Thanks for having me back, Fillies! It is always a treat to be here at Wildflower Junction, whether I’m here as a guest author or as a commenter or even a lurker <g>. I have a medical background so my research on Texas medicine in the 1800s was of particular interest to me. Hope you’ll find it that way too.
Although the nineteenth century has been termed “The Golden Age of Medicine” the doctors of the Texas wilderness still practiced medicine much as it had been practiced since the Middle Ages using the ancient Greek theory of the four “humors.” Blood was thought to come from the heart, phlegm from the brain, yellow bile from the liver, and black bile from the spleen. According to this theory, disease and sickness occurred because of an imbalance in one these humors. If one was in excess, it had to be removed or equalized, hence the use of emetics to induce vomiting and the practice of cupping or draining a certain amount of blood to remove the “harmful humor.”
Wounds and bacterial infections caused the majority of deaths and disabilities. Doctors of this time battled malaria, yellow fever, pneumonia, cholera, dysentery, post partum infection, tuberculosis, measles, and small pox. They could splint fractures, suture wounds, perform amputations and drain infections (and all with unsterile technique.) For medical instruments, many had only stethoscopes. Other tools—saws and knives came from the kitchen.
For a treatment to be effective, most thought it had to have a foul smell or taste. Powders were sought over tablets, and colored tablets over white ones. Some medicines in use at the time included quinine, calomel, blue mass pills, belladonna, ipecac,columbo, asafetida, boneset, squill, pokeweed, hog‘s foot oil, castor oil, digitalis, lobelia (or Indian Tobacco.) There were many home remedies and poultices and plasters were common—some producing enough heat to burn the patient.
Morphine or laudanum was often prescribed for pain relief. Also, paregoric(camphorated tincture of opium) was used to inhibit diarrhea, coughing, and to calm fretful children. The concept of drug dependency was not considered. Anesthesia (with nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas) was not used for surgery until 1844, although one New Orleans doctor used ether several years earlier. Before this, the most sought-after surgeons were the ones who worked fast so that the pain would be less. In 1847, chloroform was first used for pain during a delivery.
My second book, The Rebel and the Lady, is being released September 1st. This story takes place during the famous battle at the Alamo and the rebels are the Mexicans and Anglos in the Texas Territory who want to secede from Mexico’s rule. Researching the battle, I learned that Santa Anna de Lopez, the president of Mexico, brought only one physician on the charge north—for his own personal use. There were no doctors or medics for the common soldier–nearly 10,000 men, not to mention the wives and soldaderas that followed. For the Texians at the Alamo’s small hospital, medicine ran out two months before the battle. People had to depend on home remedies, folklore, and borrowed knowledge from the Native Americans, using whatever was on hand for their aches, pains and sores.
Here are a few honest to goodness home remedies used back then that will either make you cringe or make you laugh. Do not try these! I have no idea as to their efficacy or safety, but I find them fun to read about. Information was obtained from A Pinch of This and a Handful of That; Historic Recipes of Texas 1830-1900.
Snake and Spider Bites — Beat onions and salt together, wet tobacco, mix thoroughly. Split wound and apply at once.
Warts — Take a persimmon stick and put as many notches on it as you have warts. They will go away.
Sores – (1895) Powdered alum is good for a canker sore in the mouth. Never burn the cloth bandage from a sore; you must bury it for the sore to heal.
Knife Cuts– (1853) Clean wound well and apply a piece of fat bacon or fat back. Strap it on for several days.
Puncture Wounds (Nails, Gunshot)Put some old wool rags into an old tin can, pour kerosene over the rags and light. Then smoke the wound. This also works with chicken feathers.
Boils or Infection – (1890)Salve: Take one part hog lard, two parts quinine and mix.
Bleeding from the nose – Bathe the feet in very hot water, while at the same time drinking apint of cayenne pepper tea or hold both arms over the head.
Other bleeding – Place a spider web across the wound.
If any of you know of others, I’d love to hear… For anyone who comments, I’ll drop your name in a hat and at the end of the day, draw one name as the winner for a free, autographed copy of my new book! Hope you’ll join in.
