Elinor’s frustration and complaint of being tired is consistent throughout the diary. In spite of that she maintains cooking, baking, sewing, cleaning, canning, gardening, bird care, chicken care, fetching water, and being a nursing caretaker when Elbert is ill. She does seem to maintain a schedule for chores. Baking usually includes brown and white loaves, small and large (4 total). Now that her husband is gone and her brother often works during the day, and she does not have neighbor friends over, she is leading an isolated life. They do have a neighbor to the North, Rue and Helen Syrrs, though the house is not visible to her. She does not seem very intimidated by strangers, describing for example receiving a man from the road, identified as Robert Robinson asking for food (“very tanned with blue eyes”) and later realizing he is being sought by authorities but opting to not call to report him. She does visit people and almost always takes gifts, flowers or food including eggs.
Elbert is a carpenter and it seems that he works at the Shipyard only when they have things for him to work on which is inconsistent. Elbert is officially “out of work” and qualifies to go to “the Social office” to report this, similar to workman’s compensation, but it is not clear if they are paying him or sending him to potential jobs. At one point he receives a card telling him to return to a job at the steel plant. He sometimes works at a steel plant building wooden pallets and sometimes at the fish house docks. Elbert has a car which often needs repairs (clutch, fan, brakes). He is dependent on car repair provided by different gas stations over the years for anything that goes wrong. Without a car, he “bums” rides or just walks to Vermilion (7 miles) and sometimes to Huron (also 7 miles). The house is about half a mile from the lake road. Just 5 miles from Elbert and Elinor’s house part way to Huron was a famous 8 room house owned by Jabez Wright that stood over a 90 foot secret tunnel to Lake Erie created for fugitive slaves headed to Canada in 1800s.
During this time she seems to be providing substantial amounts of food, blankets, mash bags, and blankets to her younger sister Nellie and her children. (pk cucumber, few string beans, pk acorn squash, 1/2 bu. sweet corn, old quilt, red wool blanket, 2 cotton blankets, 4 mash bags that had been washed). Nellie’s daughter Bonita during this time fell through a glass door and has cut her wrist. Elinor’s mother is reported as ill (stomach problems). Her father frequently fishes and shares (“38 nice pike”) with family. Elbert and Elinor have opened their garden to some friends as well, but she complains that they take too much and never express appreciation. Family members drop by and expect meals to be provided. They take and bring things from each other’s properties (mostly without asking) to share (plants dug up, grape vines, flowers, garden produce, walnuts or fruit from trees). She describes buying things from Sears and Penneys (sweater for Elbert, underwear, food, a new generator for the stove, arch supports for shoes.) There are times later when they have no money even for food. There are traveling salesmen and Elbert is often tempted, for example to buy the 185 dollar “short wave” treatment machine for “warming” aches and pains.
She is critical of how critical her young sister Nellie is especially to her children, though she is very critical of the children’s behavior. Nellie apparently already has dependent edema that causes pain and Elinor says Nellie is “iratable & she doesn’t control her feelings.”
Her understanding of national and world history seems limited. She may be getting news from the radio or the pulpit and she often compares it with predictions and prophecy from the bible. She does include prayers in her entries.
Family members find opportunities for travel sometimes by offering to work for people, providing baby sitting, cooking, teaching, etc. Ella Jane finds a situation that might take her to Florida with a couple but she would have to provide 35$ for car fare and room and board and she cannot afford it. Nellie’s husband John McKinley Harnish, finds a plumbing job in Grafton but family have to transport him to and from the job. Education for children is not a given. Nellie’s daughter Bonney is finishing her last year of school while working nights, cooking for wear ever pan sales events. Her son Johny is doing his sophomore year. Bonney is paying for both of their lunches and Elinor says she’s a “good girl.”
The property at 7513 Hahn Road is 5.5 acres of (mostly) woods and includes the main house, a tool shed, an out house, the pump and cistern and the large 3 part, long chicken house. There is also a building called the summer cottage that seems to be one room and to be in rough shape. The property has a lot of poison ivy which seems to be tolerated though she says “on my feet & legs hands and arms face and neck are, just a mass of blisters.” The main house is set back from the road about 20 feet built into a hill. There is a depression or ditch along the road that starts just at their driveway and becomes deeper as it goes north. Most of the rest of the property is flat except for that hill on the north and east side of the house. On the west side it touches Crane Creek which flows out to Lake Erie parallel to Hahn Rd. It is a dry creek bed part of the year. There is a large central tree between the house and road and there is a line of 3-4 pine trees at the northeast corner of the house. Elinor’s husband Frank apparently built the main house. Although living in Huron on a road that is the lowest part of Lake Erie, the diary often focusses on the homestead in Lorain on the Black River which is a tributary for Lake Erie, less than 15 miles long. The bridges that cross the river near Lake Erie are mentioned by Elinor, particularly one that was new in 1939, “the central high level bridge”, the 21st street bridge, and the Erie Ave Bridge. The property is a good hunting spot frequented by Elinor’s father, brother, husband and others. The flow of seasons for Elinor definitely includes those set for hunting specific animals.
