Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Poor Richard, Chapter 1

Milk Street - Boston
Wherein a New Arrival Comes to a Family on Beacon Hill - 1706

Boston, in the year 1706, was a lively and growing city near the water filled with merchant shops.  Just outside of town sat a cowherd whose duty it was to keep watch over the cows of the townspeople during the day until the boys of the families came to retrieve them before dark.  The scene on any give day was the same - the cowherd sitting under the tree on Beacon Hill and the boys playing below around the trees.  Even though the town was still young, it had a good bit of history.  The very elm that the cowherd sat under was the same one that Mary Dyer and the Quakers had been hanged from.

Josiah Franklin and his second wife, Abiah, (his first wife died after their arrival to Boston from Banbury, England) lived in this busy town with their 15 children, 5 of them from his first wife and 10 from Abiah.  Anywhere you went in town there seemed to be a Franklin child playing nearby, there were so many.  Most of the neighbors had completely lost count of how many children the Franklins had.  Their home had a blue ball hanging in front of the door and when they moved houses the blue ball came with them.  Abiah was a good mother and kept the children until they were old enough to go with their father to learn a trade and learn to be useful in the world.  Benjamin Franklin was the youngest son of Josiah and Abiah, but he had two younger sisters.  

Josiah was a candle-maker by trade.  His original trade, a dyer, was not much use to him in Boston so he learned candle-making some time after he arrived with which he made a good living by keeping the town of Boston lighted.  He was a very religious man and frequently made long prayers, especially before dinner.  Dinner time at the Franklins was a time for the family to gather together and have discussions and share ideas, often inviting friends and neighbors to join them.  Benjamin remembers a time when there were as many as thirteen children around the table at once.  Abiah would ensure that all the children were clean before sitting down to dinner at which time the father would say one of his long prayers.  

Benjamin was especially bored by these long prayers.  One day while he was helping his father salt the pork of a pig he suggested that his father say a prayer now over the entire pig so that he didn’t have to do it each day at dinner time.  His father didn’t like this idea at all but it showed early on Benjamin’s desire to improve thing, and make things easier and more efficient in life.  So since he was destined to be bored during these prayer times he ended up spending this time studying the wall maps in the dining room out of the corners of his eyes.  

*Year 4, Week 1

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