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Jingle Bells

Jan 27, 2009 4:07 PM | 1 comment

I have been told there has been too much death and gloom in my blog posts, and not enough color.  Enough of cemeteries and disasters, they say.  Despite any number of reasons I can see for continuing in that vein, I am determined to turn my face towards more cheerful subjects. Like for example...good grief, I am entirely at a loss.

Here's something. Our volumes of the Williamsburgh Gazette were just returned to us after a sojourn elsewhere. That's good news. But somehow even the events of 170 years ago fail to ignite that fire of interest so necessary to a good blog post. A load of 8000 cabbages came into the dock! The Grange is to let! Mr Hoggart Grocer thanks his patrons and earnestly sollicits their continuing custom!  

Never mind. The personal advertisements are a source of never-ending interest in any newspaper. Here is one from January 1839 for a lost sleigh robe. How wonderfully cheering to think of riding through the snowy streets of Williamsburgh in a sleigh with a little fur blanket edged in Black jennet and lined with printed crum cloth. I have no idea what jennett or crum cloth are but a sleigh robe sounds like my kind of garment.

And since the temperature seems not to have risen above freezing for several weeks now, and to add insult to injury, the snowfall has been barely enough to launch a sled in Prospect Park without churning up the grass below--here is another reminder of days when they knew how to enjoy a cold snap, from Harper's Weekly, February 10, 1877.

Who would need Prozac when you could swish along Coney Island beach in a horse-drawn sleigh covered in a cozy blanket with a scalloped fringe of red cloth? The sound of the surf and of hooves cantering through soft snow, the long vista out to the Rockaways, the chill air upon your face, blankets wrapped around your body, bells jingling and gay voices--what could be more invigorating? No wonder people stopped paying attention and dropped their expensive lap skins.

In fact, if you look to the far left, you can just see the fellow with the waxed moustaches who probably found the lost Williamsburgh sleigh robe. There it is, a faded red cloth draped around the back of his sleigh--and you can't see very well because his back is turned and I had to resize the image, but I assure you he looks like just the sort of chap who would find a lap skin and keep it for 37 years never once thinking to return it to its owner.


2/5/2009 5:42:43 PM #

This is yet another magnificent piece.  Thanks so much for sharing with all of us...

Benjamin Feldman