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The Veterans’ Voices Project is something that has been in my heart for many years now, but has finally come to fruition.  This project consists of interviewing veterans about their service and making a public space where these stories can be told.  So I have created a new blog called Veterans’ Voices. (www.vetvoices.wordpress.com)  I hope you will check it out and see how it’s taking shape! Below is a copy of my introductory post:

Veterans' Voices-002I have a deep respect for veterans. I’m not sure if my sense of respect and patriotism is inborn or taught by my parents, but I get choked up whenever I see our country’s flag displayed on a home, or when the “Stars and Stripes Forever” is played, or while attending a Memorial Day celebration honoring our fallen veterans.

But seeing someone in military dress is what affects me most. It’s not so much the uniform as it is the ideal for which the uniform stands, and the commitment the person has made to that ideal.

This project was birthed because I believe each veteran has a story to tell — whether that person served in frontline combat or in a stateside desk job. The contribution of every veteran in every position and rank made an impact to the cause. It is my desire to help tell these stories.

I intend to publish interviews on this site from veterans from all conflicts, but interviews with World War II veterans will take priority. Even the youngest veterans of this war are in their late eighties and early nineties and will not be with us for many more years.

Each of these interviews needs to be published so that others may glean not only information, but solidify their patriotism for our country and realize the cost of the freedoms we enjoy, as well as gain more respect for veterans and the sacrifices that have been made in service to our country.

If you are a WWII veteran, or know a WWII veteran who would like to be interviewed, you may respond to this post and I will contact you by way of email.  If a veteran lives in the Louisiana/Mississippi region I would like to interview them personally.  If a veteran lives elsewhere I will send a questionnaire that can be filled out by the veteran or a friend of the veteran. Copies of current photos and service photos of the veteran submitted with the completed interview are greatly appreciated.

If a WWII veteran is willing, transcripts of their interviews will be submitted to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA to be archived for research by future historians.

Every veteran has a story, and every story should be told.

The Guice Box

SONY DSCI have been in possession of the Guice Box for several years now. It is a well-built, sturdy, varnished box emblazoned with the Guice family crest on top and trimmed out with brass handles and latch. I came to acquire it in a roundabout way.

In 2008 my mother and I traveled with other members of my family to attend our first Guice Family Reunion held yearly near McNair, Mississippi.

My mother was so excited to go.  She had never known any of her Guice relatives beyond her father, since he had died when she was seven.  And his mother and father died before my mother’s parents were married.  So to meet other Guice “faces” and to see the family resemblance was a dream come true for her.

Sitting in folding chairs in the shade of trees in the grassy yard of the family home of a Guice relative, family members caught up on news from the previous year.  After partaking of some scrumptious family reunion food — you know the kind — my mother was chosen by a drawing to receive a small treasure chest-like box that was part of a Guice Family Reunion tradition.  The recipient was to take it home for one year and bring it back to the next reunion.  During that year, the holder of the box was to contribute a family treasure — be it a photo, recipe, Guice family story, etc.

Since I am our immediate family’s historian, my mother gave me the box so that I could add a “family treasure” and be the holder of the box it until the next reunion.

As a genealogist and historian, I had fun going through the box’s contents. There were photos, family histories, articles, and obituaries.  It was like Christmas morning discovering more Guice family history!SONY DSC

In the months to come, I worked diligently to self-publish a book about our branch of the Guice family, then I added it to the box.  I was excited to show the other Guice family members our contribution at the next reunion, but the reunion in 2009 was cancelled. We would have to wait another year.  So I put the box safely away in my genealogy cabinet.

CCI02012013_0002But before the next reunion could be held in 2010, my mother passed away. I’m not even sure that it was held that year.  I’m so sad that she was never able to attend another reunion, but I am glad that she was able to attend at least one.

Because she was the contact person for the reunion, I have not seen another invitation to attend one. There is a contact name and address under the lid of the Guice box, but I was hesitant to send the box in the mail for fear it may be lost — it, nor its contents can be replaced.  I tried to contact another Guice family member that I remembered meeting that day, leaving my information with them to let me know of the next reunion, but I have not been notified.

