Well, it’s my birthday and I am spending it doing what I like to do: research for The Last Pilgrim. I don’t feel any older but do hope I can finish this book before I shuffle off…
However, there are there are nagging details I can’t pin down.
Did the Pilgrims have pipes and smoke tobacco? The Virginia colony was harvesting tobacco by then.
Did Pilgrim women cut their hair upon marriage?
What were the practices for birthing? I found a book by a 17th century midwife for this one. Aside from the lack of sterile practice, things haven’t seem to change much.
Where were the bull and heifers kept? Three heifers and a bull arrived in 1623. When did the colony have its first milk? How was it apportioned? Who cared for the cows?
Were they affectionate in public – hugging for example?
Did the shake hands?
Would they have called their friends by their first names?
Luckily, I have found someone at the Pilgrim Museum in Plymouth who said she would find me people to answer these questions, but I can see a visit to Plymouth to rummage around and make contacts is in my future (not that I would object.) Nevertheless, I find myself doing research on the oddest of things: sassafras (much prized by the English), ramp (a type of wild onion they would have eaten), samp (a cornmeal mush), rival colonies to Plymouth (Wessagusset, Cape Ann and Merry Mount), a coiff (the adult woman’s head covering) versus a biggen (a child’s).
Add to this the fact I am suffering from labyrinthitis and am dizzy unless I am sitting or standing straight up, and you have the perfect formula for the rending of hair.
Life is good…dontcha know?
Here’s a golden oldie from Leslie Gore on the subject: