I haven’t done any of these for a while, so I’ll review. My great grandmother and her husband raised 4 children in the Chicago area. He was a supervisor at one of the steel mills. He had been a teacher and really loved it, but she didn’t think teaching would bring in enough money to raise a family. They were active in their church and community. He served on the school board and they often hosted the school board members at all day outings in what was considered ‘their cottage,’ a couple hours outside of Chicago, which later became our rattery.
This set of great-grandparents had four children, two girls and two boys. All of them graduated from college. My grandmother graduated with a degree in science (botany) in the 1920s. She was also a remarkable athlete. I know one of her brothers also had a science degree. Not sure what degrees the other two took. I know one of them was very interested in art. Their youngest son served in WW2 (he was a gap baby and a bit of a surprise).
My great grandfather died suddenly, just before he would have retired I believe. For a while she continued to live in the home up near Chicago, coming down to the cottage for weekends and holidays (it was closer to one of her married daughters, my grandmother). At some point she moved to the Rattery completely. She broke her hip and had increasing difficulty getting around. They installed a small quarter bath in her downstairs bedroom so she didn’t have to do the stairs (it’s gone now, The Rattery is back to one bathroom upstairs). Eventually, she moved to a nursing home, largely bedridden. I am told I visited her in her ‘cottage’ home (it’s a 3 bedroom house with a great kitchen, an attached garage, and a basement). But I only remember visiting her in the nursing home. She died around my 8th year, well into her nineties.
When cleaning out the Rattery after my beloved uncle’s death (one of her grandsons), we discovered she had kept journals for about ten years in the fifties, up until the time she moved into the nursing home. She kept them in bank calendar books, essentially, daybooks, she got from a local bank. She also slipped various ephemera into them, notes, cards, newspaper articles. From time to time I share some of her entries, a peek at another era and another way of living.
Her house in the Chicago area was a kind of townhouse or something- she rented out a couple apartments upstairs. One of the tenants was also a good friend who did a lot of things for her. When at the ‘cottage’ people in town stopped by to check on her and see how she was doing, brought her eggs and gifts from their gardens, and once two teenaged girls set up a projector and screen and showed her some homemade film footage they’d taken because she was unable to visit the church where they’d shared it earlier that week.
Most of the entries I’ve shared are from the earlier journals. This is one of the latest. My mother was a teenager, busy with her social life. I was born in 1962, while my parents were in college (Mom may have graduated the previous year).
Monday, Oct 1 (1956)
Did some working. Talked to R. (youngest son of her 4 children) about my roof leaking. Advises to sell, just what to do I don’t know. I worked hard all the years, helped to get the 4 thru college- all turned out so good. Now I’m on the spot to decide just what to do. I don’t want to live with any of the 4 or live in an institution.
Tuesday October 2
She paid the bills and watched television with Mrs. P, one of her renters.
East Chicago water- 2.10
Bell telephone, 7.16
Electric for cottage, 3.43
Cottage tax, 39,79 (I’m not sure this was annual, it seems like she paid it a few times a year)
Received thirty dollars in rent from Mrs. Otto Greers (? Not sure of last name, her handwriting sprawls a bit)
Wednesday, October 3
Paid cottage water, 2.00 (this drives my Pip crazy. She and her family currently live in The Rattery, and their water bills are really quite high)
R (youngest son) came over and put roof cement on the third floor sun parlor. Went back with him. Got a ate with the hairdersser for a shampoo, thinks my permanent is going to hold. So good seeing the children. L. (her daughter-in-law) had Swanson Turkey pies for supper. They were good.
Thursday, Oct. 4
Came in near 4 with R. It was anice day with the family. Had roast pork and sauerkraut for dinner- a good meal. Storm off the lake. Gee, how the wind blew.
Friday: October 5,
Worked around the place.
Washed and hung up curtains.
Saturday, October 6
Mrs. P took me to the 4 corners, got a —? for gary A (my grandmother, her second child) met me at the hotel- had a good supper. Took me to Krogers (I think), bot several things. Heard that Van Tobles lumber yard on fire. Chuck (my grandfather, A’s husband) picked up his mother and we drove over. Boy such a fire- they were afraid it would take the town, cars of Bu…(Poultry? at a lumberyard?) on the trucks caught fire, and such explosions- (maybe it’s cars of something or other on the tracks? Perhaps the lumberyard was near street cars or train tracks?)
Sunday, October 7
Breakfast and then we went to church, communion services- church was filled. Drove north to see where a (?) burned- could see the smoke from P… (can’t read it but it might say Pulaski) state park. It was on fire. 2000 acres burned over. Brot me home after Ed Sullivan’s program. (here I think ‘home’ is the cottage) Turned on my furnace. Went to Mrs. Kensell’s. Watched her television. It isn’t as clear as up here. Took a while to get warm. The furnace works good.
Updated: barn. I think they went to see where a barn had burned. And if she was at the cottage and they drove north, it’s possible it was a barn on my other great-grandparents’ property, or just a friend or relation.
Update the second: I have found some newspaper reports of both fires– there seem to have been a number of them that month, nearly all arson-related. The news reports refer to several tanks of liquid gas exploding. That must have really been something to see. I hope my looky-loo relatives did not get close enough to make the firefighters work harder than it needed to be, but since all those relatives are long gone, and probably most of the firemen at the time are gone as well, it’s a silly thing to ‘hope’ for.=)
I’m not sure what word my great-grandmother was trying to spell there- butane makes sense, but it doesn’t look like butane.