Institute Of Higher Learning

My home-town of Southampton, Ontario, rises up from the shore of Lake Huron.  Even 50 feet above the lake, at the top of the hill, where my 1850 birth-home still sits, the water table is not far beneath the ground.  It, and many other residences and commercial buildings are landscaped upwards, and still have shallow basements.  Ours would have fit Frodo Baggins.

What is now a wing of the Bruce County Historical Museum, was once my six-room, brick, elementary school.  It perches on the bank of a pond behind it, twenty feet above the water, but its feet are still wet.  To enter the front door required a climb up ten concrete steps to a small landing, then another step up, into a tiny atrium, and yet another step up, onto the main floor.

This upward architecture was not chosen to allow sunlight in through basement windows.  There were none.  Boys played on one side, girls on the other.  There were three steps up to get in either side door, and you still entered on the landing of the basement stairway.

Stairs, stairs, stairs – and more stairs.  😯  The ceilings were 12 feet high.  There were no elevators or escalators.  There was no accommodation for handicapped students.  You had to be physically fit to attend school.  When the student body at this school got high…. It wasn’t at 4:20, because weed was what you pulled out of your mother’s gardens.   😉

’20 A To Z Challenge – Q

My mind grinds fine, but exceeding slow.

The lesson for today is taken from the Second Book of Archon, Chapter II: Verse 6.  Words beginning with the letter Q, while a bit more plentiful than those with X, Y, or Z, are not thick on the ground.  The word of the day is

QUERN

a primitive, hand-operated mill for grinding grain.

The first time the wife and I went to Charleston, SC, we continued on past to visit the Middleton Plantation.  Yankee troops burned the original mansion down.  All that remains are the stone and concrete veranda, and the slaves’ quarters at one end.  These now comprise a small museum, and the living quarters of the current owners.

Still, the building is larger than many homes in upscale, gated communities.  I can only imagine how grand and epic the original structure must have been.  Included in the museum are three Faberge eggs – one complete, and two missing their internal hidden treasures.

The plantation sits beside a long stretch of slow, shallow, river.  The biggest cash crop was rice, but, up on the flats, cotton was grown as well, along with fruits and vegetables for sale, and to feed the residents.

Huge amounts of corn flour and corn meal were required to supply annual dietary needs.  The river could not be used to drive a mill, so dried corn was fed into small hand mills – querns – and ground down.  Adult and adolescent slaves were needed for other plantation tasks.  This job usually fell to Negro tweens.  A hardwood dowel handle was inserted into the upper mill half, and children spent ten or twelve hours a day – alternating arms, turning and turning and turning….

Not to downplay the evils of slave ownership, but poor white folks – and free Negroes in the North – used to face mind-numbing, and body breaking, drudgery to keep themselves alive and fed.  The modern motorized technology has replaced most of these types of onerous tasks, but has made many first-world citizens physically soft and weak.  To achieve what honest labor used to provide, it has been replaced by ‘The Gym.’  Run 5K on a treadmill – but don’t actually get anywhere.   😯