“I guess we looked pretty elegant”: Augusta and family in Waterbury at the turn of the 20th century
December 17, 1963: To continue with the story of my life – After getting my new sewing machine I made many dresses and earned quite a lot of money. I liked the idea of helping us earn our living, and my love of dressmaking was as strong as ever.
When it came to be spring [Ed: this would have been spring of 1898] I felt the baby should get outdoors for fresh air, so we bought a carriage for him. The carriages in those days were very large and unwieldy, and living on the third floor as we did we found we couldn’t manage to get it up and down stairs, so we had to move. We didn’t like to, for we had been so happy here, and it had been our first home. But we found a nice rent on the second floor of a house on the same street a few houses away. It was owned by a family named Bradley. It was a very nice apartment for $10 a month, with a large living room, dining room, bedroom, and kitchen. There was a good place for the baby carriage, and a large yard with a grape arbor in back. It was like a summer house with benches around inside where it was nice and shaded for the baby to sit in his carriage. I used to sit there with him, and crochet. We loved this home.
I remember that one time I found a big snake hiding under the bench. I was frightened and called Mrs Bradley. She was not afraid, but got a large spade from the cellar, dragged the snake out into the street, and chopped him up into little pieces. These pieces danced around for a long time before they calmed down and died.
We liked it in the Bradley’s house, and they were very nice to us. The dining room was large and very long, and we had great fun putting the baby in the carriage, sitting up as straight as could be. Then my husband would stand at one end of the room and I would stand at the other, and we would send the carriage from one end to the other, the baby shrieking with pleasure. What fun that was!
I remember that at one time when the Women’s Sewing Society from the church were meeting at our house John came home early and brought with him a dog for the baby. We had thought that he should have a dog to grow up with. It was a beautiful French poodle with curly white hair. It cost $10. He was a beautiful dog, and we named him Prince, a royal name. He was a lot of work to keep clean, but he was very pretty. Every time I took the baby out in the carriage the dog went too. I had him on a little chain, and he had a big blue ribbon around his neck with a bow sticking up on top. The ribbon had to be blue since Prince was a boy. The baby’s blanket had the same kind of big blue bow on it. I guess we looked pretty elegant. Many times people stopped us on the street and wanted to buy the dog, but he belonged to the baby, and we wouldn’t think of selling him. One day a man offered me $25 for him. In the summer Prince with his thick curly hair was very much bothered by the heat, and we decided to have a lot of it cut off, then trimmed like a lion. But it made him so ashamed that he hid in a closet for three days. After that he became so ill-tempered that we had to have him taken away. We were afraid that he would bite children, and that would cause trouble. We were sorry to have him leave us. We loved him.
It was about this time [Ed: 1902] that my mother died in Sweden, our home was sold, and we children each received $66 from the sale. I remember that our baby was now 4 years old and quite a big boy. He caught the whooping-cough from a little girl he played with, named Anna Swenson. He got over it safely, but he would never play with Anna again.
The photo above is not Augusta, but comes from Shorpy Historic Photo Archive, and can be viewed at full size here. Well worth a click.