Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day - Talk About Fatigue!

In the beginning when researching my ancestors, I didn't pay too much attention to the mundane, every day work that needed to be done.  I was more interested in the personal stories of family, military and special talents that made them real to me.  Then I realized it was interesting to note how they lived their lives every day and how hard they worked just for survival, never mind earning a dollar. 

Imagine living in the wilderness of early Florida.  The air black with mosquitoes as you worked to build a home for your family.  Imagine if you wanted to eat you had to plant a garden and wait until harvest before you could enjoy the fruit of your labor.  Imagine the wild animals that lurked about, the panther, bears, snakes and alligators.  Talk about worrying over your children's safety.  Imagine hunting for meat to put on the table, turkey, wild boar, deer and fish.  And let us not forget the cows for milking, chickens for eggs and plucking for dinner and the oxen for plowing.  Imagine having to create your own family cemetery to bury your loved ones.  Chopping the wood for the fireplace for cooking and keeping warm in the winter.

If you wanted cloth you had to weave it by hand.  How else could you make clothing for the family.  Churning the butter, making the stew, making the broom so to sweep the floors. Pick the corn and collect the eggs. Then it gets dark early in the winter and days are shorter to do your work. There were no modern day conveniences, washing machines, toasters, ovens or dishwashers. Have you ever used an outhouse? Just try losing your electricity for a week and see how well you can survive.  All I can say is thank goodness I had a generator when Hurricane Irene took our power away. 

I took note of how my ancestors had more than one business.  One was never enough to make a decent wage because the population wasn't large enough to buy your wares. So you needed additional services that would draw the same customers.  So you grew fruit trees and watermellon and vegetables to sell.  You had a fence company, because people needed to keep their animals contained.  Then you built homes to sell to newcomers in town, or you offered painting services.  You really had to be an entrepreneur.   

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