The day after Thanksgiving at my childhood home meant a delicious breakfast of oatmeal or cream of wheat or (yuck!) something called maltex or wheatina. Remember? Supper was usually turkey pie, which my mother made in an oblong glass baking dish. Her piecrust was the best ever. No one in that long-ago household gave a thought to the Christmas sales going on – my father usually was off to work and us kids were wondering what to do with this whole day off.

There were always chores to do and with the whole day before us, my mother would remind us girls that we could iron our clean clothes and the boys could get started on the last of the leaf-raking. Clothes, which she had washed and pushed through the old wringer washer, needed to be hung out to dry on the clotheslines snaking their way from the corner of the house to the corner of my father’s workshop.

We were warned to leave the deer alone which was by now hanging out in the garage, waiting to be cut up and frozen.

Nowadays, all of this is history. Although most days start with a breakfast of oatmeal, and I, no doubt, will be making a turkey pie from leftovers, the pastry I use will come from a box. Few clothes today need to be ironed, since nearly everything is made from some kind of blend of fibers and clotheslines are almost as rare a sight as barns.

Over the past few years, I’ve been photographing barns in Windham, since I’m sure that they will be “extinct” very soon. Their use has declined. Several of the barns I have photographed have since vanished; one was taken apart and moved to Cape Cod where the purchasers were going to reconstruct it; others have fallen down or been burned. We’ll see “barn boards” for sale at an exorbitant price in summer yard sales in the future, I’m sure.

When I was roaming around town taking these pictures, I took particular notice of the various designs of windows used in some of the upper stories of these old barns. You’d be surprised at how decorative they were. It always amazed me that all of these barns and outbuildings (and the houses, too) were built by ordinary people with little or no schooling in the building trades. In most cases, we have no idea who actually built them. And I always wondered where they got these octagonal or round windows. Just another mystery of history, which may never be solved.

When I was a child, this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was spent being very good, doing chores without being told, with high expectations for Christmas. We would be ever so busy making green and red construction paper chains to decorate the house; we’d clean off the table without being told to and even washing dishes was done without a squabble. No one had to tell us to sweep the floors or the steps. Bringing in a load of wood was a pure joy!

In those long ago days, I never dreamed I would have an interest in history, or that my life would be part of it! Wringer washers, wood boxes, barns….all part of my history. Just think, those iPods, microwave meals, instant pudding and toaster ovens will be history to our children. Sixty years from now, they’ll be writing about the old-fashioned things of their childhood. That is, if they are still writing.

See you next week.


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