[...the continuing 1941 diary of Sicily Island, Louisiana native, Bea Bryan Denham. References to WWII are in red.]
April 1, Tuesday
Warm and sunny
I wrote Jo Anne and Florella, typed the first two lessons and sent them to Kidd, and worked out two more. That sounds like very little to fill a day, but it just about did. We went to town and I left Earl’s watch and had the brake fixed in the car, then last night Earl and I went to the barber shop so he could get a haircut. It seems that American convoys are being considered for English supplies which will surely make us enter into a declared war instead of an undeclared one. What is it all coming to???
April 2, Wednesday
Cool, cloudy, sun out late in afternoon
I got up the last two lesson I have nos. 5 and 6, and that took nearly all day, after I wrote Jo Anne and Mrs. Peck. I got Earl’s watch and cloth for a skirt and cape for Jo Anne. I never have finished my dress yet. Margaret is going home tomorrow, so I’ll sew the rest of the week, we won’t have to go to town every day. I read “Sing for a Penny” to Earl, it has rained pretty hard tonight. How I wish I could get a job!
April 3, Thursday
Warm and sunny
Margaret was supposed to go home at one today, and Cecil came in about 11 and told her not to go, said they were having trouble at the camp, the mechanical division was out on strike. Strike, — when they are getting all and more than they are worth. In a little while Earl and Cecil came home, and Dave Clark came, now we are all worried to death. Looks like we were just getting to where we could hope to get a little ahead. I surely do hope it doesn’t last too long. I wrote Jo Anne, and a note to Mamma. Earl had a good long nap, and looks like he feels better, he’s been sick ever since we’ve been here.
April 4, Friday
Sunny but strong wind is rather cold.
Earl and Cecil went to the Union office this morning didn’t learn anything, so went back after dinner. Margaret went home before they got back. John and Frank Clay came back with them about 4:30 saying they could go to work tomorrow morning. It was a big relief to them all. They had no grievances and could do nothing but what they were told to, they didn’t even get a vote on it. Letter from Jo Anne today, also one from H. Williams saying they weren’t hiring anyone, and only substitutes would be hired from now on. I just can’t seem to get a job anywhere of any kind.
April 5, Saturday
Earl and Cecil left at 5:40 this morning and were surely glad to be going back to work. I wrote all day long, copying into the front of this book. I’m not sure it was worth it, but I have determined to keep a diary, and it only takes a few minutes a day. I had Mrs. Boyett for coffee, and had supper ready when Earl and Cecil came. We left at 7, got home at 11:00 – Jo Anne was so sleepy she could hardly wake up, but finally got up and sat in Earl’s lap for awhile. Oh, I’ll be glad when she comes over here!
April 6, Sunday
We got up about seven, ate breakfast, I paid Jo Anne and Rose, and we went to the shop around 9:30. I posted, took Jo Anne to Julia’s and she bathed and washed her head. Mrs. Peck came by to see me when Sunday School was over. We had a letter from Velma, and Margaret and Cecil came by, and Kidd and Edward came before we got back to Mamma’s. I got up the question I needed a book for, we ate dinner, went to our house awhile, and then came back to Mama’s for coffee. Aunt Florence came, said Bill married yesterday. We left at 4, got here at eight.
April 7, Monday
The news is mostly concerned with Germany’s attack on Yugo Slavia. And they are openly saying now that our country is practically in the War, – which we have been ever since the destroyer deal [In September of 1940 America and England made the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, also called the Lend-Lease Act, where the U.S. lent England 50 WWI destroyers in exchange for the use of British possessions around the world for U.S. airfields and bases]. Oh, what a dreadful thing to happen! And yet my ideas are completely changed as to the justifiability of any war. I suppose that’s the result of propaganda, but we can’t survive in Hitler’s world. Nor am I so foolish as to think that if he were done away with all would be well again. I remember the Kaiser. And he is impotently chopping wood, but here we are again. [The former ruler of Germany during WWI, Kaiser Wilhelm, actually spent much time and recreation chopping wood on his estate while in exile in the Netherlands. He would die on June 4, 1941.]
April 8, Tuesday
Fair and warm.
I bought cloth for a blouse for Jo Anne yesterday and made it today except for a few finishing touches. We saw the cutest little live baby chicks dyed green, red and purple. I want to take about six to Jo Anne if they still have them Saturday. I had a letter from her today. We went to see “Northwest Mounted Police,” but we’re going to have to give up shows. Earl slept through the most of it, he was too tired. Germany seems to be going right through Yugo-Slavia and the Grecian lines. Looks like nothing can stop her.
