Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dia de los Muertos Workshop: Nov. 1


Día de los Muertos, Día de los Difuntos or Día de Muert

As part of the Cavendish Historical Society's Hands on History and Honoring Our Heritage programs, the annual Dia de los muertos workshop will be held on Nov. 1 (Saturday) from 3-5 pm at Gethsemane Church Parish Hall, off of Depot Street in Proctorsville. Activities including decorating sugar skulls, making Papel Picado (paper cuts), paper flowers and more. This is a free event but donations are appreciated to help with expenses. 

An ancient Aztec celebration in memory of deceased ancestors, Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1 (All Saints' Day) and November 2 (All Souls' Day). The holiday is especially popular in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, it is also celebrated in other parts of South America and in communities with strong Latino roots.

Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead joyfully, and though it occurs at the same time as Halloween, All Saints' Day and All Souls Day, the traditional mood is much brighter with emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, and celebrating the continuation of life. The belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.

The origins of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous peoples of the area, such as the Aztec, Maya, P'urhépecha, Nahua, and Totonac. Rituals celebrating the lives of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations for at least the last 3000 years. In the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as the "Lady of the Dead", corresponding to the modern Catrina.

Beliefs and customs

Plans for the festival are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the period of October 31 and November 2, families usually clean and decorate the graves. Most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas, or offerings, which often include orange marigold called Flor de Muerto, or zempoalxochitl, Nahuatl for "twenty-flower.” Toys are brought for dead children (los angelitos, or little angels), and bottles of tequila, mezcal, pulque or atole for adults. Families will also offer trinkets or the deceased's favorite candies on the grave. Ofrendas (altars) are also put in homes. In some parts of Mexico, such as the towns of Mixquic, Pátzcuaro and Janitzio, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives.

Altars are decorated with cempazúchil flowers, images of saints, candles, traditional foods and things that once belonged to the deceased to honor and please the spirits. What the spirits consume is steam from the food. They do not digest it physically; they extract the goodness from what is provided. After the spirits leave, the living visit each other in their homes and exchange the prepared food. Images of favorite saints are frequently placed on the altar to elicit special divine protection for loved ones. A towel, soap and mirror are also seen on the altars for the spirits to freshen up before feasting on their favorite foods.

In some cases chairs are placed for the spirits to sit and rest. In the state of Veracruz the Totonac's an indigenous group suspend a wooden board from the ceiling used for the altar. They also suspend local fruits such as bananas, jicamas, limes, oranges, and mandarins from the ceiling. Traditionally these altars are decorated with green tepejilote leaves that are fashioned in the style of suns, stars, and pineapples. The Totonac's also embroider skirts, blouses, napkins, and tablecloths because it is believed that the spirits use these clothes to carry away their food.

The colors of the various items on the altar have the following meaning:
Purple: signifies pain, suffering, grief, and mourning.
Pink: celebration
White: purity and hope
Orange: sun
Red: the blood of life
Yellow: cempazuchitl are marigolds that symbolize death. Petals are used to make a trail so that the spirits can see the path to their altars.

"Calaveras" – short poems mocking epitaphs of friends, sometimes with things they used to do in life originated in the 18th-19th century, after a newspaper published a poem narrating a dream of a cemetery in the future.”

A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (calavera), which is represented in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for "skeleton"), and foods such as sugar skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls are gifts that can be given to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto (or "bread of the dead"), a sweet egg bread made in various shapes, from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.


The traditions and activities that take place in celebration of the Day of the Dead are not universal and often vary from town to town. Ocotepec, north of Cuernavaca in the State of Morelos opens its doors to visitors in exchange for 'veladoras' (small wax candles) to show respect for the recently dead. In return, the visitors receive tamales and 'atole'. This is only done by the owners of the house where somebody in the household has died in the previous year. In some parts of the country, children in costumes roam the streets, asking passersby for a calaverita, a small gift of money; they don't knock on people's doors.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Scribble II-Fall 2014

Upcoming Fall Activities

Even though the museum is closed, the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) is very active. Not only is the Young Historians program at Cavendish Town Elementary School in full swing,  we also have several community activities coming up:

November 1 (Saturday): Annual Dia de los Muertos Workshop:  Half way between fall and winter solstice, many cultures believe this is a time when those who have died return to visit the living. Our focus is on the South American customs, particularly Mexico. The workshop will take place from 3-5 at Gethsemane Episcopal Church, off of Depot Street, Parish Hall. Workshop activities will include: Sand painting, skull cookie decorating; sugar skull decorating (they're made of plaster); papel picado (Mexican paper cut banners); paper flowers; and creation of a community altar. This is a free event but donations are appreciated.