Kathryn is busy at work on her next book, a sequel to The Rebel and the Lady. She refuses to try any of these remedies, but does believe some have curative powers. Mostly she believes in the curative power of love…although even that won’t cure snakebite!
Just wanted to remind you about our special guest and dear friend, Kathryn Albright. She’ll be here tomorrow to spend the day in Wildflower Junction.
Please come and help the Fillies roll out the welcome mat for her. Kathryn is always a delight. This time she’ll be talking about the medicinal cures available when there wasn’t a doc anywhere to be found. She chats about some doozy treatments that you’d have to be plumb crazy in the head to try.
Also, Kathryn will be giving away an autographed copy of The Rebel and the Lady. You can’t afford to not get in on that. We all like getting prizes so be here and get your name in the drawing.
Did you know that horses were here before the 1500’s?
Did you know that wild horses are endangered?
Last week I spoke with my cousin, who owns a 12 horse stable in Las Vegas. She boards horses, she owns horses, but she also adores horses. She’s got the sweetest, most beautiful horses I’ve ever seen. And while talking to her, she spoke about her newest endeavor, a line of clothes aimed at horse lovers around the world. I asked her why she’s doing this and her passion came through on the telephone clearly and earnestly. She lost her beloved horse last year and upon his death, she decided to give something back to the horse community. A healthy portion of the proceeds from the new clothing line will be donated to the Return To Freedom foundation.
Return to Freedom:
The cornerstone of all Return to Freedom’s efforts rests in the management and philosophy of The American Wild Horse Sanctuary. The American Wild Horse Sanctuary provides a safe haven for wild horses, herds and burros who might otherwise be separated, slaughtered, abused, or left to roam without food or water. Here these animals can live out their lives in freedom. Simultaneously it creates an opportunity for people to directly experience part of America’s living heritage-the wild horse in its natural habitat.
Currently home to over 200 wild horses and burros, the American Wild Horse Sanctuary offers a number of unique conservation and preservation programs that include preserving natural herd groups, using non-hormonal birth control methods, and habitat preservation Preserving Natural Herd Groups
Horses are herd animals and thrive within their family groups. When separated from their herds, wild horses have been known to panic and sometimes even run themselves to death. It’s their way of screaming.
This is sanctuary’s stipulation: When we take one horse-we take the entire family. AWHS may be the only sanctuary in the country with this mandate.
In April 2007, there was a federal court ruling that closed the doors on horse slaughter in the United States. Despite efforts by equine welfare organizations to take over care of the slaughter bound horses, most of them were re-routed to plants in Canada or Mexico. Amazingly, 28 horses that were inside the slaughter plant were given over to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) who worked to place all of them in permanent homes. These horses might be the only horses in history to make the terrifying journey into a horse slaughter plant and live to tell their story.
Return to Freedom offered to take in any wild or untamed horses, offering them a safe haven at their 300 acre sanctuary in California. The wild horse sanctuary promotes the use of Non-Hormonal Birth Control Methods to help manage the wild horse population while at the same time rescue horses who have been abused or are ready for the slaughter house.
One Miracle Rescue:
On Wednesday, April 18th, the sanctuary welcomed the “miracle horses” Ginger, Flicka & Scout to their new home. Each of these 3 mares ended up in an auction feedlot and were picked up by a buyer in Utah. They traveled to Wyoming and then on to a slaughter plant in Illinois. These mares, all healthy and aged 3, 5 and 15, were a breath away from a grisly ending to their life on this earth. They were literally inside the plant when the judge handed down the decision.
Having survived the trauma of their journey to the slaughter plant and back, the mares are settling into their new surroundings. The two youngest are curious and eager when the staff approaches their paddock. Scout, a 15 year old paint mare, who was literally on the floor of the horse slaughter facility when a U.S. Federal Court ruling saved her life, is a little more cautious.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of everyone working to end horse slaughter in the United States, Scout and the other two mares are facing a happy ending at Return to Freedom.
