Gold mining was, without a doubt, a profitable business, but it wasn’t an easy business to be in, especially in the early days. The miners-turned-innovators had to figure out ways to speed work up in order to make a profit. Gold is a tricky metal to find and mine, as are most precious metals. One thing that was needed, especially in underground mining, was a way to get the ore out of the mine, and the tools and workers into the mine. It is a waste of time to have workers walking long distances into the mines., their tools are heavy, and carrying all that in makes for slow going…if the miners are walking anyway. A mine railway, also called mine railroad or sometimes pit railway, is a railway constructed to carry materials and workers in and out of a mine. Few people would remember, but the mix of heavy and bulky materials which had to be hauled into and out of mines gave rise to the first several generations of railways. The first rails, like this one, photographed in Illinois by Timothy O’Sullivan leading to a gold mine, was made of wooden rails. Eventually they added protective iron, steam locomotion by fixed engines and the earliest commercial steam locomotives. All these came about because of the mines.
The old wooden rails worked very well. Gold carts, or ore cars, were moved up and down the railway using a pulley. The original design of these carts was used in Colorado mines in the late 1800s. The system even had a 360° operating turntable, which allowed the car to dump in any direction. The wheels were exclusive, with a curved five spoke cast iron design. Running the ore carts along the railway wasn’t easy either. There may have been a steam engine to work the pulley later on, but at first, it was all human muscle, and it wasn’t easy.
Not everyone who belongs in a family history is a family member. It seems fitting to me to talk about the Hoover family, because they played a rather large part in our family’s history, and therefore were as close as family. In her young years, my great aunt, Bertha Matilda Spencer and her mother did not get along. The situation continued to be a problem for some time, and at some point it became intolerable.
I don’t know how old Bertha was when she went to live with the Hoover family, or if it was her decision or her mother’s, but she never lived at home again. Many people might think that hers was a horribly sad and lonely life after that, but to me she looked genuinely happy. That makes me think that possibly her move to the Hoover home was something that was by mutual agreement, between her and her mom, but I still have to wonder if the whole situation made my great great grandfather rather sad. I don’t know about Great Great Grandma, but the rest of the family, it seems, was very close to the Hoovers…leading me to think that they missed their sister very much. Because the Hoover family was so close to his, my grandfather remained friends with them for the rest of his life, even having his picture taken with two of the Hoover boys, Ed and Joe, two years before his death.
Mr Hoover’s name was France, and while he was a farmer by trade, he also had the ability to repair and maybe even make shoes for his family. I suppose a lot of families learned trades to help save their families money, but shoemaking is something that seems such a strange hobby these days. Of course, for France Hoover, it was not a hobby, it was a necessity. His family needed shoes, and to purchase them was expensive. I found these pictures to be very interesting, as I thought about how the shoes were made or repaired in those days. They were all hand crafted, unlike the shoes of today that are mass produced by machines. The shoes were made out of leather, while most shoes today are made out of synthetic materials. I have a feeling those shoes lasted much longer than our shoes today do too.
Shoes then were not designed for looks so much, but rather they were made in a practical fashion, which would have saddened me, because I love my high heels, and I love different designs and colors. Shoes of yesteryear were quite different, and I’m sure the shoemakers would have thought of me as being half crazy. Maybe I am, but I would be in good company, I think, because there are a whole bunch of us high heel fanatics in this world. These are just different times than those were, and since they most likely had just one pair of shoes, compared to my 50 or more, theirs had to be built to last. While France Hoover was not related to me, I still find him to be an interesting character from the past. Some things he did the old fashioned way, like making and repairing shoes, and some things like cars and tractors, he had to have the latest innovations available. I suppose it just depends on where your priorities are, really, and I’m quite certain that mine are vastly different than France Hoover’s were.
Times have changed as far as what is considered the normal family dinner, but whatever your family does, this is a daily trsdition. Some families opt for the sit down family style dinner, where everyone is at the table, and you eat together. As a kid and still sometimes, such as lunch at my mom’s house, this was how we ate. The meal was prepared and when it was ready, we all came to the table, prayed over our food, and ate together. We always had good conversation, and an ocassional debate between my dad and me, and when everyone was finished eating, we gave thanks for the meal, and left the table to begin the clean up. It was a dinner tradition that has largely become a thing of the past for most families, including my own for the most part. It is mostly because people don’t have time enough to sit for an hour or more to eat and talk about their day…a sad fact that has come about because of our hectic lifestyles.
As families grow, sometimes they simply outgrow the table, or at least they do if friends and family come over for holiday dinners and such. At this time you have to be a little bit innovative in order to make things go smoothly at dinnertime. It was at this point that many families adopted the idea of the kid’s table. The kid’s table is just what it sounds like. It is usually a coffee table or other small, and usually too low for the adults to possibly be comfortable, table that the kids can adapt to easily. The cool thing is that, for a little while anyway…until the kids decide that they don’t really want to be considered the kids anymore, and they want to be at the adults table, this set up allows the adults to talk easily, and without all the noise that always resides at the kid’s table. It can, however, be a big problem, when the kids want to move up, because they can’t really add to the conversation in exactly the way they thought, so it just creates problems. Sometimes…if you ask me, the kids don’t know how cool it is to be at the kid’s table. Some even opt to go back there…shock!!
Of course, as many of us know, sometimes it is almost impossible to have any kind of a sit down dinner at all. The kids are rushing out to work and dates, and there is always some game or show on television. For many people, they have to get to the gym, or in our case, our on the trail for a walk…after visiting my mother-in-law at the nursing home, of course. There is just so much to do and so little time. For Bob and me, that often means eating separately, and on the run. Since he gets off earlier than I do, he has already eaten, so we can rush to the nursing home and back in time to walk. I might have a sandwich in the car on the way to the nursing home, I know it’s odd, but it works for us these days. And on the opposite side of that coin, is the kid who gets off work after dinner is already over. There is just no choice but to check out the table to see what might be left over, in the hope that they don’t have to make something for themselves. The traditional family dinner is probably a thing of the past for most of us, and has been replaced by a new tradition…whatever works for your family.