Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rabbit Trails in Diaries

Periodically I transcribe sections of a diary.  This last week's entries were from 1939.  The diary was written by a young woman, single, a teacher in a one-room school in the far northwestern corner of our country.  The diary entries chronicle farm life:  the plowing, the scratching (now what on earth is that?) of the land; the meal preparation, often begun by butchering roasters; church events such as choir practice and Christian Endeavor program planning (does anyone remember that title?); even butchering hogs, which entails (hah) preparing sausage casings and making head cheese.

The diarist also records trips to town to see movies.  I have put some on my Netflix queue.  Perhaps I'll share a list another time.  Once in a while the young woman writes a book title.  Read "Shuttered Windows." (Florence Crannell Means)  

Curious, I searched for it at my local library.  I brought it home yesterday.  It was written in 1938.  How did it get to an eastern Washington state library so quickly (I suppose this young woman had no money to buy books), all across the country from wherever Houghton Mifflin was publishing?

It is a young adult novel, before the genre solidified, I suppose.  It is about a black teenager from Minneapolis, where racial divisions are only moderate, who visits her grandmother in the "gullah"  barrier islands off South Carolina.  I am finding it charming, quite well written, with the contrast between the northern girl and her southern milieu the centerpiece of the book.

I cannot imagine that the aforementioned diarist had ever known any African Americans, or knew  what the black life style was like in the 1930's.  This must have been a disturbing book, even though the contrasts are gently and kindly given.

The diarist.  Can you guess who she might be?

1 comment:

  1. I have an idea, but I'm not telling!