GrandPapa's Letter part 13
We always had the afternoons of Saturdays for a holiday, and no school was kept then. So of course that was THE day of the week for us, in summer time we generally "went in swimming, " or went fishing on that afternoon; We had several places where we might go to swim, the favorite one being the old Mill Dam, about a mile from the village where a dam had been created by damming the creek, and where stood an old Grist Mill, to which the farmers brought the grain for grinding, and into which we used to be glad to go to see the working of the machinery.
Here were the "deep hole" into which only those who could swim were allowed to go, and "the little hole" where the water was not overhead in depth, and where we younger and smaller ones were very fond of attempting to swim, and of throwing water on each other; Or, if as sometimes happened "Mother said I must not go in," of sitting on the bank and watching the more fortunate ones, and daring them to go further out where the water was deeper, Once I saw a couple of the larger boys, after dressing themselves, deliberately walk away with the garments of others who were in the water, and make a very good, or a very mean bargain for their redemption.
One hot sunny summer afternoon we little boys resolved to have a dam of our own in which to start a swimming school, up in the pasture lot, and for that purpose we denuded ourselves and set to work with a will to dam the creek. I do not remember that the dam was a very decided success, or that the swimming school ever opened, but I shall never forget that our poor backs literally peeled when we took off our clothes to go to bed, and that we learned a lesson of lasting benefit, in relation to the power of the noon day Sun. Here again as on many other occasions, Mother, who had several blistered backs to anoint, and as many weeping children to comfort, "Had all the fun while we did the work?
SISTERS OF FRANKLIN BUTLER VAN VALKENBURGH (Left to Right) CATHERINE VAN VALKENBURGH HAVEN, MARY VAN VALKENBURGH VOORHIES, GERTRUDE VAN VALKENBURGH WALDO.
Our school books were not numerous but we were expected to keep them in the calico covers which were placed on them, and to know them by heart, before turning them over to the younger members of the household. We had Websters Spelling Book, with reading lessons in it, among others that of the Bad Boy who got up into the tree, and would not come down for soft words, or even for clods of earth, but was finally convinced by the use of stones?? This and others illustrated with wood cuts, were remarkable specimens of the printer's art, and led us to long for the day when we too would dare to say we would not, when required to do some distasteful thing.
In Sunday School we had the "Shorter Catechism," of course, and the First Primer? The Bible stories were some of them reduced to metre? and illustrated, and there we learned that "Zaccheus he, did climb a tree his Lord to see, " at the same time that we saw him, a giant in size, in the top of a small bush, and wondered if it was a part of the miracle that . he did not crush the tree, and have a fall, as the next story assured us that Adam did; For the next tale was to the effect that "In Adam's fall we sinned all, " and was followed by other equally artistic and thrilling "pomes??" which we read and learned very much to the improvement of our minds, morals and memories I have no doubt.