Thursday, January 17, 2008

1912 Diary, Nora

Nora Belle Donaldson, 1889-1959

I've posted some of my maternal grandmother's autobiography here, but today I thought I'd share some information about my paternal grandmother, Nora Pierce. She died when I was in first grade, and while I remember her, I never knew her well. As an older lady she wasn't well, and years of hard work on the farm had transformed her from the sweet looking girl in this photograph to someone who had weathered many difficulties, whose face and body reflected her 70 years. Unlike my Grandma Tess, who lived 99 years to tell her stories, and who loved recalling the past, Nora left short diary entries of her days; a woman of few words. What follows is part of her diary from 1912, a peek into the every day life of a young farm woman. She was twenty-three years old, and wouldn't be married for six more years. Her mother died in 1906, so she would have kept house for her father and brother. What emerges is a rhythm of life very different from anything we can imagine today. She lived at a time when women did laundry by hand, had cook stoves that burned wood, had no indoor plumbing, and either walked or rode a horse to church and to visit friends. I doubt that they had a telephone yet. The E.P. referred to in these entries is Earl Pierce, whom she married in 1918.

Jan 25: tatting 50 cents, brassiere 50 cents, ribbon 7 cents, hair net 5 cents

Jan 27: Washed, called on Mrs. Olson

Jan 28: Ironed and called on Inez Weaver. Wrote to H.L.

Jan 29: Baked, mopped, mended. Called on Geo. McGrath.

Jan. 30: Swept upstairs. Called on Mrs. Rowe. Rec'd a bouquet of carnations from H.L.

Jan 31: Swept. Baked. Attended MWA banquet. Punk time.

Feb. 1: Done Saturday work. Washed hair.

Feb. 2: Went to church. E.P. called this evening.

Feb. 3: Washed. Called on Mrs. Barfoot.

Feb. 4: Ironed, mended. Baked pie.

Feb 5: Mopped. Baked cookies.

Feb. 6: Swept upstairs. Attended L.A.S. (Ladies Aid Society) at Barfoots. Ida Kittleson was here this evening.

Feb. 7: Swept and cleaned. Elaine was here. We spent the evening with Albert and Alma. E. Stayed all night.

Feb. 8: Called on Bess Morrison.

Feb. 9: Went to church. D.S.S. Edna called in afternoon, E.P. in evening.

Feb. 12: Puttered. Mopped floor.

Feb. 13: Swept upstairs. Attended a play in Delavan. Mrs. Broniba died.

Feb. 14: Swept. Went to class meeting. Walked 2 1/2 miles.

Feb. 16: Went to church and SS (Sunday School). Mr. Dooley preached for the first time since his return. Claude Bronson fell 14 feet and hurt himself quite badly. E.P. called in evening.

Feb. 17: Washed and ironed. Read.

Feb 18: Mrs. Dooley was here to supper.

Feb. 19: Cleaned house after party. Ida was here. Hawley (her brother) was invited to supper.

Feb. 21: Just sat around. Stormy.

Feb. 22: The same.

Feb. 23: Beautiful day. Went to church. E.P. called in evening.

Feb. 24: Beautiful day. Washed, ironed. Called on Mrs. Barfoot.

Feb. 25: Mended and puttered. Weather fair.

Feb. 26: Cleaned kitchen. Called on Ruby Cooper. Attended prayer program in the evening. Cloudy weather.

Feb. 27: Fair weather. Swept upstairs. Baked cookies. Mrs. Olson called.

Feb. 28: Swept downstairs. Mrs. Barfoot called. Attended R.N.A social in the evening with E.P. Had fair time.

1 comment:

Joan Y said...

Thanks for sharing. I wonder what your grandmother thought as she sat there, thinking, with a storm outside. Ever wonder that?