IT’S SOON THAT TIME OF YEAR
My family has always reminded me that John Tower, my several greats grandfather, landed in Massachusetts from Hingham in West Yorkshire and founded the North American Hingham in 1620. The original homestead is still standing, which is more than I can say of most of his descendants. I always thought that the American legends of very little food in the colonies in those days must have had something to do with early death, not counting one in a pond or at a stake in the hands of the very righteous. For being witchy, or even slightly odd or queer. A friend in New York, who would definitely qualify for the pond or stake, recently sent me the following Pilgrim ditty called “Forefathers’s Song,” and attributed to 1630 and Anne Bradstreet.
For pottage and puddings and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.
‘Undoon’ is not the surprise, nor the quality of the poetry or that obviously the great Ogden Nash must have had ancestors back then as well. But the custards are, as is the having the flour on hand to make the pies. I must have my dates mixed up about when the pillaging white folk settling in Massachusetts. Who was raising wheat and where, is what I would like to know? I do know that by the time John Adams was traveling from Boston to Washington it took him over a week because the roads were but ruts and that a horse made the progress only if it remembered the way, if he had been along that way previously, as Adam’s horse had.