Reading literature

1905: Ironing while memorizing passages from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Hiawatha”

The play Hiawatha being performed circa 1920 – NARA – 285367, by Unknown or not provided – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17160440

Going through some old books a few weeks ago, I came across Longfellow’s Hiawatha, and inside was this wonderful and curious little note left behind by my grandmother Zillah Trewin. I don’t know when she wrote this note; it was probably some time later for the benefit of my mother who would eventually inherit it:

Zillah from Mother, 1905.
Mother memorized the introduction, first 5 chapters, also 10, 11, 12, 19, 20 and 22, largely while ironing.

If you are familiar with Hiawatha, you’ll know that this was no small feat! I try to envision my great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargent Trewin standing over her iron and simultaneously memorizing Longfellow’s verse. An image definitely emerges–now if only I could hear her voice. That would really be something!

Elizabeth Sargent Trewin, 1904, before traveling abroad

Zillah Trewin, 1904 (age 19)

Longfellow

Categories: Reading literature, Trewin | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

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