Monday, October 13, 2014

Men doing the shopping - in late 1820s Cincinnati

6 days a week at dawn the men went to the market - even "those of the highest standing."  Mrs. Francis Trollope (1780-1863) wrote Domestic Manners of the Americans, 1832 about  her travels and travails in the United States with some of her children.  They settled for several years in the growing city of Cincinnati, Ohio where she opened a large store - the Bazaar.  And like NYC, HERE, pigs cleaned refuse from the streets.

"It is the custom for the gentlemen to go to market at Cincinnati; the smartest men in the place, and those of the “highest standing," do not scruple to leave their beds with the sun six days in the week, and, prepared with a mighty basket, to sally forth in search of meat, butter, eggs, and vegetables. I have continually seen them returning, with their weighty basket on one arm and an enormous ham depending [sic] from the other.

Arrival and the city wharf
We reached Cincinnati on the 10th of February [1828].   It is finely situated on the south side of a hill that rises gently from the water's edge…its landing-place is noble, extending for more than a quarter of a mile; it is well paved, and surrounded by neat, though not handsome buildings. I have seen fifteen steamboats lying there at once, and still half the wharf was unoccupied.

We were soon settled in our new dwelling, which looked neat and comfortable enough, but we speedily found that it was devoid of nearly all the accommodations that Europeans conceive necessary to decency and comfort. No pump, no cistern, no drain of any kind, no dustman's cart, or any other visible means of getting rid of the rubbish, which vanishes with such celerity in London, that one has no time to think of its existence ; but which accumulated so rapidly at Cincinnati, that I sent for my landlord to know in what manner refuse of all kinds was to be disposed of.

Refuse thrown in middle of street - for pigs
"Your help will just have to fix them all into the middle of the street, but you must mind, old woman, that it is the middle. I expect you don't know as we have got a law what forbids throwing such things at the sides of the streets ; they must just all be cast right into the middle, and the pigs soon takes them off."

In truth, the pigs are constantly seen doing Herculean service in this way through every quarter of the city ; and though it is not very agreeable to live surrounded by herds of these unsavoury animals, it is well they are so numerous, and so active in their capacity of scavengers, for without them the streets would soon be choked up with all sorts of substances in every stage of decomposition.

Trollope, Frances Milton.  Domestic Manners of the Americans.  Fifth edition.  London: 1839 [1832]

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