Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wigmaker to the Gentlemen of Pennsylvania

Lilly spent much of the evening getting ready for a big fifth-grade report tomorrow, in which she pretends to be a craftsman in Colonial America, in her case a wigmaker. The making of props was also part of the process. I helped her learn her speech, but otherwise made unhelpful suggestions.

-- Which colony are you in?

-- Pennsylvania.

-- Ah, so you're wigmaker to Dr. Franklin. You can show those fops in Paris that American wigs are every bit as good as French ones.

-- What's a fop?

-- A Frenchman in a wig. Are you sure you don't want to be in Virginia? That's where the real wig action was. And maybe you'd get to own some slaves. [Actually, the were a few slaves in Pennsylvania until well into the early 1800s.]

-- No, I live in Pennsylvania.

-- Well, to be fair, maybe the wigmaker would have been a slave in Virginia. There were some skilled craftsman slaves, rented out by their masters.

-- No, Daddy, I'm not in Virginia. Or a slave.

-- OK. Now you tell me that they were barbers, too.

-- Yeah, they cut hair.

-- That makes sense. Come in for a wig fitting, a trim, and maybe a leeching. I figure a few of them were doctors, too, if they were barbers. So they'd have some leeches around.

-- What?

-- Never mind.

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