1852 Monday June 21st Mrs Patterson & Hannah washed and
I worked in the garden untill about ten
and was about house until two or three
Oclock Catharine Middleton here sewing
Father has given me another jawing about
my leaving some old coats on the grass
Here in the early 21st century, a dictionary of slang defines “jawing” as being saucy or speaking disrespectfully. Not so in the 1850s, when “jawing” was slang for moralizing, or giving a lecture. “Father Ames,” as he was known to the Ames wives, gave Evelina “another jawing” today, this time about her “leaving some old coats” outside on the lawn. She or Mrs. Patterson or Hannah Murphy must have washed the items and left them out to dry in the sunshine without hanging them on a line. Perhaps the women had run out of clothespins. But Old Oliver would have been concerned about possible damage to the grass, which was already vulnerable due to drought. Or perhaps he was just cross.
Old Oliver described this Monday as “a fair warm day wind south west.” What he didn’t mention was that it was summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The earth in its orbit tilted its northern hemisphere closest to the sun at around 7:30 in the morning. If Oliver knew it, he didn’t care, or just didn’t record it. He was watching the ground and planning to cut the hay.