Calico Puzzle by Becky Brown
We can recall the effectiveness of the Union blockade on Southern lives with Calico Puzzle.
"What will the pople do?"
In June of 1861, Clara Solomon began keeping a diary. Sixteen-year-old girls often confide their thoughts, dreams and disappointments to diaries. Clara, one of six daughters of a New Orleans dry goods merchant, also recorded her reactions to the Yankee occupation of the city, her father's absence in the Confederate Army, shortages, and her family's increasing poverty in the War's first two years.
She wrote in the slang of her day, revealing that teenagers 150 years ago had their own language, some of which lingers. Her friend Alice "looked particularly 'jimmy' in a clean muslin."
Some of her words were probably Southern regionalisms rather than teenage slang. She called a baked potato dish a "potato pone."
By fall she was complaining about the price of cotton.
"Former bit calicoes are now 20 and 25 cents...What will the people do?"
Mid-19th-century Americans used
Spanish coins like this "bit" as currency.
Twenty-five cents is two-bits, so the price of prints had doubled. Like most teenagers, she found "pretty dresses" a major concern:
"Remained sewing until 2 ½ when I proceeded to adorn my person. Wore my new dress with which I am in love."
"After School I came directly home. Ma was down stairs sewing....F. came.... The pretty ladies [she] had seen had made her quite envious particularly of their toilettes & she cautioned me not to go on Canal St. for I would see too much grand dressing for my own comfort. Innocent child! How often have I returned home almost downhearted at the remembrance of the pretty dresses & faces I had seen."
Calico Puzzle (BlockBase # 1681) was given that name in the Kansas City Star in 1930.
Cutting an 8" Finished Block
These measurements will give you pieces a bit large which you can then trim to an 8-1/2" square (8" finished) block.
A Cut 2 medium and 2 light squares 3-5/8". Cut each in half diagonally.
You need 4 triangles of each.
B Cut 4 dark and 1 light square 3-3/8"
Clara's diary was recently published as The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon: Growing up in New Orleans, 1861-1862, edited by Elliott Ashkenazi (Louisiana State University Press, 1995). Read excerpts from the book by clicking on this webpage and scrolling to the bottom of the page:
New Orleans became a Union-occupied city for most of the War.