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Section 23

Its People and Institutions as I knew them about Sixty Years ago.


Wednesday, August 25th, 1897


The frugal people here in days of yore,
Were plain and simple in the garbs they wore;
And like Van Winkle, could they now appear,
You’d smile to see their garments quaint and queer.

The finest cloth those ancients wore abroad,
Or when at work, or in the house of God,
Was woven from domestic wool, and made
In garments dyed in hues of divers shade.

Their pantaloons were black, or gray, or blue,
And held in place with straps beneath the shoe.
And like young Joseph’s coat of many dyes,
The striped ones most pleased the youthful eyes.

The matrons skilful with the needle then,
Made all the garments for the boys and men;
And yet they always suited; fitted well
The arms, the skirts, the breast with wide lapel.

The buttons used to hold the garments fast,
Are now the brazen relics of the past,
But then, they had a martial look and mien
And evermore were shining bright and clean.

The man of fashion wore a silken hat;
And round his neck a quilted pad cravat,
In width extremely wide and stiff and queer
And fastened with a buckle in the rear.

Above his stock with collar white and wide
His face and ears were hid on either side;
And this he patient wore at home, abroad,
And when and where he went to worship God.

Though clad in homespun, simple, neat and clean,
Unmoved by city pride, or foppish mien,
He manly moved about with head erect,
From all commanding honor and respect.

The fingered mustache, and unshaven face,
Were honored only by the dudish race;
But oil perfumed with odors rich and rare,
From heads, like odorous balm, perfumed the air.

NOTES. – In those days people, while conforming to the customs of the times, were not the slaves of fashion. Simplicity and extremes were the characteristics of the age. Even the president and professors of Acadia college prided themselves in wearing homespun. The high silk hat was the fashionable head dress. The writer flourished one when in his teens. A gentleman was not fully dressed till his pantaloons were strapped down tight under his boots. The very wide stock, padded and quilted and stiffened with bristles, and high standing collar was the fashionable neck dress. The face was smoothly shaven with neatly cultivated chop whiskers, mid the old folks associated the aspiring youths with a goatee or moustache, with rogues and blacklegs. Both sexes made a profuse use of hair oil. The old folks, both man and women, wore night caps; and sometimes the boys and girls, as was the case with the older members in the "old homestead."