Baking & Cooking: 

The topic of baking comes up early & often.  She criticizes others for not doing it properly, particularly if she is present when someone else is baking.  She criticizes Nellie and Bonney’s shared household as being too casual (presumably lazy) and meals always being so late…

“made a birds nest “or apple Johny, as some folks call them” for supper” 


Yea, right!  There is no bathroom.  There is a “slop bucket” which gets hard use and actually developed a leak at one point, and they had to retire it and get another.  A hole in the bucket dear Liza.  When I was there at “the farm” as my family called it, after Elbert and Elinor had both died, I saw and used very lovely chamber pots and I guess I always thought that was the extent of body waste in the house.  They had curved in tops making cleaning even with a modern sprayer dubious.  The bucket would have been easier to maintain I guess although it was clearly a chore that they both did.  Another bucket was used to carry the coal up from the basement or to carry the ashes down or out.  So, the slop bucket, One time Elinor had “caught a cold in her stomach” and had “the runs” but she was also weak and dizzy at times and she tipped over the full slop bucket onto the living room floor and rug.  Elbert had the first stab at cleaning it all up, but Elinor had to finish the job.  It must have been awful.  Then there was the out house and the time that she dropped the flashlight into the waste and had to dig for it… they both worked on that project as well and found it though she doesn’t explain how they cleaned it.  She says at one point that Elbert doesn’t like her going out to the out house at night for fear of falling.  I have no idea how either of them managed to squat to relieve bowels (which seemed to have minds of its own) “my bowels wouldn’t move today” They both had severe arthritis symptoms in their knees. 

We all had to use the outhouse when the family was there for weekends or vacations and we definitely Did NOT have a slop bucket.  I hated using the outhouse.  Well then again, I suppose that is a universal opinion.  One year my job was to paint the outhouse, but it was ridden with wasp and bee nests and actually quite dangerous even after some of them were removed.  So, I painted it! Armed with a torch.  I was as brutal with them as Elinor and Elbert with the chickens they loved, personified, and butchered and then critiqued whether it was tender or not or full of eggs. 

Canning:  ” Well, I have to wash peach Kettle, ladle & can filler…I canned 5. qts. peaches & 5. qts. dutches pears.   I went out & picked up a pk of Dutches pears & 1/2 bu. peaches & cleaned up wind fall apples under the tree by path.   I canned 2. qts. pears that Bessie gave us “Bartletts.” then I peeled & canned 4. qts of the peaches & got about as many more to can & I have 1/2 bu. apples to can & the dutches pears,  The Walkins Man & his wife seem to be such nice people,    they like us, are glad to give the peaches away to get them cleaned up,     the ground is covered.    they said to come back & get all we wanted    birds  & yellow birds flying in flocks & they’ve had 7 1/2 in. of snow in some  mountains & in DeCata 5. in. of snow.    I do hope we don’t get a cold snape yet,    I hope to pick a few apples to put in for winters use. ”

Canning doesn’t seem as prevalent some years and it seems in the earlier 40s she would give away all her preserves (and get angry when people didn’t return the jars).  But in 1949 although the garden had some issues, the fruit trees are so prominent in the story, including the canning of the fruit gathered up after they would fall to the ground.  There are sad stories of the apricot and a smaller apple tree losing limbs to storms and wind.  But they would gather all the fruit that they could from the limbs, and Elbert would cut up the wood to burn.  


The car belongs to Elbert and it is the crucial component of every aspect of their survival getting Elbert to work, getting food, milk, fish, and hen’s mash and grain and straw.  Both Elbert and Elinor value keeping the car in top condition.  But Elbert doesn’t do any of his own car work even when they have no cash and therefore “owe” the station.  There is an event of the car crash that is mentioned many times but without exact dollar amounts.  The Soldiers and Sailor’s Relief board are suspicious of what they did with the insurance payment for the accident.  There are also mentions of Elinor getting in an accident.  Without digging into the narrative, I have not been able to sort all of that out.  They do proudly demonstrate the legitimate ways they spent the money, and the fact that is indeed gone.  There is a shed devoted to the car which is locked up each night.  Elinor often goes out at a certain time each day to unlock and open the doors to the shed, so Elbert doesn’t have to get out and do that when he gets home.  Fuel is cheap by our standards and Elbert seems to do quite a bit of driving on 50 cents or 1.00 of fuel.  It often seems that the fuel is Elbert’s problem, or responsibility.  But very often Elinor “loans” him the gas money and it doesn’t seem to get paid back in anything except guilt Elinor wants Elbert to feel.  

