Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Altered Books Club swap #4

Greetings everyone! Well tonight is ABC club and we are onto the fourth book.This time I chose to create two much simpler spreads. I thought that it was most appropriate for my theme. This month I have Jolene's book about "Traveling People". Most everyone that has altered a spread before me has chosen the subject of Gypsies. And while I'm sure that Gypsies are fascinating people and well worth studying, when I think of "Traveling People" what comes to my mind is the American Pioneer. Probably because I am of pioneering stock. This spread began with an old photo passed down to me of my grandmother's family in the Homestead. Now the family story passed down is that this land was acquired in the second Oklahoma Land Rush of 1891. That's kind of cool so I decided to base this first spread on this picture. Now you must also understand that at the same time that I started work on this spread just happened to offer me "a 14 day free trial"! How did they know? I'm sure you can see where this has gone. Yes I now have an account, have spent hours tracing my family tree and visited several grave sites in Modesto looking for more information. The good news is that I did trace two family lines back to the dates they came to this country from England at about 1635 or so. Anyway to get back to the spread I have collaged a very cool picture of a wagon train over both pages. I really wanted the viewer to feel the emptiness of the country. I also wanted to convey how self sufficient the pioneers were and the hardships they endured to find a better life. In particular I was fascinated by the woman's role. So to give the viewer just a little taste of what a woman's life was like on the overland trail I have added a little booklet with 8 amazing pictures and 6 woman's pioneering facts. You can see the cover below.
Booklet cover showing a wagon train. Can you imagine the dirt and dust everything must have been coated with? Yeach!
One of the interesting little tidbits I found that I have to say I never really thought about. It reads:
Toilet facilities along the trail were nothing more than communal ditches. The full skirts worn by most pioneer woman acted as shields or " curtains of modesty" for this purpose. Now you know why they continued to wear long skirts instead of the more comfortable and convenient bloomer outfit! Gack!
My little booklet fits behind my grandmother's homestead which I have made into a pocket for that purpose.
I also included a quote from one of the pioneering books that I read. I believe that its from one of the woman's diaries:
It reads:" We finally reached our new home. Out here on the lonely prairie we reached to the stars through the wilderness."
You can see my last spread above. Again I wanted the viewer to feel the breathe and emptiness of the prairie. I also wanted to emphasize how lonely it must have been for a woman particularly a woman alone miles away from the nearest town or homestead. The text is from one of my favorite Louis Lamour westerns. It reads: The wind whipped her skirt, and she saw one of the silent riders of the wind (a tumbleweed) roll by not very far away. to the south somewhere...maybe there was somebody down there as lonely as she was, somebody whose thoughts reached out into the emptiness of the night, longing, yearning... alone. By the way 15% percent of the Homesteaders were woman alone either single or widowed. If your husband died along the trail a woman was expected to continue.
One of the things I realized after all the research I did for these spreads was that feminism had its roots right here. As woman traveled west it was necessary for them to step out of their traditional role for the first time. For the first time a woman was expected to do much more than just cook and clean. They also tended the stock, harnessed the wagon teams, and even branded their own cattle .
I feel proud that I am the ancestor of such brave and resilient people. I feel humbled by their strength and determination. I only hope that in some small way I can live up to the hardships they endured so that their children and their children's children could find a better life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what happened to my previous post? But I just wanted to say , I adore this layout. I Love the colors and the history behind it. Awesome! Lisa