Age of Sail

We, parents and students, are very fortunate at the school that the three, male, fifth grade teachers are adventurous enough where they take their classes every year on two overnighters. This spring overnighter is called Age of Sail where the class is divided up into crews and work on a docked ship called Balclutha!

Princess Cupcake’s class will be the first to go Monday. And guess what? We parents were assigned a super secret assignment. BTW, I’m tardy to the deadline party, but I’ve just finished my letter to Princess Cupcake. Our children will be getting surprise mail I assume Monday night.

After some research about life in 1906 I’ve hopefully captured the manner of that time period:

Thursday, 08 May 1906

My dearest child,

        I hope this letter finds you in good health and in calm seas. Are you warm enough? Are you getting enough sleep? What have you been cooking for the crew?

     Since you left on the Balclutha, the rebuilding of San Francisco after the big earthquake is going rapidly. This is good as it takes your father some time to get to his work and back home after an exhausting day on the job. He sometimes hops a ride in Mr. Smith’s carriage who spotted him one time as he walked to work. We are lucky he has his mechanical engineering job since regrowth of our city is in high demand.

     Your sister won’t admit it but she misses you. J wandered aimlessly about the house the minute you had left. Now she has found new friends at school who just moved into the neighborhood. The Jones left one of the double houses and so now the Morrissons are renting it at $12 a month with some of their extended family! They love to play marbles or skip rope. She even learned how to make new dolls. The younger children benefit from this new skill. And with the new invention of Crayola Crayons three years ago, J has been drawing many pictures of you on the Balclutha from the adventures you write about in your letters home.

     Oh! Betsey just came back from the market today. Would you believe sugar is now four cents a pound and eggs fourteen cents a dozen? She misses having you at her elbow helping her cook and bake. Betsey picked up a fine-looking, 3 lb. steak for 25 cents for all of us to share for three dinners. Cookies are also on the menu so J has something sweet in her lunch pail and a few extras for her best friends. At dinnertime, we make sure to toast you as you have always loved something sweet after a meal.

        With a sad heart, I must end this letter to you. There is laundry to wash and hang. I need to also darn a pair of your father’s socks that he wore through in their heels from all the daily walking he does.

     I miss you dearly, my daughter. Please stay safe and well. I will anxiously await to hear your reply. Know that you are sorely missed and loved very much.

Your loving mother,


I didn’t have time to personally hand write it. If I had comprehended the assignment instead of having a Homer Simpson – Doh! – moment and letting it go over my head when Mr. I first explained it to me at the PTA meeting, I would have been able to and would have found parchment or aged the paper. So I cheated instead and used Segoe Script in size 12 font in Word. *shrugs* Whatever works in the time I have left, right?

I hope my daughter gets warm and fuzzy when she reads it on the field trip. I can’t wait to hear her reaction when I see her the next day.

Do you remember going on an overnight trip with your classroom in elementary school? If so, do share! I went to Fort Funston twice at least and stayed in canvas, two-man tents. Does your child’s school today do these overnighters for the upper grades at least?


5 thoughts on “Age of Sail

  1. You are going to screw with all the genealogists and archivists about 200 years from now…they’re going to see this letter on 2015 paper, printed from a printer, with the date of 1906 and wonder what sort of weirdo you were 😉 And then they’ll find others and *really* start to wonder.

    With that said, I can remember doing a project of a similar sort but we wrote the letter ourselves and learned how to “age” paper for the right look. I think I was in 4th grade…


  2. What a lovely letter! We went away to camp for a week in the summer, sleeping in tents and taking part in all kinds of activities. I think I was generally a rotten kid, getting into fights and sneaking away from the things I was supposed to be doing. I expect my mother knew that, although we probably wouldn’t speak of it!


  3. What an exciting opportunity for Princess Cupcake! I read the link to the Age of Sail and it sounds like a great mixture of hands on learning, teamwork and just plain fun. She is going to love your letter. It is exactly what a mom of that time period would write. Love the references to everyday things like the cost of eggs and steaks.


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