“Elbert’s got to have the brakes fixed on his car    he can’t stop    it’s rather frightening. “  Elinor never drives but often worries about Elbert on the road.   


It seems like the side career of keeping chickens got its start when she was married to Frank Babcock.  Over the years they have up to 150 chickens at any time.  Each year, except the most impoverished times, they buy 100 chicks and raise them, commenting in loving parental personification of the little one’s, “We let them run around in the park and they were so happy”   “ They were talking and having fun”  But at the same time they kill and eat hens and pullets regularly.  At the worst times the numbers drop and she worries about having the Plan B for food.  She almost never talks of eating the eggs.  For most of the diary they sell the eggs, sometimes after they have been sitting out for days and days.  I heard that if you don’t wash eggs, leaving the original layer, there is no need to refrigerate them.   The other thing is that she logs the eggs being produced and being sold at the beginning of each day’s entry and each page’s first entry and repeats the eggs for that day when she starts a new page. 

There was a time where she used the same punctuation and verbiage to log the eggs, and then when she goes to summarize how many eggs were produced in a month, say, she duplicates those eggs, counted when the day entry started and also when the page entry starts and doesn’t realize it until much later.  Then she comments on this error and from that point on, she doesn’t stop the practice of listing the eggs on the continued day entry at the top of each page.  Instead of 5. Hens & 22 Pullets eggs today.   She writes 4. Hens & 22 Pullets eggs this day with the this underlined.   At odds with this careful counting she uses all manner of punctuation and abbreviations to accomplish the number and type of eggs (the Pullet eggs are smaller, from a different type of chickens, and they only bring 65 cents per doz. While the Hen’s eggs bring up to 75 cents per doz.  Elbert is the salesman and he packs up all the eggs by the doz. And goes to different locations (Vermillion, Vermillion on the Lake) and usually manages to sell  all the eggs.  It’s a good thing too, because Elinor keeps tabs, very exact tabs on all money flowing.  She often rolls her eyes at Elbert for his absent mindedness (which often seems to the reader as passive resistance and the work of a very clever trickster).  Elinor on the other hand, has no problem being secretive, greedy and clever about money.  They have a very careful budget that is allocated to what Elinor “brings in” with the chickens and what Elbert earns working as a carpenter or with his relief checks.  The battle against the rats goes on constantly in the coop but not in the grainery.  They squash, trap, drown, poison, and detest rats though they do not talk of rats for example, attaching the chicks. 

The number of eggs varies both by season and by age.  During 1949 they were working with 100 Pullets which apparently lay smaller eggs.  But because of the culling and eating hens, there are fewer of those eggs.  In the late summer of 1949 they are collecting 5-10 Hen eggs per day and 22-30 Pullet eggs per day.  She announced that the chickens were starting to molt in August and would soon decrease the egg laying.  Elinor is clearly worried. 

“he went with the eggs to Lorain 6. doz. 85 cents per. doz. total 5.10,   bag of growing mash cost $4.60 cents & gas for car 50 cents     so there wasn’t any for food for us,     but, We are glad they can still pay there way & feed baby chicks, they have paid for mash & grain, oyster schell & straw for hens & chicks. ”

Child rearing:“little Nelson Eddy so I gave the little man a pan & told him to go get enough fish for me to fry so he went & I fried 6 nice pike & then Nelson went & called Elbert & we ate,”   She would often give children shells and stones and acorns and bright pictures to look at, as gifts and it’s clear that she prides herself in knowing what they might like and be able to turn into a toy.

Chores/ “daily dozen”    Care of the house is an absolute requirement “things I only have to do” “Well, I did only those things that I had to.”   “I have only done what I had to do today,” She sweeps each room and “wipes up” floor but most often the kitchen.  She “takes care of beds and birds” which consists of straightening or changing bed covers and “pillow slips”  but often it involves hanging the bedding all out on the line to freshen them.  She also opens the bedroom and kitchen window and the one in the basement and then shuts them at the end of the day or when cold, within a few hours.  There is a task called “fixing the fire” but the details are not clear.  Its what she does with the heating stove (coal usually) at the end of the day, for the night, to keep it going through the night.  Sometimes she has to fix the fire during the night as well.