I hope that by posting this page, someone from the Mississippi/Louisiana Guice family will see it and contact me about the next reunion so I can return the box and the tradition can continue.  I will write a letter to the address in the box in hopes that I will get a response about the reunion.  Until then if you are a member of the Guice Family, please contact me through this blog and know that the Guice box has been well taken care of. I will come to the next reunion bearing it in one hand and food in the other!

Santa and me at D.H.Holmes in Delmont Village in 1967

Santa and me at D.H.Holmes in Delmont Village in 1967

Every Christmas season our little noses were pressed against the store windows of Delmont Village Shopping Center which was located just a couple of blocks from Byron Street.  We closely inspected every detail of the colorful, animated window displays. The mechanical elves slowly repeated their movements as they sawed, hammered, and painted the toys they were crafting. Next to them a large Santa gently nodded as he inspected their work. In other windows there were more elves, Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, large sparkly candy canes and in some windows there were moving reindeer. Hanging throughout each scene were large glittery candies and, piled high along the bottom of all the displays were hills of light fluffy snow — something we rarely saw in Louisiana. It was all so magical!

Down the road from Delmont Village on Plank Road was Tony’s Christmas Tree lot.  About two weeks before Christmas, we would ride down there to buy our tree. Mr. Tony, always the entrepreneur, rented the front lot of Shopper’s Fair to sell his Christmas trees after he had sold his last pumpkin for the fall season. There were post holes dug in the ground for each tree and light bulbs hung above on wires throughout the lot for easier evening shopping.  We loved to run and hide from each other in the rows of trees — except for stepping in water-filled, “treeless”  post holes. Then with wet socks, we would help our parents try to find just the right tree.  Our Christmas tree of choice was usually a Scotch Pine.  It was known for its crooked trunk, but it also had a wonderful pine fragrance. The smell of pine lingered on our clothes until we got ready for bed that night, and it will always linger in my memory as one of my favorite Christmas smells.

Our "tall" tree

Our beautiful “tall” tree (My great-grandmother “Sukey” is in the background.)

My parents always bought a 5-foot tree because the taller trees were more expensive than they wanted to pay, but we improvised to make it seem taller. We placed it on a low tree table that had brick-looking paper around it — to look like a chimney, I guess. When we added the pointed, glass tree-topper, it was almost as tall as our ceiling! We decorated our tree with strands of big, colorful light bulbs, colored glass balls, gold garland, and silver icicles — a Christmas tree can never have too many icicles.

Byron Street Christmas '66247

Our nativity set on our TV behind my brother — and his excitement

Our manger scene was often placed at the base of the tree with a yellow bulb put through a hole in the back of the stable to light up the inside. But sometimes we put it on the television set. I loved playing with the little figurines as I imagined telling the story of baby Jesus and how God sent him into the world to save us from our sins. My mom decorated dime-store ceramic figurines with real satin cloth to make them more life-like.  She even added glitter to the gifts of the wise men. I arranged the little figurines — then rearranged them — then rearranged them again — everyday until Christmas.

We didn’t decorate the outside of our house very much, but we sometimes decorated our front door with big, colored lights that had silver reflectors around each bulb. My mother liked putting a decorative covering on our door that looked like Santa was opening the front door to let you inside. But sometimes she made cardboard cut-outs of choir children, or wise men, and stood them up on our front porch with a Penetray color wheel light shining on them. My bedroom which had a window that faced the front porch glowed green…blue…red…and orange…then repeated the color sequence again and again.

My family loved riding through different neighborhoods in Baton Rouge to see all the lights.  Houses back in the ’60’s were often decorated with all blue lights, or green lights, or red, with an aluminum Christmas tree placed in the front picture window.  The tree usually had corresponding colored balls and glowed with the light from a spinning color wheel light.  Ah, the memories!

