsor Chairs  (bottom left),  none of which
pictured here are antiques.
And here are a few of the comments I received from my Facebook friends:
"It fits right in."
"It's perfect in your house!  You will make many great memories around this table."
"Love this table !!  It looks perfect."
"WOW!  I love it!  That room has always been amazing!  I'm sure it's even more amazing now."
"That's awesome!  I LOVE it.  It has found a loving home.  So glad you got it.  Somehow I kinda knew you would."
"Looks like a beautiful addition and enough perfect seating for any family gathering and the holidays ahead……especially for cannoli day which really isn’t so far away.  Cannoli shells by candlelight!!  Heaven!"
"I bet you can’t wait to entertain the family now.  Post pics of your table in action please."
"Good new to hear!  Looks great.  I can hardly wait for the next party at your house and we have a chance to sit around and enjoy good food and good conversation............and I get to beat you at checkers again."
"I am so happy for you,  Patty and your family!!  I can see all of you gathered around the table for many fun and festive occasions!  Life is short,  you all deserve it!!"
"It fits the room so well!!  Looks great!"
"Whenever you find just the right period or period interpretation piece you just have to go for it."
"After seeing this table the first time,  I thought you two might regret not getting it.  But,  now you can celebrate gatherings in style with it!  It was destined to join your family!"
"Omg I love it Ken!!!!!"
Yep---I am so very glad we got it.
And you'll note the crate of freshly picked  (by us!)  apples upon it - harvest table is right!!
So,  now,  back to apple picking day:
My wife and daughter peeling the apples later that afternoon.
And while they were peeling apples,  I decided to give our home a fall-flavor of its own:
Since I live in the city,  I have to go to a farmer's market outside of town or to a local
garden center to get the items I need to add the fall accent to my porch.

My new next door neighbor mentioned,  "Oh!  Getting
ready for Hallowe'en!"
I responded with,  "Not necessarily for Hallowe'en. 
More for the autumn season."
He replied with,  "Oh!  I like that even better!"
And what is really cool is when the wind blows it rustles the corn stalks,  giving off a sound from the country.
And inside?
The wonderful odor of apple pie,  fresh from the oven.
The pie cooling off...the smells wafting throughout...
The small cooking pumpkin there in the center? 
My son,  Tommy,  grew that this year in his yard.
Looks like fall inside my home as well - - 

"Papa,  when can we dip candles again?"  
It had been since 2020 that I held such a gathering to dip candles at my home,  and my grandkids certainly enjoyed it and really wanted to do it again.
So I planned the date...but we as a family,  being that my kids are  of  my genes,  came up with the idea of  making it sort of a harvest day celebration.  I confirmed that October 8 was good for everyone---or most of us,  which it was.  I then wrote on our private message family page:  "Hey---maybe we can have some pie to eat once the candles are all dipped...perhaps something more...hmmm...on our new table!"
Patty wrote:  "A HARVEST!!!   A celebration of our blessings!  I think I need to get a table cloth for the occasion."
I responded with:  "Or we can enjoy the natural wood."
My daughter wrote:  "Yay!!!!  I want to come!"
And then she wrote:  "Maybe I can make and bring squash… or butternut squash pea soup…. Or something fall harvest-y!"
And I replied with:  "Yes---please do!!  I missed most of fall last year - the entire month of October - so I would like to make this one special!"
2022 marks the 5th year of my candle-dipping  gatherings of friends and family  (I did it last year at a reenactment but not at my home,  so I'm not counting it).  Before I began having these frolics,  we would hand-dip our candles at Greenfield Village - it was a part of their public interactive activities,  but unfortunately it was discontinued there for some reason,  which I believe was a mistake on their part.  So,  in 2017,  I decided to do it on my own.  To be honest,  it's a bit more fun now because not only do I get a goodly supply of candles,  but I can do it with friends and family in the comfort of my own yard!
Especially now with my grandkids!
Each helper gets to keep a candle of their own dipping,  though I keep the rest  (hey---I paid for the wax!). 
Unfortunately,  it did not turn out as I hoped,  for it seems other plans and a bit of a communication mix-up changed things around a little.  
I was down...sullen...
But when lemons come your way,  make lemonade! didn't look like it was going to happen.  As I was a bit saddened I mentioned to my wife that I'd like to go to my favorite place of solace,  Greenfield Village,  and take a few autumn pictures.  Perhaps that might cheer me up a little.
And that's exactly what I did!
Greenfield Village always looks magnificently beautiful in the fall.
In fact,  coming up I will have an entire post dedicated to fall & Hallowe'en
at the Village.  The photo seen here is just a preview...
So,  it was while strolling the grounds of  the Village on this beautiful fall day when I came up with the idea to go ahead with my original plan of candle-dipping.  Even if I do it on my own.  Upon arriving back at my home,  in the early afternoon,  I set it all up in my backyard,  with lots of help from my wife and son Miles,  then called my friend Al from down the street,  and the two of us,  along with my wife,  spent the afternoon making pure beeswax candles.
Melting the wax from last year...

