Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Mother’s High School Diary

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It’s amazing how family treasures pop up at the most unexpected times. My mother was born 17 Jan 1925 and passed away 14 July 1990. Her husband Don, my stepfather, passed away June, 1998. After attending Don’s funeral, my husband Larry and I joined other family members on the front porch of his home to reminisce and share treasured memories of Don and Ruby (Flanders Margheim) Craine. My half-sister Julie came onto the porch with a small book in hand—my mother’s high school diary. Until that day, I had no knowledge that this book existed.

It seems that my mother kept a diary from Monday, December, 4, 1939 until Monday, August 3, 1942. She would have been ages 14-17 during the time she was recording her day’s activities in her little diary. Julie entertained us with a few selected entries from the diary. Here’s a small sampling:

1. Monday, Sep 30, 1940: Went skating. Didn’t have much fun Got a new pr. of oxfords. To bed at 10:30.

2. Sunday, June 8, 1941 Went to show. Judy Garland in “Little Nellie Kelly” and Humphrey Bogart in “The Wagon’s Roll at Nite.”

3. Friday, February 13, 1942 Went to the dance. Ray wasn’t there. Got acquainted with the guitar player. (The guitar player was my dad, Ernest Margheim, whom she married in July, 1943. )

Ruby Diary copied 

The picture above is a copy of two of the pages in her handwriting. At the bottom left is an entry that says: “Helen & I went to the dance at skating rink. We got in for 11 cents each…”

Ruby Diary Transcribed

Two years ago my sister Julie sent Mom’s diary to me to read and transcribe. I made copies of all the handwritten pages, enough to give a copy of the diary to my three half-sisters Jill, Julie and Jenice and my twin brother Dennis, each of her children.  I started the project of transcribing each page, but only got about half way through it that summer when I had sufficient time.

I don’t like to start projects and them leave them unfinished. But for the last two years much of my free time has been taken up with care that I’ve given to my dad as he’s experienced some health challenges. Since Dad’s now living independently and getting along pretty good, this year I made up my mind that I would finish the process of transcribing Mom’s diary, get it printed and mailed to my siblings.

Ruby Diary Cover

Last week I finished the transcription process and assembled the books! I felt such a sense of relief at this accomplishment. 

Ruby Diary photos

I’m lucky to have one of my mother’s photo albums from that time period and in it were photos of many of the friends she mentioned in the diary. So I made copies of many of those pictures and included them in the front of the book. It’s always nice to put a face with a name!

Yesterday I sent the books to my brother and sisters. I hope they have as much fun browsing through the pages as I had reading it the first time. My mom’s entries reveal many things that I found interesting:

1. she was not very interested in school at that age (but I know she was smart and made good grades)

2. she went to Sunday School

3. she helped her parents with some of their work assignments

4. she loved her siblings deeply and was excited to spend time with them

5. she had a wide circle of friends

6. she could sew, sing, play the piano, cook

7. she didn’t smoke or drink alcohol and wouldn’t date boys who drank

8. she shared titles of most of the movies she attended, which is historically interesting

9. and at ages 14-17 she was what I would call “boy crazy”.

My mother Ruby was just a normal, healthy teenager from the very small town of Stafford, Stafford County, Kansas in the early 1940s. What a wonderful window on her life has she provided by making those daily entries into her little blue diary.

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