Snapshots in Time… Historical Glimpses from the Region’s Iconic Past: June 1896

What follows are some clippings from the June 11, 1896, edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper.

(Editor’s note: Contemporary commentary in italics, otherwise copy is reprinted just as it was in 1895, although some paragraphs or lines are omitted for space reasons).

There Can Be but One Rangeley Region

The fish and game commissioners are overrun with applications for hearings relative to fish protection and propagation. It looks as if every resident living near a stream, pond or lake, sees a great fishing and summer resort business, springing np, if only their particular body of water can be stocked and protected. There is no state equal to Maine, for its attractions in natural scenery, its trout and land-locked salmon fishing and its purest of pure, soft water. The flavor of trout and salmon, from Maine waters, is unequalled in any part of the world, the lakes and streams being free from the lime, and other impurities, found in hard water. In Maine, there are lakes and lakes; there are resorts and resorts; but there is only one chain of Rangeley Lakes and only one Rangeley as a summer resort. Sportsmen, tourists and summer boarders after once visiting this section, are sure to return, bringing with them their friends, and in using the word “section” this paper recognizes the whole surrounding territory, from Umbagog to King & Bartlett, from Sandy River Ponds to the Canada line. The Commissioners may hold hearings, build hatcheries and stock other waters but they cannot create another Rangeley.

This is Still so true some 125 years later. Historically speaking the tide of humanity attracted to this place has ebbed and flowed, and it seems to be High Tide lately as new folks seem to be coming in droves. I cannot blame them.

I especially enjoyed some of the snippets Mrs. Dill compiled for her weekly page for the fairer sex in this edition of the RANGELEY LAKES found below. The first shares the issues suffered by the modern woman of 1896 with those nasty uncomfortable (and certainly unsuitable for cycling) undergarment, known as BLOOMERS. Please note that references to “riding a wheel” pertain to riding an old-fashioned big wheel bicycle as shown in the accompanying vintage images and it was all the rage).

Fashions no longer requiring bulky ‘bloomers’ as advertised by Jordan Marsh

A Cozy Corner for the Ladies

Bloomers Must Go!

Fashions no longer requiring bulky ‘bloomers’ as advertised by Jordan Marsh. A 19th Century thoroughly modern young woman “Riding the Wheel”

The present season will see the passing of the bloomer costume for any women who ride a wheel. Leading dressmakers have set the seal of their disapproval on the bloomer costume, and therefore its days are numbered. Already the fact of the condemnation is noticeable. Society women have ordered costumes in which the bloomer has no part, and the women of lesser note will not be slow in following their example. The first costumer of note to stop making bloomers was Manby, of Paris. He has taken a firm stand, absolutely refusing to make bloomers for any customer, and his arguments when asked for reasons why he condemns the voluminous bags, take this shape: “The quality of cloth used makes them unbearable in hot weather, arid, it is impossible to keep them clean. The dirt and dust come in between the pleats and folds, necessitating incessant brushing, and they never look really clean, especially when made in dark colors. On the wheel they neither improve a bad figure nor show a good one. The rider with small limbs and hips looks ridiculous in them, while the rider with large hips who takes to the bicycle to reduce her weight, dressed in bloomers, is a bad advertisement for her tailor or dressmaker, and the laughingstock of people of good taste. No woman with a good figure should hide it in bloomers, and there is hardly a first-class tailor who would willingly undertake to make them for figures good or bad.” — St. Louis Republic.

A Summers Task

If eating were not a necessity, housekeepers would be discouraged at giving so much time and attention to the preparation of food, which requires so little time and no attention at all to consume! And when in addition to our daily food many busy days must be given to preserving the products of garden and orchard, and this too when the weather is least comfortable, it is not to be wondered at if women sometimes find life a burden. Much, however, m ay be done by a little forethought, and this is all the easier if one is so fortunate as to raise her own fruit, because the gathering may be so timed as to fit in with other employments. An excellent plan is to have all fruit carefully looked over before night and then set in a very cool place until morning, when the canning or preserving may be attended to while other work is going on.

With the pandemic and the current rate of inflation, more and more folks these days are reawakening old gardens with plans to “put up” some jars of their own. Thus, this age-old practice will see a modern rebirth among the wiser country folk, I reckon.

And below a delicious sounding deserts from the past that I hope to try out.

Ways of Serving Strawberries

Strawberry Blanc-Mange

Make by stirring a quart of ripe strawberries with a cupful of sugar. Strain the juice off, add a tablespoon full of moss farina (I don’t know if “moss” was a brand name or not, but I assume this is just farina) dissolved in a little cold water, and stir over the fire 5 or 6 minutes (don’t feel the need to start up the wood cookstove for this); add the berries, pour in a mold and set aside to cool. Serve when cold with cream. A delicious strawberry cream may be made by covering 3 tablespoonfuls of gelatin with cold water, allowing it to soak half an hour. Add 1 lb. of sugar to 3 pints of juice from ripe strawberries and let stand one hour; strain off the juice and add the dissolved gelatin; stir until it begins to thicken; add a pint of whipped cream, and after it is well mixed pour in a mold and set on ice until cold.

Strawberry Charlotte Russe

Line a mold with small slices of sponge cake, whip a pint of sweet cream, add 2 tablespoonfuls of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoonful of strawberry juice mixed with 1 tablespoonful of sugar, set on ice until cold. Fill the center of the mold. When ready to serve remove carefully from the mold and ornament the top with fresh, ripe strawberries. –New England Homestead.

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