the most of it
the less-than-complimentary idiom many people use to describe a dull
job: "The daily grind." For a healthy dose of perspective,
take your job on it's worst day, under the worst conditions
and compare it to what "the daily grind" must have
been like for those early settlers of our area during the late 1700s.
After a long
winter of isolation, The "Mountain Men" or "Frontiersmen"
would all come out of the hills and valleys and meet at the center of
the settlement. This was usually the Trading Post where they would come
to replenish their stock and buy seed for the spring planting. They
would vent their energies pent up over the winter by drinking and engaging
in competitive activities with the other settlers. These competitions
would usually use the same skills that that had enabled them to settle
the land and sustain their life in the wilderness -- axe throwing, log
rolling, knife throwing, arm and body wrestling, log wrestling -- and
sometimes bear wrestling. When they had spent all their stored up emotional
steam, they returned to their homes and put those same skills to work
getting the years crops started.
the long winter of isolation, the women gathered together and had a
"Quilting Bee." The whole community worked together on each
others quilts that the women had pieced together during the long winter
months, using up all the "good" parts of the family's worn
out clothes. The children came to the "Bee" too. The older
ones were put to "work" under the quilting frames pushing
the needles back up through the fabric to the quilter's hands above.
The men would
usually come in from the fields and join them for a meal of hearty soup
or stew that had simmered on the stove all day while the women worked.
Sometimes after the meal, if they still had some energy left over, they
would roll up the rugs and dance to a fiddle, "bones," or
Just as keelboatmen
found a way to inject fun into a difficult job with their elaborate
brags (See Mike Fink in Rivers and
Valleys), farmers did the same thing when it came time to build
a house for himself or a neighbor. Everyone got together to share the
work but also to share the fun. The women brought food and they had
music, and possibly a "barn dance" at the end of a long day
coming of leisure
modern advances and automated conveniences helped to provide leisure
time once the domain of only the wealthiest families --to the
middle-classes, too. While people did and still do, today --
use the arts, sports, hobbies, etc., to help pass time during an unsavory
task or job, pockets of leisure time were being carved out for people
who sought the satisfaction of simply indulging a special interest.
Perhaps they participated in a church or community based group, where
ethnic traditions such as singing and dancing reminded them of a distant
beloved homeland. Perhaps they took part in an organized sport. Perhaps
they strove to make their home not just safe and an effective barrier
against the weather, but also a haven adorned by flower gardens and
are a culture bombarded by media messages telling us to "work hard
and play hard." We spend literally billions of dollars indulging
our hobbies, pastimes, and our passions. Many people build their lifestyles
around a particular leisure activity, for instance, jogging, hiking,
dancing, antique collecting, etc. At its simplest root, "leisure
time" is the time a person chooses not to be working. Rather than
devoting that time to a money-earning venture, a person is using it
on a leisure pursuit so fulfilling that it makes it worth the money
he or she is sacrificing. When you consider it from that angle, studying
how a person chooses to spend such precious leisure time gives great
insight into his or her culture, values, interests, character and skills..
South Side youngsters playing a traditional game of hand jive.
Pittsburgh History & Landmarks
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