“There is no use trying,” said Alice, one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I dare say you haven’t had much practice”, said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for a half hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
– Lewis Carroll from Alice in Wonderland
The Cerbat Stallion:
The Mustangs from the Cerbat Mountain area of northwestern Arizona are some of the purest Spanish descendants in the United States. With less than 70 living in the wild, and very few in domestic breeding programs, he is a rare find. The handsome stallion named Ambrasador Amante (translated as Fiery Lover) had wandered off his range and managed to break into a neighboring ranch taking several mares back into the hills with him. The owner of the mares went through quite an ordeal to gather them back up. Since his capture, this stallion has been held in a government (BLM) corral for three years looking back at freedom and the high snow covered peaks that were once his home. Now the Cerbat stallion is a new resident at the sanctuary and plays a significant role in the conservancy’s Preservation Program.
Horses at Risk:
The US Government is considering the mass murder of thousands of wild horses. On June 30th, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at their Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting announced a proposal that involves the phasing out of long-term holding facilities where they house some 22,000 wild horses that they removed from the range. Though they can only find adoptive homes for some 2000-3000 wild horses each year, the BLM has continued for decades to remove horses by the tens of thousands. Faced with budget cuts and more horses than they can afford to care for, their “solution” to years of mis-management is to simply kill them. With additional round ups scheduled this year, up to 30,000 wild horses could face the bullet.
They Were Here Before:
Did you know that our wild horses are actually a re-introduced native wildlife species? Traditionally, horses were thought of as an exotic species that arrived on this continent for the first time with the Spanish in the 1500s. However, advances in molecular biology prove that the modern horse, Equus Caballus, actually evolved on this continent and migrated across the Bering Land Bridge. Though the horse disappeared on this continent between 11,000 and 13,000 years ago, when the Spanish brought horses back to North America they were simply returning home.
Return to Freedom have living history tours, clinics, youth programs, retreats and so much more than I can begin to name on this blog. I urge you to take a peek at this fantastic organization, by clicking HERE.
How You Can Help:
While this isn’t a call for donations though they certainly welcome them, we can do something easy to aid this cause. When you shop at Ralphs, register your card number at www.ralphs.com/ccprogram.htm and choose Return to Freedom with the number 90094 and a portion of your purchases will be donated to the Return to Freedom cause. It’s that simple. You can find details on their site for more ways to help!
Funny, but when I started writing this blog, it was informational only, until I perused their site for hours, learning more and more about what Return to Freedom does and how important it is. Now, I find I’m as passionate as my cousin about helping to save these majestic animals. Killing off herds isn’t the answer — the animals aren’t starving, they survive quite well on their own. I’ve seen pictures of the wild mustangs in Red Rock Canyon where many roamed free. My cousin got some amazing shots of those mustangs before they’d been taken out of the canyon. As a result, without the horses grazing the land keeping the brush down, the entire area caught fire recently.
I love horses, and had grown up wanting to own one on my own. That wasn’t in the cards for me, but I’ve always held great admiration and fascination for them. These wild mustangs are as American as the cowboy. In my story, Five-Star Cowboy, Trent secures wild horses to roam free on his property and when I wrote that book, I hadn’t a clue that he would do that. I guess my love of horses came through, even before I learned about their plight.
Do you own horses? How many of you have ridden a horse? Do you find them as stunningly beautiful as I do? I’d love to hear your horse stories.
Frontier weddings were a great excuse for celebration.Given time, money and good weather, the bride and groom might host a picnic or dance for their guests.But the liveliest form of wedding entertainment was the shivaree—the hazing of the newlyweds on their wedding night.
Charivari, or shivaree, started as a French folk custom, going back to the Middle Ages.It was originally a mark of disfavor—for example, if the neighbors thought a widow had remarried too soon.But in the American West, the shivaree was all in fun.
One writer describes the shivaree as a combination of trick-or-treating, fraternity hazing, and Christmas caroling.The participants would gather at a neighbor’s place, maybe having a few drinks to warm up.As night fell, they would converge on the house where the newlyweds had gone, trying to arrive shortly after the couple got into bed.On a signal, they would start singing, yelling, and banging on pots and pans.If the couple refused to come out, they would bang on the door, demanding to come inside and have a drink.
