Sisters Go Shopping in the United States in 1870’s

Perhaps you’ve seen one of your current or former teachers or parish leaders in the grocery store. You chatted and she got into her car for home. That didn’t happen during the 1870’s and 1880’s when our Sisters bought food. Sisters always went everywhere in twos. Cars weren’t invented. And the Sisters were limited in speaking English, as happened when a salesperson wanted to sell Sister Landelin horseradish, to which she responded, “We don’t have horses.” Let’s imagine. Like the popular TV show, The Price is Right in the paragraph below, but we have no historical records of the sisters’ grocery lists.

The Sisters enter a general store serving small towns and villages. Perhaps some farmers’ wives are bringing in eggs and jam to sell. They greet the Sisters who respond in a thick German accent. They ask the price of a bag of flour. $1.80 seems expensive, but they need to make bread and included the flour on their list. What else could they buy? Tea was 38 cents for a quarter-pound. Fortunately the Sisters were accustomed to coffee and asked the grocer to measure one pound. Its price of 35 cents suggested this was the cheap kind of coffee, but the sisters would have gone for the cheapest kind anyhow. The Sisters could pass by the apples and vegetables, because they had a garden, and milk was obtained from a neighbor who owned a cow. A small measure of potatoes at $1.19 could last for a week on their frugal diet. And the walk home would be easy with a light load. Maybe a passer-by might offer to carry the bag of flour. That would quicken their steps to be home for mid-day prayer.

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  1. Sr. Berneta on June 13, 2024 at 9:18 am

    Interesting and creative

  2. catherine Schneider on June 15, 2024 at 7:43 am

    Reading this was like shopping with them!