Jan. 2 – Jan. 26, 1919

Jan. 2

Got dinner at noon, ironed after school. Bessie came up again to stay all night. Went to choir practice. I had to play, went to see Harriet. Got home at 11. Awful cold.

Jan. 3

Just common occurrences. went to see Harriet and she is pretty sick. started to embroider a tray cloth.

Jan. 4

Cleaned up the house, went up town, Harriet is worse. Edgar and I have to sit up at Carhart tonight to care for the sick. went about 8. Helped Mrs. C. to wash dishes, I didn’t have much but Edgar did.

Jan. 5

Read and ate candy, had lunch at 2. Breakfast at 8. got home at 9 and went to bed. got up at 3. had dinner, read and studied. Edgar came up but just stayed about half an hour. went bed at 8.

Jan. 6

Harriet is awful sick, washed after school.

Jan. 7

Ironed after school.

Jan. 8

Stayed at Plates until 1:30. got my Virgil, took care of the kids and ate candy.

[eleven days of entries are missing]

Jan 19

Not feeling very good, got awful sick at church, came home with a temperature of 100; sick all day and such a lovely day.

Jan. 20

Still sick, read Red Pepper Burns

Jan. 21

Feeling a little better, went to school, washed after school.

Jan. 22

1st exams of the year. Not so awful hard, got 83 in Algebra. went to see Harriet.

Jan. 23

Had exams in Virgil and it took me 3hrs. 20 min. to translate 60 lines. went up town to see Harriet.

Jan. 24

Finished exams today, went to choir practice and to see Harriet. Edgar and I had a terrible fight – nearly quit.

Jan. 25

Saturdays work. went up town, seen Harriet, dinner at 3:30. Stayed at McGregors and played Rumme, had supper there, came home at 8:30, made lace for one end of dresser scarf. went to bed at 9:30

Jan. 26

Went to church and S.S., Harriet came, studied, Margaret came up, went walking and took pictures. Edgar and Gerald gave us a ride and the car stopped about every 15 minutes. got home at 6. ready for church, had a swell feed after church, Mabel chaperoned us. had a three course dinner and candy besides. in misery for hrs after eating. Got home at 10:30, went to bed at 12:30


I can’t find a photo of Harriet, but here is a photo of her father, Frederick H. Potter

Harriet is still sick, and Clara goes to visit her. I’m a bit concerned that she is visiting her. I am also a bit surprised that she doesn’t express more fear or concern considering that people all around her are dying. Young people. People her age. 

I also like the comment “just common occurrences.” That is pretty much how I am feeling through this Covid-19 pandemic. 

“How was your day?” 

Just common occurrences.

“What have you been doing?”

 Just common occurrences.

Yep. That’s perfect.

And if visiting Harriet isn’t bad enough, she and her boyfriend Edgar go to the Carhart house to care for the sick over there. The Carharts have a 15-year-old son, Walter, and two little girls, 4 and 2 years old. I wonder who is sick. A bit off topic, but I loved this little announcement of Walter’s birth in a newspaper.

../photos/11/walter.png
Walter’s birth announcement

And Harriet is still sick. 

The Plate family recently moved to South Dakota from Wisconsin, where Mr. Plate owned and ran a general store. He moved his practice to Faulk County SD in 1918, with his wife and four children, aged 9, 7, 4, and 1, whom Clara took care of.

I know I mentioned in the last installment about the fact that Clara seems to go to bed awfully late every night, but what I forgot to mention was that it seems so odd to me that the time she went to bed remains a consistent piece of information in this journal. Why is it so important to note the time she goes to bed? I keep a pretty detailed calendar, and I actually record the time I wake up each day. Maybe because I am a night owl, so the important time to track is the time I wake up. Each early morning is a success over my nature.

I have also wondered if perhaps the school day in 1918 started later than our school day today. From the best I can tell, most schools began at 9 AM and ended somewhere between 2 and 4 PM. But also, in places like South Dakota, schools were often up to five miles away. That was the distance that was considered close enough to walk. 

I’m on the left, and Colette is on the right.We are six years old and off to school!

