Sunday, August 7, 2011

When Clarice met May

I never saw the film "When Harry Met Sally", but I was reading about it yesterday, which is what made me think of this posting title.  I was just trying to be creative ..... :)

A few months ago, my mom gave me a treasure to borrow.  It is a one-year diary of her mother (my grandmother) May.  The year was 1908, and May was a 16-turning-17-year-old girl attending the Platteville Normal School (teacher's college).  I eagerly typed up Grandma's words and thoroughly enjoyed getting a glimpse into her life!

I tried to pick out a few entries that show the kind of life that was lived in a rural area, 1908.  Grandma May lived in town while going to school, but during the summer she went back home (to the farm northwest of Platteville, somewhere in the Ellenboro area for you locals).  My notes are in parentheses;  the rest is exactly what she wrote in her beautiful penmanship.

Fri 17 (January)School. Played basketball with H.S. 8-2 Normal.  Went to Athenaeum and then to Sophomore contest.  (Lesson for the day:  an athenaeum is a literary club, scientific academy, or library.  I'm going with library here.)  Wm. Livingston 1st Donald Orpett 2nd. Virgil Willis 3.  Carl Andrew sat by me and talked.  Bright moonlight.  (My grandpa's name is Clarice and she met him in 1909-10 while teaching at his school in Nebraska.  So don't get too excited about May and poor Carl!)

Wed 22                 Wrote a final in Arith from 10 to 12 and in A reading from 2-4 oclock.  Anthony Smith got gripp.  Snowed some enough to cover the ground.  Not much colder.  Bought silver belt buckle. 25 cents.  (Can we go back to the 1908 prices, but keep the modern conveniences? I wish.)

Sun 2 (February) Stayed home all day. Cold but in evening warmer. Charlie Mundon was up during day. We made ice cream. He would not have anything to do with me very much.  (Sounds like Grandma had a little "thing" for Charlie!)

Sat 15 Went with Victor to the normal to work in zoology in the laboratory but Dudley was not there. Ironed and sewed in afternoon. Colder. Snow about all gone. Byron (her brother) came in with two teams. Will went out and took two loads of lumber. Papa killed Spot.  (That's IT, Grandma?! No back-story??  A woman of few words!!)

Tues 14 (April) School got mad at Tamar. hot.  (I just thought this was kinda cute.  Short and to the point, just like Grandma!)

Mon 20 Quite warm. Went to school. Pres. Livingston gave us (the girls) a lecture on doudiness in dress etc.

Mon 13.(May)            School.  Nice in forenoon  Had a cyclone in afternoon did not touch Platteville but blew our barn to pieces and the sheds.  Was real cool after it.  Alma went home in evening.  Frank Livingston’s father’s barn was also blowed down.  Cried all evening. (Not an easy life!)

Fri. 5  (June)      Went to High School commencement exercises with Alta & Ida.  Charlie took me home afterward.  We took Alta home.  Charlie was very good until we got home.  He asked me to kiss him good by.  I would not do it and he said I was stingy.  He did not kiss me after all.  Will W. spoke the farewell by the juniors.  He did swell.  (Okay, where do I begin?!  Sounds like Grandma was playing hard to get!  Then she goes right into a comment about the commencement address.  Not a whole lot of soul-pouring here.  Too funny!)

Sun. 7                    Did not go to church in the morning for there wasn’t any in our church.  Girls came up late in afternoon because it had rained before.  Went down to Ida in eve. Alta was there.  Met Charlie and went out walking.  We had a hot time.  I was mad at him.  The girls saw him with Ethel Averton in the park in the afternoon.  He had his arm on the back of the seat.  Went out Pine Street.  He apologized and said he was sorry but did not blame me for getting mad.  I told him that I didn’t care.  I said he could go with her if he wanted to but he wouldn’t go with me afterward.  He told me he did not want to go with her.  He said he loved me and meant it.  He tried to put his arm around me all the time and I would not let him.  He wanted me to tell him what I thought of him but I would not do it.  Went home made a date for Wed night and he kissed me good night.  I fought but all in vain.  Went to bed but golly I felt funny.  (Finally, an entry with some meat on it.  Thanks Grandma!!)

Mon 20.  (July)    Quite warm.  Washed out my tan skirt among other things and ironed it in the forenoon.  It shrunk real short so I wore my brown skirt and went to try and get a school.  The British was taken.  Went to Mahrs a little while then went to town.  Saw Mr. Loy and he said for me to go out to Stumptown in the morning  Mr Loy and wife rode up town with me.  Stayed all night with Verna Clark  (This is fascinating to me because, as a teacher, I can relate to the job hunting.  I think "the British" was British Hollow School, which would have been about a mile south of where I live today!  Not sure, though.  I do know that Stumptown is four miles east of here (between Platteville and Potosi).  Very, very cool!

Mon 7. (September) First day of teaching school. Got very tired because I stood so much. Did not have such a hard time to keep them quiet. Made some of them stay in for whispering and the like. (Way to go, Grandma!  I can't imagine teaching a whole room of kids, some even older than myself, at the tender age of 17!)
Sun 8. (October)     Walked around by cave in A.M.  I pressed my suit.  In P.M. Albert brought Verna and I to town.  In evening I went down to Mundons.  It started to rain just as I got there.  It soon cleared off and was so bright as day.  It was very cold.  Charlie and I went out to Harms.  We stopped just at the end of the woods and talked.  He asked me to promise I would marry him.  I told him I could not do it and then he wanted us to quit going together.  This hurt me very bad and I would not do that.  So he said to let it go six months, which would be until May to decide.  Went home. 
(Grandma May and ...Grandpa Charlie?? Not quite.  There were a few more entries for the year, but nothing of much substance.  The neat thing is that a few entries mention of her trying to get out to Nebraska for a teaching position.  Grandma liked Charlie, but maybe she didn't want to marry him because she wanted to move west and teach out there.  Turns out she met her future husband of 65 years (and 12 children, and umpteen grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc etc etc!!), out in Wayne, Nebraska.  I sure wish she'd written a diary of her first year in Nebraska.  We know that she met Clarice, and the rest is history!
Grandma May & Grandpa Clarice with my sister Marla, 1971
She is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.--1 Corinthians 7:39


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