Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bess' Diary

For a school assignment Rowan had to bring an artifact that would be of interest to a historian. She asked if she could take one of Bess' diaries. I don't know when Bess started keeping a daily journal, but we have them from 1930 to 1970, when she died. She kept these in 5 year diaries where a single page would have space for five years worth of a single date. I told Rowan that I would type one page because Bess' handwriting was a little hard to read. Of course Rowan picked her own birthday, and then said 1950. So listed below is what happened at our house on Dec. 16 from 1950 to 1954. The number to the left of the year is the temperature on that day. I don't know if it was the high or low or at a specific time. Bess usually wrote before going to bed.

Wrote H.
Paul shoveled drifted walk 25¢
Hot shower + bed at 6 Grace phoned


25 19(50) Sat. Didn’t get much done. H’s check came + I walked to bridge + sent it airmail. Shopped at Lawson’s. Addressed about 50 cards. Cracked English walnuts - Took cake to Ray’s- They gave H + me each a hand painted (by Bob) plate lovely. Betty here AM gave her fruit + berries

-7 19(51) Sun. Put chocolate top on peppermints- got food around for supper- Heard Chicago Cards beat Bears. Fran + Helen came 4 – 7:30 Fran reported on her western trip. Bob brought his N.Y. report over just as we sat down to table – gave them fruit cake + cocktail napkins – did ducks + to bed at 8 - Postman brought mail in P.M. Clara S + Mabel phoned

40 19(52) Tue. Baked 2 2/3 recipe chocolate cookies – 1 maple fondant
I took roast to Ray’s – Coke to Spoon + (?) Helen whiffies (?)
Mrs. Armstrong brought a huge squash + I gave her cookies. H sewed awhile + beat me at Canasta. Made Turkish Creams. Bed at 8.

19(53) Wed. Cookies + candies all day. Mickey took cream to Grace + met me at Lawson’s + carried home groceries. H cracked + packed over 1 qt Walnuts
Spread sheet in back yard + put nut shells out for birds- they loved it - Illinois on front porch dominoes in evening

33 19(54) Thur. Mickey took car to work 1-10. All of us finished writing Christmas cards + most of ‘em mailed – H + M got a new tree at Lawson’s 2.39. I baked 7 fruit cakes - wrapped them in wine soaked cloths. Gretchen here for tea + we gave her her coverlet fruit cake and candies. Dottie here W/ Bob’s impossible Santa face - We combed whiskers for some time. Betty here a while early - Fran + Helen came for their 7 lbs. pecanettes. Left a poem + knit sock Mickey lost Dr. Hopp box 8 pecanettes Box came from Polish man


Elizabeth said...

I loved reading this! When our elderly neighbors died, my aunt bought their home, which came with a diary written by the wife during her teenage years in the 1930's. It was fascinating to read what life was like for her in Northern Michigan as a teenager. I've kept it because I can't bear to see it tossed out without anyone to remember her by.

You're right though, that this sort of stuff would be interesting to a historian. I minored in history because, even though it's my first love, didn't want to teach it. So, this kind of thing is right up my alley.

StuccoHouse said...

Very fun to read! Neat to know that all of those fruitcakes & cookies were made on the countertop in your kitchen. It took me a while to figure out that these entries were right before Christmas.....I had been thinking what a sweet tooth she had.

My grandmother used to leave notes on scraps of paper....prices she paid for furniture, family tree info, recipies, etc. My parents are less sentimental than I became the keeper of a lot of those bits & pieces.

Mike said...

I'm glad you both enjoyed this. I can forsee an easy way to blog on a regular basis!

FWIW Bess' WWI letters to her husband reside in the special collections dept. of the University of Iowa library. When I was there last I was only looking at Helen (her daughter's) letters that also reside there. In a perfect world I'd have time to go through it all...

Stucco-- the key to keeping it all for the Fox family was to have a 1200 sq ft attic, consequently nothing was ever thrown away. I have BOXES of materials, letters that date well back into the 1800's and more, I'll never completely know what all is there.