I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in a train. ~ Oscar Wilde
I received a five year diary from a friend on my 12th birthday. On the verge of adolescence, I could hardly imagine the person I would be on my 17th birthday. I faithfully kept a journal through my teen years, not only in the little red diary, but also in larger volumes. I still have the diaries hidden in a drawer and hope they never become public property. It is embarrassing to read some entries, but I do remember my teenaged years as being self centered, emotionally uncertain and marked with ups and downs in relationships with friends and family. Rereading my diaries helped me to be more patient with my own daughters as they were growing up as I was far from perfect in attitude and actions.
My husband’s grandfather was also a journal keeper. My brother and sister-in-law copied the diaries from 1918 and 1926 for us and they are a wonderful snapshot of family life in these years. Grandfather A. summarized the activities of each day, listed his expenditures and receipts, kept track of church collections, and offered other tidbits of information about home and friends. Some of my favourite entries are as follows
Tuesday July 23, 1918 My birthday 44 years. Picked potatoes, hauled 6 loads of manure. Rained a little. To meeting. Spent 75 cents.
Tuesday August 20, 1918 Baby boy born at 2:45. Dr. Lackner at 3 o’clock a.m. Mrs. Matchett to nurse mama and child. I threshed today and ploughed with 5 horses in the p.m. Spent $1.46 (the child was my father-in-law…I wonder if the $1.46 was the doctor’s fee)
On October 11 and 12 of the same year, the deaths of three family friends are recorded, one 40 years old, one 80 years old and one 19 years old. The Spanish influenza hit the community hard. Throughout October, many deaths and funerals were mentioned.
Sunday, October 13, 1918
At home all day. Churches all closed. Many people sick.
I am not surprised at the popularity of blogging. Some bloggers record details of their lives that are better hidden in a drawer. (The Becka is behind me right now reading my old diary aloud with laughter and disbelief!) Journals are marginally interesting to most people when they are written, but become more fascinating when read by later generations. I wonder if weblogs will be as enduring as pen and paper?…Only time will tell!
Pale ink is better than the most retentive memory. ~ Harvey B. Mackay