[...the continuing 1941 diary of Sicily Island, Louisiana native, Bea Bryan Denham. References to WWII are in red.]
May 16, Friday
Sunny, but cool
Jo Anne, Vondell and I went to town. I made arrangements to get our mattress made over, and bought vegetables. We went to the trailer camp at Talbot’s and saw Mrs. Boyett, Nesom, and Margaret. Letter from Kidd to Earl. France is cooperating with Germany in all her undertakings it seems. And Germany is driving in the near East. Oh, there’s no telling what is in store for us all, death and destruction for some certainly.
May 17, Saturday
Today Mrs. Davis went to town with us, we took the mattress, and went out the camp, took Mrs. Boyett, Nesom and Margaret to town, got groceries and after taking them back brought Margaret out there for the day. When we went back late we got the mattress and took Margaret home. Earl went to get a shave and haircut. Letter from Velma.
May 18, Sunday
Sunny beautiful day with fleecy white clouds.
This morning Earl, Mr. Davis and M.L. fixed our screen door, we fixed dinner together, and went down in the woods. There we found a lot of huckleberries and a few mayhaws. We had a nice time. We also found bay blossoms, and they are so pretty, like a tiny magnolia.
We went to the show “The Road to Zanzibar,” which wasn’t much. We came back and all ate supper together. Altogether it was a very enjoyable day.
May 19, Monday
Sunny and warm.
We spent the whole day cleaning up and washing and ironing our dirty things. I had supper ready when Earl came, so we ate and he took our starter off, but found something broken, so he put Dave’s starter on. John, Dave and his wife came over and played dominoes. We heard today that Vondell and Bill had a terrible wreck near Memphis, killed a negro, and Bill is very likely to die. Oh, I hope he doesn’t, I don’t know what Vondell would do. She was pretty badly hurt, too, but the kids were not. I got the things I was going to send Minnie Lea.
May 20, Tuesday
Sunny morning, cloudy afternoon, cool.
Jo Anne and I cleaned up, and I started making the curtains. I worked on them until about two o’clock, when Jo Anne went and got the mail, and brought the final examination so I took it, typed it, and mailed it back to her. Mrs. Clark, and Mr. & Mrs. Davis came over. Earl was pretty tired.
May 21, Wednesday
Sunny and warm.
Today is Minnie Lea’s birthday. I fixed up the package to mail to her, and the books to go to the Library, but don’t see any chance to mail them. Mr. Davis and Earl went to a union meeting and Mrs. Clark and I went to town and got groceries. Went by Margaret’s a few minutes, but it was late, so we didn’t go in. I wish I had something for Jo Anne to do. I wrote to Inez today, and Jo Anne wrote Pop and Julia. Earl is feeling badly with his cold.
May 22, Thursday
We had a letter from Mamma, and she enclosed one from Minnie Lea. Mrs. Davis asked us to go to town, so we got to mail the packages. I wish I could find something nice for Earl’s birthday. We put up the curtains, and it certainly looks like a different place. Mr. and Mrs. Davis and Cecil and Margaret came about dark, we all played Chinese checkers. Earl is feeling better than he did yesterday. A man who knew Rowland, Weir came to see him today, we are all planning to go home Saturday, but Earl said they may all have to work. I hope we can go home.
May 23, Friday
Sunny and hot.
I got everything cleaned up, and everything washed and ironed by 10:30. Earl worked on Dave’s car til 10:30 p.m., they stopped long enough to listen to the fight. The days are beginning to drag. I’ve read about all there is, and what little housekeeping there is doesn’t take long in a 10×12 space. We listen to all the radio serials and newscasts, but even then time hangs heavily. Mrs. Clark brought me a letter from Minnie Lea, my first in a long time.
May 24, Saturday
Morning sunny, rain in the afternoon.
Today is Earl’s birthday, but we didn’t have anything to give him so we didn’t say anything to him, but went to town and got some little thing, deposited his check. Now we’ve got 400 cash dollars! When we came back had a letter from Mamma in which she said Uncle Fuqua [Cecil’s brother] died Wednesday and was buried at home. We got Jo Anne’s report and a letter from Mrs. Meyers. Davises were going home with us, but decided to go to Miss. instead at the last minute. We went with Cecil, got home at 10:30. Daddy was so tired he didn’t wake up at all. Jo Anne’s cow has a beautiful calf.
May 25, Sunday
Sunny morning, rain in afternoon.