November 8 (Saturday): Fall dinner and sale, 5:30-7 at the Cavendish Town Elementary School. Menu includes Pork Roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegan option for main dish, green beans, butternut squash, applesauce, homemade biscuits, dessert (crisps, pies and ice cream) Gluten free options. Books and other items including “crickets” wooden benches from the Cavendish Stone Church will be on sale. The cost is $10 for Adults, $5 for children under 12 and free for children under 6.

For more information about these events, please call 802-226-7807 or e-mail margoc@tds.net


A Yankee Lifestyle for Today

The hardscrabble life of the early settlers to Cavendish and other parts of New England required that they “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Yankee thrift was key to survival.

The founding Cavendish families-Coffeens, Duttons and Proctors- had to live within their means as credit cards, mass produced goods, and even “labor saving devices” were unknown. Fortunately, they were not continually bombarded, in all directions with advertisements and other strategies to make them want to spend money.

 If we could channel John and Suzanna Coffeen, or the other “first couples of Cavendish” these are suggestions they might have as to how we can adopt their guiding principles of thrift:

Differentiating between Needs and Wants: Ask yourself the following questions before making purchases:
• Is it essential for my health and well-being? Food, housing, clothing, medications and means of mobility are essential. Within that are elements that separate a need from a want. Things like sodas, snack foods, luxury clothes and cars are not essential. Nuts versus cake for food, water over soda, are examples of choices that meet the need in an affordable and healthy manner.
• Do you measure your self worth by what you have versus who you are? Do you want something because someone else has it or is it something you need?

Adopt the Buyerarchy: Reflect what you collect; Use what you have; Borrow what you need; Swap; Make it yourself; Try a thrift store and Buy only when you’ve tried the other options, and then when it’s on sale. Use cash, versus a credit card, as you’ll spend less and are smarter in your selection.

Develop social capital: Volunteerism was key then and it continues to this day. Activities, such as a barn raising or a sewing bee, were opportunities for people to socialize, check in on their neighbors and get something done. Basically, if you want to make sure someone is going to be there when you need the help, be there for others.

Downsize Possessions: What brings us joy and contentment is our connections with one another not the pile of stuff in the closet. The more stuff you own, the more it owns you.

Entertainment:
-       • Significantly reduce or eliminate TV:  By not watching TV, you reduce exposure to advertisements, reduce energy bill, and have more time to do other things, like take a course at the local adult learning center on basic home repair. If you don’t want to give up TV, consider switching to video streaming which generally doesn’t have ads and is considerably cheaper than a cable bill.
-       • Use the library: Don’t buy what you can borrow. Libraries aren’t just for books, as you can borrow videos, books on tape and use computers to check e-mail. 
-       • Board games last longer than video games and you can play them when the power is out.
-       • Take advantage of local opportunities and enjoy nature
-      •  Entertain at Home: All of the first families owned inns/taverns, so they definitely entertained at home.

Do it Yourself: Not only does it save money, but it gives you the sense of a job well done.

Spend Time with Those Who Share Similar Values: If your closest friends prefer to spend their time shopping and maxing out their credit card, chances are your going to feel it’s the “norm” to do likewise. We are very influenced by the company we keep so if you want to keep your costs under control, socialize more with friends and family who feel the same way.

For more tips on thrifty living, check out the Cavendish Connects Yankee Thrift Pinterest Board.

Are You a Good Ancestor?
The famous polio vaccine pioneer Dr. Jonas Salk’s asked the question, “Are we being good ancestors?” which is interpreted to mean how one’s actions shape the likelihood that future generations enjoy a healthy society and environment. Because we’re a historical society, and the most frequent request we receive is for information about ancestors, we want to suggest that being a good ancestor also includes developing a strong family narrative and sharing it.

Research has shown that those who know their family’s history do better when they face challenges. This is particularly helpful for children who know the ups and downs of their family’s history. Yes, we owned a profitable business and various members served on important boards and in government, but there were also adversities-house fire, divorce, Aunt was arrested etc. This helps people understand they belong to something bigger and that they can persevere.

Interestingly, knowing “the story” isn’t just limited to families, it also has been found to be helpful for schools, organizations, businesses and even towns. During Irene, one of the most frequent questions we received was how did the people in 1927 deal with the aftermath of the flood?

Fortunately, there was a great deal written and documented, and this was made available at the shelter and at the Museum. Soon there was a buzz about town. People were pulling together getting things done and remarking, “just like they did in 1927.” Less than two months after the flood, Cavendish celebrated its 250th anniversary. More than one person commented about the importance of showing future generations, that if we could pull it together to honor our town, they too can manage the crises they face.

