Saturday, December 17, 2011

Grandmother's Diary

In 1915, my Grandmother sailed on The St. Paul from New York to Liverpool and thence traveled to London to marry my grandfather. He was an American but worked in London for awhile and had gone over on the Lusitania in December of 1914.

Recently I reread Grandma's diary. Almost every night they went to plays, seeing Sarah Bernhardt, the movies to see Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, or they played cards.

Almost every morning they ate breakfast "at the same old place" which was Lyons Corner House. Often dinner was at Pratties or Simpson's. They lived at the Savoy Hotel.

A few quotes:

"... taking a ride in Henry, I drove for awhile, I love to drive but George gets so impatient with me..."

"To wake up in Cheltenham on a beautiful morning is swell. We had breakfast at the Hotel and after I went all over the place. I spent the day in the stores and looking around the pretty little place."

"...out to Islington to buy a knock a bout hat..."

"...coming home we were held up by a centry, at the point of a bayonet, for our lights and told to put them out."

They returned to New York mid-1916. "...then went to the American embassy for an emergensy passport..." Spelling errors are my grandmother's. the pink in top photo are just stick it markers I inserted.


kimmie said...

Wow! That is so cool! I would love to have one thing like that in our family! Sounds like a luxurious life too!

~Babs said...

OMG, what a treasure you own Suki!
I absolutely adored enlarging to read more of her life,,,,the words
"changed my corsets"
"bought a knock about hat"
say so much about the fashions of the time.
And yes, what a life!
Meals, plays, movies,,,!
What a history book, right there in your hands.Fabulous that this has remained through the years. You have to just love owning this journal! Did she continue journaling,,I mean including when she'd had children?
Awesome post, thank you!

sukipoet said...

unfortunately this is the only writing of my grandmother's that remains. at one point she was writing a novel but it disappeared. however my grandfather wrote though did not publish a novel and i have the typescript of that. it is rather dated but kinda cool to have.

yes the life sounds luxurious, but they left due to the war. My grandmother always loved the theater. I forgot about that till I reread this.

Umā said...

What a wonderful thing to have! And funny you post this today because just this morning J helped me listen to an old tape recording of my grandfather reading his simple poetry. He has been gone since 1985, when I was about to be a freshman in high school, so it was amazing to hear this voice from my childhood again. It makes me wish my mom would have agreed to doing such a recording, but she was very shy about that sort of thing.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Would you consider using this journal as a basis of a short story or novel or even a war story or mystery? Did you know your grandmother and did she have the lively spirit she shows in this journal? Lovely post and sharing.

Mystic Meandering said...

What an incredible peek into your grandmother's life!- traveling by herself by ship across the Atlantic! Must have been quite an independent woman! This is a genealogist's delight! Love the penmanship! It actually looks a little like my grandmother's handwriting (b.1905). Must be the "old school" methods :)

So lovely you have this Suki, and thanks for sharing it with us. Would love to hear more!

Mim said...

That is just awesome - amazing that you have this

sukipoet said...

Blue Sky, yes I knew my grandmother. I used to stay at her house often as a child. Her and grandpa's. She lived to be 92. She met Aaron as a baby and young child too.

PeaceGardenSu said...

This would be your Dad's Mom I'm guessing-- and wow I am jealous of the legibility in that wonder-full journal!! (As you know, I have some journals of my foremother's, too- one penned (but sooo faded in places it is now hard to read all the pages)-- Her journal recounting tales of adventures coming via train and cholera-ridden fur trader boats on the Great Lakes, to the wilds of (white folk) unsettled Upper Peninsula Michigan in late 1840s-- (They came from your neck of the woods- Worcester, MA) with her husband, mother and 3 yr old daughterto help found the town of Marquette.. AT any rate -those tales were initially far less 'civilized' in entertainment options and overall environment than your g'ma's tales.. but, yes, isn't it great fun peeking into the past thru the eyes of someone who was once peeking at her times from amidst the branches of your shared family tree?? Then my Mom kept diaries, too- 1928-30 which I also have... SO glad these writings
survived..! Lucky us!

PeaceGardenSu said...

THANK YOU so much for sharing your G'ma's words 'in her own write'!! <3 Susan

marianne said...

Wow how fantastic this is That you have this and can relive the past a little bit like this.
What a precious book!
Hope you are doing OK Suki.
Here we are having rain and hail.
take care and stay warm♥

Annie said...

I echo what Babs said. Very exciting! Lucky duck. xoxo

kj said...

what clarity of handwriting and of daily routine! it couldn't have been that simple (aka uncomplicated) but it sounds convincingly that way, yes?)

in 1916, my 95 year old precious Mother was born.


jinxxxygirl said...

How lovely you have and read her diary. I've kept a diary for the past 25 years but i don't think anyone will ever read it or keep it or treasure it. How wonderful for you! Hugs! deb

Katiejane said...

How delightful that you have this treasure! What fun it must be to read these passages. Thank you so much for sharing these with us. I think it would be so exciting to be able to go back in time via an old diary. I'm with Babs, this is really neat.

PeaceGardenSu said...

Jinxxxygirl-- Never mind who reads it--or not!! Your journal is a treasure and I would love to read Maybe, if it matters to you you can arrange for it to be given to an historical society of some sort or bury it in a time capsule box for the ages in the fututre to find lol.!! You might be 'famous' for that journal in some unexpected way!!! Hey, Anais Nin comes to mind...

Claudia said...

Hello Suki,
with all that work of moving I wasn't able to blog or browse through blogs like yours ultimately. But now, I start again.
Thank you so much for your congratulations on our new home.

Anonymous said...

What a treasure, indeed! Everything of that sort that I have ever come across (and nothing as rich as what you have there!) I have loaded into my genealogy software and then up to the Internet via for all other cousins, nieces, etc. to read and enjoy. But transcribing takes a long time! It sounds like your grandparents were quite well off. I too would love for you to share more of her writing with us!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This is a great treasure. To have a glimpse into your Grandmother's life. To see her penmanship. WOW. I would love to have such a thing.

louciao said...

Oh, what a precious possession and legacy to have in hand. Your grandmother's life sounds like a "swell" adventure and she like a spirited woman!

sukipoet said...

Interesting the diary gives the impression that my grandparent were well off. I never thought of it that way. Back in those days lots of people stayed in hotels. It was cheap and in fact I always though I'd like to spend my "old age" doing so. But those days are gone. It costs a fortune to stay overnight in a hotel much less live there for a number of months.

or maybe something else gives the impression of their being well off.
just find it interesting to think about.