The following notes have been gathered and sorted to some extent.  It may not be easy to tell when I’m quoting someone or quoting the diary … or just indicating that it’s me talking.  Hopefully I will be able to clean this up.  My intent within this commentary: no tag for my own comments, quotes from Elinor (from the diary are enclosed in double quotes.  But the reader will note that I use a slightly different tagging system within the diary (italics for prayer; ofset her copying letters, including her punctuation exactly) Please understand that these are inserted when I come upon them or want to note something about how life seemed to Elinor, through Elinor’s eyes.  Here is a list of the categories in alphabetical order.

Baking & Cooking
Child Rearing
Chores/ “daily dozen”
Church & State
DeHaan’s books
English spelling grade level
Heating and Cooking fuel

Health & Medicine

Johny Harnish

Money and Businesses
Nutrition and Food
Paranoia about people in her world


Relationship with her Father
Relationship with her brother
Relationships in General
Roses, Elinor’s Roses
Sayings Witticisms
Sewing, Mending, Dyeing, Creating from Mash bags
Sharing Bartering Selling

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” 

It’s hard to know how well her oven works but it seems that things take quite a while to bake:   “I had the bisquits in the oven they were done in 30 mi. but it takes the cake, so long to rise & it isn’t in oven yet. ” 


Bathroom:   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:   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.  

” 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. “

“Well, I caned 1. qt. baldwin apples & I cooked up the parings for jelly & I made a custard pie & we ate it for lunch & I made 2 apple & peach pie & one apple turn over.”

“Well I caned 1. malted Milk jar, big can, & 3 3. lb crisco cans of pickled pears today & 4- 1-qt. jars & 1. pt. of pears sweetened,  ” the dutches pears” & I’m to tired tonight   & got a few more dutches to can, about 8 or 10 qts.    I guess,    & then a few qts of apples & I’ll call the caning over. “

 ” I tried to boil the currents & make jelly the oldfashion way & I took me eyes off it for a few seconds & it boiled over & I had a terrible job cleaning for an hour or so, on the stove, for jelly went all over,    well I tried again after supper,    berries were to ripe, so I’ll wait for serto.”7/4/51

Car: 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.   

  a car from the garage while they fixed his car,    so on the way the brakes give out & he had to leave it at an oil station,    he got a ride from there into Lorain with a man & took the bus to garage & got his car & they sent a man out with him to get the other car,    he poured brake fluid in & it was O.K. but Elbert’s car is still on the bum & they soaked him $69.00 for what they didn’t do,    or it seems that way    he got it home, on the drive    & there it set    he managed to get it started when the papers came & only got to Ruggles & it stopped    he call Baker’s garage in Vermilion,    they had a man going to Huron, so he stopped & helped him get under way again,    he got down near West’s on Maine S….Elbert get the car over by West’s & he locked it up & left it there & Mr. & Mrs. West brought him home,   …Elbert went to Lorain, got a ride soon after he hit the highway as far as Sunny Side    then another fellow picked him up & took him to the corner of 21st. & broadway & a machanic came back to Vermilion with him & cleaned the carberator & put in a sieve & then it run O.K.   ….then we started home    had to stop in Vermilion & get oil & water    Elbert don’t take very good care of his car,    he forgets it has to have water oil & sometimes gas, ….The car they let him take got all most there then refused to go    they sent a man & he pushed & it went 2 blocks.    & he put in some gas & choked her & got her to the junk lot    it took all day to get his car done & he came home in it tonight,   cost over 100 dollars


Chickens: 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. 

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. 

They drive into Huron to the Kroger store where they have arranged to have green trimmings (lettuce, etc) saved. They go to a mill nearby to get the straw (not hay) which I think might be because its not in bales.  But she still calls them bales. 

We gave Nellie a big hen to cook    Elbert cut the head off & we put it in a bag.

“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. “

Chickens Hahn Rd

Chickens on Hahn Rd

flock chickens Hahn Rd

Chicken business Hahn Rd

One of 3 Chicken Houses.

Chickens Hahn Rd

Advertisement about Babcock Rooster

Martha holding a hen at Babcock farm

One day of eggs to sell

Frank Babcock and Martha Carlisle at the red chicken house Babcock farm

Frank Babcock, king of the Roost

back of Babcock farm

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.”

