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Reading Eagle, Ash Wednesday, ashes, bundling, stars, farming equipment, bank barns


A handwritten letter from Henry K. Deisher addressed to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dated February 10, 1948. Within, Deisher writes to provide information on traditions practiced on Ash Wednesday and the courting ritual of bundling. He also describes ideas for a publication about farming.


Henry K. Deisher


Alfred L. Shoemaker

Corresponds to:

Packet 40-8


Kutztown, Pennsylvania


Kutztown Pa Feb 10, 1948

Dr Alfred L. Shoemaker

Reading Pa

Dear Mr. Shoemaker:

Your letter of the 8th inst. received, also the Eagle letter. In our country school as often as one arrived, those who had arrived earlier would repeat in unison fawsenacht and on Ash Wednesday there was the same performance, “Eschepoodle”.

It was a custom on Ash Wednesday to spread ashes over the cattle and the chicken roosts and nests as a lice preventive.

In our neighborhood when a young man went to see a girl the first time he would tie his horse to the fence. After dark he would make an excuse to see about the weather. If the horse was stabled the beaux was secure for the night. Ham and eggs for breakfast. Sometimes there was a jealous young man in the neighborhood and if the beaux had come in a buggy the jealous man would gather a few friends. The next morning the buggy was straddling the roof of the barn or on an out building. On one occasion the horse was painted green if he had come on horseback. Bundling was the fashion those times. I heard my grandmother relate that when she was a little girl her older sister brought her beau to bed. "I wanted to chase him out, saying my sister belonged to me”. (About 1807).

Monroe Aurand printed a pamphlet on bundling.

Now for the “Stars”.

Well if I am liberal enough to donate an expense of over $175 and my time (more than $50) I will be stubborn as a mule about color. The Penna Historical Society and the Folklore Society I am sure would print it also in book form. But think of a full page of stars (grouped) in colors, the whole background in “Barn Red” same as the red in stars, a big page of Historical Review. Of course the red background could be omitted.

There would also be cuts showing harvesting with a sickle, next the cradle, next the trapper machine, followed the self rake then the selfbinder, now the combine, - what next? Of course only the sickle and cradle illustrated.

A general short cut on farming. 12 hour days work 5 meals a day - wage 1.00.

Colors used on stars Yellow, Black, Red and Dark blue. To cheapen the matter of color the Dark blue could be black. 3 colors. Look at magazine ads - all colors - can’t be very expensive. Group the stars all on one page is my idea.

The development of barns from log barn to bank barns. I have the photographs. No hurry, I await your call when convenient.

Sincerely yours.

Henry K. Deisher

P.S. Pardon poor writing. Making large letter they would be saw-toothed and worse. Some persons write a good hand at 81 - I can’t.



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Letter From Henry K. Deisher to Alfred L. Shoemaker, February 10, 1948



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