If the groom opened the door and gave them money or a treat they might go away and finish the party somewhere else.But if the uproar was ignored, they might break in, kidnap the groom, take him far away, and leave him to find his way home in the dark—perhaps undressed.
One Kansas newspaper provides the following description of a shivaree party: “They performed such tricks as shooting bullets through the windows, breaking down the door, dragging the couple out of bed and tumbling them about on the floor, and indulging in other equally innocent tricks.” The editor added, “It requires backbone to get married out this way.”
My prim little grandma, who married in the early 1900s, described the shivaree that took place on her wedding night.She and Grandpa barred the door and wouldn’t let the celebrants in.
Even in my day, growing up in a small western town, the shivaree wasn’t an unknown custom, especially if the bride and groom were in their teens, with lots of friends around.I’ve heard of friends sneaking into a reserved motel room, short-sheeting the bed (if you have to ask what that is you’re a lot younger than I am) and doing things to the toilet that involved saran wrap, Vaseline or Jello.I myself have enjoyed decorating a cousin’s car with embarrassing slogans and yards of toilet paper.
How about you?Do you know of anyone who’s been shivareed?Have you ever played tricks on someone at a wedding?Did anyone play tricks at your wedding?
Oh, yes—since this blog is about weddings I wanted to share the cover for my November book, THE BORROWED BRIDE.You’ll hear more about the story later.Sorry, there’s no shivaree in it.
To go to Amazon.com, click on one of the books below.
Ah just love it when old friends come back to visit, don’t you?
Kathryn Albright will be here again Saturday to talk about her new September book, The Rebel and the Lady. During her stay, she’ll also give us tips on how to fix what ails you. Bet you have no idea how to treat snake bites or gunshots if there’s no sawbones around. Pretty interesting stuff. Some you wouldn’t want to try. My daddy always said sometimes the cure is worse than the ailment. Ain’t that the truth!
Anyway, head on over here Saturday. Kathryn is giving away an autographed copy of her brand new book. Can’t beat a deal like that.
Wow, the way I wrote it prompted me to think in terms of a twelve-step program.
Hi, my name is Mary and I re-read great scenes from books.
I suppose, of all the Obsessive Compulsive behavior in the world, this one doesn’t cause that much trouble. Unless you’re my husband and you want to thin the herd of books over running my shelves.
What I’m wondering is—does anyone else do this?
Is this a writer thing? Or have invented my very own addiction.
And should I try and get it named after me. Instead of AA, we’ll call it MCA.
Mary Connealy’s Anonymous. I’ll work on that. I want something catchy when I approach the American Psychiatric Association.
I think it might be a writer thing, but maybe not.
I’ve got this huge stack of books I love. Combine that with my chronic insomnia, made far, far worse if I’m reading a book that really catches me…a NEW book…late in the evening, I pick up books I’ve read before and skim through re-reading favorite scenes.
The seventh chapter of Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips when Ren is dressed up like a priest and he and Isabel takes turns congenially insulting each other in the Italian sun.
The scene in The Bride by Julie Garwood when the English Maiden Jamie doctors Angus when he’s been given up for dead and wins the loyalty and love of her new clan. ‘She started four wars the first week.’
The scene in MacKenzie’s Pleasure by Linda Howard where Zane is furious because two of his Navy SEALs were shot in a training exercise. ‘The captain was unhappy.’
The scene in Boo Hiss by Rene Gutteridge when Dustin says to be on the look-out for his escaped two-headed boa constrictor named Bob and Fred. -I had to lay the book down I was laughing so hard.
The scene in The Doctor’s Wife by Cheryl St. John when Caleb takes Ellie to meet her child. (yes, I’ve got Fillies in my collection)
The scene in Midnight at Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell when Walker backs down Faith’s stalking ex-boyfriend, Tony. “You got the nice one with me.”
The scene in Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie when Gabe takes Nell to lunch and yells at her until she eats. “Do you really want to have this argument with me now!”
The scene in Perfect Partners by Jane Anne Krentz when Letty explains to Joel why she broke off her engagement. “Compromising situation.”
