It seems to me that Halloween has grown darker over the years. Growing up in Michigan, we dressed up as beggars and yelled “Help the poor.” I don’t remember anyone wearing scary costumes. Another place where you probably wouldn’t have seen werewolves or zombies is in the Old West.
During the 1800s it was considered a night of romance. Many of the tricks and treats of those Victorian Halloween parties were designed with romance in mind.
In the Old West, Halloween dances were held in schoolhouses, barns or churches. Guests were required to jump over a broom upon arrival to assure future happiness. Masquerade balls were popular, too, but mostly held in the east.
Apples played an important part in these Halloween rituals but so did tin soldiers. An article in the El Paso Daily paper in 1899 described the ritual of melting tin soldiers. A young woman would then drip the melted tin from a spoon into cold water. The tin would harden in all manner of shapes, thus foretelling a maiden’s future. If, for example, the tin looked like a shoe, she would marry a shoemaker. A ship meant her future husband would be a sailor and a hammer foretold a carpenter in her future.
Bobbing for apples was a must, but with an interesting twist. The apples would each contain the name of a male guest. A woman lucky enough to sink her teeth into a pippin would come up with more than just a wet face; she’d also know the name of her future mate.
Some enterprising hostesses who owned apple trees went one step further. While the apples were still green they glued the initials of single males onto the apples. When the apples ripened, the paper was washed off revealing the green initials on the rosy cheeks. Upon arriving at the party, female guests would draw an apple from the tub to find out the name of her dance partner.
Another popular game involving apples required careful paring so that the peels were cut into one long strip. These were then thrown over the left shoulder. The initial the peel made on the floor was the initial of a future love.
Peelings were also hung from barn doors and female guests were given a number. If for example, you got number two, then the second male through the door was your true love.
Another crowd-pleaser was the cobweb game. Guests were each given two bright colored threads attached to a cardboard heart in some remote corner. The threads ran through the room in an intricate pattern. The idea was to unravel your thread by bobbing under a red thread or slipping through a tangle of green or blue threads until you reached the heart which named your partner for the night.
Halloween games also included the game of Proposal. Each woman was given a stack of cardboard hearts and lemons. The males had to go around the room and propose to each woman. He had thirty seconds to convince her to marry him. When the bell rang, she would either give him a lemon for no or a heart for yes. At the end of the game, the man with the most hearts won.
With all the ghosts and goblins of today, it’s hard to imagine a time when Halloween was just another word for romance
How are you and your family planning to spend this pandemic Halloween?
Yep! 13 years ago on August 13, 2007, we launched our very first blog, amateurs that we were. In that time, 35 bestselling western romance authors have called themselves fillies. Of those, 10were founding fillies, and of those, 3of us still remain.
Linda Broday ~ Pam Crooks ~ Karen Kay
Want some more stats? In 13 years, we’ve had:
That’s ALOT of activity on Petticoats & Pistols, and you, our dear readers, have shared yourself with us over and over again. We’ve become friends. Sisters, almost.
And that got us to thinking.
Guess which Fun Filly Fact goes with which filly!
#1 – I was born in a tent to homeless parents and have twice seen that same situation since. My husband and I rode out an F-5 tornado inside our Texas home, lying flat in a hallway over our three little ones then shifted from place to place for nine months trying to survive. With only a high school education and pure grit, I will reach a publishing milestone in April 2021 with my 30th book that kicks off a new series.
#2 – I skydived when I was younger. Yep, jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. I highly recommend it (if you’re not afraid of heights). The thrill is stupendous, the view is amazing, and the accomplishment lasts forever. I quit after my 5th jump, when my chute didn’t open, and I had to throw the reserve. Oh, and you have great stories to tell your grandbabies!
#3 – My life is a musical. My husband and I were both band nerds in high school, but after one semester of band in college, he convinced me to join choir. We sang all through undergrad and graduate school and even with an adult chorus that took a European tour. Our children grew up singing Disney, Wiggles, and VeggieTales songs, playing in the band in school, and on any given Sunday our pew sports all four parts in acapella style. Once, when my kids were little, we had a lady from church babysit for us. She said it was like watching the Von Trapps.
#4 – I worked in the deepest mine in North America at the time. My level was 6900 feet underground. My pard and I loaded muck from ore chutes into mine cars and hauled it to where it was dumped in a larger chute to be hauled up out of the mine during the graveyard shift. I know what the blackest of black looks like. I’ve also been underground in the Arctic. The most amazing ice crystals grew in the mine there—giant snowflakes about 6 inches across.
