Dec. 27, 1918-Jan. 1, 1919

Dec. 27

Ironed, fixed some of my clothes that needed it, went over town, got photos of Grace and Arthur, went to see Mrs. Jones but she wasn’t home, went to choir practice, went to bed at 1.

Dec. 28

Cleaned up the house, made the cutest little critome cover for my cedar chest, made a doily roll, washed my hair, read, took a bath and went to bed at 9:30.

Dec. 29

Had 1 hr. to wash dishes, get ready for church and go. Played for both church and S.S. mother stayed at Sheldon. Harriet came home with me, Emily and Clarence came when half thru dinner, showed Harriet all my things, went to choir practice, got home at 5:30. Got my League lesson, Dick Kelly, Carl Gabler and Lowell gave us a ride to church and scared me half to death, a very few at League. Edgar was late for church, had lunch, Russa and Paul came home with Ruth. Gerald has the “flu”. Read some more of “Once to Every Man”. Sure good. went to bed at 12.

Dec. 30

Blizzard! went to school. Harriet was our boss as Prof. took charge of Miss Sterwall’s room, had a regular circus. Wilbur had those funny pictures he took of us kids. Sure done some plowing on the way home, washed.

Dec. 31

Mother went over to Pershings because Mrs. Per. Sick. got dinner in a hurry, washed dishes after school, got supper, went to choir practice.

Jan. 1

Harriet has the flu. Flossie went over to Pershings after school, cleaned up the house for the party, got supper, the bunch came at 8. Ruth went after Flossie. She sure was surprised. Went to bed at 15 to 2. Bessie stayed all night.

Grace Stoddard

I am having a more difficult time locating some of the people in this installment. Clara mentions getting photos of two people, Grace and Arthur. I had previously mentioned the Stoddard family; Mr. Stoddard owned a general merchandise store in town, and one of the daughter’s names is Grace, so I am thinking this might be the Grace she is referring to. Grace Stoddard is two years younger that Clara, but she did have a professional photo taken by J.C Patterson, who had a photography studio in Aberdeen, a town known as the “Hub City of South Dakota” because of the number of trains that went through the town. It was quite the big city as compared to Cresbard: Aberdeen population – 14,000, Cresbard – 300. In fact, it was in an Aberdeen hospital that my dad was born in 1930.

Here are a couple of excerpts from a newspaper in Aberdeen from 1915 providing the all-important news of Patterson leaving town and closing his studio as well as when he returns. The other stories are fun to read also.


As for Arthur, all I learned was that Arthur was a very popular name in South Dakota in the early 1900s! So I am not sure who this is. The same is true of Mrs. Jones.

But I thought the fact that Clara was given photos of her friends was interesting. It hadn’t occurred to me that little towns in South Dakota would have photography studios in the early 1900s. But at the time, portraits were quite popular.

Wilbur Devine

And in addition to receiving these professional portraits, Clara has made mention in other entries of taking photos herself or picking up her pictures, which also surprised me. And this week, she says that Wilbur had “the funny pictures he took of us.” I would love to see those photos! By the way, Wilber is the brother of James Devine, who Clara later marries.

It was in 1888 when George Eastman introduced a roll film camera, called a Kodak, giving the general public access to photography. But it was very expensive and only the wealthy could afford to engage in the hobby.

The Kodak camera is put on the market, loaded with 100 exposures on a film roll at a price of $25; advertised with slogan, “You press the button and we do the rest”—exposed film and camera must be sent back to Eastman company in Rochester, NY
Kodak #1 camera 1888

But in 1900, Eastman introduced the Kodak Brownie, which was much less expensive, at $1.00, opening up “snapshot” photography to the masses.

Kodak Brownie camera 1900

The next day, Clara makes a cover for the cedar chest, or her “hope chest,” that she received as a gift on Christmas. She calls it a “critome” cover; I am not sure that is even a word. I cannot find it anywhere. If someone knows better, please let me know. But a cover usually includes a cushion for the top and sometimes fabric that drapes down its sides.

And because she is always making something, it seems, she also made a doily roll. I knew what a doily was – we had them all over my house growing up, most of which came from Clara’s sister-in-law Emily’s collection over the years. But I found this article on how to make a doily roll in a December 15, 1907 article published in the Kimball’s Dairy Farmer.

