September 3, 1851

Trunk

Wednes Sept 3d  Alson came this morning & brought

Orinthia and staid to dinner and carried Mrs Stevens

home with him  Orinthia has been packing her clothes

Mrs Stevens stiched three more collars for me & Mrs

Witherell two that are for Frank.  Abby Torrey called

this afternoon &c and on her return Orinthia & I went

to the store  Pauline passed the afternoon with Helen

Orinthia Foss was packing her clothes, getting ready to return home to Maine. What prompted the departure isn’t clear. Did she lose her job, or was she called home on family matters? She would return to North Easton eventually, but did she know that when she left?  How did she feel about leaving this town where she had lived for six months? How did Evelina feel about the loss of her young friend, even temporarily?

Orinthia wasn’t the only one with a trunk to be packed. Oliver Ames (3), too, was a day away from departure and had a trunk into which his mother – and others, perhaps – were placing his new collars and mended shirts. Last minute sewing was still going on, but by this time the trunk would have been nearly full of the clothes that Oliver would need for a term at college.

That Oliver was going away to study at Brown was just shy of miraculous.  At 20, he was old to be going, for one thing; in the nineteenth century, the average students were teenaged, like Fred Ames at Harvard. But more than that, his father Oakes had not wanted him to go. According to one 19th century acquaintance of Oliver, Oakes “had inherited some measure of that Puritanical contempt for the liberal arts.” After completing prep school, Oliver had been directed to work at the factory, “to learn the trade of shovel-making. But the desire for a higher education remained strong, and when at the end of his five years apprenticeship he had mastered the trade, his father yielded to his solicitations, and allowed him to enter Brown University.” * Oliver had earned his ticket out.

* Hon. Hosea M. Knowlton, “Address,” Oliver Ames Memorial, 1898, pp. 98-99

 

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