Description

Bordeaux-USA provides to residents of Gironde the opportunity to share Franco-American friendship, culture and ideas through English-speaking events and our Library in the heart of Bordeaux.
We can try for FREE to take part to one talk (Thursday evening 7:00 pm) OR one conversation hour (see 'Practice your English' tab).

COMING NEXT !

1. The "Underground railroad", a world of secrecy

 
Code names

 "Concuctor": smuggler.
 
"Passager" or "Cargo" or "good": runaway. In addition to the metaphorical meaning they were actually good:  sometimes, runaways fled to the North, locked up in crates or pretend to be the slaves of the smuggler who pretended to be their master.


Frederick Douglas & "special" parcel
 "Stationmaster": the person who "accomodated" runaway and gave them food or even clothes.

 "Station" or "depot": stationmaster's house where the runaway took shelter. By houses think attics or cold and damp cellars or even less comfy places such as barns, classrooms or church halls.
 

 
Thomas Garrett & Levi Cofin's house known as "Grand Central Station"
 
A railroad in the 1790's? the network exixted since the end of the 18th century (after all the Mennonites and Quakers publicly stated slavery was wrong in the late 17th century!) but it was nicknames the the "Underground railroad" when the first trains strated to drive on the American soil around 1830.

 
Quilts patterns
 
Quilts are duvets or blankets  of 2 sheets made of different patches of fabric (patchwork), then sewn together and finally stuffed. The patterns were varied and the legend has it some of them had secret meanings. People who helped the runaways put the quilt over window sills or fences.
 
 
 
 
 
Here are the supposed meanings:
 
 
The "Monkey wrench" meant "gather Tools and be ready to leave".
 
 
The "Northen star" meant: "go North".
 
 
The "Drunkard's path" meant : "go forth and back", indeed going straight away to the North could be suspicious.
 
 
The "Bear's paw" meant "follow the montain trail".
 
 
 
The "Bowtie" meant "dress-up and pretend to be freed blacks".
 
 
The "Log cabin" meant "It's time to find a shelter"
 
 
 
 
The "Shoo-fly" meant "The people of the house where you see this pattern can help you".
 
To the introduction                                                 To be continued