October Diary Entries
Oct.1.1940. I did the wash & ironing & house work been chilly cool & cloudy today I feel so tired tonight.
Wed. Oct.2. I baked 1. loaf of brown bread & one small one 1. loaf & 1. small one of white bread. and
=9= it is a beautiful day We hope to go to Lorain in morning.
Thurs.Oct.3.1940. Just before dark last night I went down the hill to pick some dahlias, and man came off the road to where I was and ask for something to eat he was very tanned had blue eyes and in a second I see he was the man the radio had sent out a call for, I gave him two slices of my home made brown bread & a baked apple he seemed so nervous and hurried on as soon as he could I ask his name & he said Robert Robinson I wanted to report him but didn’t get a chance, I went back & finished picking flowers and this morning We got up early & went to Lorain Elbert went to Shipyard to see about when they would be ready for him but didn’t find out, we stopped at Todd’s & I talked to Ella a few minutes & gave her a couple dozen dahlias, then we stopped & gave Miss Baumgart 4 dozen dahlias or so & left a doz. eggs 30 cents. and we went to the Social office for Elbert to report he’s still out of work, then we went to Nellies & left a pk of pepper, 1 pk. of cucumbers & a few String beans, 1.pk. squash “acorn,” 1/2 bu. sweet corn 1. old quilt & blanket red wool & two new cotton blankets, single ones & 4 mash bags I had washed. Nellie & Ella Jane had gone to take John to Grafton & then were going into Cleveland to see Miss Mc.Govern So Bonnita said. Bonnita fell through the back door glass & cut her right wrist filled it full of glass, she didn’t look very well, we stopped a Martha’s but she a& Joan were gone, I, left her two small loaves of my brown & white bread, we stopped & ate a rie hamberg sandwitch & drank 1/2 pt. of coffee I went to Wynn
=10= Grant’s & visited while Elbert went & did the shopping he saw Pa & Martha in the Fisher Store, M. isnt very well, her stomach is bad, Pa had been out fishing and caught 38 nice pike. so we left for home stopped in Vermilion got salt & fish & new generator for stove, came home to find Mr. May here in the garden, he takes his share & then some each time and the O’neils are greedy, when they come also. We had fish for supper & I’m so tired after riding.
Fri. I cleaned up the house some what & got my dress ready to stitch in the morning. lovely day Thurs. and today also. The Old World have been waring for some time & now it looks as if this side will soon be in it and the bible history will soon be fulfilled. I pray God will forgive me and help me to do His Will, and help all the people to thank Him each day & night for our many blessings it looks as if this is our last war and Jesus will Soon be coming, I pray He will give me strength faith & courage like that of Daniel.
Sat.Oct.5.1940. Cleaned house & went to town bought a pair of arch supports for my shoes, lovely day we bought a very few things for over Sun. to eat got a sweater for Elbert.
Sun.Oct.6.1940. We went to Methodist Sun. school & Church, Elbert only went once but hope he’ll go again soon. We had chicken dinner & no company Today, beautiful day.
Mon.Oct.7.1940. Rained today, wind blew a gale last night then Elbert & I look over a money book he bought . Didn’t rain much this morning, but been cloudy.
Tue.Oct.8.1940. =11= Nice day only wind’s cold. Nellie, Ella Jane & Bonnita drove in , in time for dinner We visited some after dinner Ella Jane wants to go to Florida with a Mr. & Mrs. [ blank ] they both have college educations and think they can help her in her kind of work, but she has to have $35.00 for her car fare & room & meals for a few days, and she was not desided what she could or would do before Sat. Oct.12. 1940. Nellie dug some grape vines to take home & the two girls picked up walnuts & put them in the car Elbert gave them some dry beans brown one’s & Nellie took a big bunch of dahlias they had to go to Grafton to get John he’s doing some plumbing over there. Bonney is finishing her last yr. of high school. ohny is doing his second yr. high school. Bonney Works nights helping cook for “wear ever” deminstrations she pays for her & Johnys lunches and buys her own clothes a good girl.