The scene in Unspoken by Angela Hunt when Sema the gorilla saves Glee. To me, the amazing part of this scene was how totally I didn’t see it coming and how it was the foundation of the whole book.
The scene in A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman when Collin the rogue proves to good girl Faith that she has desires like everyone else…as if she didn’t already know.
The scene in Matchmakers by Jude Deveraux where Cale, the novelist, and Kane Taggart… well, okay forget it…I can’t read one scene in that book. I have to read every word. “I have always fantacized about being likeable.” (this remains my favorite line ever written)
I could go on for a long, long time.
I’ve even got some in my own books.
The avalanche in Calico Canyon leading up to the moment Grace says, “I used to be brave.” Grace ends up punching Daniel in the nose.
The fight leading up to the wedding in Petticoat Ranch. Clay is thrilled, Sophie not so much.
That would be stupid,” Clay bellowed. “Do I strike you as a stupid man?”—Sophie arched an eyebrow, and didn’t respond.
Braden finding Amy clinging to a cliff in Golden Days. He thinks she fell. She says she was pushed. While they’re fighting over that, a bear attacks. Love that scene.
“You call me a clumsy…”
“You’re not stupid.”
“You work hard. I never said…”
“Well, you should have told Ian…”
“Is that about it? Perhaps you would be as well to toss me back over the cliff before my inferiority destroys your family.”
Maybe that’s a goal to strive for, how many enduring scenes I can fit into my own novels.
A lot of times it seems like really steamy scenes are compelling but I’ve noticed, for me, it’s what leads up to intimacy and the aftermath where the real power is, the four to ten pages of ‘put his hand there’ ‘move her body there’ ‘he caressed’ ‘she trembled’ isn’t all that interesting and I usually skim through that. But what leads up to it is often explosive and passionate and powerful. And usually the aftermath ends in disaster (if it’s early in the book) and that makes for a good scene.
Do any of you have scenes like this? Or is this a personal quirk of mine?
Scenes where the words just come to life, sing, become more than the sum of their parts? Usually there’s a powerful emotion on the line in that scene. Usually, for me, there is humor and action and lots of perfectly paced dialogue.
So tell me your favorites.
Favorite moments, favorite novels. Do you know why they’re your favorites? Put it into words.
Linda Howard’s Alpha Males. Julie Garwood’s Barbarians and Maidens. Suzanne Brockmann’s vulnerable supermen. Jude Deveraux’s sharp, funny dialogue. Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ humor. Angela Hunt’s ability to take the most unusual ideas and bring them to life in powerful ways.
Isn’t this the best site? So much talent from my fellow fillies and so much terrific information. I’m always amazed at the learned quality of the posts. Aren’t you?
After quite a break from the Native Style survival stories, I hope you’re ready to continue. Just to recap, so far we’ve discussed the quest for food. What kinds of food you might find in different regions of the country, how to find it and the necessary means of transportation to find food. One more comment I’d like to make before we head into shelters and how easy they are to make: I think TV has given people the wrong idea of survival. On TV you see people competing one with the other to “win.” It’s a tooth-and-claw type of survival. Now this kind of “survival” to the Native American is pure folly. None survive well alone. It is a team activity. Or one might say a family or a tribe activity. And survival doesn’t mean bare minimum. Optimum survival means food aplenty, a good warm place to put up one’s feet, the warmth of companionship, soft clothes that look good and feel good (or lack of clothes depending upon your environment), and happiness. That’s real survival. Not this struggle that one commonly sees on TV nowadays.
So, that said, let’s have a look at shelters. The most important things if one were to suddenly find himself lost from civilization — or in the event of some catastrophe, are food, clothing and shelter. Without these, man cannot live. Therefore, they are the barest minimum. And shelters — nice, wonderful, homey shelters aren’t that hard to build and set up. Do you remember your camping days and how cozy and warm were your tents?
Well, suppose you didn’t have time to grab your tent. What then? Well, here are some suggestions straight from Native America. The first important thing is…? Location, location, location. A good Real Estate maxim.