April 9, Wednesday
England is losing everywhere. Things never looked blacker to me. Oh, war is too horrible! Nobody can foresee where all this will end, but there can’t be any easy solution and settlement for us.
I bought a piece of shantung and am making Jo Anne a dress. If nothing prevents, I can take her three new dresses and two pairs of pajamas Saturday when we go.
Earl wants me to have the car fixed and go to Natchez next week. I hope I can do both. And clean up our house and yard while I’m at home.
April 10, Thursday
Warm and sunny – Full moon, beautiful
Letter from Jo Anne, bless her heart. I finished her dress except putting in the hem. James Peters said he heard all the camp was to be laid off for Good Friday and Saturday, so Margaret and I packed our suitcases to go home, but when Earl and Cecil came, they decided we were crazy, they weren’t laid off. I was surely glad. That means they will make a full week this week. They went to a Union meeting tonight, and it was 10:45 when they got in, I had got worried about them. Earl said not many were there, and they asked a lot of questions, and learned a lot. I hunted a dress, but couldn’t find one.
April 11, Friday (Good Friday)
Cloudy and cooler
Wrote Minnie Lea and Jo Anne, had letter from Jo Anne. Went to town and hemmed Jo Anne’s dress, put the buttons on it. I slept some in the afternoon, and read some on the English lessons. The news from Europe is simply awful, I’m afraid England is in a bad way. Only in south east Africa does she seem to be winning at all. Poor world, — what passes (crises) humanity does come to sometime!
Earl and Cecil got in fairly early, we read more on “Sing for a Penny,” this is the last issue. We’ve had to read it in such little pieces it wasn’t as interesting as it could have been.
April 12, Saturday
Warm and sunny
Margaret and I left Leesville at 8, and the roadside was beautiful with flowers. We stopped and got dogwood and wild honeysuckle. We stopped in Alexandria and I got a hat and dress. At Kidd’s we found Jo Anne, and ate dinner. I got some dyed chickens for her, too. At Mamma’s I unpacked, then went home and cleaned up some. Julia came over and helped me a little. Earl came about 10:45, before I expected him to get here. I pressed our clothes, and we went to bed early, but I just napped til Earl came. I saw Love this evening.
April 13, Sunday (Easter)
Windy, warm, sunny
Jo Anne bought us a box of candy each for Easter, and she seemed to like the things we got for her. We ate dinner at Mamma’s, went to our house and hunted Easter eggs. I took pictures of Earl and Jo Anne, and Luther and Mabel came. Earl left at four and I’m to see to the car getting fixed and bring it when it’s ready. Mrs. Peck said we would go to Natchez Tuesday. Kidd and Edward were here for dinner, but left soon after. Mamma and Daddy, Jo Anne and I went to see “Four Mothers.” The war news is worse than ever. It seems all the world is against democratic government. We are bound to go to war soon, it seems to me. Horrible thought.
April 14, Monday
Warm, windy and sunny
I mopped our house and waxed all the floors except the porch, went through all the drawers and closets, put away all the winter clothes, and pruned the roses today. Wrote Earl a note, and Dabbs came to see about the car, he’s working on it now, and I guess will keep working til he gets it finished. I had a boy to hoe the grass out of the roses, too. Jo Anne and I took a bath at Julia’s and came home to listen at the Lux program with Mamma and Joe. There’s so much I would like to get done, but I’m afraid I won’t finish it in the short time I’ve got.
April 15, Tuesday
Cloudy and cool
Mrs. Peck came by at 8, and we went right to the Bank. A Mrs. Thomas lives there, but I am sure Rebecca and Father’s ghosts were near. I had such a queer feeling to be sitting in Rebecca’s parlor, peeping into her bedroom. We thoroughly looked over the house and grounds, then went to the Cemetery where we found the Mandevilles’ graves. Next we went to the Catholic church, and from there to Mrs. Peale’s, who wasn’t at home. Then we went to Devereux, where Mrs. Smith showed us all about the house. It is a beautiful place, but has too much furniture, though every piece is beautiful. Mrs. Smith was interesting, very friendly altogether a most likeable person. We then went to Mrs. Peale’s and talked a long time with her. She was nice, too and offered to tell us anything we wanted to know. I saw Jose’s, Petitie’s and Beppin’s [Beggin’s] pictures and Rebecca’s sofa, Father’s clock and chair. Oh, it has been a wonderful day, I have done something I’ve wanted to do for years and years, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.