Haying Attire

My grandfather Owen, top right

My grandfather Owen, top right

Owen and one of his beloved dogs

Owen and one of his beloved dogs

I have spent some time this winter sorting through photos and documents from my father’s side of the family. My mom passed them on to me a few years back (thanks, mom!) and I am trying to organize them into chronological order. Much of the work is done, our history has been well documented. Occasionally, however, I come across an old photo with no name on it and this always makes me sad. It is often one that stands out from all the others, so there is nothing to compare it to. Who is that young lady? Who does she belong to?

picture-3994picture-3989While rummaging through the boxes I came across a program held at the University Of Rhode Island. My grandfather, Owen, attended the university for agricultural sciences back in the 1900’s (he came from a long line of farmers). As you can see, it was the first annual banquet of the Alpha Tau Alpha fraternity in 1917, which my grandfather apparently belonged to. I’ve posted a picture of the leaflet describing the ‘after the meal’ lectures. I was quite fascinated by the address given by John H. Fernandez on “should corsets be worn in the hayfield”. How does he know, is he wearing one? I researched a little and found that it was possible…Corsets for men were typically made from a lightweight cotton. The corsets laced up the back and often had buckled straps at the side to prevent the abdomen bulging. You can’t be efficient in the hay field if your abdomen is bulging all over the place, no sir, let’s hold that tummy in place! Corsets for men? This I never knew, but I did get to thinking about how convenient it would be if men (and women) were wearing their corsets in the hayfield, how handy if the old baler broke a shear pin and the answer to fixing it was tucked into your girdle. Making do with what you have, you might say….how old-timey and innovative is that?

16 comments on “Haying Attire

  1. Very interesting topic. Since I deal with back pain and sometimes have to wear a back brace when gardening, wearing something for support kind of makes sense. But, I also remember pulling those strings in the back for my grandmother when she put that corset on in the morning to go about her daily chores of baking, cooking, cleaning, etc. For that, I can’t imagine it. πŸ™‚

  2. Like Judy, I can remember my grandmother wearing a corset and my mother wearing a hefty girdle. But the men? Never! As you say, bringing in the hay is such hot, sticky work–the men took extra clothes off, never added more!

    • Yes, my first thought as well….more clothes in the hay field? Ugh! I do understand how a belt can help with back support….haying does involve constant heavy lifting and no doubt a strain on the back.

    • Thank you, Elinor , I’m glad you’ve visited. I have been reading your blog as well..anything to do with horses! The last years I owned drafts , but back in the day I did have a stint working for – Lendon Gray , she was an Olympic equestrian and made her debut riding a horse named Seldom Seen ( She was based out of Maine). This is an amazing video of the two of them when Seldom Seen was Inducted into the 2005 USDF Hall of Fame . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hazRMuWTTI
      Thanks for following along!!

      • Oh how fun! Lendon Gray is a legend. I’m sure that was very inspiring! I think it’s so great with these “older” clips, not all that old, but seeing how dressage has changed (and also stayed the same!) is really fun!

        I love the drafts. Usually really friendly!

  3. Oh my. I assumed that all of these addresses were intended to be humorous–I can just imagine what they did with “how to dress a chicken.” That could have been a good lead in to the corsets! I love the photo of your grandfather with his dog. Interestingly, about ten years before your grandfather was at URI, mine was at the University of Connecticut–also a farmer from a long line of farmers. I have a transcript from an interview with him in the 1970s in which he said that when he was in school (he started in 1904), the big football rivalry was with the Univ. of Rhode Island. He said that the UConn Aggies used to chant at the game, “Amsterdam, Rotterdam, God damn, Rhode Island.”

    • My grandfather ( my father’s father) was from Connecticut, his ancestor ( my ancestor too, of course) was one of the founding fathers of Stonington , Connecticut. Thomas Minor…his diary is in the Connecticut State Library. Not sure why my grandfather chose to go to U. Rhode Island, I did read that it was a land grant college. We have a lot in common, Brenda!! And I won’t take offense to the rivalry chant…after all ya can’t beat those Husky’s! The UCONN women’s basketball proof even today! And yes, those banquet topics certainly show the sign of the times!! We’re looking at mud season fast approaching, how about down there?

      • Fascinating. And, yes, we do have a lot in common. My Connecticut grandfather was my mother’s father and his ancestor, John Bishop, oddly enough, was one of the founding fathers of Guilford, Connecticut (down the coast a bit from Stonington). It looks as if he and your Thomas settled in Connecticut at the same time. No diary from John though–too bad. What a precious thing to have survived. Have you read it? Our Bishop branch eventually moved further inland to Cheshire, Connecticut, where they grew apples and other fruits for generations. My father’s family likewise farmed for generations–but in Pennsylvania. Some of them also were spinners and weavers. I sometimes wonder if there is some encoded genetic memory or predisposition, I had such a strong pull toward gardening and textiles from a young age. As far as mud goes, it’s here. We can hear the St. George river below us at night in full throat, almost flooding with all the snow melt. And the bluebirds were checking out boxes again today! Time to finish my quilt so I can turn my full attention outside.

  4. Hi Denise! Thank you for posting those pics! I remember Owen very vividly. If you have anymore I would love to see them! Mike Palmer’s girlfriend works at URI and obtained a copy of Owen’s transcript from his time there. I will try to get a copy emailed to you. Love your blog!!! Great job!!!
    Love, your cousin Mary

    • Hi Mary,
      I think I was in the 4th grade when Gramp Owen died. Would love to share more photos with you! How is Michael? I spent many evenings babysitting him when he was little…always a nice guy!! Would love to catch up, swap stories of family days….all the 4th July picnics at Aunt Mary’s ( Cree Cree), Thanksgiving, Visiting your dad and Uncle Joe at the police station ( I was always passing by on my bike and thought nothing of popping in to say hello to them, I think this sometimes made them nervous!). Your dad was always smiling, always kind and friendly to all of us. So many good memories. Hope you are well, maybe a visit this summer? Let’s stay in touch!

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