Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Community and Coke ...

The CBC News Magazine had a couple of interesting pieces this week: on the Almanac they featured COKE, which they said was 125 years old. (Not much of an anniversary, but hey!)

They mentioned that the original coke had a trace of cocaine but that ended in 1903. They did not mention the Pure Foods Act of 1903, but the Almanac is a short feature.

That act happened to cause many patent medicine companies to move to Brockville Ontario. And these companies advertised a lot in the Richmond Times Guardian.

Canada did not have a Pure Food Act. The bureaucrat in charge of such things was more concerned with honesty in advertising than with taking all the inpurities, alchohol, and preservatives out of foods as was the US official in charge. If a product said it was Pure Whiskey, it had better be pure whiskey.

Anyway, I have to figure out if the sodas Flo drank in 1911 had any 'medicinal' products. I am certain their cough medicines did. I will deal with that in Edith's part of the Flo in the City Trilogy.

Sunday Morning also featured a bit on the happiest places in America. (Always a bit of a silly subject and a subjective subject.) Boulder Colorada has come out on some scientist's list as the place with the most contented citizenry.

It seems everyone can live amid Nature's startling beauty and still be 5 minutes from the small city.

"People want to go back to a pre-industrial world," I told my husband. Because that was the essence of the story.

A world where you live near nature and enjoy a sense of community. (I live in the burbs. I am surrounded by Nature and beauty of a sort but it's a ghost town really. No one around.)

Flo in the City, is about the 1911 era when people were leaving small towns like Richmond Quebec for the big city. The fun part of living in a small town is evident in the letters. The downside too.

Of course, there was a downside for all this, as I show in the book, there were no secrets in the small towns. And a citizen had to stay in line or suffer the disapproval of all. (Margaret Nicholson tears into a married man who is showing affection for her sister in law's sister. Another time, she says So and So is seeing another man, 'he might as well through himself into the Salmon River."

So, it follows, there were many dark secrets. In the Nicholson's case, their son had stole from the Bank. How many others knew of this, I wonder.

And on a more everyday note: Mrs. Montgomery, a kind hearted but nosey neighbour, forced Margaret one day to put pesticide on her potatoes when she really didn't want to.

And people had cliques, as my Flo in the City shows. I have Flora hardly know any French people, except merchants and she shuns the French Canadian milliner at the end.

I know from the letters that their friends were all the local 'elite' Prebyterians. They hardly mention a French Canadian name, yet the Census shows that many French Canadians lived nearby.