So what you can do to create your family’s story for future generations:
• If your family already has a tradition for recording family lore, keep it going.

• Use the “Do You Know Scale” (Bruce Feiler “The Secrets of Happy Families”) as a guide for what to document:
1. Do you know how your parents met?
2. Do you know where your mother grew up?
3. Do you know where your father grew up?
4. Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
5. Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
6. Do you know where your parents were married?
7. Do you know what went on when you were being born?
8. Do you know the source of your name?
9. Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
10. Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
11. Do you know which person in the family you act most like?
12. Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
13. Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
14. Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
15. Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc)?
16. Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
17. Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
18. Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
19. Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?
20. Do you know about a relative whose face "froze" in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?

• Seek out family memories and stories from your relatives

•  Organize materials that be easy for your family to access. This can include: scrapbook, website, photo album (be sure to label all photographs), video, digital record, book etc.

• Share the story. Anytime is a good time for storytelling. Whether it’s sitting around the table after Thanksgiving dinner or when driving your child or grandchildren to an activity. The day after Thanksgiving is the National Day of Listening. StoryCorps started this holiday in 2008 and suggests taking an hour to record an interview with a loved one.

The Pinterest site Researching Your Cavendish Roots has other links to help you with this project. 

There is one last thing you can do, donate to CHS (see form on the last page) in order that we can continue to be the keeper of Cavendish’s stories and history.


Carmine Guica Autobiography is Back in Print

If you missed out on purchasing Carmine’s autobiography about life in Cavendish, WWII and the early days of  the Cavendish Historical Society, we’re happy to let you know it’s back in print. The cost is $15 plus $5 for shipping and handling. Checks should be made payable to CHS and mailed to PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142.

                                                Cavendish Historical Society Board
Dan Churchill
Jen Harper
Bruce McEnaney
Kem Phillips
Gail Woods

Margo Caulfield Coordinator

Proctorsville Mill. Check out the Cavendish, VT Facebook page for pictures of Cavendish past and present. 
BECOME A MEMBER, RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP, DONATE

If you have not joined the Cavendish Historical Society, need to renew your membership, and/or would like to be a volunteer, please complete the form below and sending a check, payable to CHS, to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142. All contributions are tax deductible.

Name: _______________________________________

Address: _______________________________________________


Phone Number: _____________________    E-Mail: ____________________________
Membership Level
__ Individual Member $10  ___ Senior Member 65+ $5  ___ Sustaining Member $500
__ Household Member $15  ___ Contributing Member $250                            

Volunteer
___ I would be interested in serving, as a volunteer .I would be interested in serving on the following committee(s):__ Program Planning          __ Fundraising    __ Building (Museum)
__Archives                       _ Budget           ­­–– Cemetery    __ Hands on History

Donations are always welcome and can be designated as follows:
__ For general purposes                   __ Educational Programs           __Publications
__ Archaeological Activities               _ Museum & Archival             __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund                             __  Williams Fund                            __ Hands on History
__ Other (please specify)                   __ Cemetery Restoration        





Monday, October 13, 2014

A Yankee Lifestyle for Today


The hardscrabble life of the early settlers to Cavendish and other parts of New England required that they “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Yankee thrift was key to survival.

The founding Cavendish families-Coffeens, Duttons and Proctors- had to live within their means as credit cards, mass produced goods, and even “labor saving devices” were unknown. Fortunately, they were not continually bombarded, in all directions with advertisements and other strategies to make them want to spend money.

If we could channel John and Suzanna Coffeen, or the other “first couples of Cavendish” these are suggestions they might make as to how we can adopt their guiding principles of thrift:

Differentiating between Needs and Wants: Ask yourself the following questions before making purchases:
• Is it essential for my health and well-being? Food, housing, clothing, medications and means of mobility are essential. Within that are elements that separate a need from a want. Things like sodas, snack foods, luxury clothes and cars are not essential. Nuts versus cake for food, water over soda, are examples of choices that meet the need in an affordable and healthy manner.
• Do you measure your self worth by what you have versus who you are? Do you want something because someone else has it or is it something you need?

Adopt the Buyerarchy: Use what you have; borrow what you need; swap; make it yourself; try a thrift store and buy only when you’ve tried the other options, and then when it’s on sale. Use cash, versus a credit card, as you’ll spend less and are smarter in your selection.

Develop social capital: Volunteerism was key then and it continues to this day. Activities, such as a barn raising or a sewing bee, were opportunities for people to socialize, check in on their neighbors and get something done. Basically, if you want to make sure someone is going to be there when you need the help, be there for others.

Downsize Possessions: What brings us joy and contentment is our connections with one another not the pile of stuff in the closet. The more stuff you own, the more it owns you.