Church and State :   She got relief checks from the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund and Board, 25.00 and later 30.00.  They would periodically audit her income by interviewing both of them or bringing her to a board meeting in Berlin Heights.  On one of those occasions they questioned her out flow of cash, what each thing cost and how they spent the money.  She happened to mention the “tenth” she gave to the church each month, based on the relief check.  She also gave to a missionary fund.  The board discouraged this practice, explaining that she was spending the board’s money, giving it away.   She finished the meeting and went straight back to giving the church “their tenth” and giving to the missionary fund.  She never mentioned it, didn’t defend it, seemed to not be overcome with guilt.  A trickster.

“Miss. Clark came in with the Preacher’s wife from Beulah Beach, they preach in a dwelling house a few doors from the 4-Square church, she invited us to there Church untill things get settled at ours, but, I’m not sure about going yet.”

DeHaan’s books:  Throughout the diary she receives books from Rev. DeHaan in the mail which presumably she has ordered or paid for in some subscription fashion.  But it sounds from her descriptions and comments that he was the voice of reason in her head.  She would pore over the text, study the bible, and then try to get others interested in reading them.  That rarely worked, they would just be given back.  As it turns out thre were multiple generations of “Rev. DeHaan” , the son, and grandsons continued in the father’s footsteps and there is still plenty of information about the two on the internet. (see below)  I never found any of his “books” at the farm when we were there and wonder where they got to.

Here are some comments from a general search on his name:   Martin Ralph DeHaan (March 23, 1891 – December 13, 1965) was an American Bible teacher, the founder of Radio Bible Class, and the co-editor of the monthly …Dr. M. R. DeHaan was a physician who spoke these very words to God while suffering a violent reaction to an injection and hovering in critical condition. God answered that prayer, and Dr. DeHaan followed through on his promise. A year later, he sold his medical practice, home and office equipment to join the Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.He started out as a Pastor and then began teaching Bible classes and broadcasting half hour programs on the radio. These programs reached national networks, and by the time of his death in 1965 had expanded to 600 stations worldwide. Dr. DeHaan began this ministry in his basement as a family operation, and his vision and founding principles continue through the generations. Dr. DeHaan’s son, Richard, was his successor, followed by grandsons, Mart and Rick, who have continued to grow the ministry to what it is today.

English  spelling  grade level:    Elinor always puts a period after numbers, even if it causes things to be confusing.  She shifts between using digit A.M. with periods and with comma’s and with no punctuation.  But she is exceedingly exact about time and let me tell you it makes typing hard.  She does the same with money, most of the time down to the penny and very very rarely estimates. Elinor spells particular words in a certain wrong way, such as untill , lightened for lightening, severel, although she spells things with I E  in them are usually correct.  She was yanked out of school by her father before graduation in high school though she helps Nellie achieve that and more.  Somehow she has learned how to write, and uses large words frequently though at times it seems she is mimicking something she read and wanted to show off in the narrative. 

Geography:    The Black River flows into Lake Erie in the East side of Lorain, Ohio.  It follows Route 57 which runs sounth parallel to river then cuts over in line with river and then south again and eventually intersects at Route 90 and then ends up in Elyria all above The East West Route 20.  It is the longest river in NE Ohio.  Elinor’s Hahn Rd property is just north of the lake about 4-5 miles from Lorain on the East and <1 mile West of Vermilion and 5 miles West of Huron.  Hahn road hits Lake Erie at it’s southmost shore. Hahn Road is parallel to Cranberry Creek which ran behind (West) on the property. 

