Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Great-Grandmother's Diaries

Grandmother Driver and me (1973ish)
If you've stumbled onto my "about" page, you'll know that even though I barely remember the lady in this photo, she's the reason I started quilting. About 13 years ago, my mother asked me to take all of Irene Driver's diaries and type them out so they could be shared with the whole family - a daunting task. I made a quilt to psych myself up for the task and just kept making them.

Anyway, I've been meaning to go back and dig into her diaries and mine them for story ideas. There's no way I can sit down and read them all at once, so I want to read them in blocks - and I was thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to post them on one of my blogs. I have three blogs going at the moment; this one, my writing blog, and another one that is for everything else. In deciding where to post them, this blog made the most sense. I'll post them daily, but I haven't figured out how I want to break them up though.

They range from fascinating entries about the first time she voted after the 1920 Amendment and what it was like to see (gasp) the first Catholic on the presidential ticket to mundane things like how much she got for her turkeys in 1934. I should also point out that I don't think she would have liked me very much, but that's neither here nor there. How would she feel about her diaries being spread out all over the world? There's nothing terribly scandalous, so I don't think she'd care. I'll get this figured out. In the meantime, here's the first month's worth of entries... unedited and some of the words I couldn't read and completely guessed at are in brackets.

May I introduce Ms. Irene Driver (nee, Wheeler) of multiple places in central Texas starting in November 1909.

This is November 28, 1909. I went to Lodge last night and joined. The <Yoemen> took out a policy of $1000 made to Papa. There were 8 joined; that was my first lodge to go to or belong to either.
            Bro has a pet squirrel he caught in the woods when it was very small. It is running over me and trying to get me to play with it till I can’t half write.

            On Dec the 2nd I started for Comanche where I was going to take the examination for teacher certificate. Della and Delia Wall were going to, for the same purpose. There were several men went to Dublin from DeLeon, namely Mr. Ross, Mr. Greenwall, R W Swindall, and Rev Evans, were at the depot when we got on the train bound for Dublin where we would have to change cars.
            We got on the train hoping and wondering if we would pass. We had lots of fun telling of our experience in studying and preparing for out now fast arriving fate one way or the other. We spent the evening in Dublin at the Wylie Cottage. It was quite a weary evening of waiting for <we> were in such a hurry to get to Comanche. At last supper time came at about 7 a.m.
            There was a crowd of show folks there for supper. After supper Mr Greenwalt went with me to the depot. We were soon glad to find our selves on board the Frisco train for Comanche. We arrived there about 9.30 in the night. Maude Hail my old chum had written me to stay with her during the examination so she was at the train to meet me. I sure was glad to see her.

            Dec. 3, 1909 Friday morning found us rushing around preparing t start to the college where the examination was to be. I got there to find four of the old normal girls, I had went to the normal with the summer before, there to take the examination. Prof Witt, Prof Davis, Prof Winnfrow, and Miss Robinson were the examiners.
            The first days work was quite hard and I worked on my papers till after or about dark. As Maud’s house (where I was staying) was pretty close to college. When I started (walking slowly) I saw they were out on the step watching for me and they ran to meet me about half way to see how I had gotten along, for I didn’t go back for any dinner and they had sent it to me. I found time to eat it about 2.30 oclock but I sure was proud they sent it for I sure was hungry.

            On the last day of the examination. Sat Dec 4 I got threw about two oclock in the evening. Then Maud and me had all the rest of the evening to talk. We went up stairs and got to reading some of her old love letters. It was cold and cloudy and after while it began to rain and soon went to hailing. And my it sure did hail till the grown was nearly covered. We stayed up stairs and talked and read letters for about two hours finally we got so cold we had to go down stairs to warm. It rained from then on till dark. The Walls girls and myself were going to board the 12.30 train for home that night so we all set around the fire and talked till the transfer came after us about 12 oclock. We sure had a nice time for Mr and Mrs Hail joined us in telling funny thing and the time soon flew by.

            Finally a young man came by to tell us how we came out on our exam and he had bad news for he said Della Walls passed but the other girl and my self failed. My! When I heard that I had failed on my exam, I realized what a great man had ment when he said, “The march of the human mind is slow” for I sure had been studying. Delia liked to have cried but I knew that would do no good so I tried not to care, but to determine to do better next time for I knew there was no such thing as fail to any one who was determined to succeed.

            There was 6 of the young folks that had been examined in all, homeward bound that night so we didn’t get very lonely. The train soon came after we got to the depot at Comanche and before we hardly knew it we were at Dublin where we were to change cars. We didn’t much more than time to take a transfer for the other depot, and get our tickets toll the other train came up and then we were bound for DeLeon. We got here about 2.30 oclock and when we got to DeLeon papa was there to meet us but the cold wind was there to and the grown was frozen, My! Ice was every where for it had been raining. We soon got home and were sure glad to get out of the wind and to get to bad for we hadn’t slept a bit.

            Sunday morning Johnnie Wall came after Della and Delia. It wasn’t quite so cold but it was pretty cold then. Papa preached for Rev Evans that day at 11oclock (Dec. 5) There was one conversion and about two reclamations. I didn’t venture out to services till in the evening Papa and me went to <Leagene>.
            Dec 16 Clara Nabors and three other girls came after me to step up with the corpse of Mrs Henderson. I want to Clara’s and we slept till 12 oclock and got up and there was six of us set up. The last part of the night that was the first corpse I ever set up with.

            Dec 19 (1909) To day is Sunday and the earth is washed in a mantle of white. Every thing looks pretty to me covered in snow. As the sun shines out the little flakes of snow shine back like so many little diamonds. It is lovely to have the blackness of the earth covered with a spotless white once and a while for a change. My: it is so very cold we dare not stick our heads out when we can help it, but I enjoy the cold weather especially when it is snow.

            Dec 20. Papa has gone about 9 miles in the country to marry a couple to night. It sure is cold and the ground is covered in snow but it is so clear and pretty and the moon is shining so bright it is a lovely night even to get married. I’ve been studying. The rest have gone to bed and I’m sleepy enough.

            Dec, 25 (1909) This is xmas day and I never saw such a dull xmas. DeLeon is almost as quiet as if it was Sunday.
            To day is Sunday I have gone to church and league to day. Bro Evans preached the best xmas sermon. I enjoyed it so much. I consider the blessing of church and church association about our greatest blessing. Good religious services do encourage us so much, and point us to high and noble things. Dec 26, (1909)

            This evening I had one of the song books and was singing. Grandma was setting in the corner reading. She always insists on me singing once and a while she says she does love singing so well but can’t sing now because her breadth gives out. I knew her favorite song was “Never Alone” finally I came to it and began singing it. She dropped her reading and began singing with me. Her voice was broken but I do love to hear her sing. It will be sad and lonely when that broken voice ceases, for I know it must some time. She is just like a mother to me. (Dec 16, 1910) <?>

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