Excerpt from Kimball’s Dairy Farmer
The full page from the Kimball’s Dairy Farmer

Actually, this journal has an interesting history (p. 11-14 of link). Its slogan was “For the men who own the cows.” Fred Kimball, the publisher, realized that in his home state of Iowa, most farmers were milking their beef cows as a side job. He started this publication to encourage farmers to own dairy cows as a way to increase their farm’s profits. And he was quite successful.

Clara then had a pack-filled Sunday. Her mother stayed at Sheldon, which she had done in previous entries. At first, I thought Sheldon was a surname, but now I am thinking it might be a town. For one, I have been unable to find any family with that last name at the time living near by. For another, Clara doesn’t write “stayed at the Sheldons,” which would be clearly a family. 

But there is both a Sheldon, North Dakota and Sheldon, Iowa. Perhaps she was visiting either of those towns. But it is never made clear who or what she is visiting.

Harriet, Clara’s best friend, comes over, the first time she has seen her since Christmas. And Clara spends time showing Harriet the gifts she received. Reading that took me back to when I was a kid, younger than Clara is here. Christmas morning always greeted me with an abundance I couldn’t have imagined. And it felt like that each year. One very important part of the routine was arranging my gifts under “my side” of the tree. And then my best friend Colette would come over, and one by one, I would show her my presents. Then we would take the trip down to the other end of the block to her house, where she would lead me to the display she created of her gifts. That was always the best day.

Clarence and Emily, my dad’s parents and Clara’s brother and sister-in-law, came half through dinner. I only mention this because Emily would have been about four months pregnant with my dad’s oldest brother, George Keith Horen, at this dinner.

Then on with a busy night: choir practice, church, League. And people I don’t know. I found a Dick Kelly who is 19 years old but lives a bit away. I found a Gabler family living in Cresbard, but no Carl. Lowell must be Lowell McGregor, who is 18 years old in 1918. He is Margie’s older brother, a friend of Clara’s who has been mentioned previously. In fact, that very Margie ends up marrying Russa, also mentioned here. Russa is with Paul, who is probably 

Paul Moulton (16) because there are other references to the Moulton family of Cresbard later in the journal. Russa and Paul came home with Ruth, and I am not sure who Ruth is.

But one thing is clear: the ride to church was a wild one.

1920 Studebaker ad
1918 Overland Cloverleaf Roadster

Back on November 3rd, Clara writes of struggling to start the Ford. In that installment, I wrote a bit about the Model T, but a Ford Model T was not the only car people were driving in Cresbard in 1918. Emily and Clarence had a Studebaker when they married in June 1918. And soon after that they bought an Overland Cloverleaf Roadster, a sports car, with wire wheels and a short covered up body with little small seats in back for the kids. Clara and Clarence’s father George Horen drove a Chandler, a touring car. It had no windows, a side curtain, and a top. Fun to imagine the roads filled with these cars so long ago.

Chandler car ad
Side curtains

One other note on the cars. The Chandler touring car had no windows, but it had a side curtain. I wan’t exactly sure what that meant, so I thought it might be possible others don’t know either. They are coverings to protect passengers from the weather, and they include sometimes glass or other times celluloid windows.

It isn’t over yet. Gerald has the flu. Remember, Gerald is the good friend of Clara’s boyfriend’s Edgar.

The next day they are all off to school. There sure doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a school night, what with the late nights, the parties, and the sleepovers. Plus, holidays were handled quite a bit differently too. Christmas of 1918 was on a Wednesday, and they were back in school on Monday. They attended school on December 31, New Year’s Eve, a Tuesday. And they even attended school on New Year’s Day. It doesn’t seem that New Year’s Eve wasn’t even acknowledged, let alone celebrated.

Miss Sterwall didn’t make it to school, however, so the “prof” had to take over her room, which led to Harriet to take over the class. Sounds like she didn’t have much control as it turned out to be a circus. Not surprising.

And the sickness continues. Clara’s mom heads over to the Pershings because now Mrs. Pershing is sick. We know she doesn’t die because she doesn’t die until 10 years later. But she is the mom of Gerald, so the flu seems to be spreading in the household. Flossie (Clara’s sister) heads over to the Pershings’s house as well, which doesn’t seem like the smartest decision. You have to remember, this flu, unlike Covid-19, was the deadliest for the young and healthy.

But it looks like Flossie went to the Pershings as a ruse while Clara got the house ready for a surprise birthday party for her sister. And fun was had. You don’t know this yet, but the next day, this bunch has school. Yet she went to bed a 1:45 AM.

Harriet, the friend Clara spends the most time with, has the flu. 

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