Entertainment:
-       • Significantly reduce or eliminate TV:  By not watching TV, you reduce exposure to advertisements, reduce energy bill, and more time to do other things, like take a course at the local adult learning center on basic home repair. If you don’t want to give up TV, consider switching to video streaming which generally doesn’t have ads and is considerably cheaper than a cable bill.
-       
      • Use the library: Don’t buy what you can borrow. Libraries aren’t just for books, as you can borrow videos, books on tape and use computers to check e-mail. 
-       
      • Board games last longer than video games and you can play them when the power is out.
-       
      • Take advantage of local opportunities and enjoy nature
-      
      • Entertain at Home: All of the first families owned inns/taverns, so they definitely entertained at home.

Do it Yourself: Not only does it save money, but it gives you the sense of a job well done.

Spend Time with Those Who Share Similar Values: If your closest friends prefer to spend their time shopping and maxing out their credit card, chances are your going to feel it’s the “norm” to do likewise. We are very influenced by the company we keep so if you want to keep your costs under control, socialize more with friends and family who feel the same way.


Check out the Cavendish Connects Pinterest Board for lots of ways to be Yankee Thrifty.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

CHS Fall Events/Updates About Current Projects

Cemetery Tour: Sunday, Oct. 12 is the last day the Museum will be open. It's also our annual cemetery tour. We will be exploring the Old Revolutionary Cemetery recently cleaned by Kem and Svetlana Phillips. If you are interesting in going on the tour, be at the Museum by 2 pm. The Museum is open from 2-4 pm.

Dias de los Muertos Workshop: Nov. 1 is our annual Dias de los Muertos workshop, from 3-5 at the Gethsemane Episcopal Church off of Depot Street. Activities include: Sand painting, skull cookie decorating; sugar skull decorating (they're made of plaster); papel picado (Mexican paper cut banners); paper flowers; and creation of a community altar. 

Both of these activities are free, though donations are always appreciated

Fall Supper and Sale: Nov. 8 is the first of what we hope will be a tradition of annual fall supper and sale. The menu will include pork roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegan option for main dish, green beans, butternut squash, applesauce, homemade biscuits, dessert (crisps, pies and ice cream) Gluten free options. Sale items, beside the normal CHS books and photographs, we will also be selling some of the “crickets” wooden kneelers from the Cavendish Stone Church. Cost is $10 for Adults, $5 for children under 12 and free for children under 6.

Solzhenitsyn Project: The children's book  The Writer Who Changed History: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn  is getting closer to publication. We're working on Internet outreach, which will include study guides that teachers, librarians and others can use. While a website and Facebook will be available on-line in the very near future, the Pinterest site is up and items are being posted daily. 

This wouldn't have been possible without the incredible dedication of the Solzhenitsyn family, Svetlana Phillips, Katie Hamlin, Julia Gignoux  and the financial backing of the Cavendish Community Fund, Vermont Humanities Council and private donations. A special note of thanks to Isabelle Gross who was the inspiration for the book. 

We're still waiting to hear whether we've received a grant to help with the repairs at the Stone Church, which will be the permanent home of the Solzhenitsyn exhibit. Until some of the work on the roof and belfry is complete, we are hesitant to install the exhibit. 

Donations are always appreciated and can be made by sending a check, payable to CHS, and mailed to PO Box 472, Cavendish VT 05142. For additional information, please call 802-226-7807 or e-mail margoc@tds.net

Hope to see you at one of our upcoming events. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Russian Games

On Wednesday,  Sept. 24, the first and second graders came to the CHS Museum where they learned about biographies and how people age by viewing the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn exhibit. They were fortunate to have his son Ignat on hand to answer questions. How could it be that the picture of the cute baby could be Ignat’s father?


While one group of children were inside the Museum, the rest learned to play a variety of Russian games. Below are the rules for Caraway and Wizard.

Caraway: One child is in the middle and the rest of the students join hands and form a circle. As they start walking in a circle, they say:
Caraway, Caraway
You can go anyway.
You can go left (the circle moves to the left)
You can go right (the circle moves to the right)
You can stand tall (joined hands are raised over head)
You can stand small (with hands still joined, squat down).

The child in the middle tries to break through the joined hands at any time.  Once they've broken through, the child to their left stands in the middle and the game continues. 

Wizard: One child is picked as the "wizard." It's best to define a play area, the smaller the better. The Wizard says "go" and the children start running. As the Wizard touches a player, they must stop and freeze. They yell, "help me" and other children can come by and unfreeze them. The game continues until everyone is frozen or they reach a set time. A minute at a time is best for young children. 

Thank you to Carolyn and Ignat Solzhenitsyn and Svetlana Phillips for help with this program.