It is officially summer vacation here, the children out of school 2 weeks late due to the construction on their new school slowing things up a bit. They are all so excited, and we will be setting up the big pool this week, so , like every summer, I was giving Josh the lecture of what he can, and cannot do. As his eyes started to glaze over, a little book I have here at the Museum came to my mind. Seems things never change, and it is reassuring in a way, that the cycles of life and our habits stay basically the same over time. Hundreds of years could pass between generations, and yet, at the same time each summer, we both share common occurrences and rituals.
The little book I have, shown above, is a wondrous little children's book printed in 1834. Referred to as 'Chap books', they were published specifically for children. This is at a time when childhood as we all know it, was coming into itself~ no longer small adults, children were allowed to play and grow, physically, mentally and spiritually, before they actually reached 'adulthood'.
"Book of Accidents", as it is called, is a tiny 24 page book filled with stories aimed to instruct and teach a child what not to do. Each page is a different subject, or accident, and is complete with its own very graphic engraving of the consequences.
Pg. 19 reads:
A number of poor boys are drowned every year, from not being sensible of the danger of water. They go into ponds and rivers without knowing the depth, and by venturing too far, they sink to rise no more.
Boys should never bathe but in baths made for the purpose; or if they go into deep waters, never to bathe without being attended by those who can help them when necessary."