#5 – I was in my 40’s when I was adopted into the Blackfeet Tribe in Northern Montana. Chief Old Person adopted me into the tribe in July of 2001 in a ceremony during the Indian Day’s Pow-wow. The Chief gave me an Indian name that I won’t share here because one doesn’t speak their own Indian name. (It’s considered boasting.) I was adopted into the Tribe because of my work with them on literacy, and my life was changed forever…always yearning to be in Montana on the reservation.
#6 – While I was hunkered down in a London air raid shelter during the war, someone gave me a teddy bear and said, “May God protect you.” Thinking “God” was the name of the teddy bear, I took him everywhere. One night, while my mother and I were racing through the streets to the shelter, I realized I’d forgotten God. Doing what any self-respecting four-year-old would do under the circumstances, I threw myself on the ground and had a full-fledged temper tantrum. Not knowing what else to do, my poor mother took me back to the house to retrieve the teddy bear. As we were leaving the house, a bomb went off at the end of the street where we would have been had we not gone back. So, just as the stranger promised, God had protected me.
#7 – When I was about six, I was at my cousins’ house and they had a horse! Everyone was getting a ride but my mom said I couldn’t, I was too little, unless a grown up was out leading the horse. Well, the grownups went inside and left me with some terribly irresponsible children. So I begged and whined and finally convinced them it’d be okay if one of them led the horse. And I got up on what now seems to have been a huge animal, and walked along, and whoever was leading the horse let it slip out of their hands and the horse went trotting toward the barn and I fell off and broke my arm.
The only good part of that was, my two big sisters and my cousins got in Terrible Trouble.
#8 – I worked full time in the legal field, while co-owning two antique shops. With a business partner, I purchased the oldest barbeque cafe in town. That had me not only working full time in a demanding profession, having a wonderful husband and two teenagers, but owning three businesses. Then came along the acquisition of an ol’ timey Texas honky-tonk. I learned the bass guitar. Strange fact, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket and couldn’t play that well; however, only at closing time my partner allowed me to join the band … most likely to clear out the customers before closing time. Thinking back, it was during that period I took my first writing course. Fun, sweet memories!
#9 – While working as a newspaper reporter, I used to get sent out to do many agriculture related stories. One day, I went out to interview a couple that had sold their herd of beef cattle so they could turn their place into a “buffalo ranch” and sell the meat commercially. The husband was busy when I arrived, so the wife and I climbed in their big pickup and drove out to the pasture so I could get an up-close look at the animals. We reached the bison but they soon went from docilely grazing to agitated in seconds. The wife realized her husband had left a butchered carcass in the back of the pickup. The smell of that drove the bison wild and they stampeded. The wife swung the pickup around, hit the gas, and we bounced and jostled our way for the gate we’d left open, hoping to beat the bison there before they could escape. It was summer, the windows were rolled down, and one big ol’ boy stuck his head right up in my window. I could have counted his eyelashes if I hadn’t been scared witless. Then the wife said, “When we get to the gate, jump out and throw up your arms. I think they’ll stop.” I looked at her and told her she was crazy if she thought I was jumping in front of a few dozen beasts thundering straight at me. Thankfully, her husband appeared just in time to head off the bison and we made it safely out of the pasture. If I ever decide to include a stampede in story, I have first-hand experience!
#10 – Have you ever been an unwitting participant in an FBI bust? I was! A lowly secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor, it was my job from time to time to man the front desk and screen guests. Imagine my surprise when, one day, a man came in, and when I asked, “May I help you?” he flashed his FBI shield at me with an “official” glare. “Quiet,” he said. At that point, he went right on back to his intended target, a claims examiner who was taking money under the table to process black lung claims more expeditiously–and the black lung claimant, who was wearing a wire as the money was changing hands! Four of the six claims examiners were led out in cuffs that day and placed in a nondescript white cargo van, and Mr. FBI told me, “Don’t leave town. You may have to testify.” That was probably my most exciting day at work–ever.
#11 – I was lucky to have some fabulous and very interesting summer jobs during high school and college. They included working as a data entry clerk for the local water works company (great first job with an interesting cast of characters), as an assistant at a library for two summers (Best. Summer. Job. Ever!), schlepping backstage and ushering at the New Orleans Repertory Theater during their production of Three Penny Opera (Mack The Knife anyone?) and working as a computer science intern at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility (awesome place with some incredibly smart and dedicated people).
