Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Old Sturbridge Village

Life back in the 1800's was so different! We take so much for granted nowadays. Last Saturday we visited Old Sturbridge Village.

I had been wanting to go visit (man! that's a lot of verbs!!!) OSV for a while. I was curious about that outdoor museum that recreated life in the XIX century. Thanks to my husband I called them and found out Mass teachers enter free. Yeah, I guess there are good things to being a teacher.

We went into houses and stores, shops and mills. We talked to a cooper (a guy who made round containers like buckets and kegs), a blacksmith, a tin man, a cobbler (a guy who makes shoes) and a potter. They showed us how they did their work.

We also talked to these ladies in a farm and they told us how they made cheese. It was fun finding out that cheese could be kept at room temperature, and the reason we can't do that today is because of all the fermentation and different fungi they add to the cheese, probably to make different types of cheese. Back then cheese was just cheese. And it tasted differently depending on how long it stayed there and where the cow had been feeding.

Cheese and butter making were actually ways to preserve milk, so they could not really go bad if left out of the fridge - the whole point of it was to not allow milk to go bad. And there were no fridges back then.

Shoes back then did not have left or right, they had only one shape. I tried one on!

In the mills I could see how they used water as a source of energy. I had always learned about that in school books, but nothing beats seeing it for real.

I also found out why people back then did not have a lot of clothes. Till not long ago then everything was manual. The wool or other raw-materials had to be manually open and worked (carding), then turned into lines then into cloth. I tried carding. A lot of work.

That's why our house only has only little closet that does not even fit all of Dean's clothes.

We visited the house of a poor family - THEY HAD A TWO STORY HOUSE! And you call them poor?! -, then the house of a middle class family and a rich family. The rich family house felt a lot like a castle. The middle class family house I could definitely relate to: they turned an old bed into a sofa, because sofas were a novelty and very expensive - sounds like something I would do. Middle class has always been a mommy-I-wanna-be-rich people. It's like a curse we will never escape for as long as we are middle class.

Also, because one of the houses was real, we could learn about the family that lived there but looking at the left overs of work such as sawing found under their floor.

The potter guy said his technique has been the same for hundreds of years. A lot of life then was about doing things that had been done for many generations. Wisdom passed by the older people.

I guess no one really could imagine that life as everyone had always known was about to change so radically in just over 100 years.

Of course in all began with the renaissance in the sixteenth century and the industrial revolution in the second half of the eighteenth century. Heck it all began with the invention of writing and paper thousands of years ago. But could anyone imagine how fast-paced things would ever get?

The twentieth century arrived with a whirlwind of technological advances that brought centuries worth of changes in just 100 years. Hard life and traditional ways of doing things changed into easy-to-make, paint-by-numbers, instant-food, virtual-reality, no-pain world.

Someone that died at the end of the XIX century would not recognize the world if he came back for a visit at the end of the XX century.

And we wonder why no one values older people anymore? Our world, with all the perks it's brought us, has been sending us the message that old is bad, and that older people just can't keep up. The toys children played with in that time were the same their parents and grandparents played with. Can we say the same of our times? In 100 years - we have different world. In 50 years - we have different world. In 20 years -we have a different world. In 10 years - we have a different world. Of course our children will think we're right out from the middle ages! And how much wisdom is lost in that kind of thinking. No, not everything is good unless we stop and think what our values really are. Nothing will be worse than to live in a world where the older people have no value. Yes, the way we interact with them will change, because it's true that with the fast changes people will fall behind. But the wisdom that comes with time and life experiences, this will never be traded by progress.

If Jesus doesn't return anytime soon, where will we go next? Are there any limits to what man can dream and invent and popularize? And are there any limits to how fast that can be done?

Hopefully not faster than we can realize the collateral effects of it in time to fix them.

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