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Friday, December 5, 2014

Come on it's Lovely Weather for Sleigh Bells and Skating Parties!

Winter sports have been popular in America for hundreds of years. But in the 1800s and early 20th century, winter pastimes not only provided fun and exercise, they also served as much-anticipated and enjoyed social gatherings. One of the most popular pastimes of all was ice-skating, described in an 1886 newspaper as “Our National Winter Exercise.” Frozen ponds and rivers were always busy in the winter, and nighttime skating parties like those described in Kate Douglas Wiggin’s Rose O’ the River were favorite amusements, especially for young people:

“Never had there been . . . such wonderful skating. The river was one gleaming, glittering thoroughfare of ice from Milliken’s Mills to the dam at the Edgewood bridge. At sundown bonfires were built here and there on the mirror-like surface, and all the young people from the neighboring villages gathered on the ice.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Homemade Cheer: Christmas During the Great Depression

From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol onward, so many stories have been written about people managing to make Christmas merry even under the direst of circumstances, be it fire, flood or famine—or more often, a simple lack of funds. But during America’s Great Depression, this challenge wasn’t confined to storybooks—it was a challenge that nearly everyone faced.

“For many thousands of people this is going to be a different Christmas,” wrote the editor of Successful Farming magazine in the December 1932 issue. “It is fellowship, love, understanding, sympathy that is most needed this year. All the tinsels and lights, all the extravagant show, cannot take the place of the real spirit of Christmas. This should be predominately a children's Christmas. And that need not be done extravagantly [as] the greatest happiness comes from the simple things of life.”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Wintry weather, holiday gatherings, and cozy evenings by the fire with a good book... ah, how we love this time of year! And we love immersing ourselves in the history of celebrations and traditions of our ancestors. Here, we've gathered a collection of our winter-themed articles for your cozy reading enjoyment!

Come on it's Lovely Weather for Sleigh Bells and Skating Parties!
Winter sports have been popular in America for hundreds of years. But in the 1800s and early 20th century, winter pastimes not only provided fun and exercise, they also served as much-anticipated and enjoyed social gatherings. Keep reading >>>

Worth a Thousand Words:
The Christmas Coach
The Christmas Coach depicts a scene in Philadelphia in 1795 and features a wealthy woman departing the coach just before sunset on Christmas Eve to a snow-covered street filled with a representation of the great diversity of one of early America's largest cities. Keep reading >>>

Vintage Happy Hour with Jenny Q:
It's Champagne, Dahling
Today I'm toasting champagne, that most glamorous of beverages. That decadent, frivolous, sinful, delightful nectar of the gods, adored by royalty and nobility since its invention in 1531, and in later centuries by the masses as it became widely available. Champagne flows freely through many a novel. Keep reading >>>

Book to Reel: A Christmas Carol
for Scrooge
There are many film versions of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, some traditional, some modern, some with a twist. The truth is, I can watch any of them and enjoy it. It is such a powerful tale of redemption that it works regardless of casting, setting, or medium. Keep reading >>>

Sample Sunday: The Romance of a Christmas Card

“My door is on the latch tonight,
The hearth fire is aglow.
I seem to hear swift passing feet—
The Christ Child in the snow.
My heart is open wide tonight
For stranger, kith or kin.
I would not bar a single door
Where Love might enter in!”

Keep reading >>>

Happy Holidays from the Vintage Reader family to yours!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book to Reel: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere… the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions…

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book to Reel: The Great Gatsby


Rarely have I looked forward to a movie as much as The Great Gatsby. The continual delay of the release was frustrating and heightened my anticipation. The main reason I’ve been so excited about it is pretty simple: Leo. I sincerely think he’s the finest actor working today. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, This Boy’s Life, The Aviator, Inception, Shutter Island…the list goes on. (Yes, I am aware that I left out Titanic. I meant to.) The 1974 big-screen version featuring Robert Redford isn’t horrible, but there are some serious problems. (Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan? What the heck?) The story was simply crying out for a remake, and who better to tackle the job than the amazing Baz Luhrman? I was beyond thrilled when I heard he was the director. But when you are anticipating a movie this much, the fear is that it won’t live up to the hype. Couple that with the so-so reviews, and I was really starting to get nervous. I don’t get out much (I have a million kids), so my plan to have a “mommy date” with a friend who is also a stay-at-home mom was getting bigger and more grandiose in my mind with each passing week. I had a lot riding on this! It was supposed to make up for lots of sleepless nights with a baby, a husband who works A LOT and isn’t often able to let me go have some adult time…basically, for me, a night out to the movies with a girlfriend is equivalent to an all-expenses-paid week-long vacation for a regular person…and just as rare. How awful if the movie didn’t turn out to be all I really needed it to be. But guess what? I loved it. Let me tell you why.