Re: Regarding Witchcraft ... Why Rye Gone Awry, Says I?

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Posted by Bill R on January 20, 2000 at 21:31:58:

In Reply to: Re: Regarding Witchcraft ... Why Rye Gone Awry, Says I? posted by Elaine on January 20, 2000 at 18:00:00:

: :
: : : And Doc M replies:
: : : : Yeah, my friends and I wanted to take over the tour and
: : : : give folks the REAL story, but we decided to give the
: : : : poor thing a break. I mean, she had to wear a dopey-looking
: : : : pilgrim outfit and talk to people in polyester leisure
: : : : suits all day, so her life was hard enough.

: : : >>Just to defend the tour guide a wee little bit, I saw a lengthy documentary on this subject that indicated quite seriously that ergot in rye seed WAS responsible for many an hysterical episode in those times. So...maybe she was instructed to give that explanation, or was going on the information at hand when she was trained as a guide. I know there was a novel written about it all (I read it, too, Bill, and can't remember the name, either) but I think even the novel was based on this research. Perhaps that's all disproven now, but I think it was given serious consideration for awhile there.

: : : MMMMarcia

: : Well, okay sure. Maybe. But it begs the question why it was only Salem that had such a hysterical reaction to rye mold? Were they the only ones who were eating rye bread? Doubt it. Were they the only ones with fungus among the seeds? Double doubt it.
: : So why wasn't there a HUGE hysterical outbreak amongst Russian
: : people for example.

: : In the book (the novel) it leads us to believe that eating rye bread as opposed to entirely wheat bread was thought to be a bit strange...almost unheard of. And that the children were fed it innocently while visiting a rather unorthodox woman making rye bread. Maybe so. Maybe not. It just seems strange that there were no similar outbreaks in the colonies that we know of.

: : However, rye mold and ergot would explain to me the nature of that famous preppy book we all had to read...Catcher in the Rye.
: : Salinger was a victim of rye ergot when he wrote the darn thing!!
: : For the life of me I will never understand why that book was pushed upon us as such a wonderful statement of something or other compared to other books out at the time. Gotta by rye ergot all around!

: *****
: Hey Bill!
: I'm with you on this rye gone awry ...
: From Ergot to the Catcher of BAD rye!

: First, the theory is more moldy than was the rye. ONLY those poor girls fell ill??? Rye was THE grain of choice in the Bay Colony.
: The July heat made the growing of wheat not a good idea. But rye did quite well & the people grew fond of the 'coarse' bread.

: Naughty girls got caught misbehaving & rather than take their *medicine* they quickly pointed fingers. The rest is history, of course. There are many lessons to be discovered in this whole affair but one must first try to understand the Puritan world.

: Here's what King George thought of this wry business ...

: {Speaking to the recently relieved Governor Thomas Hutchinson in 1774}

: KG: "Pray, Mr. Hutchinson, does population greatly increase in your province?"

: TH; "Very rapidly, sir..."

: KG: "Why do not foreigners come to your province as well as to the Southern governments?"

: TH: "I take it, sir, that our long cold winters discourage them. The southern colonies are more temperate."

: The king asked why Massachusetts raised no wheat & Hutchinson explained the summer heat shriveled the wheat & caused straw to become musty. He said the people instead ate coarser breads or rye & corn.

: KG: "What's corn?"

: Hutchinson explained what corn was & added that colonists preferred rye over wheat.

: KG: "That's very strange."

: ... Indeed.

: As for THAT book, Bill, really! I HATED it & wondered why we were forced to read this juvenile drivel. Still haven't figured it out but the ergot poisoning may well be a factor!




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