[This is the final installment of the 1941 diary of Sicily Island, Louisiana native, Bea Bryan Denham. References to WWII are in red.]
December 16, Tuesday
No mail. I’ve been working on the Christmas things, and they are very slowly being finished. Earl wanted to go to the show, so we asked Whittons and they went, — “Navy Blues” – Nothing extra, and even worse since Martha Ray was in it. I addressed 67 Christmas cards, guess I’ll mail them Friday. Jo Anne’s cold is not much better, but she’s taking cod liver and vitamin tablets.
December 17, Wednesday
I spent today at Mrs. Boyett’s working on the presents. Edna got a letter from Daisy, they have gone to Collins, Miss. Said Davis was on the police force in Hattiesburg. Earl was late this afternoon, and will be later tomorrow because its payday. We ought to have $400.60 in the Bank with this pay day. We have quit getting any mail at all. I am writing letters today, — Velma, Faye, Mamma, Love, Kidd, Margaret and Marcia.
December 18, Thursday
Warmer, looks like rain.
Washed what things we had dirty. Mrs. Boyett came and stayed awhile, we are still embroidering. We went to the show to see “A Yank in the R.A.F.” I am kinder worried about Earl, he isn’t sleeping as well as he should, and he’s awfully tired when he gets in. It was late tonight though, after five. A Christmas Card from Florelle, and a card from Daisy at Collins, Miss.
December 19, Friday
Fairly warm, sunny.
Jo Anne took her presents this morning and we went to town to buy groceries. I got $7.45, and a $6.50 pr. of Red Cross shoes, a $3.98 velvet dress for Jo Anne, present for Anita, enough stuff to finish wrapping my Christmas presents. The bus left Jo Anne and I had to go get her. Talked to the principal, but he was anything else but nice, Cathcart was his name. I crocheted some, but looks like I’ll never get through with the Christmas things. Mrs. Boyett and I registered for Civilian defense. Letter from Daisey, and cards from Bell and Aunt Florence.
December 20, Saturday
Warm and Sunny
Today is our 17th anniversary. Earl and Jo Anne were determined to celebrate so we went to the show, “Parachute Battalion” and they got me a box of candy. I had washed and ironed all day long, took down the curtains, besides the regular lot of clothes and was hanging them when John and Rosemary came. But the tent looks so nice and clean now. Earl is so good to me, and I’m so scared. They passed Selective Service – 20 to 45 – this week, and what would I do if Earl had to leave me? We heard today that Clare Chennault is head of the American Volunteer’s Group action in China.
December 21, Sunday
My intention was a good rest today, and leisure to digest this week’s Time, but after our baths I had to set Jo Anne’s hair which took me til nearly 10:30, then Mrs. Boyett came and I set hers, and before she left Rosemary and her kids came, and stayed till after supper. We had just straightened up after that storm when Mr. and Mrs. Boyett came and stayed til after Walter Winchell. At last, to Jo Anne’s Ill – concealed displeasure, I got to my magazine, and read til ten, but Earl didn’t feel so well, so I had to doctor him a little. Bed will feel really good.
December 22, Monday
The year is almost done. Life is like the year, never ending in its beginning, running oh so swiftly towards the close. It seems that Christmas is rushing into me, and I’ve so much to do. Jo Anne is trying to finish Mamma’s present – her fist handwork. We went to see “Citizen Kane,” which was a most unusual picture, unusual in photography and in presentation, as well as in morals. I enjoyed it. Cards from Mrs. Reeves and Miss Willy. The news tonight was a scoop – Winston Churchill is at the white House to confer with Pres. Roosevelt.
December 23, Tuesday
It has turned considerably cooler, and we went to town, bought Glyn a Christmas present, also one for Barbara June. I’ve worked all day trying to finish up so I’d have tomorrow to straighten up in, but I couldn’t make it. We played dominoes at Walter’s and I read to Earl and Jo Anne while he shaved. We had a letter from Kidd they took Jack to the negro to train. I do hope nothing happens to him. Jo Anne is about to finish working a dish towel for Mamma. Oh, I’m so tired.