Heating and Cooking fuel

There is the cook stove which is like a hibachi used to supplement the stove, which is primarily propane.  She is very suspicious of this fuel because she cannot see it and she logs the time frame for each tank instead and then complains that she hardly used the gas that month.  She has a gas stove and oven, greese, Crisco, and Parkay.  The heat for the coldest months is provided by burning coal, which is rated and priced by type.  Sometimes its just coal dust and sometimes hard, longer lasting chunks.  It is delivered by the “coal man” in tonnage several times a year, but it is paid for year round in regular installments unless they are absolutely

Johny Harnish  “Johny Harnish his wife & baby came in & stayed maybe an hour,    they are going to Boston    have sold part of there goods & are all packed & ready to start Tue. Sept.     they said they had to live with one of the professers untill there rooms were ready for them,    they have a trailer & will take it with there belongings & drive there car.     they have paid 50.00 down on the trailer & if they can pay 50.00 more in 6. months it will be theres,    they say it only takes 18. hrs. to drive straight through, but they will take 2. days. resting at night.   We sent the 1/2 bu. pears I had sorted for pickles to Nellie, by Johny. ”


  & we have been to home all day, and not a soul come near 

Nutrition and Food.

I wish I could review the diary and add up all the references to cost, weight, number and caloric or nutrition content of their diet.  There are rumors in our family that Elinor is a diabetic but her symptomology and nearly continuous fatigue “almost to death” makes diagnosis very tricky.  She brags about not eating for most of days and sometimes talks of starvation and fasting for a day or so.  They grow a huge garden of both produce and flowers.  They are both engaged in the planting trimming cutting back, saving bulbs.   But its only Elbert who cultivates and plants.  Its evident that this is his territory and that he wants to generate awe by his good decisions of planting days, harvesting decisions and space allotment. Bread is a constant, either 2 big tins of what she calls bread biscuits or white and dark “hard” loaves.  She is very proud of her ability to bake.  But she gives away nearly half of what she bakes whenever she manages to go to church.  She clearly feels obligated to feed the minister and his wife, and anyone who has come on hard times.  She cans fruits, jams, salsa’s and she often gives them away but gets quite angry when folks don’t return the jars.  She sometimes cans or stores in Crisco Cans, and other cans which makes the process seem less than consistent or sanitary.  By 1949 she is talking about putting paraffin on the jam tops to seal them.  She often talks of salting things to try to keep them without refrigeration but sometimes they are “spoilt” or “off” or “bad”.   Even flour can be considered bad and useless.  She salts fish by the peck or the “big messes” of fish Elbert manages to get from the Fish House.  He has developed relationships there and is able to go down to the docks and help certain Fishermen pull in the nets.  For that he gets and comes home with a whole mess of fish.  They are usually freshwater fish but she clearly prefers a “white fish” which would be bigger than the perch.  Elbert must dress all these fish though Elinor sometimes participates in the dressing of fish, poultry, rabbits, and the occasional ground chuck.  It is clear that they do not consider themselves well fed unless there is a meat or fish, and “boiling meat” is considered a staple for the broth.  Much of all sorts of foods are fried, presumably with Crisco, even bread balls, or just bread.  When they are totally tired of one kind of meat, say hens, they save out the breast and thigh and grind it for chicken balls which are fried and eaten but sometimes not eaten for 1-2 days.  However there is rarely any all-consuming gastrointestinal symptomology to suggest food poisoning. 

“he had 21 cents so he got that in one little slice of liver (black liver)”  What is black liver I wonder.  Most of the milk these days is canned.  They used to get fresh milk from nearby farms every single day “Elbert went for the milk”but they could not afford it during this time.  Elbert at infrequent moments brings home ice cream.  I’m not sure what it consisted of but on one occasion they got a cone of ice cream each on the way home.  She always felt better when she had ice cream or cream. 

without cash, such as the months when Elinor was deprived of her 25 dollar monthly check.  The coal man doesn’t get the criticism afforded the gas man.   And there is no Electric Man until the second half of the diary. 

Paranoia about people in her world


There were several what I believe to be parakeets which she sometimes bred.  There were multiple cages.  I’m unsure how many but at least 2.  She named some of her pets.  Pete was one of them.  They also named the male king of the coop and seemed quite sad at his passing.  One time she managed to catch and rescue a white bird.  It seemed like she believed it to be a messenger of Jesus rather than the pigeon it likely was.  She said the birds would sing all day for her.  She often sang and whistled with the birds.  She didn’t seem to mind “cleaning the bird cages”.  She covered the cages when it was night or too cold. 

