Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A surprise in Aunt Emma’s diary…

My mother was born in 1896. She, her older sister and their parents lived in West Brattleboro, Vt. Also living there, just two houses down from theirs, was my Grandmother’s sister, my great Aunt Emma.

After Aunt Emma died my mother was given all her diaries and she divided them among the family. I received 12 of them and I couldn’t wait to read what she’d written. Was I ever disappointed! I knew that Aunt Emma was a spinster and a very frugal one at that; but I had no idea that her life was so devoid of enchantment or just plain fun.

Page after page recorded nothing but the weather conditions for the day and the exact price of everything she bought. Of course she would mention visiting her sister, etc., but not much else of interest until ...

Imagine my surprise when I read, in her diary of 1912: “I stood on my front porch and waved to President Taft as he rode by on the trolly.”

I couldn’t wait to research this and, sure enough, here is a picture of the trolly tracks and a caption that reads: “In the early years of the 20th century, the town built a trolly which traveled the length of Main Street and out Western Avenue to West Brattleboro.”

And here’s the big man himself speaking at a town just North of West Brattleboro. So I guess Aunt Emma had a special treat that day ... even if her New England stoicism made it hard for her to express it!


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Coincidentally, the mysteries which I have recently been reading are set in Brattleboro: Joe Gunther Mysteries by Archie Mayor.

5:12 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Reading old time diaries is like panning for gold--you have to go through lots and lots of ordinary stuff. But occasionally you do find a nugget.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Aren't you glad to have been persistant in your diary reading to find that gem of information, Ginnie? Too bad the trolley days are long gone.

5:58 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

I have a few letters that were written to (or by) my grandmother, but no diaries. I really wish she had written one, since she had a colorful life.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

Isn't it just amazing how our ancestors had these experiences and never told us about them? Thank you for sharing this moment in time. Dianne

7:43 AM  
Blogger Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Ginnie,

Very interesting. It is indeed a lonely life for a single person. I wonder what the prices of essential commodities at that time were. When I was a young man a litre of petrol was less than a rupee and now it has gone up to as much as fifty five rupees.

Best wishes,

9:18 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

Her diaries are different from mine for sure! My mother's are wonderfully full of things. Nothing racy but a lot about the man she was to marry--my father.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

what an amazing story, isn't history fascinating, especially when our loved ones stood there on that day as witness!

2:47 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

Since my blog is basicially my diary, guess I had better spice it up:))
I agree with the others and hope you keep searching for those special, hidden gems. I am a firm believer that there is a story in everyone's life.

5:13 AM  
Blogger possum said...

I am trying to remember whose diary it was that appeared to be nothing but weather reports and birdwatching... but in reality, the old girl was having a torrid affair with a neighbor, and it was recorded in terms of the weather and nature. Lends new insight to "It was a hot and steamy day today!" or "It was just too hot to even sleep last night!" LOL!
I am going to have to look that up... I remember who showed it to me... hmmmm......

For many of us bloggers, our blogs are nice polite and impersonal comments on life around us. For others, it all hangs out! I was told once my blog is so guarded no one could tell anything about me except I loved nature.

6:06 AM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

What a treasure you have. I love reading old diaries even if the author is not related. I would dearly love to have some that were in my family.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

What a nice occasion. It is sad to think that that was a high light in her life. It takes a certain kind of orderly mind to record the humdrum things in life.

To bad you did not find any accounts of great loves, or love, in her life for which she grieved all her adult life.

8:28 AM  

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