LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 11

LeRoyHouse is ready for vis-
itors this summer. Today, Sam
Leadley and I put up the screen
door. Itwas inpretty roughshape
after the winter and it needed
painting so I calledRonPaganin
theoldpaintand then tookapaint
chip up toCrocker’s to have the
darkbluepaintmatched. Several
yearsago,weremovedpaint from
the frontdoor tofindout theorig-
inalcolor,anddiscovered itwasa
verydark, almostblack-blue.We
decided to paint the screen door
the same color.
Originally, when the LeRoy
family lived here, and even for
several years later, there was a
louvered door on the front. The
heavy front door could be open,
but the louvereddoorallowedair
tocirculate inside.With theback
dooropen, therewasanicebreeze
through the hall. Exactly when
LeRoyHousegot its screendoor
to the louvereddoor isamystery.
Wire screens were not very
common in the early 1800s.
There was an advertisement for
“wove wire for window screen”
as early as 1823 in theAmerican
Farmer. And wire screens were
exhibited in Boston in 1839 but
the manufacture of wire screen
material was difficult. Screens
were used for sieves and flour
sifters, but the early ones were
wovenof horsehair.
TheGilbert andBennett Com-
pany in Connecticut manufac-
tured horse-hair sieves but the
sieves were fragile. So Gilbert
and Bennett acquired carpet
loomsand startedweavingmetal
wirewhichwasplaced inwooden
hoops.During theCivilWar, the
company lost thesouthernmarket
and therewasasurplusofwoven
wire cloth. The story is told that
anemployeepainted someof the
screening toprevent rust,andsold
it for window screens. Later the
company introduced steel wire
screenwhichwas rust resistant.
Wire screenwas usednot only
for windows and doors, it was
put on pie and cheese cupboards
tokeepoutflies.And itwasused
for fly domes, to put over food,
and tomakefly traps.Apparently,
screenwas also used formaking
sheets of ragpaper.
When I was in Europe a couple
ofyearsago,wewent toamuseum
where they were demonstrating
making rag paper. The rags are
pounded intoapulpand thenmixed
with water. Wooden trays lined
with sieves are scooped into the
pulpmixture, and then as they are
broughtoutof themixture, thewa-
terdrains through thesieve, leaving
a layer of ragpaper,which isdried
andpressed intopaper sheets.
railroad passenger cars. In fact a
patent was taken on screens for
the upper windows in the pas-
senger cars, that allowed people
to lower thewindows, but topre-
vent hot cinders from the engine
blowing into the cars.
The importanceof screenwin-
dows and doors was a health
issue - - keepingflies
and mosquitoes out
of the house. Some
people hung the herb
tansyon thewindows
to discourage bugs
from coming in the
house. Other people
across the windows.
The Genesee Farmer
magazine, suggested
that at night, folks
could leave their
windows open to let
bats come in and eat
the flies. Obviously,
if you could afford
screens, that was a
better option.
When screening became af-
fordable, people had screened
porches. My in-laws’ house in
Rochester had summer sleeping
porchesoff theupstairsbedrooms
that couldbe screened. In the fall
the screens would come down,
be cleaned andput in thegarage.
Then the stormwindows would
be put up.
When I worked in the Jones
FarmHouse atGeneseeCountry
Museum, many years ago, I re-
member coming into the kitchen
in the morning and seeing hun-
dredsofflieson theceiling.Then
as the day wore on, they would
come off the ceiling and start
buzzingaround. Itwouldn’thave
made much difference if there
werescreenson thewindowsand
Screenedpie safe inMrs. LeRoy’s kitchen.
Left: fly trap made of wire and on right a food dome to keep
flies off food.
Large brass wire drive and two small
doors, because after hundreds of
peoplecome through thehouse, it
isprettyhard tokeep thefliesout.
And you couldn’t yell, “Close
the screendoor, you’re letting in
Some days I would watch a
white faced wasp come into the
kitchen. He would drop down
from the ceiling, grab a fly and
then take it back up, and rip off
thewings and thenwrap the live
fly ina littlecocoon. I’dbework-
ing at the kitchen table and little
from the ceiling.
So ifyoustopbyLeRoyHouse,
come in the front door and close
the screen door behind you in a
hurry. It’s reallyhard tocleanfly
specs off the ceiling.
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