  Jacky & I are lonesome with Jipsy gone,    he was such a good little fellow,    but he’s mourned for Jimy & hasn’t sung much since Jimy went, now Jacky & I miss them & soon will be going on & I hope we’ll all be happy in the sweet by & by.

& Jacky just fusses so he wanted a mate & this thing Hauffman brought here isn’t any good only to keep a confusion going all day.  I’m going to get rid of it, if I have to give it away.       Jacky hurt his leg or foot & can hardly get about    I greesed it & pray it will be better tomorrow    he did it several days a-go & it got better, but this morning it was bad again.   


 “There is a big gang working up on the railroad & they yell & hoop & hollor & hong the car horns,    a doz or 15 private sedans come with all that can get in & then a big cattle truck packed full of men    they are mostly colored me.    so I didn’t get much rest”    “they have been burning old ties along the track & tonight smokes coming our way. it’s so stiffling creasote & wood smoke. ”

There is a RR track just two fields from the house and they know the trains that pass, even to the point of knowing which train is carrying Ella Jane back home.  Elinor measures fog by being able to see the trains.   It seems to function as a timing device.  They seem to respect it’s value in the economy and supply chain. 

Relationship with her brother:

She calls him “the boy” and “the big boy”   

“We got a new tank of gas today & I used my shoe money to pay for it,    Well, it don’t seem fair for me to have to pay for the coal & gas & buy most of the food,    I have to put up with a lot ,    if he’d get his lots sold & get squared around & get the old age pension we could have a little more    he could at least pay half the bills. ”

“Elbert got a can of putty,    I’ve been trying to get him to putty in the window lights while the weather is good,    I hope he dont wait as long to get at the job, as he has to get the putty,    he tried to make me believe he couldn’t get the putty.    & he can find & think of so many other things to do instead of the windows or cementing up around the foundation.”

“Well, I did all I could to keep him from doing it, but he’s just as stubborn as the most stubborn jackass you ever saw or heard tell of. I sure am tired of this world & all the wickedness in it & to think when you have been kicked once you’d be foolish enough to go back for more.
Elbert began to grumble about going places & getting back in the night and it wasn’t my fault Nellie wanted him to take her back so she could have the apples & he said he would.”I ask him,” but I wont do the asking next time, believe it or not, but he don’t like to take me even in the day time, he seldom bothers to ask me to go with him he likes to go by himself & do as he pleases. I often wish I had my own car, but, I can’t see why we can’t us the car together, I urged him into getting the car & help him in little ways all I could,m he don’t give me one bit of credit, I wash & mend his clothes as long as they will hold together keep his bed & room & have furnished his bath towels & wash rags & his bedding, & bought quite a lot of socks, shirts, under wear suppenders, hats & so forth & I got him a nice pr. of slippers & he’s been dirt mean about them”


Relationships in General: 

She has been at odds with family from the beginning.  This summer [1949] there is a family reunion planned and she preaches about the inappropriateness of having a picnic on the Lord’s Day.  She ends with “I’ll not go.”   There are also shades of paranoia that come up in most of her relationships.  She is very distrusting… and so lonely at the same time:  “Not a soul came in today.”  She chastises and blames family members for not writing, even for one week: “She could at least send a card.”    Sometimes self-addressed postcards are sent with letters to persuade people to write.  The letters from Elinor’s sister Nellie are usually quoted exactly into her diary, but letters from her other are only summarized.  She criticizes Nellie frequently in the diary for starting with “Dear Folks,” because it doesn’t indicate an intimate enough relationship “after all I did for her.” 

“I got a card from Mrs. West Sr.    it is a note paper card with a bunch of batchlor buttons and a real bow of blue ribbon on the front, up in right hand corner    it says “Missing You” and in side it says “The same old things to see and hear- The same old things to do- But there’s been a change-Everything seems strange-Must be-Just Missing You!    Bro. & Sister West or Otis & Lillian.    So, I would take it “reading between the lines” that the pot still boils in the same old way, in seeing, hearing & doing, but the change is not a desirable one as yet & it’s strange after getting such a good start & paying our money into that Church we should be given such a raw deal & scartered like sheep to find pasture where ever we can. ”

” Nellie was so sorry she didn’t have some thing to get some in & hoped she could go back some how & get some,    she seemed so gready to get them,     well, it does take a lot to keep 5 of them     & the children are growing.”