Wed.Oct.9.1940. I did the wash today its a beautiful day. N. wind is cool but I wrinsed clothes out door. warm enough with out coat or hat. done at 2.p.m. & most all dry. Elbert is working up the ground North of Summer cottage for strawberries it will take quite a few plants.
Thurs.Oct.10.1940. Elbert went prepared to work to Lorain this morning, I didn’t go with him & it was just as well, for he went to work in the Steele plant, helping build wooden forms for con-crete structors of some sort, very nice day an
=12= indian summer day. did out some washing & then work on my dress a while it was most 7-p-m. when Elbert got here he ate his supper and went to bed dog tired.
Fri. Oct.11. E. went back to work today it hard heavy work he is doing & tonight he is more tired than last night. I received a nice letter from Flora Glover, and she enjoyed the news paper I sent her about the opening of the new 21.st St. and Erie Ave’s bridges one near the lake joins East Erie and West Erie Ave’s the 21.st. Street, is called the central high level bridge I sewed 7 ripped today, it’s so hard to try to fix over a boughten dress Pa stopped in a few minutes, he’d been out hunting with brother Frank Bonney my youngest brother, he was 50 yrs. old July. 27. Audrey was 48. yrs. old July 24. Partly cloudy but nice day.
Sat.Oct.12. Clumbus day the day Clumbus discovered America. Elbert went to Lorain by hem self to do the shoping and see about leaving his car to get the clutch fixed, he got back about 3.-30.p-m. I received a nice letter from Annabell yesterday the weather is surely fine so warm one does -n’t need a coat on out side no killing frost yet have a nice bed of dahlias & some house plants blooming good yet. but the leaves have been turning for the passed 3 weeks & are surely beautiful, We have a lot to thank God for
=13= Last Tue. the 8.th. Nellie & Bonnita & I were trying to dig a few grape roots 7 I got poisen ivy on my feet & legs hands and arms face and neck are, are just a mass of blisters.
Sun.Oct.13. I couldn’t go to church I’m a dreadful looking sight, and feel terrible. We had chicken dinner, Elbert cleaned the hen I made the biceo’s “biscuits” before my hands got bad. Sat. We listened to the sermons over the radio morning & evening, but I like to get to Sun school & Church My but it’s a nice day, Elbert went to Vermilion after dinner & got back for supper. I’ll be so glad when the poisen is gone.
Mon.Oct.14.1940. Well I’m able to get about but still look & feel terrible, Elbert has gone to work. the wind is strong, warm, and in the south. no frost yet. Mrs. Helen Syrr, came in & spent the after noon, she has a very hard life with Rue Elbert came from work as she was leaving. I gave her quite a few plants both house and out door & a giant Bouquet its a beautiful day my face hands & arms & legs are looking quite bad. and feel just as bad.
Tue.Oct.15.1940. Well God has healed me a-gain for my ivy sores are drying up. Praise His Holy Name. Haven’t heard a word from Nellie. hope she & Bonnita didn’t get ivy on them. I cooked supper had to wash 3. prs. stockings but thank God my legs are better today, it rained in hard showers all night and
=14= toward morn a light hail storm, I thought it would spoil the flowers, but it didn’t we havent had a killing frost yet either Elbert thought he couldn’t work today but it cleared of and was nice only air little more chilly but we have kept a little fire for over a month so we can have heat if we need it. I Praise the Lord for the many Blessings He gives me each day.
Wed.Oct. 16. No frost yet, cool nights, it’s a wonderful day, south wind, warm & clear Sun. Elbert has gone to work. War news is terrible at noon over radio. wind’s gone north at noon I wrote a letter to Miss. Willitt’s today. to ask her to pray for me and anoint my handkercheif this poison on me is terrible.
Thurs. Oct.17.1940. I washed out part of the washing but couldn’t finish, showery today. Elbert got in the day & has gone & come softly, though he’s tired most to death, thank God. he’s all right. much colder tonight
Fri. Oct.18.1940. Light frost last night, killed some things. Elbert went to work. I couldn’t finish the wash, to tired. I baked 3 loaves of bread 2 brown 1. with raisins in. 1. white loaf. Elbert came late he had some work done to the clutch in his car & he paid for it tonight all so, he was laid off tonight to, but was told he would be called back again soon. Cool today.
Sat.Oct.19.1940. Harder frost last night killing lots of the flowers. snowed, soft snow this morn. Elbert went to Vermilion for groceries & also got fresh fish for sup-per. & for Sun. dinner that tasted good to. I picked up 2 bu. walnuts in the shuck and got about as many more to pick up. Elbert lost his wrecking bar on this job.
