Skip to comments.Oprah Goes Back In Time In PBS 'Colonial House'
Posted on 05/18/2004 7:48:54 AM PDT by presidio9
Imagine one of the wealthiest people on Earth living without indoor plumbing.
Granted, she only lasted a few days, but Oprah Winfrey took that challenge. She sat down with KMBC's Kelly Eckerman to talk about what life is like without electricity, running water or modern conveniences of any kind.
Oprah and her friend, Gail, recently stayed in the PBS "Colonial House," where the pair agreed to live as people did 400 years ago.
Eckerman: "Were some people surprised you were anxious to do it?"
Oprah: "I come from a very poor family, so it was like going back in my own time for me. Gail, on the other hand, grew up with a maid and always had indoor plumbing."
There were many unforgettable moments for the television talk-show guru. Oprah seemed to take most tasks in stride, but Gail was another story.
Oprah: "First, you arrive and they make you strip all your underwear because women didn't have underwear in the 16th century. Just one of those facts, I guess I never knew that."
Eckerman: "I never thought about that."
Oprah: "You never think about it. The panties have to come off, bras off."
The chores were another big adjustment for Gail.
Oprah: "We're trying to cook bacon, gasping for air, and Gail says, 'I'd like mine extra crispy.' And I said, 'This is not the Fairmont Hotel, sister.'"
A rodent finally sent the pair packing -- that was where Oprah drew the line.
Oprah: "I'm not going to survive if a rat falls on my face!"
Oprah's said her stay was short, but priceless for "seeing how far we've come as women, as people, and all the people who did so much for us to have this exquisite life that we so often take for granted."
Oprah added that the most revealing thing about her colonial experience -- besides no underwear -- is how hard they had to work. The women, especially, never had a minute to themselves, Oprah said.
Thanks for the memories! Remember back in '93 when the midwest had severe flooding? Well, Des Moines was without water for ten days! It was contaminated when the river flooded the water treatment plant, so it was entirely shut off...in a city proper of around 200,000 people (at the time).
We had to line up to get gallon jugs filled by the National Guard water tanks. Those of us lucky enough to know someone in the suburbs could go there every couple of days to shower...but then the suburban water systems became overloaded and ran low so that ended.
We couldn't wash dishes or laundry, and "showered" by pouring water over our heads; and flushed by pouring buckets of water into the toilet to "force" it down. There was even a saying regarding the latter, coined by our water works director, "if it's yellow...let it mellow; if it's brown flush it down"....YUCK!
We ALL became immediately thankful for that we had. And the funniest part was that as the days wore on, people started looking worse and worse. By day ten, it was ponytails, baseball caps, and shorts and t-shirts...even in the most esteemed of businesses. After the fact, they reported that the CDC had people in town monitoring the medical situation. They EXPECTED an outbreak of disease...but it didn't happen, thankfully. I still think about that sometimes when I turn on the water!
I can't stand the narrator, who says the same crap over and over again just to speak.
I don't care about your damn facts you stupid woman.
Tell me something interesting please or just let the people there tell the story PLEASE.
Hmm....well, maybe they will be later. Whenever the next installment is...the title is "Regime change" or something.
I didn't go into conjugal rights and pleasures,but hinted at all you said.Yes,I know about what the Puritans were like.Please reread my earlier post. Thank you.
I thought I replied to mondoman, not to you.
You seem to have a good handle on things.
Maybe my eyes are not working well tonight (finals week...)
This is NOT one of my "pet" historical periods,but apparently I know far more about it than most.LOL
Oh,now I see...you replied to me and it should have been to another poster.That's okay,that sort of thing happens all the time.
I'm particularly interested in clothes,food,daily life, of other times,so that's why I know about this kind of thing.Due to T.V. and movies,most people tend to have a rather confused,at best,idea of what it was REALLY like to live in other eras.
Good luck with your finals!
That IS an interetsing book.
We'll have to keep this thread going as the series progresses. They are repeating tonight's episodes this hour so I'm trying to pay a little more attention
I tried to surf FR and watch,the first episodes and had to get off line and then watch the repeats.It's one show you can't watch with one eye.
I hope they have a boxset *lol* I'll need to play catchup.