The neighborhood kids caroling at my Grandma's house

The neighborhood kids caroling with our Sunbeam Bakery song sheets at my Grandma’s house on Byron Street

In our own neighborhood, my mom and dad took the kids on our street and went house to house singing Christmas carols.  Sunbeam Bakery used to give out tabloid-size, newsprint caroling sheets that had the lyrics printed in green. We carried these papers with us as we sang at each house and, if we were lucky, we were given cookies or hot chocolate as a thank you.  But we always got a smile for our efforts! When we got back home, especially if it was cold, we had a cup of our homemade spiced tea made with fresh orange, lemon, and pineapple juices that were laced with a touch of cinnamon and cloves. This spiced tea recipe is still a treasured holiday treat in my family.

CCI09072013_0003On one Christmas some of the caroling kids from our block, decided to do a Christmas play in our backyard and invite the neighborhood.  We worked very hard on our set and costumes — even getting Burger King crowns for the wise men.  We had one attendee besides our parents. Our elderly neighbor from a few doors down, graciously came to see our play.  I’ve never forgotten that. Mr. Boden was a sweet man.

When I was very young the Christmas parade in downtown Baton Rouge was a must see.  I remember the large crowds that gathered on Third Street waiting for the parade to come by.  It seemed like we waited forever!  To pass the time, I remember watching the neon Coca-Cola sign atop one of the buildings repeat different patterns of red and white lights. I became mezmorized by that sign. To help my sister and me see the parade, my dad brought a 6-foot ladder for us to stand on.  That way we were able to see the marching bands, glittering floats, beautiful ladies riding on shiny cars, and of course the biggest float of all that carried Santa Claus!

Christmas Eve evening was a very special time for our family.  Traditions that were started back then are still celebrated in my own family. We all gathered together in our living room with only the lights of the Christmas tree illuminating the room.  One child got to light a tall pillar candle and another one of us got to read the Christmas story by candlelight from the big old family Bible we had. We took turns each year. I still enjoy hearing that Bible story from Luke 2 read in King James English — just like Linus recites it for Charlie Brown in the well-known Christmas TV special. And like most children, we rarely slept on Christmas Eve.  We were just too excited — especially if we heard a “bump, bump.”  Maybe it was Santa’s reindeer on our roof!

CCI09072013_0004When Christmas morning finally came, we had to go get Mom and Dad before we could go into the living room to see what Santa brought everyone.  Then the room was filled with more squeals of joy and excitement than there were presents. Our stockings were also extra-special. Mom would attach a small cut out of an eventful happening in each of our lives that year. Over the years, the toe of the stocking got more and more crowded, but it also held for us more and more memories. After the room was full of torn wrapping paper and lengths of colored ribbon, we would go down to my Grandma’s house or sometimes she and my Pa-Pa would walk down the street to watch us open their presents to us, which were — more often than not — socks or underwear. My Grandma was a terribly practical lady.  We now affectionately call any overly practical present a “Grandma Gift.”

Christmas was a very, very special time with many, many fond memories.  I hope you have as many wonderful childhood Christmas memories as I have, but if not, you are welcome to borrow some of mine!

Byron Street house front284

Grandma’s House at 3538 Byron Street

We didn’t have to go over the river and through the woods to get to my Grandma’s house, because she lived right down the street from us.  That meant that I spent lots of time in that little red-brick house.

I spent much of my time in her kitchen “helping” her cook.  As a former home economics teacher, she knew how to manage a kitchen and prepare delicious meals.  As I watched her cook, she would teach as she went, sharing tips along the way. We made strawberry preserves from figs that grew on her tree in the back yard. It was a great climbing tree — a side benefit for us when we helped to pick them each summer. She also made luscious pear cobblers from her backyard pear tree. Her crawfish bisque, which took nearly all-day to make, is still the best bisque I’ve ever tasted. On her kitchen counter in a tin canister held a treat that was waiting for us every time we visited — home-made, old-family-recipe, tea cakes. These cookies were thick, fairly dense and chewy, short bread cookies that were flavored with a touch of nutmeg. Also on her counter was a large jar of sweet pickles that we would help her make. These pickles tasted as sweet as candy, which meant we were only allowed a few at a time. They were made from store-bought sour pickles whose juice was poured off and replaced with an entire bag of sugar, cloves, and garlic.  I know the ingredients may sound peculiar, but the pickles were so good that I still make them today.  Plus they remind me of her every time I open a jar.  “We” prepared so many scrumptious recipes in her kitchen!