#12 – I was an opera major with a flute minor in college and belonged to the top 15% of musicians in my age group on the west coast. I played my way into college (quite literally, winning a scholarship to a conservatory of music with Mozart’s Concerto in G). I have taught flute over the years, helped with my local high school music and drama departments, and was getting ready to join my local concert band (just to keep in practice) when the pandemic hit. As soon as the chaos is over, I’ll sign up!
#13 – As a young girl, I wanted to be a nun. Being from a devout Catholic family, my uncle was a priest, and my aunt was a nun. I remember going to visit her at the convent while she and the other nuns roller-skated in the basement, their habits and veils trailing behind them. They were laughing and having such a good time while they went around and around that small room. It made me think it would be fun to be a nun, too, and my aunt, who was only fifteen years older than me, did her best to convince me I should be one.
Obviously, she failed.
#14 – BONUS FILLY FACT! – I turned to fostering dogs four years ago when faced with an empty nest. After seeing a post about an adorable female black pup (my weakness) needing a foster, I responded. While that pup had already found a foster, I took a tri-colored male mix puppy named Rowdy about to be euthanized, and a crusader was born. Since then, my family and I have fostered over 25 dogs or puppies. We’ve dealt with mange (zombie dogs are the best!), heart worm treatment for HW positive dogs, Parvo, and have loved every animal we’ve fostered. When I’m asked how I can let them go, I respond “Every one we let go makes room to save another.”
It’s our birthday, but you get the gifts!
Guess which Fun Filly Fact goes with which filly!
Be sure to number your guesses in the comments.
You’ll be eligible to win a $13 Amazon Gift Card.
Check back on Sunday to see how many fillies you guessed right.
And if there’s any fun fact about YOU you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear it!
I hope everyone is warm and cozy on this winter day. Winter is good for playing games. I can’t tell you how often my younger sister and I whiled away the hours playing paper dolls, Scrabble, board games and anything that let us use our imaginations.
The game today is easy. All you have to do is unscramble a few selected titles of my books.
I’m giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards!
So let’s get started.
1. OT ELVO A XEAST ARRNGE
2. THNKGI NO HTE AXTSE ASPILN
3. ETH MALI REDOR SRBEID TSRECE
4. EEROFVR SHI AXSET RDBIE
If you’d like to see my book list for clues, click HERE. Also, you can print it off.
In a moment of madness, I decided to join a square-dancing class. I figured it would be good exercise and wouldn’t be that hard to learn. I mean how hard could it be to do-si-do?
Well, I got the first part right. It is good exercise. I clock more than ten thousand steps during class. Dancing is also good for the brain. According to Psychology Today,research shows that dancing reduces incidences of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
As for the easy part: forget that. Square-dancing requires memorizing hundreds of steps and learning a new language. The director told us that if we got lost, to just stand still and look confused. Now That I can do.
In spite of the challenges, the one thing I really enjoy is the courtesy. Call me old-fashioned, but I love the way partners bow and honor each other. Though dress is informal, almost everyone dresses up a bit, which adds to the fun. The best part? There’s no shortage of cowboys. Yee-haw!
The various square dance movements are based on the steps and figures that were used in traditional folk dances from different countries. Folk dances were originally gala occasions where news would be swapped, and courtships formed.
The early colonists brought popular folk dances from France, Italy and Britain with them. However, following the American Revolution, the British dances fell out of favor and the French dancing styles took over. Many French terms like “do-si-do,” “allemande” and “promenade” are still used in square dancing today.
The French were not satisfied with the long double line of an indefinite number of couples, so they concentrated on the square limited to four couples. These squares were known at first as “French contra-dances,” or more simply as “French dances.”
The dances done in early America didn’t have a “caller,” or someone who yells out the moves to dancers. Rather, the expectation, Jamison says, was that dancers went to school, memorized the moves, then went to the ball.
“Square dancing in those early days was done to live music that was almost always played by African-American musicians. It’s believed that many of these musicians became callers due to the gap in literacy and formal training among slaves of the time.”
Jamison says he found evidence of an African American caller dating back as early as 1819 in New Orleans. Other African American dance moves, instruments like the banjo and fiddle, and call and response traditions were also incorporated.
There have been several attempts to have square dancing designated the national dance but, so far, the efforts have been defeated. However, according to The Smithsonian, thirty-one states now claim square dancing as the official state dance.
Square Dancing has changed through the years to fit the needs of the people doing it. All ages can join in the fun and there are many LGBT clubs. There are also groups for the handicapped.
