April 23, 1851

Thumb

1851

Wednesday April 23d  Julila Mahoney here again to day making

Susans dark plaid print & borage delaine dresses.  I have

been sewing with her but have had many interruptions

Mr Whitwell called, Jane has cut her thumb very

bad, the nail is most off  have done it up in

borax  Carried my work awhile & sat with Mrs S Ames

Susans print dress most done It is quite pleasant

after so much bad weather

Abraham Lincoln coined an adjective that didn’t outlast his use of it, but it seems apt for the kind of day that Evelina had: “interruptious.”  While wanting only to sew, Evelina had to cope with unanticipated diversions throughout the morning. Julia Mahoney, the dressmaker, sat in a chair and sewed, surrounded by various cuts of cloth from two different dresses. Jane McHanna, probably while in the kitchen preparing food, almost cut the nail off her thumb, causing bleeding that would not have been easy to stop, and putting her out of commission for the day, at least. Reverend Whitwell called – probably instantly wishing he had chosen a different day to pay a visit.  The scene would be farcical were it not for the pain Jane obviously suffered with her thumb.

Evelina treated Jane’s thumb with borax, a mineral that we might think more properly used in detergent. To Evelina, borax was evidently a familiar way to stop bleeding and bind a cut.  Other home remedies for cuts, according to Lydia Maria Child, respected author and consummate advisor on household concerns, suggested treatment with an application of salt or molasses. In her book, The American Frugal Housewife, Child also recommended “Balm-of-Gilead buds bottled up in N.E. rum” as “the best cure in the world for fresh cuts and wounds. Every family should have a bottle of it.”

After the domestic drama of the morning, Evelina had a quieter afternoon. She spent some time with her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, who was still quite sick.  She probably took a deep breath of sweet spring air as she walked next door to see the invalid, welcoming the sunny change from all the recent rain.

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