“I gave him 3. dollars of my money, “church money 5.00 I had given to Miss Clark to turn in for me & she gave it back,” They are having a bad time trying to get rid of the preacher, so, they decide not to make the payment on the church untill we get a better man for the job, he says he’s only payed to preach & he wont go calling or go out to pray for the sick & he told me, he didn’t have time to come out here to pray for me, so, most every one’s going to other churches”

“I do earnestly pray He will give us a man of God & his wife filled with the Holy Spirit that will love young & old alike & that will work hard & let us do what ever we are able to do Some that are truly filled with Power & trust & believe & pray earnestly”

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:   She often uses & for “an”. ; When she is unsure re spelling, she either abbreviates or crosses out or obscures the letters in question. 

She has odd ways of saying things: I’ll need it bad before I get it done. …haven’t felt so good for a few day….for I feel more welcome there somehow,    done here they are nice sometimes & some times they scarcely Know you. …..I cook several for dinner…& every since  so I had everything ready & partly cooked by the time he brought the fish in,    then I put them frying & we were soon eating,   

  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. 

“exhausted”, hay is straw, sanwitch, beens, pealed, knoledge, keep it for to make Elbert’s pajama’s of,   (she often edits her own entries, refining the phrasing or spelling.) 22. Pullets eggs today; I got myself already; dissolved

  “Miss Clarks are going to Chicago to visit there brother who isn’t very well,    Miss Lidda isn’t very well either   her bowels haven’t moved for 5 days she said, & it effects her heart.    Well, I have felt so bum, & mapnow Elbert wants to go to Elyria in the morning,    I don’t feel able to go,    & so by morning maybe we wont.    Eleanor told Elbert she didn’t believe I’d live very long I looked so white & miserable,    Well, God knows [?] and I thank Him & Praise Him, for I know He knows althings& He hears & answers prayors “ 

  “Miss Eleanor & Elbert walk all around the place then we ate dinner.    & had hardly finished when Mr Hamond had to walk in & start talking as big a cuffy[?] to Elbert about his job & that John give him 35.00 & gave the kid 60 cents what change he had in his pocket    Elbert got him out,   “

These are the first two instances I recall where she shifts narrator, talking about Eleanor and Elbert as if it was not about herself.   I wonder if she is “trying out” being more of a writer and less of a diaryist. Then again perhaps she is just using it as a way to be sarcastic. 


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   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. 

Household care: 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. 

Health & Medicine:  

personal hygiene: ” I hope I can wash, through tomorrow rags & my change of clothes & what few things Elbert has    he only changes heavy union suit every two weeks, when he washes them. ”

treatments:  “Elbert had cramps on his ribs acrossed his back under his shoulder blades,    I rubed it with alcohol & winger green mixed.” 

“she’s lost 4 1/2 lbs off her stomach & bowels & she’s only drank hot water for 3 months. I had told her that a long time ago & now some man they knew had told them the same thing & since he had weighed over 3 hundred lbs. & had got back to normal weight she thought she would try it, half a lemon twice a week in the 3 glasses of hot water “only as hot as you would drink coffee or tea” or a little lemon in the drinking water during the day, or slice a lemon & put honey on it in the morning & eat half of it with your dinner & other half later in week with your dinner it will sure do the trick.”

“he had taken a exray picture & he found out it was arthritis so the idea of holding it in ice water was no good “as I thought”   it is swollen some yet & sore but cords & bone are in place.    Dr. give him some arthritis pills & some greese to put on his hand & wrist,    after 3 or 4 day, leaving it with out a bandage for that length of time, & with out the greese,    Well I had it coming along good, but he’s as nervous as a hen on a hot cake for fear cords were out of place or bones were broken so now he feels satisfied, but, Dr. bills don’t look so go. 10.00 for exray picture & I don’t know how much the pills will cost & he has Dr. White to pay in Vermilion,    he bandaged it  it & put a board on it & no dope or greese    Well, I did all the washing except my d”

“my bowels just wouldn’t move after they came,    so, that night after they were gone I tried several times to move them,    I been out of olive oil for some time but I will try not to let it happen again    my rectum turned out so far it seemed as if it would kill me, but I got bowels to move off the hardest part & then greesed myself & pushed rectum back & put a greesed soft cloth up against me & lay down,    it pained all night & all today Mon.” 6/17/51

1951    “I had a coughing spell at supper time hurt me so bad     guess my blood pressure is to low once again & I’m rather short for breath, when I coughed the blood left my hands & they turned so white & then it went back with such force, it made them ach so bad & it made a place in the left side of my fore head hurt for a long time ”

Sat. Feb. 24. 1951./ 14. eggs today./ Well I haven’t done much today my feet & legs have been swollen quite bad for 3. days.   & this morning my right lower leg was laying on the blankets where the blanket was sort of in a lump & it left a big hollow place in my leg & hurt so bad,

  But here I am    Elbert’s worrying about his navel,   they didn’t get the rupture sewed just right somehow & it looks as if its breaking out into the navel,    I hope he don’t have any trouble with it. 

