Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Life Story in Dollars and Cents.

This is the beginning second chapter of Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, (draft 1). The first rough chapter is HERE. This ebook is the follow up to Threshold Girll

But let's go back to the beginning.But which beginning?  The beginning beginning? The I AM BORN  beginning? To once again invoke  David Copperfield. (You many think that is my favourite novel, but it isn't. Middlemarch is.)

That's easy, I am born January  1884. In a green clapboard rental house in Melbourne Quebec but  10 months after my parents' marriage.

I know because I have been told, I was born on January 2nd. But the real proof resides in my father's Store Books, or Household Accounts, which he kept from before his marriage in 1882 to a month before his death in 1921.

It could be said that the  story of our family is told in these books, the practical side, the earthly side, at the very least.

I am born in early January, 1884 because the store book reads: Inserting baby's birth, on the 7th. 25 cents. Under that Breast Pump 75 cents. Then Breast shield 25 cents. Along with one quart of milk, 5 cents, a loaf of bread, 10 cents. I gallon coal oil, 25. two cords of wood 8.35. 11 lbs of oatmeal, 38 cents. 1 doz herring. 20 cents. 1 1/2 pounds stake (steak) 15 cents. Oh, and rent 25.00 a month. The usual.  On February 19th, a baby cradle  is purchased for 3.00. And some flannel and some cotton for my baby clothes. Oh, and on April 28, baby's pictures, 25 cents. I have officially arrived.

On June 27, 1 baby's carriage 6.37. A year later, baby's first shoes.1.20.  I am now, officially,  a financial burden on my parents. Children's shoes, boots and rubbers (and the mending of same) were  a major expense for my parents all through their child-raising years. No wonder so many poor children must do without.

October 1884, one crib, 2.75 cents. Some wool for Edith, 2 dollars, 60 cents.

In 1886, June, at 2 1/2 a child's broom is purchased, 15 cents, and I begin to pay for my keep. In those days they began early teaching young girls the womanly art of sweeping.

Also purchased that month, too, believe it or not, baby's first book! (We are the Nicholsons, after all.)

50 years of family accounts!

Talk about mixed messages! But might as well start getting used to them, for as a female, I was showered with mixed messages most of my life.

Then it continues, with school fees, 25 cents a month,  and the occasional slate 05 cents. And bottles of cough medicine, 25 cents. (cough medicine had kick in those days.)  And later scribblers,  5 to 7 cents. 10 cents for the skating rink. 05 cents for a soda treat at Sutherland's drug store. Soda pop had kick in those days,too!

And later, I got an allowance of 05 cents a week. I was doing more than sweeping by then. Oddly, my younger brother Herb's allowance is put down as 'wages for Herb.'

I guess boys must be taught the value of labour.

Receipt School feels 1894.