 This [NEED DATE OF THE DIARY ENTRY} is the first mention I have heard of more independent thinking about the institution of the church and the role it plays, and a person’s loyalty or responsibility to the church.  There was one other time where she described a faction breaking off the church [FournSquare Church that she was associated with, 735 State St., Vermillion] to become a prayer group, a semi-private one, which she joined temporarily.  But soon the gossip between them involving her name disgusts her and she stops. 

Throughout the diary she has her own relationship with Jesus and God, but it always seems like she is having to prove her own worth by listing all the hard work, trials, hardships, poverty in her personal life.  There is something that happens in the summer of 1949 that is also new [see below, friendships].  At this time the attendance at the Four Square Church has diminished to a handful of attendees each week.  Elinor rarely is able to go to church, but she worries and wishes she could go.   On this day (Aug 3, 1949) an actual girlfriend comes to visit her.  While visiting, instead of the usual formal prayer event, and sometimes some food and gifts, there is little gaiety and never laughter, joking, etc. or none that makes it into the diary.  Instead, the two of them “watch” as Elinor bakes.   It is as if there is good conversation and a casualness happening there in that kitchen.  This is after Elinor gives one of them “a cup of tea & gave her a piece of pie & a piece of cake…& then I sat down & made a tin of bread, biscuits & 2 nice loaves of bread & while it was raising we talked about the meetings they are having at Buelah Beach.”  

This get-together at her house, in fact, is a group coalescing outside the church.  Apparently the minister and his wife were invited to these outside meetings, but the minister declined.  “But he said he was Four Square.”   Elinor then proceeds to preach in her diary that “God don’t tell us the Four Square Church is the Church … He didn’t say we should be a Catalic (sic) or any other church by Name.  He said to follow him.”  At one earlier point, she talked about other denominations including Catholicism, but not quite this freely.  She values being a church leader (although she is not) and a rebel (which she is).  She inserts prayers at the end of each day’s tale.  Later in the 40s she puts prayers in the middle of narrative but rarely misses the end of each day inserting the weather and prayer.  She mixes them up, sometimes its worthiness, truth, precious friend, saved her soul, for all our many many blessings, for bringing us there and home again, for bringing Elbert home safe in bad weather, for dying for Elinor’s sins, for giving back four times what anyone prayed for, and for trying to bring her family to Jesus before it is “forever too late.”   In transcribing the diary, I decided at some point to put prayers in italics since they sometimes are superfluous to any topic being discussed, except as they demonstrate the constancy of her faith by their repetitiveness.  

Roses, Elinor’s Roses

   “We finished tying up the roses on the south end of the house today, while the sun was warm & flies so thick it was hard to work. I’m glad that is over & vines cleaned up & carried away.    Elbert cut & trimed & carried it away & he tied the roses up, for I can’t do it any more.    We are going to try to get the others cleaned up this month so to have it done before it gets to cold.”    The roses were cherished and protected and had a place in the family named according to type and where they grew or who planted them.  I suppose the most iconic view I have of “the farm”, as we called it, was of the south wall of the house and the roses growing to the roof.  I still can remember my mother’s love for them and her continued care of them after Elinor was gone.  The number and varieties decreased over the years, especially with Dad’s excavation for drainage and plumbing around the house.  There are many pictures where people are an afterthought and the roses are the main subject.  Most of them are from Elinor’s home but some are from the homestead or Nellie’s home on West River Road.  

Sayings Witticisms:

Well, believe it or not I haven’t earned my salt today, 

  for those you do the most for sure sure like to give you a cat of 9 tails.

I haven’t done anything outside the daily round

I haven’t done much today only daily duties

& the daily dozens.

I swept & cooked & done my daily dozen

so I only did my daily doz.    had the back door trot some today,  “beets & corn” got busy. 

I’m sure a tired old girl tonight,

Well, sir, I scrubbed 3 rugs today  8.23.49

  I did most of the wash except the big chair cover & my old dress & 3 heavy wool blankets,    seed for another day. 