Fri. June. 22. 1951./ page. 2763./ 19. eggs this day./ I made biscuits for supper & we ask Johny if he’d had supper & he said he had, but if I’d like to,    do, up some fish he’d take them to Marcie so I did & some biscuits,    Johny has a bad stomach, it seems he & Elbert take the same Kind of stomach pills

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. ”

John Harnish has volumes of diary material and it will be interesting to compare the parts that overlap [so little time]

 “ Johny & Marcie have gone to Boston    they are fixing up a house there to live in & he has a job, now, preaching “  Per Marci Jo (Harnish) Sorg, this is referring to his first internship ministry in North Salem, New Hampshire where they lived when MJ was 3 yo.  North Salem is ~41 miles from Boston University Campus.  When they did live in Boston it was in Student Housing or with a well-to-do family, the Camerons (see pictures of Marci Jo and Marcella near a fence at the Camerons).  Boston U is in the heart of Boston. 

  “Bonita went to Boston with Johny & Marcie & the babys & will stay untill end of this week    it’s a 24 hour drive & they were going to stop over night with a friend of Johny’s & Marcie’s & rest a little,    Johny has a church where he will be preaching & they have a cottage to live in & they or Johny has to drive 45 miles to where they had been living & get there belongiings & I think Nellie said he would have to drive that 45 mi. to school every day & preach on Sunday’s .   90 miles a day.”

Money and Businesses:  Elinor depends on a variety of sources for extra money.  She also has to make decisions when others are coming to her wanting money for something.  Apparently when married she and her husband put a sign on the car and would drive around trying to find customers for a variety of skills and items:  “Elbert want to go to the Hill farm for apples & Elbert got on the wrong road & so we see a lot of farms I haven’t seen seen since Frank & I use to go selling extracts & Knife sharpeners, can openers & fruit juicers    thats been a long time now, 18 yrs. Frank’s been gone & it was at least 3. yrs. before he died that we went most every day & we sold right up to the yr. he died,    but only close around home.” 

bad food from store:  “Well Elbert sold 12. doz. eggs 70 cents per. doz. & has to use it for there feed this time, there were some who didn’t get there eggs this time & some who had quit are getting so many bad eggs at the store, they are sorry they stopped but the hens are molting & not so many eggs now,”

Loneliness:  “& we have been to home all day, and not a soul come near”  is the phrase she uses, usually on a Sunday although people do visit all days of the week. 

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. 

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…

It’s been a great day, I set bread washed dishes got everything ready for dinner, & then strained peach juice for jelly & measured sugar in & stired & dissolved it over a slow fire then Elbert came & dressed 4. fish on to fry & while I took care of jelly & got jars for it he went out & pick enough blackberrys to fill 3. qt jars I got them in Jars & we peeled peaches he picked out back where he got the berries among the fruit trees, we had 2 qts. of those they are yellow & red around the pit & good flavor & 1. qt white ones.

“we had a thunder & lighten storm last night & it soured the milk, potatoes I had boiled & carrots that were left over & because I felt so bad last night I forgot to get a milk bottle ready for morning”

“ I was sick all night    Elbert amptied the can twice & as soon as I got up a- gain.    I don’t know what’s wrong, but Elbert gets the same kind of spells yesterday    his bowels were running him & he just told me they hadn’t moved all day,    so I had him get up & take an olive tablet,     his stomach don’t digest very good, either, of late. “

“Frankie said “Ruby & Frank” his grandmother & father have a nice television set & a nice big new deep freeze & everything that goes with it,    & has berries & things in it all ready,    he says they are going to pack in lots of meat & fruit.yet,    Well, I don’t care for the likes.”   

