Yet Another Journal

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» Tuesday, April 30, 2002
Frontier House parts 1 and 2 (I only saw part 1, preparation and the journey to their first stop)

Anyone watching this series? Georgia Public Television has it on this week. Your times may vary.

I got a kick out of the original idea, 1900 House, which was a British production. A family had to live in a house furnished as it would have been in 1900, dress the parts, work in the household as if it were 1900, with no modern conveniences, etc. 1900 House got to be very funny (and occasionally annoying) because the family said they knew right out what the inconveniences were and they were "go" to live without them nevertheless, and not a month later the woman of the house is whining about how greasy her hair is and how she can't take a shower.

The Brits also did something called 1940s House where a family had to live with food rationing and other WWII inconveniences, but I haven't seen that shown here. I wish they would!

Frontier House is an American production. Three families will live on the Montana prairies as pioneer families would have circa 1880 for five months. They will have livestock to care for, food to cook in a cookstove or over a fire, an old-fashioned privy and old-fashioned hygiene to contend with, water to fetch, crops to grow, winter to prepare for, etc.

Now I know if the producers of either 1900 House or Frontier House had picked those who do recreationist events (SCA, Civil War, Victorian, etc.) they would have had some saavy people doing these projects, but it probably would have made for a duller viewing experience (at least by their standards). I think they both deliberately picked people they thought would cope eventually, but who did not have a full clue of what they would have to put up with.

Frontier House shows that clearly. For instance, no pioneer kid or recreationist kid would have whined the way the one little boy did about his "bad day." Little boys of that day took adventures as part and parcel of what life was all about. Granted, the runaway wagon would have been upsetting even to a real pioneer boy. But he certainly would not have whimpered by the end of the day that "this was the worst day of my life." Poor child! The wagon ran away with him, he lost the worm on his fishhook, and the neighbor's dog snapped at his heels (the skin wasn't even touched, although the kid broke into tears; the dog was an Australian heeler and was probably trying to "herd" him). Geez, kid, quit whining, get another worm, and try again.

The part that flabbergasted me the most was the attitude the women had to giving up!!! Having to wear a homemade sanitary belt and rags instead of tampons didn't seem to faze them as much as having to get along without lipstick, blush, and mascara! All of them except one girl tried to smuggle makeup with them. Even after being told that women in those days who wore "face paint" were either actresses (undesirable people) or whores, one of the women was disappointed because she was not allowed to wear makeup when they took their "going West" photos. One of the teenage girls had to put mascara on one last time before they left because she couldn't stand the thought of not wearing it. The other woman said she didn't mind not wearing makeup because "I'm only going to milk a cow, not meet my friends." Oh, and you have such shallow friends that you feel you must wear makeup when you see them or they won't accept you? What kind of people are so insecure that they don't want to go out in public without glopping a lot of artificial junk on their faces?

I did get a big kick out of the story of the trouble they had getting milk cows, the story about the breeder who told them she'd give them her husband or her kids before she let them have one of her prize cows!