It is hard to imagine walking five miles to school, in a South Dakota winter of all times. My younger sister and I loved to retell the story of having to walk to our elementary school, which was a mile from our house, during Chicago winters. But to make matters worse, even though it made a better story, we also had to come home for lunch. According to the district rules, we lived too close to the school to stay for lunch. So that meant we walked a mile to school, a mile home for lunch, a mile back to school after lunch, and a mile back home at the end of the day. I realize that this doesn’t add up to the five miles students walked one way back in 1918. But it was a lot! Especially for a six-year-old. But at least when we were in kindergarten, the older kids from the neighborhood walked with us.

My sister’s children challenged the story, confident it was a huge exaggeration, and on one of their trips to Chicago, they measured the distance. And sure enough. We weren’t exaggerating.

I have no idea how far away school was for this group. And it is very possible that they were getting rides to school, for all I know. In fact, in this installment, Clara mentions Edgar and Gerald gave Harriet, Margaret and Clara a ride, from church I believe, and it isn’t the first time they have driven somewhere. This ride, however, is interrupted by car trouble every fifteen minutes. I remember an old car our family had that would die every time I stopped the car at a red light. And I never knew if it would start up again.

Family papers state that Clara’s father, at this time, was doing pretty well, and the family definitely had a car, if not more than one car. Whether Clara had access to the car or if someone else in the family drove her around is not clear.

In addition, remember Emily Bottum? She married Clara’s oldest brother Clarence in June 1918 and is my dad’s mother? Before she married, she had her own driving horse and buggy; she travelled often from Cresbard to Faulton to visit friends, which was about 22 miles away. That makes me think that some of these other people in our journal here may have also had a horse and buggy to get around.

Maybe Emily Bottom had something like this.

Emily’s oldest son, my Uncle Keith, wondered why should would have still had a horse and buggy at that point because a Model T cost about $300. And he says a good horse and buggy plus a harness would have also cost about $300. But once she married Clarence, the two had a Studebaker.

One thing that hasn’t changed about school is exams. Looks like Clara endured three days of exams.

For the first time, there is a gap in the journal entries. Clara missed eleven days. But her first entry after that nine days is about how sick she is, so maybe she has been sick for a while and not feeling up to writing in her journal. But at this point, she is able to read. She is now tackling Red Pepper Burns by Grace S. Richmond, published in 1910 and the first in a series that was followed by Mrs. Red PepperRed Peppers Patients: With an Account of Anne Linton’s Case in ParticularRed and Black, and Red of the Redfields.

The series is about Redfield Pepper Burns, M.D. He is a busy, vivacious small town doctor with bright red hair dealing with epidemics, jealousy, and crazy patients. The first in the series deals with morphine addiction, a threatening accident, and a chance at love.

On the last day of exams, Edgar and Clara had a “terrible fight.” I hate to hear that. And apparently it was bad enough that they nearly broke up. I sure do wish we had some details about what they fought about. The good news is that they are back hanging out together again in two days.

Then there was an evening at the McGregors, Margaret’s family home, where they played “rumme.”  The precursor to this card game was called Conquian, invented in Spain or Mexico during the 1600s. Then in 1909, New Yorker Elwood Baker created his own version of the game which he called Rummy, or Gin Rummy. Today there are many versions of the game, but what they all have in common is drawing and discarding cards while organizing those cards in the players’ hands into sequences and/or sets.

1918 deck of cards

At the end, I like to think that Edgar and Clara went on a date, complete with a three course dinner and, of course, candy. She may have been with the whole crowd, including Harriet, Margaret, and Gerald. The only reason it may be a date is because “Mabel chaperoned us.” That group has hung out plenty of times with no mention of a chaperone, so why would they need a chaperone tonight. Plus, maybe a date is exactly what the young couple needed after their “terrible” fight two days prior to this.

Mabel is actually Edgar’s older sister, three years older. She probably loved the assignment of chaperoning her little brother. As an aside, Mabel ended up marrying the older brother of the man who married the Harriet that figures so prominently as Clara’s friend in this journal.

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