Paranoia about people in her world/ Mental Health

  “The telephone boys have been snipping the branches out of the trees along the road & they took the tops out of the two pear trees across the road,    We were given permission to pick up pears off the ground & I have gathered many bu. from yr. to yr.    I pickled lots of them & caned lots for eating.    but since the fruit walks out of the basement I decided not to do much caning this yr.    Inez gave us a few grapes    I thought I’d mak it up in juice to drink    I had severel gal. in the basement but it walked off.   & all the apple sauce I caned last fall & took so much care to have it taste just right.   I still pray God will punish Who ever took it. ”  

[Im not sure how to discuss her depression, her paranoia, her religiosity.  But by 1951 it does seem her mood is darker, she complains about others more, she begs forgiveness for not being humble or worthy, and she wishes for death, for a quick death, specifically before she loses the ability to care for herself.  She still (in 1951) feels abandoned to the extent of not being afforded the Holy Ghost (speaking in tongues).  This is something I hope to understand while she gets closer to death.  ]

“I thank God & will give Him all the Praise for all things in Jesus Name,    I’m feeling happy inside, Glory to God”  this is 1951 and surprising!

Pets: 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.   


“got a boiling piece & on toward home & left a bu. of apples to the poor little Millers home They live in a place that’s called the poor alotment Mrs. Sprunk lives out there in her son’s house, it’s nice out there.”

“cost over 100 dollars so his 5 hundred is about spent then he thinks he’ll get the old age pension & he hates to do that & I don’t blame him for that. I’ll have to pay almost 9.00 for a tank of gas & that will sure spoil”


Railroad: “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:“then helped me peel peaches & he tightens the can covers for me,   We canned 18 qts. & 2 pints & I’m so tired.    Elbert’s good    he wipe the caning dishes & Kettle for me,    I cleaned everything up ready for the boiling of the peelings & making the jelly.    then we hope to can a few apples. ”  

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”

“Elbert seemed sullen & ugly when I got in the car after church last night, car smelt as if he’d been sleeping & it had been all shut up & no air & I ask if he’d been sleeping & he said, no, but he was tired waiting around all night,     I ought to get out as soon as I could & not stop to talk alnight,    I explained they were talking & asking me questions & I didn’t want to be im- plite,    I changed the subject as soon as I could,     he said we’d have half the night to get in line, there were so many cars so close together but soon a man honked for Elbert to go & he waited & kept every one behind him waiting,  untill we passed over & I told Elbert to honk back to thank him, so he did,     & I said, well, he was human any way & then, I said looks as if they are a mile long & he said guess lots of them been over to Ceder Point & just getting back,    our side didn’t have very many ahead of us all the way to end of our road     & we got onto our road just before another long string of cars got to us    I don’t get a chance to go any where & it seems a pity I have to be jared at every time I go     it don’t matter where.    I sure wish I had my own car.    But I do as much for him as he does for me, so I feel I have a right to go & to have my freedom, “  

”    said he had 25 cents in his pocket.    he’s spaded & took care of chickens,    he made another screen frame & put new screen on it for my west window & put a patch on his east bedroom window,    he’s got to paint henhouse roof & finish puttying in window glass.    I can’t see Why he’s so bent on spading.”    

”  We are both tired yet today & I think I will take it a little more easy this week.    Well, some how the subject got around to the finger marks on the trap door in the attic & on the little cupboard underneath it,   then to the morning    I felt as if I’d been dopped & he said with a silly grin, that he must have got some of it to, & maybe if I laid still a while I’d get over it, but I got up & opened the window & breathed in the fresh air & he was trembling like a theif cought in the act,    I was furious,   a lot of things have happened., he don’t even know what he’d do in such cases if it were him in my place,    he gets mad & says it looks as if he was to blame if he isn’t why should he be so angry & why wouldn’t he want to help find out who is toblame,    he said he fix the trap door but he hasn’t & he gets so angry when I mention it & when I wanted the screen nailed in he said, Oh no,     it’s to thin a piece to nail & he’d put a nail at each corner on the out side & that’s what he did    but, I’ll put some on the inside also. Why”

“Sun. Sept. 18. 1949./ page. 2410/ 2-H-17-P eggs this day/  should he care if I want it nailed inside,    I’m tired   out staying awake,   some one tried my door from the outside, twice, then left it.    I can’t move as free as I once could    I do feel righteously angry sometimes.    I’ve really got to do something about it & I don’t know just what.    I pray God will help me, by revealing to me, in some way.    He has been wonderfull to me always,    I love Him & praise Him, He’s the only truth I’ve ever been able to find.    I thank Him & praise Him for all things.     I woke up early yesterday morning with a terrible head ach     room seemed so stuffy & I had a bad pain between my shoulders & in small of my back & my hip joint out a little    I managed to get that back, be-fore I got up & then opened the window & let a lot of fresh air in & when it was daylight found 2 of my fingers black & blue & swollen,    I washed & worked & today they are better again,   but hand is sore & lame,    I pray God will send some one to help me.”

