Thursday, January 22, 2009

Recollections of the Rickreall

We came across a lovely book in our library today, Recollections of the Rickreall, by Harriet Nesmith McArthur. Born in 1851, Harriet was the daughter of James W. Nesmith and his wife Pauline, close friends of the Bush family.

Harriet's little memoir was published in 1930, when she was almost 80 years old, but she recalls vivid moments from her girlhood:
The fashioning of playhouses was a favorite occupation, and the simple construction was an easy matter: a few boards securely fastened to a tree or fence corner, with a fragrant thatch of fir boughs. The edifice was adorned with bits of broken china, glass or quaint bottles. Decrepit cups and jugs minus handles, past their use in the kitchen, were thankfully received. My elder sister was fortunate in having a tiny set of dishes from the Hudson's Bay Company store. Our dolls would make a sad showing by the side of the sophisticated beauties in present day shops, but we loved them, with all their ugliness. We each had a gift of what seemed too wonderful for daily use, dolls that came from San Francisco, and were kept in a Chinese camphor chest covered with leather, painted red, and rarely opened for inspection.

The chest also housed two gold dollars of my sister's, and three of my own. I do not quite grasp the meaning of surplus, deposits or capital that our moneyed institutions now so cheerfully announce to the public, nor were our funds in circulation, but stayed right there in the bank. As a means of barter, trade, cajolery, or gaining unwilling cooperation in some daring scheme, those five gold dollars put modern money in the shade.

No comments: