More than just a store!

September 29, 2009
The hardware section

The hardware section

“Good day” the country merchant would say upon each customer’s entry into his store. For in 1830 the term “hello” was not yet in common use. The country store–the term general store wouldn’t become popular for another couple of decades–was the hub of life in a town. It wasn’t just a place to buy goods, but also the post office and a gathering spot for town’s folk to learn the latest news and gossip.

The country store was run by a merchant or shopkeeper and his entire family. Work in the store was unending. It would open early in the morning and close late at night, six days a week. The storekeeper spent his days serving customers. His wife would help with customers and bookkeeping. His children would do chores before and after school and all day Saturday. They would be given jobs such as sweeping the floor, stocking shelves, polishing brass, grinding coffee and sugar, weighing items, and wrapping purchases. When he left for buying trips into the city, typically twice a year in the fall and spring, his wife would take over his responsibilities.

Housewares (womens shoes and ribbons)

House wares (womens shoes and ribbons)

The store was a well kept place. It was typically a large open room, with a smaller back room used for bookkeeping and storage. Long wooden counters stretched along both sides of the store, with base cabinets and upper shelves extending to the ceiling, lining the back walls and displaying the merchant’s wares. The counters would show off expensive items such as pens, perfumes and jewelry contained in glass cases. In the center of the store, large wood bins sitting on the floor would hold such items as spices, ground sugar, coffee, flour and seeds. Filling the room were the smells of spices, leather, coffee and kerosene.

The items sold in a country store could be classified into four categories: groceries, dry goods, house wares and hardware. Groceries included items such as tea, coffee, sugar, and spices. Dry goods were the largest selection if goods and included items like woolen broad cloth, cotton textiles, linens, silk, head ribbons, bonnets, ready made clothes, women’s shoes, books and paper goods. House wares, also popular, included everything from dishes, flatware and china, to pots and pans, brooms and mops. And finally, hardware would offer items such as tools, window glass, shot (for guns), garden seeds and dyestuff. Purchased items were sometimes packaged in wooden barrels and cloth sacks, though most often customers supplied their own containers.

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Odd Scraps for the Economical

September 24, 2009

America Frugal Housewife

Poke-root, boiled in water and mixed with a good quantity of molasses, set about the kitchen, the pantry, in large deep plates, will kill cockroaches in great numbers, and finally rid the house of them. The Indians say that poke-root boiled into a soft poultice is the cure for the bite of a snake. I have heard of a fine horse saved by it.

…presented to you from The American Frugal Housewife – Dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy, by Mrs. Child…


Book Review: Betraying Season

September 21, 2009

Betraying Season
Marissa Doyle
YA Historical Romance/Fantasy
Ages 14+
336 pages

BetrayingSeasonmediumLast July I was delighted to learn I’d won a contest on NineteenTeen, the historical blog shared by authors Marissa Doyle and Regina Scott. My prize: an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of Betraying Season, Doyle’s most recent novel set in 19th Century Great Britain.

I was excited, not only because I’m one of those “never win anything” people, but also because the book was the follow-up to Bewitching Season, a novel I’d really enjoyed. Both of these books contain some of my favorite ingredients for a story–magic, romance, and history.

In Betraying Season, Penelope Leland, feeling a lesser witch than her sister, travels to Ireland with her former governess, Ally, to study magic. She soon becomes acquainted with Lady Keating, whose social invitations and handsome son, Niall, distract Pen from her studies. But Pen is unaware that Niall has been ordered to pursue her. Lady Keating, who is also a witch, needs Pen’s growing magic to implement an evil plan.

While Pen deals with the Keating family, including a growing attraction to Niall, she must also attend tutorials with young men uncomfortable with women studying magic. She has no support from the recently married Ally, who’s suffering from acute morning sickness. Pen must handle confusing and tricky relationships, for the most part, on her own. She does so with both great strength of character and naiveté, making her all the more real. Niall develops true feelings for Pen, and when he learns exactly what his mother has planned, he must find some way to protect Pen.