Most of her comments about her brother are critical but occasionally she expresses more vulnerability and acknowledges her dependence on Elbert.  ” I sure would miss Elbert    he’s so good & does so many things,    but, I do wish he wouldn’t do so much at atime & tire himself all out,    he worries because he can’t do enough to suit him.    May God help us to take it more easy & not worry & help us to live His will & His ways.    I Praise Father Son & Holy Ghost Amen.”  and “Elbert felt so bad last night but better in some ways today,    he does so many things”

I sure would miss Elbert    he’s so good & does so many things,    but, I do wish he wouldn’t do so much at atime & tire himself all out,    he worries because he can’t do enough to suit him.   


Relationship with her Father

“ Tonight we were talking of things that had passed & he squinted his eyes to narrow slits as if he’d like to kill me.    You know when pa was here he kept & under ground war going on & now I have another & I’ll be glad when it’s all over”. 

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.” 

No one came today & they had there family reunion today.    Well, I don’t believe in Sunday picnic’s so I didn’t go.    if it had been on a week day, I might have gone, but in all the noise & confusion you can’t visit & there don’t seem to be many that care about us when we get old,    they laugh about our being old & say we ought to be stuck in a home for the aged,    they dont want us around,    I pray the Lord will help me in some way to always take care of ourselves as long as we live.    He has so far & He said He would to the end.    They all like to watch me & call me crazy & I know she told others I’m partly crazy    but God knows I’m not although I had enough to make me that way,    for those you do the most for sure sure like to give you a cat of 9 tails.

I got a letter from Mrs. Sharpe today,   no new, just talkie talk.    The fish situation and the green trimmings situation and much of Elbert’s carpentry depends on community and specific relationships and barter.

“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.”

will in Jesus Name give me this healing soon & teach those who love to point there fingers at me & call me crazy the lesson they need to know 

 I’m terribly tired    didn’t feel able to get up this morning;    then Elbert went out & got another basket of white peaches,    but, I had told him & I told him again, I wasn’t doing any more   

Red & Evelyn have put a foundation under there house & have enlarged foundation so he can rebuild the house & make it a lot larger & have an up stairs or 2 story with sleeping rooms upstairs    & Howard’s helping & Armond,    so when Armond & Howard start there basements & houses, Red will help them.    I hope it works out O.K.    they are brothers-in law & should help each other,     

Harvey & Olive were there    she showed up     her baby boy he’s a big fellow 4 mo’s, old & cutting teeth.    Olive was in the hospital for a while after he was born & Francis Cora took care of him for a month or 2 just as if he was her own

There is apparently an ongoing feud or tension with part of the Snyder family that lived next door and farmed across the street. “Elbert set another fence post on the S. east corner,  Bill Snyder has tried & tried to wiggle it loose when the ground is wet Spring & Fall & he did it this time, so Elbert have put in a rail road tie that John Snyder gave him,     Bill plows up to the line & if the post was gone he wouldn’t know if he was over to far, of course, he’s a skunk if ever there was one & just like the old folks,    he  made a big pond hole on his lot by draging the dirt out on the brow of the hill, then he went to plow crosswise, his lot & mine so to fill the hole up    he is so thoroughly discusting & so ignorant person,    a year ago he plowed & planted, his sister’s ground to corn & cut & sold it & then Bessie found it out & made him give her half of the money & I thought that was easy on him,    it’s hard to tell what he will be up to next.    Wish I could put up a fence at least half way to the back.    Elbert cut a lot of brush & hopes to get in a few stakes on the line. ”   Much later in the diary Elinor clarifies that the reason they do not get along with the Snyders is because the Snyders don’t believe in Jesus the way Elinor did. 

Religion: 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 [FourSquare 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. 

She often quotes hyms and mentions “Wonderful Peace” as one of her favorites.  I was not able to find it. 

She often worries about the souls of her family members who are not born again Christians.  “Elbert says Audrey’s ear is still paining her, I am so sorry & Pray God will teach her through some of His to trust Him fully.”

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.”  

Elinor has her own dogma:    “I ask for the needs of the sick, should we fast all those who sick, should they pray in earnestness or just pray & say it’s your falt if you don’t get healed,   I’ve seen some of that   it’s no good”

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.  