Such is life    I’d like to be where it was quite where it was never to hot or to cold, with real honest people for neighbors that would turn to & give you a hand When you were in need.   

but as the old saying goes, if wishes were fishies we’d all swim.    

it was terrible to see, it was so black & wind clouds so light & going so fast as only the wind can go. 

The rainbow is God’s promise & He has never for-gotten that promise   

I pray God will help me & keep me free from any stench.   

I got to bed tired & get up tired,

Who can love the poor as much as the well to do, that will be honest & true to Thee, then we will know they will be honest & true to Us. 

tomorrow is “Labor Day”   the day they don’t labor

Rue is talking of getting a divorse “so Helen told Elbert” but she use to say bloods thicker than water you know & she loved the dirt Rue walked on.   

men are so foolish,   Now he has been roped a-gain,    I hope he gets out with out a scratch & that I don’t have to be draged in. 

 The things said and done leave a bad impression oft times,

& I picked up the eggs the last to days.    I hope they can lay enough to pay for there keep for we are having a hard time to make both ends meet as they say. 

keep me from being sifted by the Devil as he wanted to do with Petter,


Sewing, Mending, Dyeing, Creating from Mash bags

 ” I washed one light cotton blanket & 6. grain & mash bags    it’s hard to rub all the coloring out but I got out the most of it    wind was S. this a.m. but went N.E. before I hung up second lines of clothes”

“she washed ma’s apron & handkercheif, I let her take,    I made them all by hand & crocheted the lace and the insertion on them when I was 16. yrs. old,    ma was always very choise of them.    I took them, after ma passed away     she took them to the Isle of Pines, so they had quite a trip,    since I had then I let Frank Babcock’s mother take them to Wisconsin & she put them on display in an art shop window & showed them to all her club women & she belonged to several cubs, then just before she died she sent them back to me & a beautiful hand knit bed spread she Knit for me,    I gave the bed spread to Carl Betz to pay him for some money I had borrowed just before I married Frank”.   I wonder if the picture of Ma at the door in her apron, with Elbert in the background wiping his face with a towel,  is the apron Ellinor is talking about here.

 “I had to sew the braided rug before I could wash it & it’s wore out in spots,    Well I made it in 1925 so it’s 24 yrs. old & it was made of Franks old shirts”  My mother Marcella Harnish would sit many evenings at “the farm” and knit braid rugs of any old clothing or cloth she found.  She loved to re-purpose things.  These rugs were actually quite brightly colored and oval and there was frequently an unfinished one peeking out of a sewing bag or basket,  sitting around, and other small ones  in use.  I still have a part of one never finished.  

  “they take in extra work to do at home, sewing mending, crocheting & altering & even do an extra wash for some one now & a gain     & tonight Gertie was squaring up some big salt bags to make sheets for a man & she had mended 6. prs. of pants for him & had a stack of shirts to sew the buttons onto.”   

“he bought a big box of Duz. soap powder 73 cents & 3 cents tax  some milk 6. cans 1. bottle clorox, 3 cake fells soap & 3 cake lava soap, 1. bottle bluing”


After 2 visits from Miss Clark, and during the second one, Elinor starts by preaching in her narrative about following Jesus (in any place or with any group).  Then oddly she shifts to lust.  “He said it was better if man never touched a woman & blessed is the man who can Keep his Virgin & When We are Washed we should put away the lusts of the flesh, for the lust of the flesh wareth with the Spirit.  And as quickly she shifts back: …We gave Miss Clark a few apples & cucumbers to take back home…”   What??? Why sex now.? Oh well   She criticizes her nieces and other young women who are wearing those short skirts.  She believes in never showing even her ankles to anyone except maybe the doctor.  One horrifying entry describes her father as a mean, ugly, violent man who sexually and physically abuses Elinor’s “ma” by “riding her 4 times a day”  and if she resisted he would grab each of her arms and pin her to a wall and go at her until she faints at which point he flings her violently across the room to the bed.  This took place after he builds a house in the middle of nowhere and takes her there for a completely isolated existence until she finally leaves.  Pregnancy is rarely mentioned but the moment and the help of others at birth is often described.  Elinor helps with most of the births to her sister’s, and often takes credit for it and complains they don’t remember the help she provided.