As the plot deepens, there are betrayals–or the possibility of betrayal–on many different levels. Doyle has deftly woven twists and turns in the story, several of which took me by surprise. (Don’t you love being surprised?) This was one of those books that I re-read, watching for all the ways Doyle planted motivation or information that was vital for the last fourth of the book. She accomplished it seamlessly.

Out this month, Betraying Season is a satisfying read. I recommend it for anyone who loves YA historical fantasy.


Winner of Lynn Salsi’s Books

September 20, 2009

The winner of Firefight on Vietnam Brown Water, our featured book by Lynn Salsi, is Jeff Barber!  And the winner of Lynn’s latest picture book, Jack and the Dragon, is Tina!  Please send us your snail mail addresses to damselsinregress [at] gmail [dot] com so we can get you the books.


Pictures from the Past: Tricia

September 18, 2009

1963 — Facts About Me

tricia• I’m pretty sure this was my kindergarten photo and I was five years old.

• We lived on a US air force base in Germany.

• I was the fourth of five kids and very shy at the time. (No laughing Damsels!)

• We had periodic air-raid drills where those in the apartment-style housing had to gather in the basement of the buildings.

1963 — World Events

• January 11: The Beatles release their single “Please Please Me” and on the flip side “Ask Me Why.”

• July 1: ZIP Codes are introduced for United States mail.

• August 8: Great Train Robbery in England, 2.6 million pounds ($7.3 million) stolen.

• August 28: Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech before an audience of 250,000 near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

• Sept. 30 to Oct. 8: Hurricane Flora left over 7,000 people dead in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, making it one of the five deadliest hurricanes in Atlantic history.

• November 22: US President John F. Kennedy assassinated.


Pictures from the Past: Emilie

September 16, 2009

1984—Facts About Me

 • This picture was taken at Christmastime 1984, so I was thirteen months old.pics from the past sept

• I lived in Van Wert, Ohio, where both my parents had grown up.

 • At the time, I was an only child, and the only granddaughter on both sides of my family.

• The Raggedy Ann doll I’m holding was given to me by my paternal grandmother, Gloria Bauer. She later gave me a Raggedy Andy doll to match.

 • In this picture, my mom was a year older than I am right now…scary thought!

1984—World Events

• Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer.

• At the Sarajevo Winter Olympics, British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean scored twelve perfect 6.0 marks for their free program and became the first non-Soviets to win the gold medal in ice dancing.

 • The Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

 • Ronald Reagan was elected to a second term of office.

• A leak from a Union Carbide plant in India killed more than 2,000 people.

 • Several of Britain and Ireland’s most popular musicians formed a group called Band Aid and recorded the song “Don’t They Know It’s Christmas” to raise money for a famine in Ethiopia that killed more than one million people by the end of the year.


Pictures from the Past: Jennifer

September 14, 2009

Pictures from the Past
Occasionally we like to change things up a little and do a fun post here and there. So this week we present to you “Pictures from the Past”. We’ll each take a picture of us as a child, state the year and list some facts about us from the year the photo was taken and then list some facts that were happening in the world that year.

Jennifer and her mom

Jennifer and her mom

1981 – Facts about Me

  • We were living in Worms, Germany.
  • I was about 2 years old.
  • My grandmother gave me the dress I was wearing.
  • My parents had bought the rug in the picture second hand from someone who was moving.
  • The statue in the background is a Morano dolphin that my parents got on a trip to Italy.
  • I’d just returned from my first camping trip vacation in Italy.

1981 – It happened this year in history

  • January 20: Ronald Reagan takes the oath as the 40th President of the United States. His inauguration speech was the first live broadcast to use closed captioning for the deaf.
  • March 5: Scott Hamilton of the U.S. wins gold at the World Figure Skating Championship in Hartford, Connecticut.
  • March 10: The U.S. Postal Service announces an increase in first class postage from 15 to 18 cents.
  • July 29: Lady Diana Spencer marries Charles, Prince of Wales.
  • August 12: The IBM PC, an early personal computer, is introduced
  • September 25: Sandra Day O’Connor was the 102nd Justice sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the first woman to hold the office.