She often either gets angry about wrongs done, especially to her. Sometimes she seems paranoid, saying that the devil is in the house & causes things to go missing, or money gone,   Elbert often is accused of the deeds.  But then she often becomes very humble, accepting that its not her job to judge but then she gloats in the fact that God sees all and will deal with the wrong doers in his own way, and that she need not worry about it.  She often feels sorry for her aches and pains and poverty and sickness but in the same sentence thanks God every single day for many many many blessings!   And its clear that in all these aspects of her relationship with a greater good, she is authentic and for that matter very well meaning.  Sometimes its clear she feels guilty and there are some hints about her past.  But if the perspective is shifted to self-care, that she is the one who cares for herself, it is a very sane approach to a hard life.  She is wary of the relationship with God only in that he has somehow forgotten to give her the Holy Ghost (speaking in tongues) that she feels would ensure her afterlife with Jesus.  So, some parts hint at a not so sane approach.  Sometimes she prays on behalf of Elbert and herself even though he has not been converted and she is worry about it becoming “forever too late” for him and others.  Sometimes she prays on behalf of groups of people, congregations, or the world population, etc. covered by “we” in the prayer.  In 1951 she seems a little more doubtful, asking for blessing but asking  (“but what is wrong with me?”, and “I know I’m getting old”)

1951:   “Easter sermons” & very good.    Now the churches are joining together, as the bible say we must all be as one in the end time,    I thank Thee Jesus for having showed me so long ago, when many of the older folsks thought I was so wrong, now they are doing just that and I know the end isn’t very faar away    Oh maybe a few yrs. yet may 10 maybe 20. yrs. “

This is the first time she has given a date for the end of times.   Usually she seems to put it for the very next day, when it will be “forever too late”   She does seem to be looking for signs in the clouds and sun and sunsets and rainbows (which she says is the Lord’s gift/promise). 

Its interesting that she sometimes prays directly to God or Jesus but other times she refers to herself praying for them in the past moment “Jesus Blessed Jesus I pray Thou wont pass me by, but forgive me & made me strong in Thee for- ever & ever & help me to do Thy Will in all things Amen    I love each one Lord & pray Thou will help me or some one of Thine to win them over to Thee,   help me Jesus.”” Well, I sure hope to get back to St. church where I can feel the Power of God, Glory, Hallelujah    Power goes through me just talking about it.    Praise the Lord in Jesus Blessed Holy Name, for ever, Amen. 

“Some one’s stealing my rags & has been for a long time now    I pray God will punish them, it’s so hard for me to wash & bleach the grain bags, but the skunk that takes them don’t care.   Lord help me before it’s to late””    Elbert’s Knee is swollen bad    so it’s hard for him to get around on it & I’m not able to wait on him    so life is really miserable. “

“  The war is closing in on us & more men are being called.    Ella Jane expects her husband to have to go & they are calling the women that were in the last war & Dr & Dentis.    Russia tells her men they have to win this war, or be shot.”  MJ clarifies that this is the 1950-53 Korean War between North Korea and China Vs. South Korea and USA and United Nations.  However USA did not declare war, it was a United Nation Police Action with the purpose of containing Communist expansion. A declaration of war would have likely resulted in war with the Chinese.  But Eleanor has overlapped her beliefs and interpretation of the Bible such that this war time was predicted and portends the second coming of Jesus.

“I wish so much I could go to 31st st Church for I feel more welcome there somehow, done here they are nice sometimes & some times they scarcely Know you. I don’t know what was wrong Fri. night, there seemed to be some”

   “I hope we have a real service & that more people will come in, some strangers or that are not just the relatives of the Ministers    I’m truly glad they come, but wish so much it could be a real community Church and not just a family reunion.    They have got in quite a few children, but the grown ups done all come the same day.    We really need an expieranced couple that’s no relation to any one for miles around & who know the Lord & willing to work with a world of pat- ience & strength that can run things & direct things,    so everything will work together”   

