July 16th Wednesday Mrs H Ames left this morning. Will stop
a day or two at Mr Hinckleys and then venture
home Gustavus was to meet her in Boston
Have been to work on my silk muslin dress
Julia has been here cutting the waist and it
is so near done that it will not take long
to finish it. Edwin & Oliver went to S. Bridgewater
to get patterns for shovel press & Back strap Machine
Evelina seldom referred to the shovel business in her diary. The factory, the employees, the machines, the products, the day-long sounds that emanated from the shovel shops right across the street from her home went essentially unmentioned. Despite the fact that six days a week, life in North Easton revolved around O. Ames and Sons, the factory that her husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law owned, and at which her three sons worked, Evelina was mum about the business.
Instead, she kept her attention on the domestic and social events of her own life, recording the tame goings-on of the household, which was, naturally, her sphere of interest and influence. Her focus begs the question, however, of how much of her record was consciously restricted to the quotidian. Did she hear about events at the shovel shop and choose not to include them, or were business details never discussed at the dinner table? Were shovels excluded from pillow talk at day’s end? Or was she so familiar with the many facets of the shovel business that she took them for granted, dismissed them and looked solely at her own concerns? Was she disinterested or discrete?
That aside, shovel-making slipped into Evelina’s record today. Her middle son, Oliver (3), and his cousin, Edwin Williams Gilmore, headed to South Bridgewater to fetch patterns and a back-strap machine for the shovel factory. The patterns were probably “dies used in a drop hammer/press that give the curved shape to the previously flat, partially formed blade.”** The back strap was an object that facilitated the process of attaching the handle to the blade. Oliver and Edwin must have used a wagon to tote the goods back to North Easton.
* Ames shovels, Stonehill College Archives, with thanks to Nicole Casper, CRM, Director of Archives and Historical Collections
** Per Gregory Galer, PhD.