Saturday, June 1, 2013

Carrie Shade

Carrie Shade at Erdman's Mill, Rough and Ready, Penn. Circa 1900

Carrie on the front porch of the miller's house where she lived.

Carrie and her beau sitting on the porch railing

Carrie at Ocean City, New Jersey when she was a nurse in Philadelphia

This is a story of a young woman's pluck and determination to better herself. A neighbor gave us a box full of photographs related to the winter house and she helped identify them. Several photographs showed a young woman, still a teenager, named Carrie Shade. There are pictures of her feeding the chickens and sitting on the front porch railing with a boyfriend. Carrie was related to the Erdman family that owned the grist mill and house. Her mother was a sister to the miller's wife. We're not sure why Carrie had to leave her mother, who lived in a mining town some miles away. She may have been illegitimate but a likelier and far more common reason was that there were probably just too many mouths to feed. In any case, she helped out as a member of the family but there was no future for her here. Not being directly related to inherit the property, she could never be more than a servant. So she did something quite remarkable for someone with a limited education and limited means: she moved to Philadelphia, went to nursing school and became a professional nurse. She was determined to make something of herself and to escape the dismal future ahead for her if she stayed here in the valley.
Pennsylvania Dutch girls such as Carrie often found it hard to work in a cosmopolitan city like Philadelphia because many spoke with a strong, distinctive Dutch accent that prevented them from being hired at major hospitals which preferred a more standardized pronunciation of English. A number of local girls sought employment in Philadelphia only to return because their accent turned out to be a handicap. Carrie either did not have a strong accent to begin with or else changed it to sound more acceptable.
We know she loved going to the Jersey shore. We have post cards from her in Ocean City to the Erdman family so she did keep in touch. One shows her attending a baby parade on the boardwalk and another shows her in the surf. We don't know any more about her than these few pictures but they speak of a determined woman who made her own way in life. A caption for her life could read: Local Dutch woman makes good.

No comments:

Post a Comment