...before I put anymore wax in the mix.
It's all pure raw beeswax.

Al dipping two here.

I have three on this stick.  Toward the end of the session I moved up to five per stick.

Patty also had three----she didn't stick around dipping for
 too long,  for she did have other plans for the later afternoon.

Twenty six candles pretty much between Al & I.
We really had a good time doing this.  Al likened it to ice fishing.
We just dipped and talked.
But I was not quite done with the candle thing.  Oh,  yes,  for the day,  perhaps,  but two weeks later,  on October 23,  I had my grandkids finally make it by.
And it was a sunny warm fall day - the colors of the trees were at their peak.  So I took a quick spin around my 2 square mile hometown and shot a few photos of  the trees.  I could actually spend a day going up and down the streets taking pictures,  but I didn't have the time.  However,  here are a few of my favorites:
It was a fine autumnal day;  the sky was clear and serene,  and nature wore that
rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance.

The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer
kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet.

Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark 
of the squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech and hickory nuts, and 
the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring stubble field.
(From Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving)

Eastpointe's own  "tunnel of trees".

The house you see here in the foreground was the house I grew up in,  from the age
of seven until I was twenty three.  The bricks came from an old tavern that was
built about 1850;  when they tore that  "Halfway House"  down in 1940,  the
bricks were used to build this house a year later.
I would love a tour of the inside - it's been a long time since I've been inside.

And in the backyard of my current home,  in which my
wife & I have been living for over 31 years!

Now...on to candle dipping - part II:
My son Tom came over and we wasted no time in getting the fire going for the wax to melt.

My granddaughter Addy and grandson Liam try dipping candles.
This was the first time for each of them.
Being that it was a mid-70s day,  the fire was a bit warm for them, 
but they persevered and went forward with the

The heat got to my grandson Ben,  but he just covered his
face,  bound and determined to dip his candle!

Our good friend,  Carrie,  came by and brought her
daughter to try her hand.
That's my son,  Tommy  (my grandkid's father), 
there dressed in blue.

The children weren't the only ones making candles:  Ian & Carrie and me  (obviously!) 
and my daughter also joined in.  My daughter,  Rosalia  (pinkish/purple-ish hair) 
had been dipping candles since she was about three or four - she's an old pro at it!

Meanwhile,  inside our house,  sitting around our new table,  the youngsters 
(and my son Miles)  ate a traditional 18th century meal known as Jets Pizza.

We took a group photo of all those who dipped candles  (and my son Tommy for
building the fire for me).  Yeah...Ben,  there,  2nd from left,  is my goofball
grandson  (lololol).
The kids told me they had a lot of fun and each got to take their special candle home!

If you count you can see I have thirty one candles here that were dipped this day. 
Add that to the twenty six made two weeks before and you'll find the sum of 
fifty seven candles made!  And...yup---in about two weeks the plan is to make even
more,  only instead of pure beeswax we're going to try tallow.

From my backyard looking to the street behind us -
more beautiful autumn leaves...
I love this season!
I once described autumn as  "wooden."  That's because,  to me,  it's the time of year,  more than any other,  where past and present can easily merge and tradition reigns;  whether they realize it or not,  modern city folk tend to become a bit more old-fashioned and do more traditional things during autumn. 
Maybe that's why it's my favorite season,  for what other time of year do people visit the old cider mills,  bake  (not buy)  pies,  take walks or drives just to look at the multitude of colors - reds,  browns,  orange,  golds,  and even some still green - of the leaves on the trees.  Entire sections of our great country,  including the Midwest and New England,  have become fall tourist destinations due to the colors that abound.
Even in cities.
Yes,  autumn truly is wooden.
And traditional.
Mixing the old and the new works.
Creating family traditions works.  You just gotta do it.
I am proud that my family is filled with traditions.  And it's great to have friends join in.
More autumn to come!

Until next time,  see you in time.

To read about an 18th century Harvest and Autumn,  click HERE
Visiting Greenfield Village on an Autumn Day in 2018,  click HERE
Visiting Greenfield Village on another Autumn day in 2018,  click HERE
Some of the kitchen garden information was lifted directly from HERE

~   ~   ~.

1 comment:

Bama Planter said...

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