[...the continuing 1941 diary of Sicily Island, Louisiana native, Bea Bryan Denham. References to WWII in red.]
March 18, Tuesday
Cold and raw
Earl and Cecil got off to work, and I cleaned up, but by nine o’clock they were back, off for the day. I hope Earl will feel better. He took Mrs. Boyett and me to town, I fixed dinner, then he stopped some air holes in our cabin, and rearranged the lights. We went to Carter’s, and to the Reservation [military reservation]. It’s a sight, acres and acres of buildings, big ones, and more in sight all the time. I saw where they work, they shop, etc. Carter has a nice tent, 16′ square. He brought Eula May down Sunday. Earl and Cecil helped him hook up our little red light plant [portable generator].
March 19, Wednesday
Warmer but cloudy, and cheerless raining
I have read and slept all day. There is nothing to do. I hope Jo Anne can come with Margaret tomorrow, she will be heart broken if she doesn’t get to. Earl feels terribly, that cold really has him down. Jo Anne sent a test paper on which she made 100.
March 20, Thursday
Jo Anne and Margaret got here around 4:30. Jo Anne was tickled to death to be here, and wanted to see everything. And I was just as tickled to see her. Minnie Lea is sick, doctors say she will have to have an operation, and Mamma is worried sick. Margaret brought her last letter, said she’d go to the hospital this week. Jo Anne has has a good time exploring everything. Poor Earl, I hope he feels better soon.
March 21, Friday
Cloudy and cool
We went to Lake Charles today, – Margaret, Mrs. Nesom, Jo Anne and I. Had a nice day, and I got Jo Anne a dress, shoes and “Swiss Family Robinson”, Earl some coveralls, and 2 pairs nylon hose for myself. $15.00 altogether [$219.64 adjusted for inflation today]. The azaleas were so pretty, we drove around the Lake drive. Jo Anne was sick all night, vomiting, stomach upset, and I was afraid to take her but she needed shoes so terribly badly, and she got along very well. She was awfully tired, though. I wish I could hear from Minnie Lea! Earl ‘s check was $86.62 [$1268.33 adjusted for inflation today].
March 23, Sunday
We had a nice trip home, John was with us, and Jo Anne slept most of the way. Mamma had heard from Minnie Lea, she said the doctors said she had been pregnant three months, and would have to stay in bed a good while yet. We slept late, went to the shop, posted, went to Papa’s – Kidd and Edward came, she baked us a ham, gave us milk and butter. Mamma gave us an angel food cake. I told her if she didn’t stop it we were going home on Saturday night, but she said we weren’t, we didn’t have any water, gas or light. The country is beautiful with pears, peaches, plums, mayhaws, yellow jasmine, and red buds blooming. It made me sick to see our trees putting out, and we were not there to see them unfold.
March 24, Monday
Earl said he has felt better today than at any time since he’s been here. His cold is getting a little better. I deposited his check, left his watch to be fixed. Went to the Williams office but they aren’t hiring. We had coffee at Mrs. Boyett’s. Letters from Jo Anne and Velma. I paid life insurance and finished paying Fortuny as literary agent, which was $4.50 thrown away I’m afraid [$65.89 adjusted for inflation today].
March 25, Tuesday
Cloudy and cold
Earl is worried tonight, he left his pocketbook in his coveralls, and it’s got all his papers, passes, etc. in it. I had a letter from Jo Anne, bless her little heart. I hope she will always be as good and sweet as she is now, she’s a regular little lady. I’ve catalog-shopped today, didn’t buy, just looked. I bought a pattern up town.
March 26, Wednesday
Earl found his pocketbook, everything intact, in his coveralls out on the job. Had a letter from Jo Anne, and one from Mrs. Peck. She said she had found where Rebecca [Mandeville] had lived, and we could go over there [Natchez, MS] anytime I wanted to, and the lady would be glad to show us over the place. I surely do want to go, but must have some clothes first.
March 27, Thursday
Clear but cold and windy
Same old routine, get up and clean up, went back to bed, get up and eat, read and go to town. Write Jo Anne. I had a shower, have read about all there is available. I finished embroidering the scarf. Think I’ll buy something to sew on.
March 28, Friday
Sunny but cold
We went to town today [Leesville, LA] and I bought material for a dress, came home and cut it out. Sounds easy, but it took all day. I started sewing on it, but didn’t even finish the basting. Had coffee with Mrs. Boyett. Letter from Jo Anne. Oh, how glad I’ll be to see her! Earl comes in tired down at night, I am anxious for him to get over this cold, he’s had it more than a month.
March 29, Saturday
Sunny, warm, but windy
I sewed all day today, and even then didn’t finish my dress. Margaret, Mrs. Nesom and I went to town and I hunted buttons, but didn’t find them. We rode a little on the Shreveport highway, the wild plums, yellow jasmines and red buds are beautiful. So are most most of the trees, either with swelling buds, or tiny green leaves.
We had an uneventful trip home, got there around 10:30. Tuffy’s ear is much better. Mamma’s feet are sore, but otherwise everybody seems all right. They say Oliver has the car ready for us.
March 30, Sunday
Beautiful and warm
Today when we got up, Jo Anne’s throat was sore so Earl and I took her to Dr. Gordon and he mopped it and gave me this book [a daily medical journal in which these entries are recorded]. I’m proud of it, it’s such a nice one, and I will fill the front by copying my other scratch book into it. Mamma, Joe and Jo Anne had spent Saturday at Kidd’s, and Kidd washed Jo Anne’s hair and put it up. Mamma had made us another cake. Carter and family were there too. It makes me feel so homesick to go home, but I won’t let it bother me, we have got to get ahead and this is my only way. We left about four, got here at 8:20. Mamma’s leg is bothering her considerably, I wish something could be done. Letters from Minnie Lea and Florelle.
March 31, Monday
Warm and sunny
I believe this past week has witnessed England’s first diplomatic victory of importance since war began. Even then it wasn’t due to her efforts, but to popular uprising in Yugo Slavia. The general opinion seems to be that this war will be a long time yet ending. Goodness knows what will come after.
I started on the last lap of the four courses in American literature today, and am enjoying it greatly. Almost finished two lessons. We went to the bank and tonight to the show, which wasn’t much, “Footsteps in the Dark.” I had a letter from Minnie Lea. We drank coffee with Mrs. Boyette. Earl’s watch stem came out. I’ll have to take it back to the jeweler. Oh, how I miss Jo Anne. I will be so glad when school is out!