Though square dancing, as we know it today, is now an American dance, it’s popular the world over. S.Foster Damon wrote in his book, The History of Square Dance, “Square-dancing is greater than any one nation: it is democracy itself, in dance form. Can anybody think of a better way to spread the spirit of democracy?”
What new and exciting things do you have planned
for the New Year?
Meet the Haywire Brides
The Outlaw’s Daughter is available for preorder Amazon
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I’m afraid this month’s blog date sort of snuck up on me – a combination of dealing with my foot in a cast, a looming book deadline and planning an impromptu Disney vacation in a couple of weeks. So I hope you will forgive me if I reprise an older post. And to make it up to you, I’m offering 2 folks who leave a comment here their choice of any book in my backlist.
Did you know that the scientific principles behind 3-D movies had their first practical application as early as 1838? That’s when Charles Wheatstone patented his reflecting stereoscope. I’m sure you’ve all seen stereoscopes before, in pictures if not in actuality. But do you know how they work?
Actually, they work in much the same way human vision works. Because our eyes are spaced about two inches apart we see everything from slightly different angles. Our brains, wonderful creations that they are, then process these into a single image with both dimension and depth. Charles Wheatstone applied this principle to his invention, using drawings that were pairs of reverse images and a series of mirrors to create the illusion of a single three dimensional image.
In 1850, glass images were developed. Though an improvement on the earlier drawings, the quality was low and the price was relatively high.
Queen Victoria took a fancy to the device when she saw one demonstrated at the Crystal Palace Exposition in 1851, and suddenly they were all the rage in Europe. It was somewhat later before the fascination took hold in America.
These early stereoscopes were large, bulky and table mounted, requiring a large commitment of space as well as money. But all of that changed a few short years later. With the advent of photographic improvements, tintypes, daguerreotypes and flat mount paper became available, greatly improving the quality of the images. Early attempts had photographers taking one photograph then slightly shifting the camera and taking a second. The next evolution had photographers utilizing a rig that had two cameras mounted on it to take the twin photos. Eventually an enterprising inventor created a camera with two lenses
Then, in 1862 Oliver Wendell Holmes and Joseph Bates created a compact, handheld viewer named the Holmes stereopticon and the popularity of stereoscopes exploded. In fact, by the end of the century, in spite of their expense, you could find one of these devices in many middle and upper class parlors of the time. The most popular slides were the travelogue type that depicted exotic landmarks such as the pyramids of Egypt and the closer-to-home scenic beauty of Yellowstone. The marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1892 and the St. Louis World Fair also made their way onto stereoscopic slides. As Burke Long put it, “Mass-produced and relatively cheap, the integrated system of mechanical viewer and photographs became fashionable for classroom pedagogy, tourist mementos, and parlor travel to exotic places of the world.” You could say that, as a form of entertainment, the stereopticon was the Victorian era’s equivalent of today’s video players.
By the 1920s movies and the enhanced availability of cameras to the ‘common man’ began to supplant the stereopticon’s hold on people’s interest. But, believe it or not, the stereopticon survives to this day. The child’s toy View-Master, named one of the top 50 toys of the twentieth century, is a direct ‘descendant’ of the stereopticon, utilizing the very same principles.
So, did anything in today’s post surprise you? Do you have firsthand experience with a stereopticon? Did you play with a View-Master as a child?
Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of one book from my backlist!
Josephine Nordegren is one of three sisters who grew up nearly wild in southwestern Colorado. She has the archery skills of Robin Hood and the curiosity of the Little Mermaid, fascinated by but locked away from the forbidden outside world–a world she’s been raised to believe killed her parents. When David Warden, a rancher, brings in a herd much too close to the girls’ secret home, her older sister especially is frightened, but Jo is too interested to stay away.
David’s parents follow soon on his heels, escaping bandits at their ranch. David’s father is wounded and needs shelter. Josephine and her sisters have the only cabin on the mountain. Do they risk stepping into the world to help those in need? Or do they remain separated but safe in the peaks of Hope Mountain?
Hello, Winnie Griggs here, and I’m excited to welcome you to our very first official game day, something we plan to do once a month going forward.
To kick things off, I thought we’d play something fun but relatively simple – a game of Caption This!
Because I’m indecisive, I’m going to give you two choices of photos to play with. Look at the photos below and provide a caption for one or both, indicating which one your caption goes with. They can be witty, funny, poingant – whatever strikes your fancy. That’s it – easy peasy!
I can’t wait to see what all you creative folks can come up with! The prize will be winner’s choice of any 2 books from my back list, along with this fun little magnetic cowboy poet kit.