Now, it’s a good idea to find a dry and protected spot, one that is close to a supply of water and fuel (wood or something else to burn). And if one is being hunted by another or other’s or if one is simply alone, another feature you might consider would be to find a place that is secluded, one that is hard for the casual eye to see. Such things as a hollowed-out tree, a cave, a rock that allows only a casual view. As Charles A Eastman put it in his book, INDIAN SCOUT CRAFT AND LORE:
“…The first essentials are water and fuel; next comes sanitation and drainage, protection from the elements and from ready discovery by possible fores; finally, beauty of situation.
If you are in the woods, the shelter you will probably want to construct is a lean-to. Here’s yet another section from Charles A. Eastman’s book, INDIAN SCOUT CRAFT AND LORE.
“…Find two trees the right distance apart and connect them by poles laid upon the forks of each at a height of about eight feet. This forms the support of your lean-to. Against this horizontal bar place small poles close together, driving their ends in the ground, and forming an angle with about the slant of an ordinary roof. You can close in both sides, or not, as you choose. If you leave one open, build your fire opposite the entrance, thus making a cheerful and airy ‘open-face camp.’ Thatch from the ground up with overlapping rows of flat and thick evergreen boughs, and spread several layers of the same for a springy and fragrant bed.”
Note that this requires very few tools save perhaps a hatchet or a strong knive to make the poles.
The coziness of the tepee was often commented upon by travelers in the old west. The structures were clean, warm, hospitable, with plenty of room for family and possessions. But more of that in another post. For now, let’s look at another kind of shelter, the dome-shapped ‘wickiup.’ Again from Charles A. Eastman, INDIAN SCOUT CRAFT AND LORE:
“…The dome-shaped wigwam or ‘wickiup’ is made in a few minutes almost anywhere by sticking into the ground in a circle a sufficient number of limber poles, such as willow wands, to make it the size you need. Each pair of opposites is bent forward until they meet, and the ends interlocked and tied firmly. Use any convenient material for the covering; an extra blanket will do.”
Again, you would cover it with whatever was available in the area you are in.
Okay you knew I was going to slip this photo in here somwhere, didn’t you? How could I resist? Are you, like me, sighing?… Well, continuing on, let’s touch on the traditional tepee. If you ever have the chance to go to a pow-wow in Indian Country, you might be able to catch the tepee raising race at the rodeo. Amazingly, these people set up tepees in a matter of a few minutes — quite spectacular to see. But here are the basics. Again, from Charles A. Eastman, INDIAN SCOUT CRAFT AND LORE:
“The skeleton of the conical teepee is made by tying three poles together near the top, and, when raised, separating them to form a tripod. Against this place in a circle as many poles as you think necessary to support your outer covering of cloth or thatch, usually twelve to fifteen. If of canvas, the covering is tied to a pole and then raised and wrapped about the framework and secured with wooden pins to within about three feet of the ground. This space is left for the entrance and covered by a movable door, which may be merely a small blanket. If you have nothing better, a quantity of dry grass will make you a warm bed.”
Finally, although we may have covered this already when we were discussing fires, small fires are best. Again, from Charles A. Eastman, “It is best in camping to build small fires. This rule is observed by all Indians. Smoke may be seen at a great distance, especially on a clear day, and may be scented by the ordinary Indian (or other person) a long way off, if the wind is right. Only in cold weather or for special purposes does the Indian indulge in a huge fire, and in no case does he ever leave it without seeing that it is entirely extinguished.”
Well, that’s it for today’s Native American lesson. What about you? Do you have a favorite camping story? Campfire tales? Cozy-warm tents that you remember? For me, I remember camping in Vermont. We had forgotten how important it was to set up camp so that one was protected from water. We awoke to find water all over the floor of our tent, once the rain had really settled in.
That was that. There we were in the middle of the night, digging trenches around our tent. Do you have a story? If so, I’d love to hear from you today. So come on in and let’s chat.
I know why “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” is such a big hit. It’s the jeans. From teenagers to baby boomers, we can all relate. Slipping into a comfortable pair of jeans instantly lowers blood pressure, gets us humming, and on our best days, makes us feel sexy.
When I was in high school, the competition was between Levi’s®, Lee® and Wrangler®. These days, teenagers have a greater variety to choose from.But I still love those originals.
