October 6, 1852

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Oct 6th  Wednesday  Miss Alger came to day to give Emily

& Susan their first lessons in music  Made

tomato ketchup and doing one thing and another

about house  Have sewed but very little

Mrs Swain called and invited me to visit her

tomorrow  I called on Mrs Milo Williams

to inquire about the girl that has been living with her

Ketchup, or catsup, was on the stove today. The tomatoes from the garden were ripe and ready to be preserved. The resulting ketchup would be bottled and put in the cellar or the buttery for use at the dinner table over the winter. Sarah Josepha Hale approved of the condiment:

This is a very good and healthy flavor for meats, sauces, &c.  Take two quarts of skinned tomatos, two table-spoonfulls of salt, two of black pepper, and two of ground mustard; also one spoonful of allspice, and four pods of red pepper.  Mix and rub these well together, and stew them slowly in a pint of vinegar for three hours.  Then strain the liquor through a sieve, and simmer down to one quart of catsup. Put this in bottles and cork tightly.*

While the aroma of tomatoes filled the house, Susie Ames and Emily Witherell sat down at their pianos today for their first music lesson. Aside from singing that must have happened from time to time, the sound from the new piano keys would have been the first music ever to be heard in the Ames parlor. As far as we know, no one else in the house played an instrument. We in the 21st century take for granted our ability to access and listen to a broad range of music in our homes via stereos or ITunes, on CDs or over the radio. In 1852, in a small parlor in a clapboard house on the main street of a country village, making music must have been almost magical. Only at church or at an occasional band concert would Susie or Emily have otherwise listened to live music, and now they were learning to make it themselves.

* Sarah Josepha Hale, The Good Housekeeper, 1841, p. 71

2 thoughts on “October 6, 1852

  1. That’s so interesting/weird to think of a life without music.

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