Did Pilgrims Really Wear Wool?

Today was a typical New England summer day.  It was hazy, hot, and humid.  Well, more cloudy than hazy but the humidity is definitely making the air thick and uncomfortable.  After the winter we had, I’m not totally complaining but, I really could do without the humidity.  It affects everything.  Everyone is just so drained and tired from moving in the humid air.  As I write this, the humidity is as 98%.  Gross.  Not having an air-conditioned house means we live with the constant white noise of the fans in almost every room but at least it moves the soupy air around, giving some small bit of relief.  Not to mention anyone who has some kind of curl to their hair ends up looking like this…

That's how my hair looks in this humidity.

That’s how my hair looks in this humidity.

I can’t help but think on days like this, did the Pilgrims really wear wool?  They landed in Provincetown first, where they signed the Mayflower Compact before finally settling across Cape Cod Bay in Plymouth.  That means they lived near the ocean air, where humidity can often take over a perfectly nice summer day and make it miserably hotter.    Anyone who remembers just a little of their U.S. History class will remember that the Pilgrims were very modest people and living in the 1620s, they didn’t have much in the way of fabric choices for their clothing – wool, linen, and some cotton.

Doesn't that look hot?

Doesn’t that look hot?  Image from www.plimoth.org

I know that global warming is partially to blame for the extreme weather conditions, but they must have had some of the summer temperatures we have now.  Humidity like we are currently experiencing induces lethargy of epic proportions.  Lethargy of this level was probably some kind of sin knowing the Pilgrims (despite the fact that lethargy is a fun word to say).   Even in linen clothing, they still had all their undergarments which were much more than what we call undergarments today.  I just can’t help but wonder about how hot they all must have been toiling away in their summer gardens, preparing for the lovely Massachusetts winter, which we all know can be brutal and was brutal for the Pilgrims’ first winter here, sweating under two layers of clothing.

Imagine being this woman, cooking all day long to make sure at night there was dinner prepared, or cleaning clothing in front of that boiling water…

How hot does that look???? Image from www.plimoth.org

I think the next time I am at Plimoth Plantation, I am going to have to ask how they stayed cool in the summer with the humidity.  The only cure I have ever found is to go swimming.  Did they dump buckets of water on themselves?  Did they go swimming?  And if they did go swimming, what did their bathing suits look like???

Thank goodness I was not a Pilgrim…I may have melted away.

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3 Comments

Filed under Culture, Random Thoughts

3 responses to “Did Pilgrims Really Wear Wool?

  1. I don’t think they wouldn’t have gone swimming. Except maybe the witches.
    (BTW, I love Roseanne Roseanna Danna and got a giggle just seeing the picture – Gilda was taken from us far too soon)

    • I asked one of my brothers if he ever thought to ask, since we all went at least once with school on a field trip. He surprisingly (or not if you know Brother #3) said they told him there wasn’t enough time in the day. But then he said he doubted they really wore those clothes ALL the time, to which I replied they were Puritans which meant they probably wore more…

      And yes – Ms. Radner was taken far too soon!

    • I asked one of my brothers if he ever thought to ask, since we all went at least once with school on a field trip. He surprisingly (or not if you know Brother #3) said they told him there wasn’t enough time in the day. But then he said he doubted they really wore those clothes ALL the time, to which I replied they were Puritans which meant they probably wore more…

      And yes – Ms. Radner was taken far too soon!

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