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The spinning-room with its spinning-wheels was the sitting-room, or occasionally the kitchen, and the bedroom adjoining was called the spinning-room kametje. There were often four or five spinning-wheels in a family, and their merry hum meant lively work. The furniture of these rooms was in character much like that of townhouses, and all had sanded floors. Above these rooms were comfortable chambers; and above the chambers the garret.
A more loving pen than mine has drawn the old garrets of the Flatbush farmhouses, with their cast-off furniture, old trunks, and bandboxes; the unused cradle and crib; the little end window with its spicier-webs and yellow wasps buzzing angrily, and beating with extended wings against the dingy panes, or sitting in dull clusters, motionless and silent, along the moulding; the rough chimneys; the spinning-wheels and looms, the wooden pegs with discarded clothing. Mrs. Vanderbilt says:—
“The shingled roof which overarched the garret in all its length and breadth was discolored by time, and streaked and stained with the leakage caused by hard northeast storms; there were tin-pans and sea-shells apparently placed at random over the floor in a purposeless way, but which were intended to catch the drip when the warped shingles admitted the rain. In winter there were little drifts of snow here and there which had sifted through the nail-holes and cracks.”
The garret was a famous drying-place in winter-time for the vast washings. Often long adjustable poles were fitted from rafter to rafter to hold the hanging garments.
In the garret, beside the chimney and opening into it, was the smokehouse, sometimes shaped like a cask. Too heavy and big to have been brought in and up to the garret, it was probably built in it. Around this smokehouse were hung hams and sausages, and sides of bacon and dried beef. These usually were not cured in this garret smokehouse; that was simply a storage-place, in which they could be kept properly dry and a little smoked.
Of the kamer, or parlor, of New Amsterdam Irving wrote, with but slight exaggeration of its sanctity and cherished condition:—