Sharing Bartering Selling
“for we need all the fruit & vgetables we can take care of & give to others that don’t have
We took a big bag of apples to Mrs. Sprunk & she was just on her way to town so she got in the car & went back & put them in her house & then went on to town with us & to the post office & Krogers store & over to the mill, on the way from the store we picked up Miss Clark & her bag of food & we went to mill & Elbert got 1/2 bu Wheat & Mrs. Sprunk ordered some coal then we took Miss. C. home & then stopped at market Elbert got a ham & some short steaks & we let Mrs. S. off at Mrs. Wests “her daughters” house & then we came home, When I undone the steaks, they stunk so, Elbert smelt & he said he was taking them back, so, we decided to take apples & we went & picked up 3. bu. & put them in the car & went over to Brownhelm to the powder man’s house & gave them a bu. she gave us a bu. & not quite a half of peaches we visited about 10 minutes & then went through Amherst to Lorain to 29th St Audrey was home & glad to get a bu. of apples & 1. doz. my pt. cans & the pk. of peaches she gave me some saucage (cooked) to eat & a cup of hot tea to drink & we hurried on back toward home We stopped to Krogers & got a piece of steak & 3 cans of milk then on to West’s home & gave them a bu. of apples & Mr. West put a dollar bill in Elbert’s pocket, We stopped to Cranages & sold 2. doz. eggs”

Shipyard   “Migie stole the button 

Fri. Sept. 2. 1949./ page. 2399./ 2.H. 11. P. eggs today./  off his work hat,    he had to have, while he was working in the Shipyard & they were quite strick,    they took the men’s pictures & put them on a button with a pin on the back,    so they were pined securely to the hat band in the middle of the front,    he saw Migie trying to get it off, but thought she couldn’t for it was hard for him to get it on,    but between her & Jean they did it    & when Jean came in we ask her to get it & told her how bad it was for a man to loose his button & she went home & told some out landish yarn & Helen came up & called us all sorts of things    & when she had finished we explained what had happened    but, she said, she didn’t believe they had taken the pin    she called me a liar ”

  Sickness:   “ her man’s been sick for over a yr. now,    Dr’s just found out he has to have an aperation,    but she is feeling a lot better,    she had a stroke. ”

Trash:   “He cut the broken peach tree & apricot & put the limbs we can use for wood in a pile over the fence & the branches to be taken over the hill in another pile”   Trash, and particularly yard waste was a huge issue at the farm for my father or my brother, or Jim Sorg, my brother in law to deal with and he had a tractor mower in the later years there.  Dad also built a path that ran down one side along the creek and back up to the west side of the house.  He would often freshen the path up running that tractor pulling a trailer behind full of logs and windfalls.  In addition he had to mow the East side of the house which fronted to Hahn Rd and there was a fair sized mound and ditch that caused more than one accident.  


Elinor dreads the weekly or more, laundry chore.  She boils the water brought from the well, then “sudses and wrinces” them over and over with scrubbing on the washboard in between.  Sometimes Elbert helps “with his B.V.D.’s or his sleepers” But the grand finale is always if she gets them dry before Elbert comes home or before dark or before bad weather.  She is proud of “getting them all dry” and not having to “dry the rest on the line in the house” Many things are ironed after they are washed.  She dreads blankets (wool or cotton) and dreads washing the “big chair cover” which needs to be patched at regular intervals.  On a few occasions she takes her bigger items to the neighbors and barters with eggs to have them washed but not hung to dry.  She yearns for a wringer since that is the hardest part.  Sometimes that is what Elbert helps with.


she always pays homage to the weather, almost with the detail of a weather report, followed by what “the radio said” about weather in other places.  I think she may be looking for signs of the Second Coming.  She often says what color the sun is at sunset, “The sun set white as ice”  “The sun set red”   And she knows the wind directions with remarkable exactitude.  Ive looked for a weather vane on the property.  She must have one.  She also by this point is beginning to talk about the exact temperature in her own Kitchen.  But the wind descriptions are confusing.  Talking about the wind being North East and then shifting to North West in the afternoon, or the very confusing  “then it came all the way round to “    The weather is often personified but no gender. “It tried to rain and then tried to snow but only …”