ASHS Column 11/03/2005
Have you ever thought of your refrigerator as repository of history? I mean when you eventually decide to clean it you find weird things from days of yore. Let me tell you that since the days of self-defrosting we don't always clean out those old, and sometimes mutated, disgusting and unrecognizable items as often as we should Rather than being dismayed with our housekeeping habits though, perhaps we should call in researchers to determine the contents. Who knows, we may have bred a new kind of critter that will save us all from whatever rare disease crops up next.
What brought this on is what I read in the PNJ recently. The article stated, "And you thought your leftovers were old. A 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles has been discovered at an archaeological site in western China - possible proof for the argument that China invented pasta before Italy."
Gasp! What is the world coming to when leftovers can upset beliefs that are hundreds of years old? Well, it seems that these particular noodles were found inside an overturned bowl under 10 feet of sediment from a flood that probably wiped out the Qijia Culture of the late Neolithic era, so our recent leftovers are definitely not of historic importance; however, our methods of keeping food are certainly of changing importance.
In some of the accounts in our Sawmill Scrapbooks, we learn that early settlers in this area kept their food through the use of smokehouses, salting, and cooling in wells. Meat that had green edges would be trimmed off to where it was still usable.
Eventually, in the days of the sawmill, most people in the village had iceboxes. Oscar Tisdale, and others, would deliver the ice that enabled folks to keep their food longer in a safe manner. Finally, electric refrigerators appeared on the scene and have continued to improve with new features. Still, when you do clean out the fridge, carefully examine those suspicious items before you throw them away. You never know when something may upset the way the world sees things rather than merely upsetting your stomach.
On Friday, November 18, our friend, Elizabeth Vickers, and Dr. Patrick Moore will be leading a workshop on how to preserve today's stories for the historical record. "Betty" just completed a workshop on the technique of collecting life stories and experiences. Unfortunately, we did not attend that one, but hope to get to the November one. These workshops are free and are in connection with the "Collard Greens and Artistic Scenes: Stories of Pensacola Women of the 1930's." The exhibit is quite extensive and includes items on loan from The Alger-Sullivan Historical Society's medical collection as well as the WPA sewing book from Mrs. Melba Torbich. You may view the exhibit at the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum until March. The workshop will be held in the J. Earl Bowden Building (just behind the Museum) from 9-11 A.M.
And, speaking of Dr. Moore, head of the Public History department at UWF, reminds me to tell you that two of his graduate students who have done so much hands-on work with the Society, will be our speakers for the Society's November 15 meeting. We are looking forward to their summation of the work with all of those old records, so make it a point to attend. Who knows?
You may learn something of your own ancestor's work history. Those Alger records contain all kinds of information. Our students are teaching us about the proper storage methods as well as the ways to protect the private information. Their report should be very informative on ways to preserve history as well as how to be discreet.
I’ve been informed that I missed one of the teachers who was at the McDavid Grammar School, Mary Lee Pruett. Do any of you remember the time frame she was there?
Now I must express some disappointment with you present and past McDavidites. I really thought that by this time you would be all agog over a rip-roaring reunion. Haven't heard a word about any such event. Shame on you! There is so much history and so any intriguing stories about the folks from that area that you really should get together over a tape recorder and have a high old time preserving those precious, and maybe some not-so-precious, memories. In a future column, we'll tell you about a 4-legged McDavidite named Daisy.