When you think of a historical person, who comes to mind? Abraham Lincoln, Louis Pasteur, or maybe Henry Ford? All of them are historical people because of the passion they had and the advancements they made for us all. But I think of another name, Noah Blake. He’s not remembered because of any historical event or some invention. In fact, he’s not even an adult. He’s just a young boy. And the only thing he did to become famous was to write a diary. So why is that historic?
Noah Blake is a 15-year-old boy who lived back in 1805. He for a brief time in his life kept a journal. Over a century later Eric Sloane, an author, found the journal and decided to publish it. The author took time to learn about some of the historical events and lifestyle that was common back then and added them to the book. It’s a wonderful and delightful read. It also teaches and shares some of the ways that are now long forgotten.
The author has added hand-drawn illustrations that absolutely give additional charm to the book. On the first two pages, it has a drawing of what the land and few lodgings looked like at the time Noah was born in 1790. The next two pages show the same property 15 years later and the addition of newer establishments. It’s actually pretty amazing the additions that were made without the use of power tools or equipment.
There are so many interesting things about woodworking and means of construction all rolled into this wonderful story. Also, there were little details such as glass for windows was extremely expensive so glass bottles would be used to at least let the light come into the house. And to get extra warmth for sleeping, Noah would early morning run out of the barn and sleep in the hay after the animals would wake up to get warm. There was also plenty of work to do. If it rained, Noah mentioned how they worked in the barn planning the new floorboards for the house. Noah was really excited about that because previously they just had dirt for a floor.
The book goes on to explain how certain tasks were done back then. If a large job, such as building a bridge was needed, the neighboring town folks helped out. The help was done not in exchange for money, but on a future date those town folks would need a favor and it was almost expected that you return the good deed.
It also shows the relationship Noah had with his family and even the farm animals. Much respect was given to the family, the neighbors, and even visiting strangers that wondered by.
In the story the townfolks warn the Blake family to close their shudders at night because Indians had been spotted in the area. Yet when the Indians do show up on the Blakes’, they welcomed them in and offered them food. That caused me to pause and wonder how would we act today?
The story ends a little unfulfilled. Noah had liked up a girl named Sarah. Noah wrote her a note and he had to wait a painstaking 4 days to get a reply from her. I thought about that. In a time today, where we have instant texting, waiting 4 minutes, seems like an inconvenience, I couldn’t imagine 4 days.
There were no other entries in the journal. I had to wonder what became of Noah. I’d like to think he grew up on that farm and stayed there his whole life. I hope he married Sarah, had kids of their own, and took care of his aging parents. Most likely that was the case. If Noah lived until 85 years old he would have seen the following things; The first battery, matches, the typewriter, the sewing machine, the bicycle, the telegraph, and the gramophone. He also would have lived through battles such as Tippecanoe, Waterloo, and New Orleans. At the age of 58, the gold rush was on and everyone was going to California. But I imagine Noah stayed home. Perhaps his kids went out west. He lived through the Civil War and even President Lincoln’s death.
It really impressed me the things Noah didn’t have growing up. No phone, no electricity, and no cars. All of these things we require in our daily lives today. The book made me think about the things maybe I don’t currently need in my life. Do I have an excess of needless items? It also made me think about the things still yet to come in my life, such as technological advances and world strife and issues. I do know one this is for sure, I have been keeping a handwritten journal for decades now. Maybe, just like Noah, 200 years from now, someone will find my journals and get a glimpse of this life and they too will wonder how could people live like that. If that’s the case, I hope my story gives them a warm feeling the way Noah did for me.
If you are interested in getting a copy of the book click here for the link