Loving The Past, Thankful For Today

Pensacola Beach

I recently had the pleasure of spending a nice long time in my former hometown of Pensacola, Florida,  with my sister and two of my sons. I lived in Pensacola for ten years, and my sis still does. It’s a great city!  We had a lovely time, and, I have to admit, we ate a LOT while I was there. 😉 I missed being here, blogging and chatting with you, but was storing up all the things I wanted to share with you when I returned!

Sherrin and me my first day in Pensacola


My two younger sons and me at the beach


 One of the things I got to do while in Pensacola was take a tour of historic Pensacola.  It was so much fun! Today I would love to share with you a bit of what I learned about how folks lived in Pensacola in centuries past. First, Here are some interesting facts about Pensacola, via visitpensacola.com:

Spanish sailor Don Tristan de Luna arrived in Pensacola on Aug. 15, 1559, establishing the first European settlement in the United States. One month later, a hurricane destroyed supplies, eventually causing the Spanish to flee the area.

Having been ruled by Spain, France, Britain, the Confederacy and the United States, Pensacola has earned the nickname “City of Five Flags.”

Emmanuel Point II is the second-oldest shipwreck in the country. Discovered in 2007 by University of West Florida archaeology students, the ship belonged to Spanish sailor Don Tristan de Luna’s expedition, dating back to 1559.

The first Catholic Mass in the United States was held on Pensacola Beach shortly after the sailors arrived in August 1559.

Pensacola was the original capital of Florida, and it was here that Gen. Andrew Jackson changed flags with Spanish Governor Jose Callava, bringing West Florida under the control of the United States.


We visited quite a few homes, as well as Christ Church, on the tour.  Here’s the first home we visited:

Lavalle French-Creole House, built in 1805
This was the room that the whole family slept in; parents on a rope bed with a spanish moss-filled mattress (redbugs, anyone?) and kids on the floor.
The rope bed with mosquito netting. The ropes sagged after a few nights, and they had a tool to tighten them back up. This is where the phrase "sleep tight" originated!
An Italian olive oil pot. They were brought in on ships and were full of olive oil. When emptied, they could be used to store water. The dipper is made from a gourd.
The other room in the house was the work room. Food prep and other chores took place here. Cooking was mostly done outside due to fire risk and heat in the South.


This is where food was stored in the home. The upper piece held the baked goods, keeping them up out of reach of rodents.
The work table; the painted sailcloth on the floor was removed in the summer so that air could circulate through the floor cracks.


The front porch of Lavalle House.
The front porch of Lavalle House.


We toured other homes, too; I’ll share them soon. I really enjoyed this one in its simplicity. However, it reminded me, with its lack of air conditioning, lack of refrigeration for food, and lack of modern appliances, that I am blessed to have my home and the things that I sometimes take for granted.  I’m so thankful for dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens, and even stand mixers!  🙂  Aren’t you?

As for cooking back then, having a big chunk of sugar was a source of pride. It was displayed in the home prominently; for example, on the mantle, so that visitors could admire it. To use the sugar, a small piece of it would be chipped off and put between the cheek and gum, and then something like hot tea would be drunk, allowing the sugar in one’s mouth to sweeten it as it was drunk. Then, (and you’re not going to believe this) if there was any sugar left in the mouth, it was removed and stuck back onto the family’s chunk of sugar. Nothing was wasted.  Also, clearly, hygiene was not what it is now, as the understanding of how bacteria grows and spreads was not yet known. I’m thankful for our current knowledge!  Wow. 

Now, if you’re still in the mood to bake after that, here is a page of old fashioned tea cakes recipes that you  might like to try.  These have been around for many, many years, and originally the measurements were “a teacup full of sugar,” etc.  In previous centuries, housewives didn’t have the perfect measuring devices we have now, so this was their way of standardizing in their own home.   Check out this site: Old Fashioned Tea Cakes recipes.

I hope you’ll let me know if you try one of the recipes on the teacakes page.  They are so good, and stay chewy for days, which I love. They’re great for adding to lunch boxes. You can also adapt them to your own tastes, like making a spiced version with the addition of cinnamon.  Enjoy!








6 thoughts on “Loving The Past, Thankful For Today

  1. Sounds like you had a lovely time. I’ve never been to Pensacola, but i’ve visited similar houses in Savannah, Ga. It’s amazing how people lived back then. I remember living without a microwave… i couldn’t do that now!

    Thanks for the great post! I’m glad that you guys had such fun.

    1. Hi Laurie! We did have a great time. These home tours do remind us that we are blessed to have our modern amenities, you’re right. 🙂 It’s always good to remember how blessed we are!

  2. Thanks, dear MamaStephf! This is so lovely! I’m not surprised of course, as I cannot recall thinking otherwise of any of your posts! Since I’m a history buff, love the Gulf Coast, gread photography and Southern recipes, how could I possibly go wrong? I could not. What a pleasure to read 🙂 And thanks for the excellent recipe link! Susan needs to get on FB! I plan to give her some publicity anyway… Cyberhugs to you ❤

    1. Thank you, Michele! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post; it was fun to put together. I agree about Susan; she better join us over on FB ASAP! 🙂

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