Monday, January 31, 2011

60 Years ago Today at Foxcroft

January 31, 1951

Wed. -5

Nuts – baked bread – cards to Judy Smith and musical chats. Dottie here for tea sent her home with bowl of spaghetti + 3 pieces cake. Wrote check for 310 gal oil @ .138 = 43.63. Gov’t check for 75.00 came –


"-5" Would have been the high temperature that day. Bess recorded the high each day. The day before (1-30-51) was -17, the day after (2-1-51) was -20. It was certainly a cold week. Below zero temps are forecast again for us on Thursday, but usually the high makes it upwards from there!

Nuts” probably meant she cracked nuts. Despite the black walnut trees not being listed in her 1956 yard map cracking nuts was a regular winter pastime. Bess had three other entries earlier this week that tell of cracking nuts. (I spent nearly 2 hours cracking black walnuts myself yesterday.)

Judy Smith and musical chats” I have no idea what this means. I haven’t seen this person’s name mentioned before.

Dottie” was the next door neighbor, who is a regular reader of this blog. In several other entries during this time period Bess mentions being alone all day, so these visits certainly meant a great deal to her.

310 gal oil” This would be a reference to heating oil to run the furnace. The price must have been 13.8 cents per gallon. Multiplying that price times the amount comes to $42.78. The additional 85 cents must have been sales tax? Bess’ Jan. 31, 1950 entry says “Fuel oil smell in house as tank overflowed.” Given the cold temps it must have been a comfort to have the tank filled.

Gov’t check” I’m not sure what this would have been. Bess was a WWI widow, but I don’t think this would have been a pension. I know that in the mid 1920’s the yearly support check for Helen as the minor child of a WWI soldier who died in active duty was $27.00 annually and that Bess had to send a detailed report to the Veteran’s Administration detailing how she spent the whole thing!


Karrey said...

I love that you have all of that documentation about your house. I want to hear more of what Bess is saying!

Didn't you say you used to live in my neighborhood? Do you recall the names of the people who lived in my house? Was it Petsel? We're going to try to tear down our garage, and there are some hand- and footprints in the concrete that we'd like to preserve if we could get ahold of the family who lived there. Any ideas on where to start?

Kathy from NJ said...

After my husband became fully disabled I became the designated payee for his social security checks. I also had to file an annual report showing how the money was spent.

Would the $75 have been a social security payment?

Mike said...


I emailed you info to get you started, good luck!

Kathy from NJ-

I'm pretty certain it wasn't SS payments. Bess was widowed at 36, in 1920. I don't think she ever was a wage earner. After her husband, a doctor, died in France while in the army (he had volunteered at age 39!) Bess was supported by rent from a farm they owned. I'll keep looking around.