=15= Sun. Oct. 20. I couldn’t go to Church, I looked so with this ich on me, but am trusting God will heal me so I’ll get there next Sun. We have listened to several sermons on the radio to day, it has been a nice day, partly cloudy and quite a bit colder
& war getting worse.
Mon.Oct.21.1940. The Lord has ans. our prayers again, took away the finer, the swelling and dried up that terrible itch, Praise His Holy Name. Elbert went to Lorain, and I did most of the washing, he got home early and washed out his heavy work shirts, they dried good & he dug a couple rows potatoes I picked up most of them
North east South wind going N.East.
Tue.Oct.22.1940. Elbert dug two more rows of potatoes and I picked them up one hundred ft. rows. We’re tired.
Wed.Oct.23.1940. We finished last 3 rows of the irish potatoes, 7 rows in all. Mr. May will have 8. rows.
Thurs.Oct.24.1940. We dug some sweet potatoes
Fri.Oct.25.1940 We dug the rest of our third of the sweet potatoes. Nellie & Martha & Joan came & had dinner with us. Bonnita has intestinal flu. Nellie came & left here there at home alone. Queer World.
Sat.Oct.26. 1940. We dug & packed a box of flower roots & plants & shrubs and put in some butter nuts & some sweet potatoes & Elbert went to Vermilion & mailed them to Mrs. Kendall, Morning Sun. Iowa. Mrs. Helen Syr & Mull[?} went with him, she wanted to do some shopping. “fine day.”
Sun.Oct.27.1940. Beautiful day cool breeze. I went to Church & Praised the Lord Whom I love more than all else we listen to radio services all after noon. then a man
by the Name of Iraland & his wife came in to give Elbert a short wave treatment & explain its aid for aches & pains, it “the machine” costs one hundred & sixty five dollsars. 1.65.00 eash. or one hundred and seventy five dollars if paid in payments and the interest making it about $185.00. Elbert wishes he had it, it’s so warming, it plugs in like a radio. Electric short wave treatment.
Mon.Oct.28.1940. Elbert has gone to Lorain. the wind is strong North E. and cool sun is shining. Mr. May & O’Neil are digging irish potatoes. I have written a letter to Miss Willitts and one to Mrs. Kendall. We went to Huron and mailed the letters getting cooler I shucked a few walnuts. Elbert bumed his way to town, Lorain & back safely but caught a cold.
Tue.Oct.29.1940. I did the washing. Mr. May & O’Neil came back and dug potatoes today, two days from 9.a.m. to 4.p.m. it rained this after noon, We went to Vermilion, Mrs. Helen Syrr. went with us we bought a few groceries and fresh fish, and on the way home it poured rain but was most done by the time, we got home.
Wed.Oct.30.1940. Mr. May & Mr. O’Neil came & finished digging sweet potatoes & went home with out saying a word to us (gratitude.) I have shucked 3 buckets of walnuts today done the house work & moped the floor & mended my night dress, I bought me 3 union suits yesterday $2.95 per. suit & have to pay for them now, a few dollars at atime. beautiful day. Elbert put most of the potatoes in basement today Oct.30.
Thurs.Oct.31.1940. Well we went to Lorain this morning took Miss Baumgart a bouquet of Polly-anthy roses, still growing, & so pretty. We shopped at Penneys I bought Elbert some underwear & looked at some suits for Fall. We went to Nellie’s, she
=17= and Ella Jane were papering, Bonnita was doing the washing, the two girls had papered the kitchen then N. & E. had started the living room, I never thought those children would grow up to be so disapointing. Nellie is so agervating no matter what they do or say that the girls talk to her, as any child-ren should never talk to a parent Ella-Jane was seldom, well, in fact the times were so few that she was naughty I could count them on my fingers, but now she’s perfectly horrible, she says & does things I just can’t believe my eyes & ears, when I see & hear her. Nellies ankles and feet so swollen they are torture make her feel iratable & she doesn’t control her feelings. We ate some sandwitches & had tea after we got there with us. Elbert went to Elyria to look for work Nellie & I went over to her church they were having a missionary meeting, we got there in time for lunch “cookies & tea” had a nice visit with Rev. Adams his wife & 6 mo. old baby daughter & the Young
Man Missionary Mr. Hart. Elbert came to the Church & took Nellie home & then we came on back to Lorain where Elbert had his car looked after there was something wrong with the fan, he has to take car back to get it
=18= fixed. When we got home there was a card in mail box for Elbert to come back to work at Steele Plant & a fine letter for me from Miss Willitts. God Bless Her And I’m so glad & grateful that God took us & brought us in safty. Praise His Name. Elbert bought hisself a jumper to work in.