It did get annoying. How many ways can one say "things in 1628 were much more harsh and strict than 21st century Americans are used to"?
I do think the people told a very good, if subtle, story last night.
When the governor was complaining that many didn't want to follow the laws and were acting like children, a little flag started waving in the back of mind.
These are the types of attitudes and laws that eventually led to the founding of our nation. People that were like "the heck with this, I'm not going to live under such an oppressive government". As more and more had children in the colonies, and their children had children, you had more and more people that had no connection with England and were wondering why they should have to follow some of the harsh laws that were around.
You also got a slight glimpse of why those drawing up the Constitution were very adamant about the seperation of Church and State. Back then, the Church was used to keep people in line and was basically an extension of the monarchy, to an extent. The atheist and her family showed their liberal leanings when they caved into authority and went to church, even though they didn't believe in it.
As an experiment, it's not a very good one. In the 1620s, they would have considered themselves subjects, and were born under the rule of a king/queen, and were used to having much of their behavior dictated. It took generations before things reached a point where action was taken. The "rebellion" your seeing on the show is basically an accelerated version of this, because it's coming from people who were used to being free and then having harsh laws imposed upon them, rather than the other way around.
They made the governor look like a jerk in that it looked like he was the one making the laws (although the voiceover did remind you that the laws he was coming up with were in place in 1628). By extension, because he's a Baptist preacher, it painted a somewhat grim picture of of Christians, even though he wasn't actually making the laws, but was reading documents that the producers gave him, and was just roleplaying.
There are people in this country that think many Christians would love nothing better than to return to the kinds of laws and lifestyle of the 17th century.
Very uncomfortable. Even with an army of servants--far less comfortable than our society.
I wathed it for a short while last night until the gay guy came out of the closet. It was obvious that he was gay, why did they have to ruin the show by making a big deal out of his sexuality? It had nothing to do with the premise of the show but was simply another attempt by the left to castigate conservatives. After that I turned it off as worthless tripe.
Homosexuals are a cancer to any society. As the Van Whatstheirnames pointed out, nobody is having sex in the one-room communal houses anyway. Therefore, one's sexual preferrence is completely irrelevant. The only thing he accomplised was making some members of the community uncomfortable in his insistence for acceptance.
So sorry to correct you, but I grew up in New England where Pilgrim lore is much a part of school history. From a quick search on Ask Jeeves:
Women; Women's hair was always worn up and pulled tightly back, and worn under a coif (bonnet) or hat.
Common colors include red, earthy greens, browns, blues, violets, and grays. Contrary to popular myth, black and white clothing was clearly not the most common colors worn. An examination of the probate inventories of many early Plymouth women reveal a large variety of colors. Mary Ring, a long-time member of the Pilgrim's church in Leyden, and married to one of the more prominent members of the church, had her estate inventory taken in 1631. She had in her possession at that time: one waistcoat "of mingled color", two violet waistcoats, three blue aprons, two white aprons, one black apron, a red petticoat, a violet petticoat, white stockings, blue stockings, and also had some red cloth, grey cloth, and blue cloth ready for sewing. Desire (Gorham) Howland, daughter of Mayflower passenger John Howland, had a green apron, red stockings, white apron, and black cloak in her estate inventory.
Men: Whites, beiges, blacks, earthy greens, and browns were the predominant colors in men's clothing. Contrary to popular stereotype, buckles were not worn on hats, shoes, belts, or anywhere else, nor was black the predominant color except for on Sunday or formal occasions. From the probate inventories of Plymouth Colony, we learn that Governor William Bradford had a green gown, violet cloak, lead colored suit with silver buttons, and a red waistcoat. Elder William Brewster had green drawers, a red cap, a violet coat, and a blue suit. And Mayflower passenger John Howland had a red waistcoat listed in his inventory.
The Thanksgiving Primer, by the Plimoth Plantation Museum, 1991.
A Little Commonwealth, by John Demos, 1970. (Available in the Mayflower Web Page bookstore).
Estate Inventories of the Pilgrims, reprinted in various issues of the Mayflower Descendant as well as in Charles Simmons, Plymouth Colony Records: Wills and Inventories, 1633-1669, Picton Press, 1996.