[ Being a minister’s offspring was stressful.   We used to call ourselves TO’s  Theologian Offspring.  There was stress when dad needed to finish or find inspiration for the sermon and he sat in the lazy-boy on Saturday night.  Mom gets up and brings in popcorn and he eats that and works with a legal pad, finally either finishing or figuring out a way that the sermon isn’t the central focus of the day.  The other stress was getting enough people to be coming to church.  The numbers counted.  It was even in the “bulletin” I think, the number of people attending the previous Sunday.  I know there was oversite that happened at least indirectly when ministers went to Conference at Lakeside each year, the week long event.  And the bishop was the boss and probably supervised to some extent. There were always complaints that might come from parishinors.  Totally unrealated was “visitation” meaning every night dad had to go see people in there homes, or hospitals, etc.  He kept track of all that,   It was part of his “service”   There were also board meetings and complaints or control or persuasion or manipulation from the well to do in the congregation.  I didn’t want to go to the church service even though as I got older, singing in the choir was valuable.  That was where I learned how to harmonize.  But on Sunday morning I didn’t want to dress up, or go to the church & sit ..visible to all.  So I did my service in the nursery, learning very quickly how to take care of multiple infants, toddlers and older children for an hour or so,  then giving them back to parents and reassuring them that their offspring were perfectly behaved, didn’t cry, stopped crying right after parents left, etc.  It was just like baby sitting and the training paid off.  If forced to go to service, my escape was the glorious balcony, less visible even though dad paid attention.  It was all stressful.  But I did like the meals that could follow, sometimes take out Chinese, sometimes roast beef, etc.  ]

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.  

“We have to tie up the rose bush    & maybe give the end a trim coat of paint, [earlier talks of trimming the rose bush, sometimes she uses very similar words with different meanings in subsequent unrelated sentences)

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

Elbert’s been on the jump all day

  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,

Elbert’s as nerveous as a hen on a hot Johny Cake
he didn’t pay for the hen yet “the paper man.”
strong N.East wind that seemed to go to the marrow
“ I do pray they will take care of it for we are having a tight rub, but hope we will get through O.K. I thought” (money worries)
I got up at 10 fast time [Time zones?] o, I pray God has taken care to send in a few more to take my place & that he will give each a bless & make it 4 fold for
Elbert’s dog tired
“went out side a few minutes, looked at the road, they tared it & put crushed fine stone on it & rolled it into the tar some one must have complained about how rough it was, so now it’s better but should have a cold pack then it would be good for a long time.” [no idea what she means ?ice] he did both me & them a raw deal,

“he thought maybe he could  get some greens for hens but he was lots to late. ”

“then we hit the trail for home & had a cup of hot drink & Elbert’s in bed & I am soon going”. 

”  I pray Jesus you will give me “as some are wont to say” what it takes, to take a licking for Thy Name’s sake, ”

It’s not very cold out, unless one stand still in the wind. 

begrudge that off times.    

Well, I didn’t do a real job & cleaning but I did brush the dust up from the middle, as Chan use to say I took off the top crust

Keep me covered with the blood & that His coming wont be in the winter nor on the Sabath, Amen 

  I Knew well enough that you were not well,   I just felt it in my bones, as the saying goes,   

Didn’t do much today    got the ambish but just tires me all out to work 

I’ll be glad when we can get back to the others we were getting before    I sort of spline against this;   

The air has a sting & bite in it   chills one through in just a few minutes.

Elbert don’t feel v ery well & he’s as nervous as a toad in hot mud

says he don’t feeli like writing,    so I’m the goat, to keep up the friendships, 

What they try to save in heat, they pay the doctor 

if & when the sun shines.

    I know it will all come out in the wash, as they say. 

So, I’ll have to tumble out & go & not think of how I feel. 

he go at it with a vim.   

there were quite a few out to church 

nice moon making it gloomy in the fog & Holee’n pranks. 

all in all he’s tired. 

 he forgot the yeast so there we are having stewed duck instead of roasted, 

I haven’t earned my salt today,  

he hung up most of the wash out side & he brought in half of it & I the rest     & it’s most dry except seams 

  we got a light rain long toward morning, 

  I ought to write letters 2-40-clip

so I have to get after the letters soon or they will have the best of me 

when he coughs seems like top of his head would come off,    colds to tight,           he seems to be getting easy now, 

but I pray God will give him strength to throw it off. 

Mrs. S. had made up her mind to come & stay with me a few days.    so I’ll have to shake the timbers & clean up a little 

  seems as if I can’t endure it.

I don’t feel like going either but it’s when the other fellow is ready & if my check comes. 

she had some (5.) to be exate)

“Elbert went to fish house & got a big mess of fish,    I spent a few to Epplers & Harry Miller & to Miss Clark,    she was at Millers so Elbert gave them to her there,    it was just as well.”    [I don’t think I remember her using this phrase ever before.]

Sat. Sept. 30. 1950./ page 2667./ 23 hens eggs this day./ wrong, for Miss Clark said she was over to Amherst & they had a wonderfull meeting & preaching for an hour.    And now I am wondering, if it was Elbert’s fault or if it was Mertle’s fault.    I know it will all come out in the wash, as they say. 


