Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 24, 1932

Bess’ Diary

April 24th, 1932
Sun. 45 Rain
H to WAA breakfast at 8. Daylight Savings time starts
at 2 a.m. today. Furnace fire after 2 days without, H
to supper with Prof. Bush to meet Stephen Vincent
Benet. Covered violets and azaleas

Comments: Helen was a junior at the University of Iowa at this time. She was a member of the Tri Delt sorority and many other groups. The WAA appears to have been the "Women's Athletic Association." Here is info from the UI Women's archives:

"The Women’s Athletic Association (WAA), an intramural organization with both an athletic and social focus, was organized in 1911 to “promote a spirit of fair play and sportsmanship among girls.” The WAA offered a variety of clubs, including Orchesis (dance), Seals (swimming), outing, hockey, canoeing, archery, badminton, tennis, basketball, and handicrafts. The group sponsored tournaments, play days, intramurals, sport club activities, classes in social dancing, and all-freshmen parties."

Helen was a member of the rifle team, Bess often mentions Helen practicing shooting.

Daylight Saving Time started nationally during WWI but was suspended in 1919. Apparently Iowa must have gone back to it sometime after that, and before it was nationally adopted in 1966.

Earlier in the week Bess' diary mentions she had bought an additional half ton of coal. The furnace fires would have been fueled with that.

Prof. Bush was French professor Stephen Bush. Helen was a French major, and had made her first trip to France, with Professor Bush, in the summer of 1929. She returned to France in 1931, also with Prof. Bush. He remained her mentor and I have read letters well into the 1950's where Bess updates Helen on Prof. Bush's health. I have also found a 1902 book citation that thanks Prof. Bush for his help in translating a work, his career at UI certainly seemed to have spanned half a century.

Stephen Vincent Benet (pictured above) was an American Poet best known for John Brown's Body , which won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1929. Another well known work is the short story The Devil and Daniel Webster . Benet undoubtedly was speaking on the UI campus. This appearance would have pre-dated the formal establishment of the now internationally renowned UI Writer's Workshop, which continues to attract well know poets and authors to Iowa City.

With a high of 45 that day, it was likely below freezing that night. Covering the violets and azaleas would be to protect them from a killing frost. In last 40 years Iowa City has a 50% chance of frost on or After April 15th.