Pa-Pa (W.T. Arnold) and Grandma (Marcia Broome Guice Arnold)

Pa-Pa (W.T. Arnold) and Grandma (Marcia Broome Guice Arnold)

The best time of day at her house was around dinner time (noon) which was her biggest meal of the day.  Roast, rice and gravy, “Mississippi-style” potatoes (boiled potatoes in a white sauce), string beans cooked down so much they wilted into a heap on your plate, corn, and pickled beets, were part of a common meal that she would often make for my Pa-Pa when he came home from his store for lunch. I’d wait for him to come out of the back door of his store and walk across the yard to the house.  The kitchen’s screen door was on the side of the house that faced the back of his store, so he only had to walk across the side yard everyday to go back and forth to work. My grandma married Pa-Pa after her first husband passed away. When they got married, he moved my grandma and her two daughters to live with him in the red-brick home that was built by him and his sons. A couple of years after they were married, they had another daughter together.  Her two daughters, my mother and my aunt, were at the perfect age to enjoy a new addition to the family.

My mom (l), her sister and new baby sister having some summer fun!

My mom (l), her sister and new baby sister having some summer fun! (~ 1947)

My mother and her sister shared a bedroom upstairs room that ran from one side of the house to the other.  It was hot for a bedroom, but there were windows at either end of the room that helped encourage a cross breeze to blow through in the summertime. When it was really hot, the side yard was a cool, shaded, lush retreat where one could sit in an Adirondack chair or glide in the bench swing while the cool breezes blew through the large willow tree. And of course there was always a cold watermelon or a tall glass of sweet tea to enjoy that helped ward off the heat.

The shady side yard where we ate watermelon

The shady side yard where we ate watermelon

Me planting seeds in Grandma's garden

Me planting seeds in Grandma’s garden (1967)

In the back part of the side yard, my grandmother made a garden every year. She had one of the greenest thumbs in Baton Rouge. Grandma could make a stick grow. She taught me how to turn the dirt in a garden and when to plant what. But there must be more that she didn’t tell me because my gardening abilities and hers don’t quite match up. She would say, “Just take a cutting, make a slit in the ground with a shovel and stick it in. It worked for her, but it hasn’t worked for me.

I often got the privilege of spending the night at Grandma’s house, but she didn’t have many toys for us to play with while we were there. She did, however, have three children’s jigsaw puzzles that she kept on a shelf in her den that I put together over and over again — trying to increase my speed from the last time I put them together.  She also usually had an adult-sized puzzle laid out on her coffee table that I remember helping her put together.  I still love to do jigsaw puzzles.

My mother and her sisters lived in that house until each of them got married.  After my mom married my dad, they lived in a garage apartment behind my grandma’s house and later moved to a house only half-a-block away. But no one in my family lives in that neighborhood anymore. I’ve always wanted to go back and see inside the old house again and look around the place, but the neighborhood where the house is located has deteriorated in recent years to the point that it is unsafe to spend any significant time there. 

Grandma’s house sits boarded up. My Pa-pa’s store has been torn down and the once-shady side yard is now a parking lot. The garage and fig tree are gone as well.

Grandma's House today (2013)

Grandma’s House today (2013)

If people who passed by it today could only know what good times were had there and that it is not just an old abandoned house. It was a place of love and family, good food, and fellowship.  My heart breaks for the old neighborhood and Grandma’s house. One day things may change and the little red-brick house may have a chance to be lively again.

Reverend Edward Taylor’s original manuscripts of unpublished poems and writings sat quietly on a shelf in the library of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The descendants of Edward Taylor were given strict instructions by Rev. Taylor himself not to publish his works.  His poems written in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s were personal spiritual meditations and were not written for the public eye.  His descendants respected his wishes, but eventually in 1883, they were given to Yale and placed in the library for safe keeping.  The manuscripts were so safely kept that they were forgotten for fifty-four years. They were discovered in 1937 and were soon edited and published by Thomas H. Johnson.