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”

:  “gave the little boy “Vern” a wool bathing suit “dark red”    she thought they ought to be cut off at the top,     but, I don’t know,”   

She talks of sewing much more than there is evidence of results.  Sometimes she has someone else help her work with the hem.  But she often talks of having only one dress for home, 1 rag dress for washing, & one for church. 

Well, I did do a very little sewing to- day, put a patch on the back of my night gown yoke  made 2 handkercheifs & a pillow slip & sewed the sleeves into my house dress & got the binding around one arm hole  sewed the belt on to waist & the skirt on the belt,   got to put binding round another armhole & fix the neck & face bottoms of sleeves  turn hem in skirt make 3 buttonholes sew on 2 buttons & stitch the pocket.    I hope to buy another dress & hat & perhaps coat for church,    I don’t know if I’ll get to sew tomorrow for I have to wash the rags, so might as well do all if I can. 

“Well, I so tired tonight couldn’t see with the glasses on or with them off    eyes were so bad today,    but, I riped up the waist of the green bag dress & cut a wider piece & sewed on to the front & under the arm,    for it was to tight to be comfortable,    so, that mean I took out the lower half of each sleeve from the arm hole    took yoke off the front & took the belt off just passed under arm seam,    then I cut the neck V. shape & put the braid & facing back on & one button    & I got it all done, from five oclock untill 7.     all the stitching was done.    after supper I filed the belt down inside    now it’s ready to be washed. “  

[It is so clear that using the sewing machine was not easy.  She has to rip out as many connections as she sews in.  She usually bastes and then sews.  She uses the machine to “darn” blankets.   I cannot imagine the level of frustration sewing with an old foot rocker machine when I think of all the snapped threads, knotted up messes underneath, clogged bobbins.  They did not have dials for the pressure.  The buttons and button holes are done by hand.  The hems are done by hand.  I have not heard her refer to facing, but something similar..I can’t find a quote.  I can remember vividly being in High School and finishing something to wear for the next day and my mother staying up to hem it for me.   She talks about ripping something out and waiting till the next day to “try it on” Well, I riped my waist under the arm & now I have it back together & ready to try on tomorrow


 it takes me so long to get a dress made if I just had some day,  to cook & do the odds & ends, ….I cut a heavy part wool blanket in the center & sewed selvage edges together & hemed out side edges & darned one small hole & got 2 or 3 more to darn on the machine. …  Well I cut two new waist patterns & hope to cut out a dress to- morrow …While I darned some small holes under the arm of my good dress,    or the best one I have     & then I stitched up the skirt & sleeves of the house dress I cut out the other day.    I basted the waist together but haven”t cut it just right     so I’ll have to do some over,    but, if I keep at it maybe I’ll get it together after awhile. ….Well, I riped my waist under the arm & now I have it back together & ready to “ try on tomorrow”  I cannot imagine waiting.   One important memory was the costume for the play “Oklahoma”   I can’t remember what part I played but the dress had a skirt that was huge…. The longest hem ever, and my mother finished it in time for the rehearsal.   I can still remember the material. 

Sex: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/Health Care:   “ 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. ”

Both of them take a dose of Olive Oil to settle their stomachs daily.     Elbert takes |Anacin (caffein and aspirin) regularly.  Sometimes she doses it out but sometimes he takes it on his own.  He often has stomach pain and it seems likely that the aspirin would lead to an ulcer. 

I truly thank God & I thank Him for Elbert & that He took him    helped him sell all the eggs, do the shopping, get home & get everything cared for be-for the rain came down. 

  I so tired    I’m sweating like rain & trembling all over.

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.  

Washing: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. Sometimes the helper turns the huge heavy wash tub. See below for a photo including the washing equipment and the sheet hanging in the back to dry. 

Weather: 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 …”

“its been so hot today and each time I think how hot it is I wonder if will at just as cold days this winter. “  For a number of years she used a system wherein the spring summer weather tracked by day represented the relative weather for the fall winter day that was marked in the Farmers’ Almanac or a similar text.  Each day is actually considered an example of the “type of weather” that would occur on it’s corresponding second half of year day.  Elinor carefully marked the entries in the diary so she could track it.  But there was never any discussion of how well the prediction was. 

The rain was wonderful & I know that everything was surely greatful outdoors to get a drink & get washed off, things have been so dry & the cystern getting that way & water so low in the well also.