December 24, Wednesday
I’ve finished the hand work, and washed all our dirty clothes, ironed, mopped, wrapped, bathed, cooked, — I’ve been really industrious today, trying to impress Santa, I guess. Earl came and we left at 5:45, got to Pop’s at 9:00 and spent an hour talking to them, then went to Kidd’s. Mamma and Joe were there, se we talked a long time, and are ready for be, at 12:00. I’m dog tired.
December 25, Thursday
Beautiful sunny afternoon
But for the dread that hangs over us all about the future, this has been a perfect day –. We had the Christmas tree, and so many nice things, and Mrs. Trichel, Hazel and Ernest came for dinner, so we had Kidd, Edward, Mamma, Joe, Jo Anne, Earl and me for a table ful. Velma and Rowland came when we went to Pop’s, and Love, too. So did Cecil and Sprague. We went to Margaret’s and May Usher, Melvin, and Miss Mamie and Uncle Bud came out there. So we pretty well saw everybody, but didn’t leave until nearly 7. Got here at 10. So sleepy –
December 26, Friday
Cold but sunny
It took all day today to straighten up, get everything put in a place where we could find it, and clear out the middle of the floor. Mrs. Boyett, Edna and I went to town, I bought groceries and put the usual $40 in the bank. Jo Anne wanted to buy a bond, but they didn’t have any yesterday. Walter had a generator trouble so when they came home Earl fixed two for him, and they came over and played dominoes. I’m so tired and sleepy I can hardly see straight tonight. Mrs. Tarver died Monday or Tuesday, Monday, I think.
December 27, Saturday
Sunny and cold
Mrs. Boyett said Mr. Boyett’s foreman fired him last night, she is awfully uneasy, and will be until he gets something else. We washed all the clothes we had dirty, and Mrs. Boyett came in, had got a job in Area E. I’m so glad, I don’t know what I’d do here without her. I went to bed about 10:30 and slept til 12, I was too tired to move. Wrote to Mamma, Kidd, Minnie Lea, Faye, Dobb’s and Motor Supply, and mailed them.
Sunday, December 28
Cold and Sunny
I worked on a jigsaw puzzle. John came over and stayed awhile, said Ray Randall got killed in a car wreck Christmas Eve. John got me a Time and I spent most of the day reading. JoAnne was lonesome. There isn’t much for her to do. When Earl came we finished working the jigsaw puzzle, and I read to them. “Trouble is My Master.”
Monday, December 29
Sunny and cold.
I’ve felt so rotten today, but had to go get a ham for lunch and some bread and milk. I mailed letters to Marcia and Velma, and wrote to Daisy. Edna had a letter from Daisy, she seemed to think Tucker had gone to New Orleans and all his men would be called in about a month. We went to Shreveport and Earl and Walter went to a meeting, it was nearly 11:30 when we got in, and both Jo Anne and Earl are going to hate getting up in the morning. I put fastenings on Jo Anne’s new dress today, and I must do some patching as soon as I feel better.
Tuesday, December 30
Only one more day in old 1941. And what a year! We just listened to Columbia’s round up of the twelve months, and saw how we have each month come closer and closer to war, until in December we find ourselves all in, where we should probably have been before if we had been better prepared. And what changes have come to us! In January we were living normal lives, as we had for sixteen years, home and work settled about us. Today the house is empty and desolate, and we have been living in a tent for nine months, more or less. But for the first time in our married lives we’ve paid off our debts and have a little money in the bank.
Wednesday, December 31
What a way to spend the last day of the year! Crocheted a little, read a little. Letter from Kidd. Eula May has come to Mamma’s to have another baby, and we’re all furious. She hasn’t the consideration of a goose. I wish we had never seen her, she’s been nothing but a misery and expense since the day we laid eyes on her. Earl and Walter went to Shreveport. I worked the other jig-saw puzzle. We aren’t going to watch the old year out, Earl will be tired when he comes in.