Thursday, August 5, 2010

Giving Birth in 1884.

A baby carriage, Eaton's catalogue 1889, archive.org. 6.00. The Spanish Hood was 1.50 extra.

1884. Edith Nicholson is born. The household accounts indicate this with the purchase of a cradle for 3.00, a breast pump for 75 cents , and "inserting baby's birth" for 25 cents in January. In June, a baby carriage for 6.37. And an 11.00 doctor's fee. In August a baby toy and blocks, and in December, one pair baby's boots, 50 cents.


As I read down the list, and later into the year, I begin to wonder if the pressures of parenthood aren't getting to Norman. In November, there are a number of purchases for brandy and wine. 2 bottles of brandy, at 1.50 each, two flasks of wine, 35 and 45, and one flask of whiskey, 35 cents. There's also a flask of alcohol, which likely is booze too as it is 35 cents and rubbing alcohol would be cheaper. Then at the end of the year I see a whopping 57.00 doctor's bill and I figure it out. This booze is being used for medicine. (And that may account for all the purchases for brandy I see in this "temperate" home. It isn't for baking, after all.) There is only one entry for medicine, at 30 cents in April.


I'm not guessing out of thin air. 1) I have one letter from that year, from a friend waxing all sentimental about the birth of the little angel. And the writer says she was 'afraid to write earlier.' She alludes to an illness. 57.00 is a huge bill. Maybe Margaret had a rough time. Maybe it was a milk flow issue.


I know for a fact that doctors prescribed wine as a medicine, I have another letter from a friend around that time claiming she is being treated that way. I think I wrote about it in a much earlier blog on Flo in the City.


Of course, I think wine is fine medicine, too.