LIFE IN A SMALL MILL TOWN 1928

I have two passions to write about, one is subsistence farming and the other is family history.  They don’t seem to be related but they are two sides of the same coin.  I am the family historian in our family and have been for over 50 years.  For that same length of time we have tried to find a way we could live off the land.  As family historian I was given a box of diaries when my grand mother died.  In reading the ones writen by my great great Uncle Web I learned how to subsistence farm.  We retired to TN and carved a farm out of the woods and now raise almost all our own food and love it.  I am still family historian and keep in close touch with several members of the family.  Lately it has been my cousin Carl I have been swapping stories with and two weeks ago he asked me if I had any of our grandmother’s diaries.  I searched through the diaries and found several she had writen and found one that was special as it was for the year 1928, the year Carl was born.  I would like now to write out the entries for Carl so he can see what was happening the year he was born.  As I read this diary there was one question that puzzled me very much.  Auntie was always say, “Guy was out tonight.”  I wondered where he was and what was he doing.  So I went back to the diaries and found my father’s diary for 1928.  I don’t have many of his but luckily I found that one so as I tell the story of 1928 I can tell you what he was doing and why he was out every night.

First you need a little background into the family so you will understand what is happening.  Auntie is my grandmother, she was my father’s stepmother and aunt.  When Hattie, my father’s mother died Dora, his aunt stepped in and took care of her sister’s three children.  She then married her brother-in-law so she could move to Harrisville with the family when they left Haverhill, NH.  They lived in a large house in the center of town, where she took care of the family and Uncle Web who moved there with them in 1906.  Ernest, her husband died in 1911, Uncle Web died in 1917 and Guy joined the army in 1917.  Auntie was left with the care of the house and the two children at home, Angie who was 12 and Bing who was 17.  She took in boarders and worked in the local woolen mill.  She was a burler in the mill when ever there was work.  In 1928 Seldon Tuttle was a boarder in the house that she took care of, also there was Caroline a 96 year old woman she took care of and Mrs.  Brooks who was also elderly.  Others came and went as you will see.   Guy was at home, Bing was married and lived in town, and Angie was married and lived at home.  Her husband was a veteran of World War I who had been wounded and spent much of his time at the Veteran’s Home/Hospital in Windsor, Vt.   The stage has been set – here is the story of a very remarkable woman in 1928 in her own words.

”  Jan. 1, 1928-  Cold and windy.  Went to church  – in P.M. over to Lampman to see Gertie’s Xmas.  Clarence was here ( Clarence was Angie’s husband)  Guy away all day.” (Guy writes- Troy early in the day.  Attended church with Helen.  Had dinner at Browns.  People form Winchendon were there also.  Mrs. Thompson, Herbert and Ruth )  Guy and Helen are my mother and father who were married in 1929.

“Jan.2, 1928  Cold and windy.  Did a little cooking and not much house work.  Clarence went home at noon.  Guy way in evening.  Gertie was over.”  (Guy – Worked in the mill.  Business not looking very good.)

“Tuesday, Jan2 – Fair and cold.  Worked in mill.  Went to bed early.  Angie went to Keene got the stuff for my dress. ” (Guy – Worked.  Went up to Mr.  Brooks in the evening to look at radio.  sold him a new speaker.  Took stock and moved my stuff into the radio room.)   When Guy got out of the army he took a corespondence course to become an electrician and radio repairman.  He also worked in the woolen mill when there was work.

“Wed. Jan. 4  Mild and cold.  Worked in mill   Went down to Mrs. Keniston’s for annual meeting of Ladies Aid.  Had a good time.”

“Thur. Jan. 5  Cold and windy.  Worked in mill.  Crocheted this evening.  Guy away tonight.”  ( Guy – Worked.  Keene to see Helen.  Went to the movies.)

“Fri. Jan. 6 Mild.  Worked in mill.  Gertie was over a few minutes this evening. ” ( Guy – Worked.  Weave room only worked today.  Finished straightening around up stairs.)   The mill was beginning to feel the effects of the coming depression.

