Taking Pride in Vintage Handmade Products

Dorothy B. Smith discusses how artisans of yore took pride in their work and how their vintage handmade products have held up with time.

Beach buggy

Photo courtesy of L. Clare Carpenter, Guys Mills, Pennsylvania.


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The Ladies Page talks about vintage handmade products of yesteryear. 

Did you ever wonder why almost everything made in the olden days were initialed and dated? It was because almost everything was made by the one who initialed it; the date was added because everyone was aware of the times in which he lived and because he was proud of his accomplishment.

In these modern times, everything a person needs may be purchased in a store, there are very few vintage handmade products left. We are robbed of that rare and wonderful satisfaction that comes from personal accomplishment. In early times, nearly every single thing which a person used was a product of his own efforts. He made the cloth for the clothing he wore, the food he ate (no frozen food available), the chair he sat in and the bed he slept in. These people were very inventive. They knew that they had to do things for themselves if they were to survive. They knew wood intimately; they knew the ingredients of the food they ate; the medicines which made them well; the ink they wrote with; all because they grew it, ground it and mixed it. It was this awareness of everything about them, that made the American pioneer so full of inner satisfaction, so grateful for life and what went with it. In this modern world, we take all of this for granted and forget the wonders of life.

Right now, Paul is very interested in the making of flour. He has heard that some of the reunions feature grinding and selling whole wheat flour and corn meal. He would be interested in hearing from any of you who have had experience in this line. Think it would be quite an attraction. I wouldn't be at all surprised if any day he came in with some flour for me to bake some bread. I have a recipe all ready. Think you will like it too!

Brown Bread Recipe

2 tbsp. shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup sour milk or buttermilk
1 tsp. soda
1/2 cup white flour
1 1/2 cup graham flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp. salt.

Mix in order listed. Bake 40 minutes in 350 degree Fahrenheit oven.

Makes one loaf. Once you make this brown bread, your family will ask for more.

I have enjoyed looking at the pictures of threshing rigs in the Album, so I'm sending a picture of a rig my brother and I owned at one time.

The tractor is a 10-20 International bought in 1925. The separator is a 32 foot by 46 foot McCormick Deering. It was bought in 1930. My brother, Horace Davis, is standing in the picture. I, Kenyan Davis, am sitting on the wheel and my daughter Mary Ellen stands on the separator.

We threshed our own grain and also for the neighborhood gang of farmers who changed work with us, plus a few others.

This is a Wallace engine built in England, front and side view. The date it was built is casted on the cylinder 1833. It is a 3 by 4 cylinder and two feet tall. A beautiful piece of workmanship.

I imagine that most of you ladies enjoy, as I do, listening in, when several of the men folks get together and start talking about events which happened 20-30 years ago. I sometimes think I will try and write some of them down, but I get interested and forget all about that. It sure would make interesting reading. It is almost unbelievable to think of the changes which have taken place in this period of time. There will be as many or more changes in the next 20 years, but I believe that the pace of living will be so fast that people will not get the enjoyment out of life that we had a few years ago. From this, you will think that I am sort of old-fashioned, which I guess I am.

It is getting time for the activities to start in the gas engine clubs. As soon as the weather warms up, the men get out and start their engines up. May is the time for "gas-ups." Reunion time will be here before you know it. It will be fun to visit with old friends and to hear the noise of the engines again.

My neighbor built this "beach buggy". The motor is a Model A. It has bomber tires. The box was an accessory that could be purchased for a Model T. The white top is from a '59 Ford convertible and it is painted maroon like on a late model Buick Wildcat. It was built by Mr. Ernest Hanson of Guys Mills, Pennsylvania.

Do you remember this tongue twister?  

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, — A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked — If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers — Where is the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?