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Mayflower, Day by Day - Saturday, 1 May 1621

1 May 2021 3:30 AM | Soule (Administrator)

Windows

One last set of comments on construction.  There was probably no glass for windows, as that would have to be brought from England, and would have used up precious space in the cargo.  The first homes would have simply had openings for windows and doors, with shutters to close off the windows.  Eventually there would have been paper rubbed with linseed oil, as Edward Winslow suggested in his 1621 letter for prospective colonists regarding “what to bring.”   Rubbing paper with oil made it translucent, letting in light while keeping out wind and rain.

I have been thinking over the past few days about how much paper the Pilgrims brought with them -- not so much books, for we know that they brought quite a few of them, but just writing materials and for other purposes.  It highlights the fact that everything -- everything -- had to be used, and there was only the tiniest margin for waste.  At this point they were still discovering what worked and what didn’t, but the nearest shop was over 3,000 miles away.  The Indians provided significant know-how, and the seed corn that the exploration party had taken from the grave on Cape Cod grew well and was the margin between survival and starvation, while the seeds brought from England were not all that good (not really being suited for the New England soil), but the settlers’ neighbours were not really sources for familiar goods.  Adaptation, it seems, was not just the key to survival, but also to thriving.

And, of course, I mused while reading the current problems at Downing Street, there was no wallpaper.

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