We had another hectic day, posted at the shop, went home for a few minutes, but it wasn’t like being at home. Had baths at Julia’s, and Kidd and Edward came. They had cooked us a ham. Mamma made Earl an angel food cake to bring back, and cakes and pies for dinner. We had a very enjoyable day. Bill Hall stopped by for a little while. Miss Rosalie Ford died just before we left town. We were in the rain a good bit. John ate supper with us both Saturday night and tonight. Margaret didn’t come back.
May 26, Monday
Sunny, no rain.
Jo Anne slept til eight. I read one “Time” and part of the other, and wrote to Mamma and Minnie Lea. I was too lazy, didn’t wash the things we had dirty, only cleaned up the tent. They all seem to think this job will soon be over, maybe this week or next. Kidd said she’d bring us a trailer to move in if it came before she goes to school. I brought Jo Anne’s paint and paper doll books. I hope she won’t get so tired of doing nothing. But she’s been very game about it, she hasn’t complained. We are going to bed early after yesterday’s trip. Mary Cloy has an infected foot, so I went over to see her a little while.
May 27, Tuesday
Mrs. Davis came over and wanted us to take her and Mrs. Bailey to town to the show. I washed all our dirty things, and cleaned up. Just got through and dressed in time to leave at 12:30. Jo Anne and I went to Mrs. Boyett’s and stayed til three, when we all came home. We listened to Roosevelt, and I could only feel that war is ever so much nearer. This little endangered peace we are enjoying now will be our last, I’m afraid. Our world after war won’t be the same. We are watching the dying of an age, and only God knows what will come out of it. We will never see the end, or know carefree happy days again. There have been very few for our generation anyway.
May 28, Wednesday
Rain – all day.
Confined in a 10×12 space, rain spattering on the tent. No wonder I’m blue and depressed. All the news this morning high-lights Roosevelt’s speech. My thirty-five years have certainly seen revolution. I remember the slow, easy days when we had country people in to church who came home with us on Sunday and spent the day: horse and buggy days, first car days, roadless days, flood days, the other world war days when, bug-eyed, I hid behind the chairs and kept still as a mouse to be allowed to listen to discussion of the war; when my childish fingers learned to knit for the Red Cross; that day we heard the war was over, and the church bell rang and rang; young girlhood when there was never enough of anything – time, money, fun, education – just that burning desire for something better than we had. And Earl, who was just right for me, from the first time I ever saw him, and who has always understood me better than I understood myself. Later, marriage, business, the hard struggle to get ourselves out of debt. Then depression, lightened by the coming of Jo Anne. Years filled with joy, but always that dread and uneasiness of insecurity. Now that things look a little brighter momentarily, I can’t let myself go and enjoy them because the shadows ahead are so thick and heavy, with certain suffering and heartache, bitter want for the whole world after this orgy of bloodshed and waste.
May 29, Thursday
Rain – all day long.
We just lay around and read all day. A lot of people were laid off, but so far Earl is more than lucky. God must have intended that we do this work, we have had every possible encouragement. Had a letter from Velma. No letters from home this week.
Earl worked on Mrs. Davis’ stove tonight, they were both over here. We are planning to go home this week, so I can make bills.
May 30, Friday
Cloudy and damp, but no rain.
I’ve felt so miserably badly today I’ve done nothing. Jo Anne washed and dried the dishes for me, and she’s waited on me all day. Bless her heart, she’s painted and worked Studebaker cards and tried to amuse herself, but a tiny tent is a poor place to spend such rainy days. Earl says Cecil got his questionnaire. Guess I will go to town tomorrow, if I feel any better; Earl will get his check today.
May 31, Saturday
Cloudy, no rain.
Carl came in yesterday afternoon, said Earl and all of them were laid off til Monday and we were going home. We got here around 11. Carter and Eula May got in just before we did. I made out bills, and cleaned up our house. Earl got a few jobs done. Mamma went to Winnsboro with Carter, we ate dinner at Julia’s. We started to Ben Hinton’s to see Bep, met C.L. and Marcia, so we turned around and came back. They came for several days, have been up in North Carolina in the mountains on their vacation. [C.L. and Marcia are my grandparents. They and their two young daughters, Anna Claire (my mother) and Carol Lee, went on a trip to the Smoky Mountains in the summer of 1941. This visit with them mentioned in this May 31 post is probably the last time Bea Denham saw C.L. He died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage three months later. The photos to the right are from their Smoky Mountain vacation. To read more about him and his death, read the post on this blog entitled, "Poor boy, he had just got ready to live..."]