In my Westerns, my men wear Levi’s. If they’re Mounties, they wear breeches while on duty, but off, they’re all in denim. There’s nothing like a man wearing only a pair of jeans, is there?
Levi’s originated in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. They were still popular twenty-five years later during the Klondike Gold Rush, where my books are set. When I recently visited San Francisco, I discovered Levi’s flagship store in Union Square, the heart of the city. That’s it behind the palm trees at the top of the stairs.
In 1873, Levi Strauss was the first in the world to design a pair of blue jeans. He had a business partner, Jacob Davis, a tailor who came up with the idea for adding metal rivets. When their patent for metal rivets expired in 1891, dozens of other garment manufacturers added rivets to their jeans and jackets.
Levi Strauss was born in Bavaria, Germany. When he was a boy (named Loeb at birth), he and his family emigrated to New York City. They ran a dry goods store. In 1853 when he was twenty-three, Levi moved to San Francisco. He opened a wholesale dry goods store of his own. Levi outfitted many smaller stores that were springing up all over the west coast. Items included jackets, overalls, coats, umbrellas and bolts of fabric.
Blue jeans were originally designed to withstand the wear-and-tear of the gold fields. The rivets gave extra strength to the pockets and kept the seams from ripping, while the denim twill weave was extra strong to withstand the assault of hard labor.
Denim twill weave gets its strength due to the diagonal ribbing that can be seen on the reverse side of the cloth. Maybe that’s why jeans mold to thighs and backsides like a great pair of leather gloves.
What’s the difference between denim and jean fabric?
During weaving, denim has one thread that’s white, one that’s colored. Jean fabric has both threads in the same color. Hence those cheap imitations your mother tried to spring on you as a child.“Oh, honey, they’re the same!”
The origin of the word denim is disputed. Some say it came from England, some France. Others say it was a mispronunciation of the French town where serge fabric was manufactured, “Serge de Nimes.” The debate continues.
There’s no clear reason why we began to interchange the word ‘denim’ with ‘blue jeans.’ In 1873, Levi’s blue jeans were originally referred to as ‘waist overalls.’
Regular ‘overalls’ (the kind with a bib) got their name because they were worn on top of trousers during work. In Britain, overalls were called dungarees. Dungarees got their name from the course calico cloth they were sewn from, originally from a place in India called Dongari Killa where the British had a fort. Dungaree cloth was thin and often poorly woven, and not to be confused with denim.
Blue jeans have always been a symbol of youth and rebellion. According to the Levi Strauss & Co. website, Bing Crosby was a big fan. In 1951 he went hunting with a friend in Canada, but when he tried to check into his Vancouver hotel, the front desk clerk wouldn’t let him in because his denims were not considered high class. The clerk didn’t recognize America’s most beloved singer. Luckily for Mr. Crosby, he was finally recognized by the bell hop. When Levi Strauss & Co. heard of his plight, they sewed him a tuxedo jacket, made of denim, of course. By 1958, newspapers claimed that ninety percent of America’s youth wore jeans everywhere except “in bed and in church.”
Jeans are more than a pair of pants. They’re a symbol of how we feel about ourselves. Don’t many women have a story about shedding a few pounds so they can get back into theirs? Valerie Bertinelli says so in her biography, LOSING IT.
Two years ago, I cleaned out my closet and finally threw out a pair I was saving…for over twenty years! I hadn’t realized it had been that long. They were already tight when I first bought them, and as soon as I had a glass of water, they no longer fit at all. Why was it so hard to throw them out? Maybe they were a symbol of my youth.
But you know what? Over the last few years, I’ve replaced them with some great below-the-belly-button jeans I hesitated to try before. (Mature women know what I’m talking about. Was I the only holdout?) The new ones look hipper than those other ones ever could and make me feel like a foxy mama.
Today I went shopping with my teenage daughter and she was thrilled to get a new pair of “skinny jeans.” Our parents used to say our jeans were painted on—today when I looked at my daughter, I knew how they felt looking at us.
So what about you? Do you have a favorite pair of jeans in your closet?Or a favorite piece of clothing that makes you feel great when you wear it?