Almost from the first reading, Reverend Taylor was heralded as the greatest Puritan poet. His poetry has a flare not expected from a person with Puritan attitudes and beliefs.  His most common form of poetry sprang from his meditations before each celebration of communion at the Lord’s table with his congregants.  Considered a metaphysical poet his imagery is vibrant and lively. He was a very pious man so most of his writings are devotional in nature.  And that would stand to reason since these poems were for his own personal meditation and not intended for a public audience.

Rev. Edward Taylor came to Massachusetts Bay in 1668 and almost immediately enrolled in Harvard.  A couple of years later, he was encouraged to take a pastorate 100 miles away in Westfield, Massachusetts.  He became their pastor and for a time was their physician as well.  He met his wife Elizabeth Fitch in Westfield and they had eight children, three of whom lived to adulthood.  Elizabeth died in 1689 and he later married Ruth Willys and had six more children. He continued as pastor there until his death in 1729.

He was serious about his relationship with God and firm in his doctrinal beliefs. He corresponded with early Massachusetts pastor Increase Mather, son of Rev. Cotton Mather. At Harvard Rev. Taylor was classmates with Samuel Seward whose fame came later as the judge of the Salem Witch Trials for which he later apologized. He disagreed sharply in practice with Solomon Stoddard, a fellow pastor who was allowing non-church members to partake of communion.  Reverend Taylor vehemently opposed this idea partly because he saw it as just that, a sacred communion with Christ, which is evident in his many writings about the Lord’s Supper.

This is the part where I let the reader know that Rev. Edward Taylor is my eighth great-grandfather.  But that would be amiss. After spending many hours studying and researching this very interesting man, my efforts resulted in realizing that this is a case of mistaken identity.  Genealogists like me copy and paste people from other people’s family trees only later to discover that an entry was in error.  Many people connect Reverend Edward Taylor as the father of Sarah Taylor the wife of Deacon Samuel Bacon.  But this is not the case.  She is the daughter of Edward Taylor of Barnstable, MA who married Mary Wood, not the Rev. Edward Taylor of Westfield, MA who married Elizabeth Fitch. Both Edward Taylors lived in the same area at about the same time so confusion is expected.  This is another lesson in careful research while we are building our family trees.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  I felt like a family member had died.  But even though I have lost him as a relative, I have been introduced to a very interesting friend. I can’t wait to read his book!

The Armant Brothers were like other antebellum plantation owners along the Mississippi River. They loved a good bet. Endowed with the recent inheritance of their father, Jean Baptiste Armant’s plantation, in 1858, the Armant Brothers had money with which to gamble.  Their profitable 1150-acre sugarcane plantation was located on the Mississippi River between present-day Oak Alley and Laura Plantations in Vacherie, Louisiana.  Before the Civil War, it was the neighboring plantation to Valcour Aime’s plantation — La Petite Versailles.

All of the wealthy planters along the river had a variety of ways in which to compete and gain the monetary upper-hand of their peers.

A popular trick card game called “Boston” was often played in private clubs.  (One of these clubs in New Orleans occasionally had visitors from the city of Boston, Massechusetts attempt entry assuming it was a private club for Bostonians.)  In that club, one of the wealthiest planters on the River, Duncan Kenner, was said to have lost $20,000 ($485,000 today) on one game of Boston and was still not considered a plunger.

Horse racing was another exciting way to win money, or lose one’s money in the antebellum south.  The gaming Mr. Kenner also loved racing his thoroughbreds — so much so that he built a track and stables at his home Ashland Belle Helene near Darrow, LA.

John Burnside, the Sugar King of Houmas House plantation, was also passionate about racing horses.  Once he stabled a champion thoroughbred in his billiard room in order to keep it hidden until a race at Kenner’s track.  Did Burnside win?  Yes, he did.

