My Brother Sam Is Dead
by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My Brother Sam Is Dead Visions of America Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
So the summer went along and I lived my ordinary life, which was mostly chores all day long. Having a father who was a tavern-keeper was a lot better than being a farmer's son, like most boys. Running a farm is terrible hard work—plowing and hoeing and milking cows and such and being out in the fields all by yourself with nobody to talk to all day long. Being around a tavern is a lot more fun. There are people coming and going, and a lot of them have been to the big towns like Hartford or New Haven or even New York or Boston, and they have stories to tell. But still, it isn't as much fun as people like Jerry Sanford think. […] He doesn't realize that there's an awful lot of wood to cut to keep the fireplaces going for cooking and a lot of water to come up from the well and if there isn't anything else to do, there's scrubbing the floors and washing the windows and keeping everything clean generally. (3.6)
Sounds like living in Colonial America is a lot of work. Whether you're a farmer's son or a tavern-keeper's son, you're probably going to be working long hours to help out your family business. Keep an eye out for the times when Tim talks about the work he does in keeping his family's tavern/shop business afloat.
Verplancks Point was on the Hudson River, just south of a town called Peekskill. Boats from New York City and Albany stopped there for trading. The idea of our trip was to drive cattle to Verplancks Point where we could sell them, and then use the money to buy supplies we needed for the tavern and the store—rum, cloth, pots and pans, needles and thread and all sorts of things. The traders brought these things up the river from New York and sold them to merchants at towns along the way, like Verplancks Point. And of course the merchants there wanted cattle to ship down to New York where there was a need for beef. (7.19)
We like to think of these trading towns as the shopping malls of colonial America. Plus, did you notice that Tim likes to give us mini-economics lessons in the midst of his story? Well here's another one. Looks like the economy in the colonies exists around the river. Rivers are an easy way to transport goods, so trading post would crop up along them.
Father was right about the thieves who people called cow-boys. We'd heard all kinds of stories from travelers about them. All of that part of Westchester county, from the Connecticut border over to the Hudson River, had gotten to be a kind of no man's land, with roving bands wandering around plundering people on the excuse that they were part of the war. (7.26)
Cowboys are an iconic piece of American history. When you think of a cowboy, what normally comes to mind? We're thinking lassos, spurs, maybe a hearty root beer. But the cowboys in this book are just downright mean. They aren't herding animals as law-abiding citizens. Instead, they're just thieves.