Monday, February 18, 2013

Strickschule and Other Wintertime Pursuits

When cutting ice or accomplishing some other outdoor task, colony fathers were happy to have the woolen mittens and socks knitted by their children. Young boys and girls were taught to knit in Strickschule classes led by one or two of the older women of the village. Strickschule followed the regular school time and must have been a trial to youngsters who had spent all day indoors and were ready to get out and play. Their parents, however, forbade skipping Strickschule and cheerfully wore the results, appreciating just how much diligence was required of an earnest six-year-old to produce a pair of nubby mittens.

Following knitting class and chores, youngsters rode sleds, played in the woodshed, or skated on nearby ponds. The Mill Race was a dangerous but popular place to skate, and more than one colony youth was drowned, or very nearly drowned, while attempting to cross too-thin ice on the canal. Susanna Hahn said that as a teenager she once skated nearly three miles from Middle Amana to West Amana in order to buy a crochet hook at the West Amana Store and that Middle Amana youngsters often skated to Amana to visit friends. South Amana and West Amana youths held evening skating parties on a slough located in the forest between the villages; there they skated by lantern light, skimming on luminous pools from a dozen kerosene lanterns, casting shadows into the forest, where hoarfrost hung shimmering on the tree branches.

Seasons of Plenty, by Emilie Hoppe

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