“Sat. Jan. 7  Warm.  Did house work.  went to Keene took Mrs Brooks to see France.  I had my hair cut and permant wave.  Guy had to wait a long time for us.  Angie did the shopping.  Guy away this evening.”  (Guy- Connected Page’s radio.  Fixed a socket for Romeo.  Repaired a reaeostat on the Priest’s set and installed a socket.  Took Mrs Brooks (95) to Marlboro to see her sister.  Dora to Keene to have her hair bobbed and waved.  Home for supper and back to Keene.  Run the radio from 1:30 to 3 A.M.  Heard Dallas, Texas, San Diego and Los Angeles, Calf.  and also Seattle and Spokane, Washington.  Mowhawk 6 tube Navajo set. )

Sun.  Jan. 8  Mild but damp.  Went to church then for a walk with angie over to Saria’s in evening to make slips for supliar.  Maud was down but didn’t see her.  Guy away tonight.”  (Guy- Keene after church to see Helen.  Another spring like day.  No snow and the frost coming out of the ground.  Drove down to Troy in the evening. )

Mon. Jan. 9  Rainy.  worked all day in mill.  Guy home.”  (Guy- Worked a few more orders today.  Ray Colony drove a new Chevrolet Coupe today.)  The Colonys owned the mill.

“Tues. Jan 10.  cloudy.  Worked in mill all day.  Finished a butterfly for Mrs. Sappia.  Guy Home.”   (Guy- Worked.  Inspected radio at the boarding house and at Page’s)

“Wed. Jan 11  Cloudy.  Worked in mill.  Shut down for rest of week.  Guy away tonight.” (Guy- Worked.  Mill shut down tonight until Monday.  Keene to see Helen)

“Thur. Jan. 12  Fair and mild.  cleaned house and made me a nightie.  Guy away tonight.” (Guy-  Put a Mowhauk in Ed Russel’s of Chesham for ??I can’t read this word)

“Fri. Jan. 13  Rainy.  worked at home.  Got ready for the supper at vestry.  Angie went to Keene.  Guy away tonight.”  ( Guy-  Worked around house in A.M.  Put up banister on front stairs.  Keene in the P.M..  Brough Helen out to a supper in the vestry in the evening.)

Sat.  Jan. 14  Cold  wind  Worked at home.  went to Emma’s for a minute.  Clarence came tonight.  S.P. (Seldon P. Tuttle) went to Keene.  Guy away this eve.” ( Guy- Put up an outside aeriel at Russel’s in Chesham in the A.M.  Keene in the P.M. and evening.)

Sun.  Jan. 15  Fair and mild Cold in Eve.  Went to church in P.M. had annual session for meeting.  Herman and Emma came in Efeninfg.  C – was here.  Guy was away.”   (Guy- Church annual meeting.  Keene to see Helen. )  Helen lived in Troy but at this time she was living and teaching in Keene.

“Jan. 16  Cold and in vening snow.  Worked in mill. C – went home this noon.  Guy home tonight. ”  ( Guy- Worked.  Started Ed Keniston’s radio.  Repaired Mr. Hall’s charger.)

“Jan.17  Cold and windy.  worked in mill wrote letters at night.”  (Guy- fair.  Worked.  Business at the mill very poor.  Did a little reading in the evening.)

“Jan. 18  Mild and pleasant.  Worked in mill, shut down for rest of week.  Went to Halls to Ladies Aid.  Guy away tonight.” (Guy-Mill stopped tonight.  Went  to Keene and brought Helen out to the basketball game.  Harrisville lost ot Troy 30- 21.  Good game.)

“Jan. 19  Col wind.  Snow at night.  Worked around house.  took my dress over to Trudell’s.  Went to store.  Guy at home tonight. ” (Guy – Fair warm.  Keene and a wisdom tooth out.   Gine at 5 P.M.  Stayed in during the evening.  Repaired a set for Norman Collins.)

“Fri.  Jan 20  Blizzard and cold Did house work and finished Mrs. Sappa butterflys.  Guy away tonight. ” (Guy- Snow.  Reparied speaker for Whittaker.  Keene in the P.M. and evening about 5 in. of snow.  Drifting in the evening. )

“Sat. Jan 21  Cold and windy.  did cooking and house work C- came this noon.  Guy away tonight.” (Guy – Windy-Fair-cold.   Hung around house all day.  Clarence ame at noon.  Keene in the evening to see Helen. )

“Sun. Jan 22  Clear and cold.  Hung around house went to Church.  Mr Jones Brother was buryed yesterday.  Guy away tonight.” (Guy- Clear  Keene to see Helen after church.)

