On the corner of...
Ed. note: The Block Island Historical Society was founded in 1942. To help celebrate its 75th year, the Society’s Diamond Anniversary, The Block Island Times has been publishing sketches and photographs of items in its collection throughout the year. This is the final column in the series. For those interested in joining or donating to The Block Island Historical Society, please visit blockislandhistorical.org.
On the corner of past and present, there is not a vast collection of toys. Among what we have are some basic board games, a carriage and doll — a prized gift which, unfortunately, lost its original hair when a cat discovered the tasty fish glue holding it in place — a miniature cast iron stove, and a few wooden sleds, simple, solid, forerunners of Flexible Flyers.
There would have been more sledding than there is today. Records show there was more snow; houses were fewer, surrounded by open space. The hillsides were clear, grazed or cut or both, free of brush, and in deep winter animals were confined to smaller spaces, closer to barns, easier to track and count and feed.
When Christmas observed as a holiday came to Block Island is undocumented, but the Rev. Livermore wrote of his year here:
“Christmas had visited the Christian people of Block Island more than two hundred times before its children were cheered with the presence of a Christmas tree. The first one ever seen here was in the winter of 1875, brought by the pastor of the First Baptist Church from his home in Bridgewater, Mass. It was a beautiful fir, one of his ornamental trees, at the roots of which he laid his axe for the sake of the pleasure and good it might afford the children of Block Island. It was placed in front of the pulpit and rose to the wall above. The ladies adorned it finely with stars, tapers, and presents. The burning tapers on it branches, the glittering stars in the evening, and the gifts on it and under it produced a fine effect, and gave a happy expression to many bright young faces. The tree was well planted in the memory of the children, most of whom had never seen a fir tree before...”
And so we conclude our year of 75th Anniversary columns. Thanks to everyone who has helped us put them together and especially to all who read them; it has been an honor to provide a glimpse into the many and varied collections of the Historical Society.