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  • Frontier House

    Last night, we watched "Frontier House", which is a three part PBS program (Chicago channel 11). It is about 3 families, one from Malibu, CA; one from somewhere in TN, and one from MA. They were to go on a trip back to 1883, and live like the homesteaders of the time. Everything was authentic, as much as possible. They were given clothes of the period, including their Sunday best (the women gained 12 pounds when fully clothed), which they wore to have their picture taken before they began their journey. They learned how to do the things in ways the homesteaders had to do them, and none of the luxuries of modern day living were allowed (sorry ladies - no makeup). They had a two day trip to make in Montana, where they would wind up on their 1500 acre homestead property. Even though the people knew it would be hard, none of them were aware just how hard it would be. Everyone worked from the time they got up in the morning until it was bed time. And it wasn't easy work! There's no way I could tell you about all the problems they encountered, but the second part is on tonight, with the third part tomorrow night (in Chicago). If you get a chance to see the last two parts, or if you can get all three parts, it is well worth watching. I'm sorry I didn't video tape the series. That might have been the "Good old times", but it wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination. Enjoy!

    Ed

  • #2
    Ed, Are you sure they didn't just film at TG's ?

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    • #3
      I think they intended to visit him along the way, but he wasn't around in 1883.

      Ed

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      • #4
        That's the sequel to "Victorian House", which blew the lid off the romantic idea of living in the Victorian age.
        Learn by teaching
        Take responsibility for learning

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        • #5
          Ah...the joys of the idealized Western Homesteader have been dispelled...it was hard work, little ,or, in most cases, no profit, running water was descriptive of how fast the folks came back from the well with the bucket,private bathroom ment the door had not yet fallen off the outhouse, lots of solitude, plenty of trouble, 70 miles to town over no roads,bad water and little of that,land so poor that in many cases you were hard pressed to raise an anorexic cow with a dead calf on 50 acres...... the truth just keeps getting worse...on the bright side, they did have an early death to look forward to. Tom

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          • #6
            Tom,

            Do you ever get any restorations to work on that depict the lifestyles of that time? I wouldn't think there were very many photos made showing the problems they had. You're right -- the estimated age at death at that time was 40 years.

            Ed

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            • #7
              Yikes, I'd have been dead 4 years ago. So much for the idea that early to bed and early to rise.... Or the theory that hard work and exercise makes one live longer. Americans may be fat and lazy these days but they are living to ripe old ages of twice that amount. Of course they don't mention that many died of heart failure back then especially when those Indian arrows pierced it. Wonder how realistic the show plans to get? I was curious about the show but I missed it. Too busy I geuss.
              DJ

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              • #8
                There are very few photos from the 1880-1900 era depicting this area...what few there are , mostly are portrait type . However, the basic lifestyle didnt really change around here until in the mid-1960's when everyone was finally hooked up to electricity. The attached photo is from 1923 and that IS the main house ...the owner of the photo told me that those folks lived there until the early 1950's...no indoor plumbing, no electricity, 60 miles from town and 10 miles from the nearest neighbor. About the only thing which has changed here, is that there is now electricity to all the Ranch/Farm homes...it is still, in many cases, a 140 mile round trip to town, over bad roads, impassable in bad snow or rain. The largest town for 70 miles in any direction only has 2400 people, no stop lights, no Malls, only basic services. No Hospital, only a clinic. People here learn to make do or do without!
                Up here, the Indians pretty much left the settlers alone...there were a few exceptions, but, by in large, they looked upon the Homesteaders as a type of 2 legged skunk...mildly curious but not worth the trouble of eliminating...Mostly mortality was induced by simply wearing out after years of grinding work. There's a story here about a Homesteader/sheepherder who's place was around 70 miles from town. This was in the late 1890's, .....anyhow, this fellow cut his foot fairly badly while chopping wood along the Missouri River. Unable to get to a Doctor, Gangarene set in around the Big toe. Amputate or die was the choice, so the gentleman took a cold chisel and hammer , placed the chisel over the first joint of the affected toe and smacked it with the hammer, removing the toe and ultimately saving his life....there are lots of documented cases like that from all over the area...folks just do what they have to and trust that a higher power is lookin' after them! Tom
                Last edited by thomasgeorge; 04-30-2002, 06:12 PM.

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                • #9
                  To me, the 1923 photo shows a couple who look pretty contented! And the house looks better than an old tent that got blown over in a 40 degree cold rain. Very intersting post Tom.

                  Ed

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                  • #10
                    I was just able to catch a re-broadcast of two 1-hour episodes (the first two). Everything was pretty much expected, except for the people. But I'm the world's worst judge of people, so I never expect whatever they do.

                    All the adults, excepting the young man waiting for his fiancee and his father, are uniformly unpleasant. The kids, however, are a delight (even the whiney ones).

                    I guess it's like "Survivor", where everyone has their favorites they root for, or those they hope get voted off.

                    I definitely enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to the next installment.
                    Learn by teaching
                    Take responsibility for learning

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                    • #11
                      Doug,

                      I've watched two two hour telecasts so far. There's another tonight from 8 to 10.

                      Ed

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                      • #12
                        Ed,

                        I stumbled across the show by accident last night and really enjoyed it. I hope to catch the rest of the series. I thought it was interesting when the one family went to sell bake goods for trade to a modern day family and got caught. Also that the same family is brewing “moon shine” for profit. I also caught a few episodes of the Victorian House. Found it interesting that the corsets the ladies were wearing were actually causing them harm due to the restriction and pressure they were putting on the lungs. Definitely not as romantic as one would picture.

                        -T

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