“Mon. Jan 23  Cold and windy   Worked in mill  C – went home this noon. ”  (Guy-Worked.  Went up to mr. Meatter’s to tune up his radio. )

“Tue.  Jan 24.  Rain tonight.  Worked in mill.  had a cold.  Guy away tonight.”  (Guy- Worked.  Keene to see Helen in the evening.  Rained hard before I came home. )

“Wed. Jan. 25  Cold and hard wind.  worked in mill  shut down  glad I have a bad cold.  Old wood place burned tonight. ( Guy- Clear and windy.  Worked.  Mill shut down until Monday.  Chresham with a bettery for the radio st Ed Russell’s.)

“Thur. Jan 26  Cold  layed around all day with bad cold.  Everett was operated on tonight Peterboro.  Guy away. ” (Guy- Fair.  Started wiring H. Sturtervant’s house.  Went to Keene in the evening to see Helen.  Frank Kato’s house burned last night. )

“Fri. Jan 27  Pleasant.  Layed around with cold lettle better.  Edna T. was here, her mother went to the hospital. (Guy- Fair  Worked on Sturtervant’s house.  Chesham in the evening, sold Ed Russel the Mowhauk. )

“Sat. Jan. 28  Cold  Layed around with cold.  Edna was here in P.M.  Burnice  C. was here collecting for Mettys.  Guy away. ” ( Guy- Fair Finished pulling the cable in Sturtevants House and wire the cellar in Henry McDonald’s house.  Troy in the evening to see Helen. )

“Sun.  Jan 29  cold and stormy  did not go to church on account of cold.  Guy away. ”  ( Guy- Fair and cold  Troy after church to see Helen.  Went to church in Troy in the evening.)

“Mon.  Jan 30  Pleasent  Worked in mill  Edna was here little while. ”  (Guy- Fir cold.  worked.  no more orders to speak of. )

Tues.  Jan. 31  Fair  Worked in mill C – came this P.M.  Guy away tonight.  S.P. went to Chesham to chicken-pie supper.  Mother had a shock today.”  Mother was her mother in-law in Haverhill, NH.  (Guy – Fair  Worked.  went to Keene in the evening and brought Helen over to Chesham to the Grange supper. )

That is the end of Jan.  Tomorrow I will try to write Feb for you.  Life was not all that exciting in 1928.  They worked hard.  Dora does not even talk about the people she cooked for and cared for, that was just the daily routine and not worth mentioning.

Today here on the farm we finally got some much needed rain.  Last night it rained 1 1/2 inch and today it has rained lightly on and off all evening.  The sun was out this morning so I got to pick the beans again. The garden looks so good after the rain.   Have a great day.

 

About Carol (Ouma) Petts

I am a retired teacher. I have taught all levels from kindergarten through college and have been retired now for over 20 years. The last ten years we have lived on a farm and lived off the land, growing our own food and canning for our extended family. Now we have sold the farm and are moving to Florida to truly retire. I guess I have always had a short attention span as this is our 11th move. We have moved from a small farm in New Hampshire, to more city type living, small business adventures, focusing more on traveling, Florida living, Georgia, and Tennessee farming and now back to Florida. My blog is a way to keep my children up to date on what I am doing and letting them know I am still alive and well. My children are spread across the country from New England to Florida, Nova Scotia to New Mexico and CA and several places between, They let me know what they are up to by commenting on my blog but they are so busy with their own lives most times I have to assume " no news is good news". Now I are starting on a new adventure so will try to give daily updates until we get settled into a routine. Then I know even if I am getting older and should settle down I will start looking for some new and exciting adventure to start. Welcome aboard. Norman died Oct 30, 2017 so I am continuing the journey alone with the aid of my children, grand children and great grand children. At present I am living with my daughter and we are 7 in one house and cover four generations. We range in age from 7 to 85 and are finding common ground, we are living proof that multi generations can live and function in a three bedroom house if they really want to. Soon my grandson will have his house built next door so we all will have a room of their own except for the seven year old twins who by choice will share a room.
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