Friday, December 28, 2012

Old Dame and Her Pig an Ancient Tale

I was doing a little sidetracking the other day and came across an old, tattered and somewhat dirty child's story book. I don't remember ever seeing this book before, or maybe I never really gave it much thought when I did. All I know is I found it tucked between a couple other very old books I had in my "keepsake" cabinet. 
There is no title page with a copyright, date, or publisher. The book is very fragile. It has a sewn binding. It also looks like it may have had a harder cover at sometime before. The book is not complete either. The flyer on the wall behind the "old dame" says "Old Nurses Little Library" I have no idea what that means. [On "googling" it seems as though there was a 1868 book which compiled many stories which could have been where my book came from. Just a guess.]

I turned the first page and – this time – took notice it belonged to my grandfather William Dennis Porteous. The words "willie dinnis Portus [h]is book" is actually written in a purple ink. [h] I added to show he had dropped the "h" because that is how English people talked. The spelling of PORTUS was how my great grandfather wrote his surname. The PORTEOUS spelling was first seen being used after they settled in Lake County, Illinois in the 1870s.
Inside the first page is "willie dinnis Portus is book." "His" is spelled phonetically as "is." It was written in purple ink over erased pencil words possibly of the previous owner.

I looked a little closer and I think it was written over another name. I tried to make out what was erased and all I can really make out is the last work as BOOK. So I think it belonged to another earlier on.

Not knowing when or where my book came from, there was a clue on the first page...the words "crooked sixpence" confirmed my suspicions this book was from England. Could my tattered little book have been brought over in 1870 when my grandfather came to America with his parents and siblings? William was three years old. Was he a little too young to read or hear a story like this? Could it have been his older sister's? It was possibly written about 1847. Could it have been my great grandfather John's childhood book. John was born in 1841, he would have been six years old. Would six be the right age to hear this story? 

My PORTAS family are from Lincolnshire, England. There were windmills in many towns...not so many now, but you can still see a few. In a couple illustrations you can see windmills which leads me to think the illustrator could have been from Lincs. They are in both my tattered book and the one below. 

I scanned that inside signature at 1900 dpi hoping (in Photoshop) I could "pull" out the back writing. No success. Will I ever know who the previous owner of willie's book was? I can only guess.

Because my little tattered book was missing almost half of the story (ended at the butcher page), I decided to look on the internet for any information on this story or if someone else had a book like mine. I found many versions of this tale. I found several images of complete books, but none looked exactly like mine. 

I found one closest to mine. It is on the University of California's "California Digital Library" on the Internet Archive website <> and can be viewed online or downloaded

The illustrations in this book are a little more detailed, but are so close to being the same as mine I would think both book's illustrations were by the same person; I don't know which book is the older.

The author is John Leighton (1822-1912), publisher was London: David Bogue, Fleet St. It is no longer in copyright. According to the website: 
The ancient story of the old dame and her pig: a legend of obstinacy shewing how it cost the old lady a world of trouble & the pig his tail ([1847]). 
I'm not sure if it would be a story our children would hear at bedtime in today's world. They can't compare to the violence and gore our kids see on tv and movies today. To me, well, I like these old tales. I have always loved fairy tales and nursery rhymes, too. There is always a "moral to the story." I hope you enjoy this old tale and remember back in England in 1847 stories had a little odd side to them.
The cover page is more elaborate and if you look carefully at the illustration, there are many
whimsical items tucked in and around. Quite fun to look at.
 The plaque on the wall in back of the "old dame" says "Illustrated by Luke Limner, £8Q" but is different on my book.
As it turns out, the nom-de-plume "Luke Limner" was used by John Leighton who is both this book's illustrator
and a publisher of many other books.

The bottom writing:
"The ancient story of the "Old Woman & Her Pig" is suppose to be derived from a hymn in Sepher Haggadah, Fol:23.  The original is in the Chaldee Language, a translation may be found in "Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes of England" & an historical interpretation in the "Christian Reformer" Volume 17. Page 28.

The Sepher Haggadah, Fol:23 text can be found: 

The definition of Chaldee Language can be found:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

1949 – The best Christmas ever!

I can't recall everything that happened when I was four, but looking at some old pictures of that Christmas brings back some warm feelings of the best Christmas ever!

My brother John and I meet with Santa at the Wieboldt's department store (1949, downtown Chicago, Illinois).
They had the real Santa and I got to talk to him! I pulled his beard and it didn't come off! That proved it to me.