SONY DSC

Map of Armant Plantation in Houmas House

I learned of the latter story while on tour of Houmas House plantation. On this same tour, I noticed a map of the Armant Plantation hanging on the wall in the billiard room. This map was of particular interest to me since it is the plantation of one of my ancestors, my 5th great-grandfather Jean Baptiste Armant  who inherited it from his father.  I thought it was strange to have a map of a neighboring plantation in the home so I inquired about why it was there.  The tour guide told me that the Armant Brothers, who had inherited that plantation, wagered it in a bet and lost it to John Burnside in a horse race.  A whole plantation lost in a horse race? I had to know more.

If this story is true, I am appalled that my ancestor cousins were so careless as to bet their inheritance on something as fleeting as a horse race.  If false, I wanted to clear the name and reputation of my Armant kin.  So I began my own investigation to determine the details of this story.

It is true that John Burnside began acquiring plantations soon after he bought Houmas House in 1857.  In fact, he purchased 12 more plantations before, during, and after the Civil War — sometimes for pennies on the dollar.  Could he have acquired some of them through bets?  The evidence of the gambling habits of the local planters did give credence to this possibility.

I first inquired of Dr. Kevin Kelly, present owner of Houmas House, to find out how he discovered this story. He said the story was told by a descendant of the Miles family — former owners of Houmas House.  The descendent, Dr. Henry Miles, who was born in Houmas House in 1901, died around 2005 and I was told that he was the lone historian of the Miles family.  Therefore I was not able to verify this story directly.

I decided to go to the St. James Parish courthouse to see if I could find any property records that had to do with the transfer of the plantation from the Armant Brothers to John Burnside.  The old documents I found were fascinating — some written in French,and others in English — with handwriting and signatures written with a flare seldom seen today.

Final page of the document of the purchase of Armant Plantation in January of 1860

Final page of the document of the purchase of Armant Plantation in January of 1860

I did find a document of the property transfer containing the signatures of one Armant brother, the signature of John Burnside, and others, but it was on a document of the purchase of Armant plantation, not a transfer of ownership without payment.

Most of the plantations that Burnside owned were acquired during or after the war, but this one was purchased before the war in January of 1860 — six years after the death of their father. Armant Plantation was ordered by the court in September of 1859 to be auctioned on January 12, 1860 to settle inheritance and succession issues.  The land was divided into 31 sections and sold individually.  John Burnside bought 29 of the sections including Armant’s French-style plantation home on the river. He purchased the homestead for $25,000 ($630,000 today) and the sections of land for $68,102.77 ($1,700,000 today).

Victor Armant, one of the brothers, bought two sections of land for $23,681.10 ($597,000 today) that held some of the plantation buildings, possibly used for sugar manufacturing.  The final section of land was purchased by another individual.Victor Armant Sig168

Stories, even those that can’t be proven true, often have a grain of truth to them.  So I wondered if possibly Victor may have lost his portion later by gambling it away — maybe in hopes of winning back his beloved home.  I went back to the St. James courthouse to see what I could find.  And once again I found another document stating that John Burnside bought Victor’s portion in 1866, a year after the war ended for $3500 ($54,000 today) — a fraction of what Victor paid for it.

I don’t know all of the possible nuggets of truth that have caused this story to survive, but as former U.S. President John Adams once said,”facts are stubborn things.” The facts I have discovered so far show that Armant Plantation was purchased by John Burnside. Could he have won another of his plantations in a horse race?  That could be an interesting investigation. But I am satisfied knowing that my ancestors were not the type of people who would needlessly squander their inheritance.  Jean Baptiste Armant’s family reputation can be held in high regard once again.

Jean Baptiste Armant, Sr. and Rose Carmelite Cantrelle Armant are my 5th great-grandparents.  They are also the grandparents of my 3rd great-grandmother whose story is told in “Of Plantations and Hurricanes.”

bea-bryan-denham-230[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

Cold, sunny

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

Cold, sunny

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

Raining

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

Cloudy

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

Beautiful

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

Gloomy.

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

Raining.

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.

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