I can't remember what I asked for, but I'm pretty sure it was a doll with lots of clothes. I loved to dress dolls in pretty clothes. My mother made many sets for me. They were so pretty. She was a seamstress who saved all the scraps of fabric from wedding dresses, house dresses, and any other items she crafted for other people. Mom would then make a pattern for an outfit for my dolls. 

I wished I had saved more of my there are just memories and a few pictures. 


My beautiful lady doll with clothes was under the tree. I recall it was dressed in a light pink taffeta gown with a beautiful hat just like the bridesmaid's outfit mom made earlier that year. I don't have the doll anymore. It was destroyed in my parents' house fire early 1970s. Under the tree there was a play set of dishes and other items for a play kitchen. There were more dolls, too.

These pictures bring back memories of my dolls and their gorgeous homemade outfits, but the best part of this Christmas Day was what Santa left for me. It was downstairs in the kitchen!


Santa brought me a kitchen cabinet! I was so excited when I saw it – now I could cook and play house just like my mom! It had a little electric stove, a goose-neck lamp, and a sink (no water hook-up). Santa left me dishes and little pots and pans. Santa even remembered to leave a cookbook I could make stuff from, and later when I was able to actually came from my grandma.

A little tattered 64-yr-old cookbook. That little stove is the exact one I got from Santa!
The book even had a brother to help (or hinder) just like I had.

"Susie likes to play house. She has a family of dolls. She has a little table and chairs. She has a set of little dishes. And she has a really-truly little electric stove, with a set of little pots and pans! 'Now I must learn to cook!' said Susie, the first time she saw her new little stove." Oh my, I could be just like Susie!

I attempted to make them all with my little pots and pans. What fun. I don't remember if anyone ate anything I made, but I did have fun. The "Pixie's Delights" are actually "S'mores."

My dad was a carpenter and cabinet maker. He made my cabinet for me out of scraps of wood he had from various jobs. I watched him make it; he told me it was for someone else. I wished it were to be mine. On Christmas Day, I didn't care who made it because I knew Santa had asked dad make it for ME

I played with it a lot. As I grew taller, dad would raise it up with a frame of wood at the bottom to fit my size. A few years later the cabinet was moved to the basement room where mom did her canning and I set up a little house. 

I played with it until I discovered boys! Then it was neglected until I rescued it for my daughter's fun, but she didn't play with it as I had. I thought maybe Emily my granddaughter would like to play with the cabinet when she was old enough, but she didn't. The one grandchild who did love it was Martin who spent hours out on our porch making "porkypine soup" out of pine cones, sand, and stones. Maybe that is why he (11 yrs old) is so good at cooking. Times change and playing house like I did isn't what our daughters do anymore.

I loved that little cabinet and never stopped. I think of those days long gone and get a warm feeling. I still have my best Christmas present and the cookbook...but not the accessories. I also have the little round table my dad made for me, and I still use it. It's upstairs next to my computer. For many years I would get the table out for my grandchildren to use when they visited. I bought a little chair so they could do their "projects" or eat their lunch at the table. It was just the right size. 

My kitchen cabinet has gone through a lot over the last 64 years. It is down in our basement just waiting for a good cleaning and fresh paint. I'd like to bring it upstairs to be with me again. I have a great spot in my big modern kitchen for this little 1940s kitchen cabinet. Maybe my cats will enjoy using it. Hmmm...

Hope you all have a "Best" Christmas ever!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Grandma Porteous shook JFK's hand, but voted for Nixon!

Now that the Presidential elections are over and the dust has settled, I found an image of a newspaper article showing my grandma Porteous on voting day Nov. 8 1960. That was the last election she voted. The clipping isn't in the best of condition so the image is a little faded, but you can read the caption clearly describing the 91-year-old voter.

Mrs. Carrie Porteous of Mundelein (carrying the ballot)
prepares to cast her ballot at Mundelein's Lincoln School in Tuesday's election.
Mrs. Porteous was born in Fremont Township and has lived in the Mundelein area all her life.
John F. Kennedy was elected president. Grandma was so proud; she voted for Richard Nixon. I didn't get to vote because I was in high school. 

Story has it Kennedy's motorcade was coming through Mundelein, past our house on Maple Ave. The children from the school next door would stand out in front to wave. Grandma was asked to be out front of the house to wave, too. She was one of the oldest voters in town so hopefully he would have stopped to solicit her vote -- as the story goes

Grandma was out front waiting for the Kennedy motorcade. He did come by and he did stop. One of his aides came over to ask grandma if it was okay for Kennedy to shake her hand. As the story goes... grandma said she would shake his hand, but she wasn't going to vote for him! And she pointed to her label where the Nixon button was!